Eye on Extremism: December 7, 2018

AFP: U.S.-Backed Fighters Break Into Islamic State Holdout In East Syria  

“U.S.-backed Syrian fighters have broken into an eastern holdout of the Islamic State group on the Iraqi border, a commander and a monitor said Thursday, months into an anti-jihadist offensive. A Kurdish-led alliance, backed by airstrikes of the U.S.-led coalition, has been battling to oust IS from the pocket in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor since September. But the Syrian Democratic Forces suffered a series of setbacks, including due to a vicious fightback by jihadis and bad weather that impeded visibility. On Thursday, an SDF commander said the alliance had managed to break into the pocket and wrest part of its main town from IS. “Heavy clashes are ongoing inside the town of Hajin, after our forces advanced inside and started to control some of its neighborhoods,” Redur Khalil told AFP. The SDF opened up humanitarian corridors out of the beleaguered pocket, allowing more than 1,000 civilians — mostly woman and children — to flee from Hajin in the past few days.”

Euractiv: Ministers Clamp Down On Online Terrorist Content Despite Wave Of Opposition

“Ministers sitting on the EU Home Affairs Council adopted their negotiating position on the European Commission’s proposed regulation against the spread of online terrorist content on Thursday (6 December), as those in the industry reacted with frustration to the plans. The regulation would see hosting providers obligated to remove terrorist content or disable access to it within one hour from the time of which it is reported. If in breach of the regulation, service providers could face fines of up to 4% of their global turnover. Dr Hany Farid, Senior Advisor at Counter Extremism Project, believes that the tech industry has got off lightly. “The technology industry should be held to the same standards as other sectors,” he said. “Why should the technology sector be any different, particularly when the harm from failing to do so has become all too apparent. The issue is not one of ability, but of will.”

The Washington Post: Lebanese Businessman Accused Of Funding Hezbollah Pleads Guilty To Money Laundering

“A Lebanese businessman accused of helping finance Hezbollah pleaded guilty Thursday to committing roughly $1 billion in unlawful transactions since 2009 in a deal with federal prosecutors that calls for five years in prison and a forfeiture of $50 million. Kassim Tajideen, 63, is a Lebanese Belgian citizen who headed a multibillion-dollar commodities shipping empire from Beirut. He was arrested and charged in March 2017 with evading U.S. government sanctions imposed after he was added in 2009 to a Treasury Department list targeting supporters of the Iran-backed terrorist organization. In federal court in Washington, Tajideen pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. He has been held since he was arrested in Morocco in March 2017 at Casablanca’s airport while traveling on business from Guinea to Beirut. His plea is contingent on court approval. The rest of an 11-count indictment against him was dismissed, including conspiracy and fraud charges related to alleged violations of Treasury sanctions that banned Tajideen from dealings with U.S. businesses.”

Cincinnati Enquirer: Ohioan Wanted To Join The Islamic State As A Suicide Bomber, Feds Say After His Conviction  

“A Dayton man who wanted to become a suicide bomber was convicted Thursday of attempting to join the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, according to federal authorities. Laith Waleed Alebbini, 28, expressed his desire to become an "inghimasi soldier," a term for a "particularly lethal type of suicide bomber – one who seeks to cause as much death and destruction as possible," according to the Department of Justice. He was convicted of attempting to and conspiring to provide material support and resources to the terrorist group, the DOJ said. He made plans in 2017 to travel to Istanbul, Turkey, and from there to cross the border into Syria to join the Islamic State. A friend and relative both tried to dissuade him from carrying out his plan. Alebbini told the friend about how the group treated captives well before beheading them and that the Islamic State is "fighting a survival war," the DOJ said in a news release, citing court documents and testimony.”

Associated Press: The Latest: UN Official Says Houthis Blocking Access To Food

“The Latest on Yemen developments as warring sides gather for U.N.-sponsored peace talks in Sweden (all times local): The head of the U.N. food agency has accused Shiite Houthi rebels of blocking access to food deliveries to civilians devastated by the war in Yemen. World Food Program chief David Beasley, who has previously criticized the Saudi-led coalition for a blockade of Yemeni ports, told The Associated Press on Thursday that it’s now the Houthis who are impeding access in parts of the country. In an interview at the agency’s headquarters in Rome, Beasley says: “I’m on their back because we have access issues out into different areas throughout Yemen. We need more people; they blocked our visas. We need equipment, they blocked our equipment, they blocked our access.” Beasley, who visited Yemen two weeks ago, called the humanitarian situation there “desperate” and said the WFP needs access and money to avert a famine.”

The New York Post: Europe Is ‘Saving’ The Iran Deal By Ignoring The Violations

“Iran on Saturday launched a ballistic missile that can deliver nukes — and the near-complete silence of the media aside, it’s a big deal. The latest test revealed, once more, the flaws in the Iranian nuclear deal and the confusion of our European allies, who are alarmed by the mullahs’ behavior but fear losing the deal that enables it. “The Iranian regime has just test-fired a medium range ballistic missile that’s capable of carrying multiple warheads,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted Sunday, adding: “This test violates UNSCR 2231” — the United Nations Security Council resolution that made the nuclear deal international law. One problem for Pompeo and President Trump is that their predecessors settled for a watered-down UN resolution on Iranian missile tests. Desperate to get to a “Yes,” President Obama agreed that the council will merely “call upon” Tehran to please, please, pretty-please not test. And here we are.”

United States

Cincinnati Enquirer: Ohioan Wanted To Join The Islamic State As A Suicide Bomber, Feds Say After His Conviction

“A Dayton man who wanted to become a suicide bomber was convicted Thursday of attempting to join the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, according to federal authorities. Laith Waleed Alebbini, 28, expressed his desire to become an "inghimasi soldier," a term for a "particularly lethal type of suicide bomber – one who seeks to cause as much death and destruction as possible," according to the Department of Justice. He was convicted of attempting to and conspiring to provide material support and resources to the terrorist group, the DOJ said. He made plans in 2017 to travel to Istanbul, Turkey, and from there to cross the border into Syria to join the Islamic State. A friend and relative both tried to dissuade him from carrying out his plan. Alebbini told the friend about how the group treated captives well before beheading them and that the Islamic State is "fighting a survival war," the DOJ said in a news release, citing court documents and testimony. The day he planned to depart from the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, in April 2017, he sent a message to a relative.  "Do you think I am a criminal?" Alebbini asked, according to the DOJ. "I am a terrorist." Federal Judge Walter H. Rice issued the guilty verdict. Alebbini had earlier waived his right to a trial by jury. He faces up to 20 years in prison for each of the two crimes. His sentencing is scheduled for March 8. Upon release, the native of Jordan and U.S. legal permanent resident faces deportation.”

US News: Jury To Deliberate Virginia Murder Trial Of White Nationalist

“A jury in Charlottesville, Virginia, will begin deliberations on Friday in the murder trial of a man who rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protestors at a far right rally last year, killing one activist. Hundreds of white nationalists, white supremacists and neo-Nazis gathered in Charlottesville in August 2017 to demonstrate against a plan to remove a statue of a Confederate general. The night before the car-ramming, they staged a torch-lit march, chanting racist and anti-Semitic slogans. During his two-week trial, prosecutors said James Fields, 21, was motivated by hatred toward the counter-demonstrators, while the defense argued that he was fearfully reacting to a violent situation after supporters and counter demonstrators fought pitched battles using rocks and pepper spray. Defense attorneys never disputed that Fields was behind the wheel of the Dodge Charger that sent bodies flying when it crashed into a crowd on Aug. 12, 2017, killing counterprotester Heather Heyer, 32 and injuring 19 others. Instead, they suggested he was intimidated by a hostile crowd and acted to protect himself. U.S. President Donald Trump was strongly condemned from Democrats and Republicans alike for saying afterward that "both sides" were to blame for the violence.”

Rochester First: Judges: Man Convicted In Rochester Terror Plot Pledged Allegiance To ISIL After Appeal Denied

“After a court denied his appeal on his conviction and sentence, judges say Emanuel Lutchman, the man convicted of plotting a terror attack plot in Rochester for New Year's Eve in 2015, pledged his allegiance to ISIL and threatened that "more individuals like him would 'rise up.'" Lutchman pleaded guilty in 2016 to conspiracy to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and was later sentenced to 20 years in prison and 50 years supervised released. FBI investigators said Lutchman had made contact with an ISIL leader online and was plotting to attack a bar in Rochester on New Year's Eve. After the FBI got involved, agents said Lutchman purchased weapons for the attack, including two black ski masks, two knives, a machete, zip-ties, duct tape, ammonia and latex gloves. In court recently, after his appeal was shot down, a judges wrote in their decision: “Lutchman’s behavior at the end of the sentencing proceeding validated the district court’s conclusion. Lutchman had maintained a pretense of remorse that was dropped after the sentence was announced. Lutchman then laughed, reaffirmed his allegiance to ISIL’s leader, and stated that more individuals like him would “rise up.” We see no error in the imposition of the statutory maximum sentence.”

Syria

Voice Of America: Syrian Civilians Face Enormous Challenges Amid War's Toll

“The International Committee of the Red Cross warns it will take Syria and its people decades to recover from more than seven years of warfare. A senior Red Cross official who has just returned from Syria describes the level of destruction in the war-torn country as breathtaking. ICRC regional director for the Near and Middle East Fabrizio Carboni said he was shocked by the extent of the devastation in the ancient, historic city of Aleppo. “In this city of Aleppo, I have never seen so many people crying ... They carry such a weight, a pain and to many a sense of lack of hope, which is just breathtaking, if you consider the size of the city,” he said. Before the war, Aleppo was a major agricultural center of Syria, with a population of around 165,000. Carboni said millions of unexploded ordnance and landmines that have contaminated the country are killing or maiming many innocent civilians. He said the ICRC has the expertise and the orthopedic centers to help the wounded. Carboni said another one of his agency’s crucial activities will be to trace the whereabouts of hundreds of thousands of missing people.”

Daily Mail: Mother Of Teenage ISIS 'Pin-Up Poster Girl' Who Died In Syria SUES The Austrian Government For Letting Her Leave The Country

“The mother of one of the Austrian teenagers dubbed 'jihadi pin-up poster girls' after they joined ISIS in Syria, is suing the government for letting them leave the country. Sabina Selimovic was just 15 when she left Vienna with her 16-year-old friend Samra Kesinovic in April 2014, and both are believed to have died in Syria. Sabina's mother Senada Selimovic says border guards should have stopped the teenagers from travelling to Turkey, from where they crossed the border into Syria. In 2015, a United Nations official revealed a girl 'of Bosnian origin from Austria' - believed to be Sabina Selimovic - died in fighting in Syria. According to Mrs Selimovic's lawyer, the border guards at the airport should have checked whether the girls were 'leaving the country against their guardians' will'. The Austrian state rejected the allegations and a government spokesperson said that it is not forbidden for minors to voluntarily leave the country. According to local media, there is currently no clear case law on the matter, which means that the Austrian Supreme Court will ultimately make a decision.”

ABC News: Chicago Woman Believed To Have Been Tortured, Killed In Syria: Human Rights Group

“A U.S. citizen who had been held in Syria by the regime of Bashar al Assad for nearly three years was killed in its custody, according to a human rights group and the State Department. Layla Shwekani, who was born and spent her early years in Damascus, but lived in the Chicago suburbs, was a "humanitarian activist," according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights. She had returned to Syria in 2015 and was detained in February 2016 by regime forces. "She was registered in civil registry department as dead in December 28, 2016, we believe she was executed in Saydnaya military prison in Damascus Suburbs governate," the group wrote in a newly released report. Shwekani was born in 1990 and held a degree in information architecture from Arab International University in Daraa, Syria.”

AFP: U.S.-Backed Fighters Break Into Islamic State Holdout In East Syria

“U.S.-backed Syrian fighters have broken into an eastern holdout of the Islamic State group on the Iraqi border, a commander and a monitor said Thursday, months into an anti-jihadist offensive. A Kurdish-led alliance, backed by airstrikes of the U.S.-led coalition, has been battling to oust IS from the pocket in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor since September. But the Syrian Democratic Forces suffered a series of setbacks, including due to a vicious fightback by jihadis and bad weather that impeded visibility. On Thursday, an SDF commander said the alliance had managed to break into the pocket and wrest part of its main town from IS. “Heavy clashes are ongoing inside the town of Hajin, after our forces advanced inside and started to control some of its neighborhoods,” Redur Khalil told AFP. The SDF opened up humanitarian corridors out of the beleaguered pocket, allowing more than 1,000 civilians — mostly woman and children — to flee from Hajin in the past few days. Khalil accused IS of using civilians as human shields, and said the corridors would remain open. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said the SDF launched an attack on Tuesday and then dozens of families had managed to flee. The attack was backed by the heaviest shelling and air strikes by the U.S.-led coalition since the start of the offensive on the Hajin pocket on Sept. 10, Observatory chief Rami Abdelrahman said.”

Iran

Al Monitor: US Ices Iran Out Of Yemen Talks

“Iran sought to send a high-level official to Yemen peace talks but was rebuffed by the Donald Trump administration, Al-Monitor has learned. The Iranian Foreign Ministry recently informed Sweden, which is hosting this week's UN-sponsored talks, of its desire to send a senior adviser to Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to the shuttle diplomacy between the Houthi rebels and the internationally recognized government of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in Stockholm. But the request was denied, according to several Iranian sources, because of US pressure. The State Department would not confirm its role in shutting out Tehran, saying it doesn't detail the contents of its private diplomatic discussions. Neither the Swedish Embassy in Washington nor UN envoy Martin Griffiths responded to requests for comment. But the State Department did suggest the Iranians are not playing a helpful role. “If Iran wants to be helpful, the first thing it needs to do is to respect all of the UN arms embargoes and stop providing arms and related materiel and technical assistance, training, financial or other assistance related to military activities to, or for the benefit of, the Houthis,” a senior State Department official told Al-Monitor via email.”

Military Times: Trial: Losses From Iranian Bombs Echo In The Lives Of Wounded Troops, Gold Star Families A Decade Later

“In February 2008, Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Hake wrote a letter to his infant son. The neatly scripted, single-page message told little Gage how special the boy was to this first-time father, how the night he left on this second Iraq deployment was the hardest he’d face, how he’d kept picking up the boy, kissing him, putting him back down and then picking him up again. “I never wanted to let you go,” Hake wrote. But the 26-year-old staff sergeant had a mission. He had to go. As he closed the letter, he made promises to his son. “I will be with you again. I will teach you to ride your first bike, build your first sand box, watch you play sports and see you have kids also,” Hake wrote. “I am always with you. Dadda,” he signed off. Those words were read this week in federal court by Kelli Hake, Christopher’s wife. She is one of more than 200 plaintiffs included in a $10 billion lawsuit against the Islamic Republic of Iran for their arming, training, funding and directing of a host of terrorist groups, to include Hezbollah, in attacks in Iraq against U.S. and coalition forces from 2004 to 2011.”

Bloomberg: HSBC Monitor Flagged Payments Linking Huawei With Iran

“A monitor assigned to HSBC Holdings Plc told federal prosecutors about suspicious transactions linking Huawei Technologies Co. with Iran, adding evidence to a U.S. investigation that led to the arrest of the Chinese company’s finance chief, according to a person familiar with the matter. The monitor, Exiger, was enlisted by the Justice Department to oversee HSBC’s compliance efforts in 2013 following a $1.9 billion deferred-prosecution agreement with the bank that exposed a range of weaknesses in its internal controls. The London-based lender isn’t under investigation in this matter, another person said. It’s unclear when Exiger flagged the Huawei transactions. The Justice Department’s deferred-prosecution deal was dismissed in December 2017, and Exiger’s five-year appointment expired a half-year later. But the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority and the Federal Reserve each kept the New York-based advisory firm in place. Huawei Chief Financial Officer Wanzhou Meng, the daughter of the company’s founder, was arrested in Vancouver on Saturday pursuant to an extradition request by the Justice Department. She is fighting the U.S. extradition request, which will likely result in a series of court appearances in Canada in coming weeks.”

Iraq

Voice Of America: Attacks Continue As Iraq Marks One Year Since Islamic State Victory

“In the desert outside Mosul there is a giant sinkhole, once thought a natural wonder, with stories about it going back for generations. There are believed to be as many as 10,000 or more bodies decomposing inside, unceremoniously dumped by Islamic State militants, after or during the killings. And as Iraq marks the first anniversary of its victory over IS, this area is still strewn with so many bombs that authorities do not expect to recover those remains soon, if at all. But in places formerly controlled by IS, locals say they are more worried about their future than the past. Militants may have lost almost all of their territory, but attacks continue and residents fear the group will once again rekindle its campaign of all-out violence. “We know where the explosives are, so we are not afraid of them,” explains Sarhan, a 15-year-old shepherd who guides us toward the sinkhole. “But we are afraid of militants coming back, so we have guns now.” Last year, the military banned civilians from coming here after people were killed by the bombs buried in the dirt. But residents like Sarhan remain in their homes and soldiers ask him to show us which paths are safe. Another shepherd guides his flock through a stream as we walk. The bones of militants killed more than a year and a half ago lie scattered in the mud. “Why has nobody gotten rid of these bodies?” I ask. “What? It’s a crime to bury the bodies of terrorists,” the man says, moving his sheep along.”

Afghanistan

The National: Afghan Taliban Kill And Capture Troops In Herat Raids

“The Taliban staged a co-ordinated attack overnight on two Afghan army outposts in western Herat province, killing 14 Afghan soldiers and taking another 21 captive, a provincial official said on Friday. Herat provincial council member Najibullah Mohebi said the assault began late on Thursday in Shindand district. Fighting lasted for six hours before reinforcements arrived and repulsed the insurgents — but not before they captured 21 troops. However, the Defence Ministry's spokesman, Ghafor Ahmad Jaweed, put the number of army dead and wounded at 10. The different accounts could not immediately be reconciled. The raid was the latest in a series of daily assaults by insurgents on the country's beleaguered national security forces. According to Shindand district chief Hekmatullah Hekmat, as many as 200 Taliban fighters took part in the attack, using rocket-propelled grenade launchers and automatic machine guns. Mr Hekmat said 30 Taliban were killed in the fighting, which continued sporadically in the area on Friday, mostly about 12 kilometres from the district capital, Shindand, possibly as part of an attempt to disrupt the road linking the district to Herat province, a Taliban heartland. The area's remoteness makes it impossible to verify the reports. The Taliban, who did not claim responsibility for the attack, have been active in the area and have targeted Afghan security forces throughout the country in daily attacks.”

BBC News: Afghanistan's 'Little Messi' Flees Home After Taliban Threats, Says Family

“A young Afghan boy who became famous online for his devotion to footballer Lionel Messi has been forced to flee his home for the second time.  Murtaza Ahmadi, now aged seven, went viral in 2016 after being photographed wearing a homemade Messi shirt, fashioned out of a plastic bag. He later met his hero in Qatar.  His family say they have now abandoned their home in Afghanistan, after receiving threats from the Taliban. They were living in the south-eastern Ghazni province - which militants have been targeting - and have escaped to the capital, Kabul. They previously sought short-term refuge in Pakistan in 2016, but returned when they ran out of money, according to the AFP news agency.  Murtaza was five years old when he wore a plastic-bag shirt in the white-and-blue colours of the Argentine national team, which Messi captains. It had the player's number 10 drawn on the front with a marker pen. After a photo was shared widely on social networks, people called for him to be found so Messi could respond. When the boy's name was released, the player sent him a package - including a signed shirt - via the children's charity Unicef, for which he works as an ambassador. Murtaza was later invited to meet Messi when the Barcelona star played a friendly in Doha in late 2016. The young fan walked out on to the pitch with his idol. However, his family say they fear the fame has made him a Taliban target.”

Yemen

The Washington Post: Ex-Captives Describe Torture By Yemen’s Houthi Rebels

“Farouk Baakar was on duty as a medic at al-Rashid hospital the day a bleeding man was brought into the emergency room with gunshot wounds and signs of torture. He’d been whipped across the back and hung by his wrists for days. The patient, Baakar learned, had been left for dead by the side of a highway after being held captive in a prison run by the Houthi rebels who control northern Yemen. Baakar spent hours removing bullets and repairing ruptured intestine. He tended to the patient’s recovery for 80 days and, at the end, agreed to pose for a selfie with him. Weeks later, Houthi security officials grabbed the man again. They searched his phone and found the photo. Then they came for Baakar. Militiamen stormed the hospital, blindfolded Baakar and hustled him away in a pickup truck. Because he’d given medical help to an enemy of the Houthis, they told him, he was now their enemy too. He spent 18 months in prisons within the expanse of Yemen controlled by the Houthis. He says they burned him, beat him and chained him to the ceiling by his wrists for 50 days until they thought he was dead.”

Saudi Arabia

Premium Times: Saudi Arabia Donates Food Items To Boko Haram Victims

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has through King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre donated 140,468 bags of food to displaced victims of Boko Haram in Borno and Yobe states. The distribution of the donated items by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) began Wednesday at Teacher Village displaced persons’ camp in Maiduguri, Borno State. In his remarks at flag off, the Director General of the NEMA, Mustapha Maihaja, disclosed that 125,317 baskets of food items will be distributed to 33,343 households in designated camps and communities in Borno State for the next four months. Mr Maihaja commended the efforts of Minister of Defence, Mansur Ali, who, he said, facilitated food assistance to the North-east. A statement by NEMA spokesperson, Sani Datti, said that in Borno State, a total 125,372 bags of 25kg of rice and beans and 62,686 cartons of condiments; each containing 4kg ‘semovita’, 2 litres of vegetables oil, 29 sachets of tomatoes, 1kg of salt and 2 Sachets of seasoning are to be distributed directly through NEMA, the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and other relevant bodies using vouchers system."

Lebanon

Reuters: Lebanese Man Who Helped Hezbollah Pleads Guilty To Evading U.S. Sanctions

“A Lebanese businessman sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury for being an important financial supporter of Hezbollah pleaded guilty on Thursday to charges associated with evading U.S. sanctions imposed on him, the U.S. Justice Department said.  Kassim Tajideen, 63, pleaded guilty to conspiring with at least five other people to conduct more than $50 million in transactions with U.S. businesses in violation of the sanctions imposed on him, the department said in a statement.  If his plea agreement is approved by the U.S. District Court in Washington, Tajideen would serve five years in prison and pay a $50 million criminal forfeiture in advance of his sentencing, the department said.  “The Department of Justice has put a target on Hezbollah,” acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker said in announcing the plea agreement. “We are going to keep targeting Hezbollah and other terrorist groups and their supporters, and we are going to keep winning.” Tajideen was listed as a “specially designated global terrorist” by the U.S. Treasury in May 2009 because of his financial assistance to Hezbollah, designated a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department.  Under the Treasury designation, Tajideen was prohibited from being involved in or benefiting from transactions involving U.S. citizens or companies without a special license from the Treasury.”

Times Of Israel: IDF Asks UN, Lebanon To Destroy 2nd Hezbollah Tunnel Identified Inside Israel

“The Israeli military on Thursday called on a United Nations peacekeeping force and the Lebanese military to destroy a Hezbollah cross-border attack tunnel it says entered Israeli territory in the western Galilee, after uncovering another underground passage two days earlier in the eastern part of the region. Those tunnels, as well as a third that the Israel Defense Forces said it was working to uncover in the western Galilee, were found as part of the military’s newly launched operation to find and destroy Hezbollah attack tunnels, dubbed Northern Shield. The Israeli army called for assistance from the peacekeeping force UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces in neutralizing the threat of one of the tunnels from within Lebanon as it was struggling to locate an opening to the underground passage on the Israeli side of the border. An army spokesperson said the military was confident that the tunnel existed and had penetrated into Israeli territory, but the IDF was thus far unable to locate a specific opening to it due to the rocky earth and recent inclement weather. ccording to the IDF, the tunnel originated in the Lebanese village of Ramyeh underneath a number of homes and crossed into Israeli territory near the village of Zarit. The first tunnel was discovered south of the Israeli village of Metulla in the northern tip of the Galilee panhandle.”

Middle East

Associated Press: Israel Calls For International Response To Hezbollah Tunnels

“Israel’s prime minister on Thursday asked the international community to impose additional sanctions on Hezbollah and condemn the Lebanese militant group in response to the discovery of tunnels stretching from southern Lebanon into northern Israel. Stepping up an international pressure campaign against Hezbollah, Israel also hosted the commander of a U.N. peacekeeping force, showing him one of the tunnels and urging the force to take action across the border. The Israeli military this week launched an open-ended operation meant to expose and thwart what it says are tunnels built by the Lebanese militant group aimed at infiltrating Israel. The two sides are bitter enemies and fought an inconclusive monthlong war in 2006. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, toured the operation’s area with a group of foreign ambassadors Thursday. “I told the ambassadors that they need to unequivocally condemn this aggression against us by Iran, by Hezbollah and by Hamas, and of course, to also strengthen the sanctions against these elements,” Netanyahu said.”

Egypt

Egypt Independent: 12 Militants Killed In Western Desert Police Crackdown

“Twelve militants were killed, two police-guiding Bedouins shot dead, and four others injured in clashes between Sinai extremists and security forces on the Dashlout-Farafra road. The battle took place 80 kilometers deep into the Western Desert, on the border of the Minya and Assiut governorates. The bodies of the dead and the victims were taken to Assiut University Hospital. The weapons used by extremists were seized by the police. Public prosecutors headed to the scene for investigation. Security authorities in Minya and Assiut had received information about a group of extremists located in the Western Desert. A crackdown was launched in coordination between the Public Security Sector, the National Security Agency, the Central Security Sector, and the security directorates of Assiut, Minya and the New Valley. Twenty armored vehicles took part in the crackdown. Extremists opened fire on the security forces upon their arrival to their location. After roughly five hours of clashes, twenty automatic rifles, different kinds of shots, leaflets, and a map for the surrounding mountainous area were seized from the extremists’ hideout. The prosecutors ordered the dead bodies to be kept under strict guard, and to undergo DNA tests.”

Libya

Asharq Al-Awsat: Libyan Army Pursues ISIS Remnants In Desert

“The Libyan National Army has said that it is pursuing ISIS remnants in the desert of the city of Kufra in southeastern Libya, following deadly terrorist attacks in the area. Spokesman for the Libyan National Army, Brig. Gen. Ahmed al-Mismari, said on Wednesday that forces are pursuing terrorists in the desert, adding that the extremists are looking for safe havens to escape army shelling and air raids. The Libyan south is described as a hotbed of terrorist groups, African mercenaries and smuggling gangs in the absence of a security system that protects the country's vast borders. ISIS has claimed responsibility for multiple attacks on towns south of the country since its withdrawal to the desert after losing the coastal city of Sirte, its main stronghold in 2016. The terrorist organization killed nine people, injured 10 others and abducted a number of policemen and civilians in its latest attack on Tazerbo in the southern desert on November 25. However, the town’s residents fought for hours with the militants, who took over the police station before being expelled. Following the Tazerbo attack, Commander of the Kufra military district Brigadier Belqasem al-Abaaj announced that the army had managed to defeat and expel remnants of the extremist groups more than 400 kilometers from the town. "The extremist organization doesn’t have any chance to repeat its attacks on villages and towns located east of the country, which is under the protection of the armed forces," Abaaj said.”

Nigeria

Daily Post: Boko Haram: Two Soldiers Wounded As Troops, Terrorists Clash In Borno

“Two soldiers have been wounded in a clash with suspected members of the Boko Haram sect in a hideout, along Yachida, Korongelen, Bombula and Forfor axis, Damboa Local Government Area of Borno State. A statement by the Director Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Sani Kukasheka Usman, Thursday, said Troops of 117 Battalion, 28 Task Force Brigade, Operation LAFIYA DOLE in conjunction with some members of Civilian Joint Task Force, embarked on fighting patrol and came in contact with the terrorists and engaged them in gun duel at Forfor village. He said, “During the encounter, one of the Boko Haram terrorists was neutralized, arrested two, while several other terrorists fled with gunshot wounds. “The gallant patrol team recovered one AK-47 rifle, a magazine, 21 rounds of 7.62mm (Special) ammunition, a 36 Hand Grenade, magazine pouch and a Motorcycle. “Unfortunately, two soldiers sustained injuries and have since been evacuated to 28 Task Force Brigade Field Ambulance for medical attention.”

The Punch Nigeria: In 10 Years, Boko Haram Killed 20,000; Destroyed $9bn Infrastructure – Osinbajo

“In the past 10 years, Islamist terror group, Boko Haram, has killed 20,000 persons and destroyed infrastructure worth $9bn, Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, has said. Osinbajo said this at the inauguration of an intervention initiative tagged ‘Inclusive Basic Service Delivery and Livelihood Empowerment Integrated Programme’ by the African Development Bank in Abuja on Thursday. The Vice President said the war on insurgency had displaced more than two million Nigerians from their homes and communities. He said, “There is no doubt that the havoc that the Boko Haram insurgency has wreaked on the North-East Nigeria and the entire country is unprecedented in recent Nigeria’s history. “Over the last decade, more than 20,000 persons have been killed and $9bn infrastructure destroyed, including more than 400,000 houses and thousands of schools, hospitals and other public buildings. And more than two million Nigerians have been displaced from their homes and communities. “But the devastation is only a part of the narrative; it is definitely not the entire story. There are the countless stories of heroism and resilience, from the victims of the insurgency, from the troops of the Nigerian Army and the Civilian Joint Task Force, all of who are out there fighting and sacrificing a great deal to keep us safe.”

The Pulse Nigeria: Nigerian Army Troops Repel Boko Haram Attack In Bama

“There was jubilation in Bama town of Borno State after troops of the Nigerian Army repelled an attack by suspected Boko Haram insurgents. According to a report by Daily Trust, residents were left fearing for their lives due to heavy shooting in the area early on Friday, December 7. The insurgents entered the ancient town through the abattoir axis to gain access. Residents in the town narrated that panic had begun to develop upon hearing sounds of heavy gunshots but it ceased after an hour. The attack came barely six hours after Boko Haram insurgents attacked Damboa local government area of Borno. The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Sani Kukasheka, disclosed  in a statement in Maiduguri on Thursday that troops killed one Boko Haram insurgent and arrested two others. He added that the troops also recovered weapons after dislodging the insurgents from their hideout in the area.”

Somalia

Reuters: Somali Blast Kills Two Generals And Seven Guards

“Nine Somali soldiers including two generals were killed on Thursday by a blast just outside the capital Mogadishu, militants and an army official said.  Islamist group al Shabaab claimed responsibility, saying it had destroyed a military pick-up truck carrying the generals and their seven bodyguards near Dhanaane village just outside Mogadishu on Thursday afternoon. Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s military operation spokesman, identified the slain generals as Omar Aden and Abdi Ali.  “We destroyed their pick-up with a roadside bomb near Dhanaane village,” he told Reuters.  A military official who identified himself as Captain Mohamed confirmed to Reuters the two generals and their guards had been killed while others were injured. Al Shabaab has for years been fighting to topple Somalia’s Western-backed central government and install its own rule based on a strict interpretation of sharia law. The country has been gripped by insecurity and lawlessness since the early 1990s.”

Africa

The Washington Post: Are We Mishandling The War On Terror In Africa?

“Just over a year ago, four U.S. Special Forces soldiers, outgunned and ambushed, lost their lives in Niger fighting against members of the Islamic State. These American troops, ostensibly there to train and assist a foreign military, found themselves engaged in combat. Their deaths represent a troubling continuation of the perpetual war in which America has found itself since 9/11 — with no end in sight. Tellingly, this war is as old as some of the recruits who are about to fight. These fatalities represented the largest loss of life sustained by the U.S. military in Africa since the infamous disaster in Somalia in 1993, when much like in Niger, U.S. forces found themselves surrounded and outnumbered. The Battle of Mogadishu was the fiercest urban combat the military had participated in since the Vietnam War, and it left 18 American servicemen and an unknown number of Somalis dead. Images of jeering Somalis dragging an American corpse through the streets infuriated the U.S. public (and Congress), compelling President Bill Clinton to withdraw American forces from Somalia. Understanding this earlier conflict and its fallout is critical to understanding why the United States has dispatched troops to the Horn of Africa and elsewhere on the continent today. The international community’s hasty withdrawal, along with its conduct during the mission, left a weak, ineffective and corrupt central government in charge.”

News 24: Cameroon Separatist Leader Goes On Trial For 'Terrorism'

“A separatist leader from the anglophone west of Cameroon went on trial Thursday on charges of "terrorism" and "secession" over unrest that has claimed hundreds of lives. Julius Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, president of the self-declared "Republic of Ambazonia", was arrested in neighbouring Nigeria and extradited to Cameroon in January this year along with 46 others. The military court in the capital Yaounde is trying Ayuk Tabe and nine co-defendants on charges of "condoning and financing terrorism" as well as insurrection and "hostility against the motherland". Cameroon's 22 million people are mainly French-speakers, but around a fifth are English-speaking, concentrated in the Northwest and neighbouring Southwest regions of the West African country. Resentment at perceived discrimination against anglophones in education, the judiciary and the economy fanned demands for autonomy in 2016. Then last year, as longtime President Paul Biya refused any concessions, radicals declared the independent state of Ambazonia and took up arms. Attacks by the secessionists and a crackdown by the authorities have led to the death of at least 500 civilians as well as more than 200 members of the security forces, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG). More than 300,000 people have fled the violence, many of them living hand-to-mouth in the forests, and some across the border into Nigeria.”

Xinhua: Morocco Busts 6-Member Terror Cell

“The Moroccan security services busted on Friday a six-member terror cell in the central city of Beni Mellal, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. The suspects are linked to the Islamic State (IS) group and were preparing terrorist attacks in the kingdom, according to the ministry. Electronic devices, books and manuscripts promoting IS extremist ideology, as well as bladed weapons were seized during the operation, the statement said. Initial investigations revealed the suspects, aged between 24 and 37, had recruited several young people to carry out attacks. More than 57 terrorist cells have been dismantled since 2015, according to the ministry.”

Russia

Military Times: Russia Asked To Joint Operate A US Base In Syria. Coalition Says Hard Pass

“Russian officials have reportedly floated the idea of jointly running a U.S.-controlled corridor known as Al Tanf, located on the Iraq-Syria border near Jordan, where U.S. troops are garrisoned. The American-led coalition to defeat the Islamic State, though, said they are not interested. Gen. Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian military’s General Staff, said the presence of American military bases on Syrian territory is a major unresolved issue for his forces. “Let’s take Al Tanf, for example," he said Wednesday at a foreign policy briefing. “The United States established the so-called 55-km security zone around this community, and illegal armed groups continue their terrorist activity under its cover, making periodic sorties against the government forces.” Gerasimov and other Russian officials reportedly suggested removing the security zone around Al Tanf and instead establishing joint Russian-American control over the key transit area there, one of three official border crossings between Syria and Iraq.”

Ecuador

Associated Press: Ecuador: Enough UK Guarantees For Assange To Leave Embassy

“Ecuador’s president has ramped up pressure on Julian Assange to leave his country’s embassy in London, saying that Britain had provided sufficient guarantees that the WikiLeaks founder won’t be extradited to face the death penalty abroad. Lenin Moreno’s comments in a radio interview Thursday suggest that months of quiet diplomacy between the U.K. and Ecuador to resolve Assange’s situation is bearing fruit at a time when questions are swirling about the former Australian hacker’s legal fate in the U.S. “The road is clear for Mr. Assange to take the decision to leave,” Moreno said, referring to written assurances he said he had received from Britain. Moreno didn’t say he would force Assange out, but said the activist’s legal team is considering its next steps. Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy since 2012, when he was granted asylum while facing allegations of sex crimes in Sweden that he said were a guise to extradite him to the U.S. But his relations with his hosts have soured to the point that Moreno earlier this year cut off his access to the internet, purportedly for violating the terms of his asylum by speaking out on political matters.”

United Nations

Economic Times: UN Launches New Framework To Strengthen Fight Against Terrorism

“UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has launched a new framework to combat the scourge of international terrorism and coordinate efforts across the peace and security, humanitarian, human rights and sustainable development sectors. Termed the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact, the framework is an agreement between the UN chief, 36 organizational entities, the International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL) and the World Customs Organisation, to better serve the needs of Member States when it comes to tackling the scourge of international terrorism. Speaking at the first meeting of the Compact's Coordination Committee here Thursday, Guterres highlighted the need to ensure full respect for international human rights standards and rule of law in countering terrorism. "Policies that limit human rights only end up alienating the very communities they aim to protect and which normally have every interest in fighting extremism," he said, adding that as a result "such policies can effectively drive people into the hands of terrorists and undermine our efforts on prevention."

Fox News: UN Fails To Adopt US Resolution Condemning Hamas Terrorism

“The United Nations General Assembly failed on Thursday to adopt a U.S. resolution that condemned terrorist acts by Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups -- a blow for the U.S. push to curb anti-Israel bias at the body. The U.S. resolution would have condemned Hamas for “repeatedly firing rockets into Israel and for inciting violence, thereby putting civilians at risk.” It would also have demanded that Hamas “and other militant actors, including Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” cease all provocative and violent actions; and condemn Hamas efforts to construct tunnels to infiltrate Israel and launch rockets into civilian areas. But after a procedural move by Kuwait and Bolivia, the body adopted a rule that meant the U.S. resolution needed a two-thirds majority to be adopted. The resolution picked up a plurality of 87 votes in support and 57 against -- with 33 abstentions. But it was not enough to meet the two-thirds threshold. Ahead of the vote, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley accused those who pushed for the two-thirds threshold of "double standards" and of trying to torpedo the resolution. In a speech to the chamber, she noted that, despite the many resolutions condemning and criticizing Israel, the U.N. has never passed a resolution condemning Hamas.”

United Kingdom

Washington Examiner: Taking On ISIS And Russia: Decoding New Comments From Britain's MI6 Spy Chief

“Speaking at St. Andrews University in Scotland this week, the chief of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, commonly known as MI6, publicly confirmed one of Britain and America's greatest counterterrorism successes of recent memory: disrupting major Islamic State directed attacks on European soil.  Alex Younger, or "C" as SIS chiefs are traditionally known, noted that over the past two years British intelligence services have "disrupted multiple serious Daesh attack plans originating overseas that, if successful, would have caused significant loss of life." Younger continued, "This includes an important contribution to helping European countries, particularly our French and German allies, prevent terrorist attacks in their countries or against their citizens."  Younger is referring to European plots planned by ISIS operations officers in Syria and involving urban assaults with explosives and firearms. Here, think of the November 2015 Paris plot, which would likely have been bloodier if not for U.S.-U.K. intelligence. While Younger noted that these successes have involved SIS infiltration of ISIS, boutique efforts from the U.S. National Security Agency and Britain's Government Communications Headquarters were also crucial. None of this should be taken for granted. Describing his effort to "delegate assertively," Younger hinted at his broader reforms to boost the intelligence service's efficiency and effect — something now-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also did during his time leading CIA.”

Daily Sabah: Turkey, UK On Same Page Against Terrorism, British Envoy Says

“Dominick Chilcott, the ambassador of the United Kingdom to Ankara, highlighted on Thursday Turkey's intense efforts on the fight against terrorism, saying Ankara and London share a common stance against threats including terrorism, irregular migration, and conflict. "Our relations with Turkey are always very important. However, today is more vital than ever. Our partnership enables our countries to become safer and more prosperous countries. As the United Kingdom and Turkey, we are struggling with common threats such as irregular migration, terrorism, and conflict," Chilcott said at a panel in the southeastern province of Gaziantep. Highlighting that both countries associate with the other in terms of trade and defense cooperation, Chilcott said Turkey's contributions to the international fight against Daesh are "invaluable," adding that the U.K. is in close cooperation with Turkey to annihilate the perturbation that the two countries face mutually. "The PKK is a serious threat for Turkey, which the United Kingdom listed as a terrorist organization. The United Kingdom, allows the network to prevent the PKK to be decoded. We condemn PKK terrorism," the ambassador said and condemned the terrorist group, which has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people in its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey.”

The Times: Three Arrested By Anti-Terror Police Investigating Neo‑Nazis

“Police investigating a neo-Nazi group in Britain have arrested three men on suspicion of terrorism offences. A 17-year-old youth from London, a 21-year-old man from Bath and an 18-year-old man from Portsmouth were held yesterday as part of an investigation into right-wing extremism. It is understood that the arrests relate to alleged activity of the Sonnenkrieg Division, a violent group with ties to a nihilistic American organisation that has been linked to five murders. Sonnenkrieg recently called for Prince Harry to be killed for marrying Meghan Markle, who is of mixed race. The neo-Nazi group posted a picture of the Duke of Sussex set against a swastika, with a gun pointed at his head and the slogan: “See ya later, race traitor!”

Germany

Daily Beast: German Neo-Nazis Fell For Art Project And Outed Themselves

“A leftist art collective in Germany said they were launching a project to identify neo-Nazi rioters. In reality, it was a hoax to trick neo-Nazis into outing themselves. This summer unleashed a wave of violence in Chemnitz, Germany, where far-right extremists chased down immigrants and threw fascist salutes during a multi-day rally. Nazi-era salutes are illegal in Germany, but most demonstrators evaded arrest and identification. But the art group Center for Political Beauty (abbreviated as “ZPS” in German) wanted to unveil the extremist networks behind the riots. They built a website that claimed to have identified the Chemnitz rioters. Then they sat back and waited while extremists started searching the site for their own names until ZPS revealed the stunt on Wednesday. “We thought about a new de-Nazification in Germany and how it could work,” Philipp Ruch, ZPS’s artistic director, told The Daily Beast. ZPS is part art collective, part activist hub. The group specializes in public awareness performances like coordinating funerals for migrants who died on the way to Germany, and building an enormous replica Holocaust memorial outside a far-right leader’s home.”

Australia

NPR: Melbourne Vehicle Attack Suspect Pleads Guilty To Murder

“Nearly a year after a vehicle rammed a crowd of pedestrians in Melbourne, Australia, killing one person and injuring more than a dozen others, the man behind the wheel has admitted to murder. Saeed Noori, 33, pleaded guilty to one count of murder, 11 of recklessly causing serious injury and five of conduct endangering life. After initially pleading not guilty earlier this year, Noori changed that plea Friday before the Supreme Court of Victoria. If sentenced to the maximum possible punishment, the 33-year-old could face life in prison. The attack last year occurred just days before Christmas, at a busy intersection in the city of some 4 million. Noori drove his mother's SUV into a throng of pedestrians, injuring 17 people — including 83-year-old Antonios Crocaris, who later died of his injuries. Prosecutors believe that Noori, an Australian citizen of Afghan descent, was acting alone and did not charge him with terrorism-related offenses. "At an earlier hearing, police alleged Noori's home computer had images of car attacks in London, Barcelona and the US city of Charlottesville and he had 'a certain degree of radicalisation,' " the Australian Associated Press explained. "But his lawyers said he suffered from schizophrenia and had likely not eaten or slept for days." Noori's plea hearing has been set for February.”

New Zealand

New Zealand Herald: Terror Laws Designed To Stop Kiwis Joining ISIS Results In Eight Passports Cancelled Or Suspended

“Terror laws created to block Kiwis leaving to fight for Islamic State have resulted in eight people having New Zealand passports torn up. The Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Act, passed in December 2014, amended three existing laws to bolster New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (SIS) surveillance capacity and to give the Minister of Internal Affairs greater powers to suspend and cancel passports. Data released to the Herald under the Official Information Act shows eight New Zealand citizens have had passports cancelled, withdrawn, or applications refused. Terror and security expert Paul Buchanan was surprised by the total, which he described as a "significant number". "If all eight of those people had their travel documents removed, refused, etc, because it was suspected or known that they were going to fight for Daesh [Islamic State], that's a lot of extra sympathisers for a country of this size, and that's scary," Buchanan said. The drastic measures were taken based on information from the SIS that the individuals concerned were a "national security threat". Over 2015 and 2016, three people had passport applications refused under the terror laws. A further four in the same period had passports cancelled. The eighth person had their passport scrapped last year. One of the cases involves a Melbourne-based New Zealand woman who had her passport cancelled in May 2016 on national security grounds.”

Europe

Arab News: EU, France Pledge €1.3bn Anti-Terror Aid For Africa Sahel

“The European Union and France on Thursday said their total investment in development funding aimed at preventing terrorism in African Sahel countries would rise to €1.3 billion ($1.5 billion), as the region struggles with extremism and lawlessness. The five Sahel states — Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, and Niger — have been struggling against extremism and lawlessness along the Sahara’s southern rim since a militant revolt that began with a Tuareg separatist uprising in northern Mali in 2012. The EU’s International Cooperation and Development Commissioner Neven Mimica told a conference in the Mauritanian capital that the bloc’s Sahel Priority Investment Programme (PIP) “now totals almost €800 million,” with an extra €122 million announced Thursday. France will invest €500 million for the “priorities” of the G5 Sahel, added French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, explaining that the country will add an extra €220 million to the €280 million already pledged. “Half of this sum is for projects already planned or under way. The other half will be awarded in a speedy way over the next two years to enable you to meet your priorities,” Le Drian said. The five Sahel countries told the meeting they needed €1.9 billion to help them fund projects in border regions vulnerable to militants.”

Southeast Asia

South China Morning Post: Hong Kong’s Anti-Terrorism Task Force Goes To Xinjiang To Study Local Methods, As China Rejects International Calls To Investigate Mass Internment Centres

“Hong Kong’s anti-terrorism task force headed to China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang on Thursday to study how its counterpart there has tackled extremists, the Post has learned. The visit takes place against the backdrop of international calls to investigate mass internment centres for Muslim minorities in the region. But a government source stressed the move did not mean Hong Kong supported such centres, or that it would be borrowing ideas from them, as the local contexts were different. “Xinjiang is, among all places, where China has vowed the most to fight against terrorism. It is therefore a good place for us to learn how officers there have gathered intelligence and protected facilities,” the insider said. “The controversial re-education centres are among the measures used but that doesn’t mean Hong Kong should borrow the idea. As a matter of fact, we have no such needs due to the differences in terrorism situations we each face.” The Post understood that deputy security minister Sonny Au Chi-kwong was leading seven members from the Interdepartmental Counterterrorism Unit, established in April, to visit the province for five days to study its counterterrorism measures and facilities. “The response time to terrorist attacks in Xinjiang is just one minute, to avoid mass casualties. It is worth knowing how they manage to execute such a prompt response,” the source continued.”

Malay Mail: Malaysia Improves In Terrorism Ranking, But Region Emerges As Hotspot

“Malaysia has improved its position in the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) 2018, as the number of deaths from terrorism globally declined for the third year in a row last year. Despite that, the report by Australia-based Institute of Economics and Peace released yesterday named Malaysia as among the contributors towards what it called the “second wave of Islamic terrorism” through Islamic State (IS)-affiliated groups and separatist movements here. This year, Malaysia scored 2.7 out of 10, down from 3.334 last year. Zero denotes no impact of terrorism while the higher the number, the greater the impact of terrorism on the population. Malaysia was also ranked 70th out of 138 countries in the index that seeks to measure the number of terrorist incidents, fatalities and casualties as well as damage to property in a country. It was a marked improvement from Malaysia’s previous rank of 60th. Malaysia was also among the nine countries in the Asia-Pacific region which improved its score, including, among others, neighbours Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. However, the overall average ranking of the region has decreased, due to rising terrorism in the Philippines and Myanmar — which accounted for over 87 per cent of all deaths from terrorism in the region last year. The report also highlighted South-east Asia as one of the emerging hotspots for terrorism — joining the Sahel region near Sahara and Nigeria’s middle-belt — chiefly for the abovementioned “second wave of Islamic terrorism.”

Technology

9 News: Social Media: Recruiting Grounds For Terrorists

“Social media - furtive ground for prospective terrorists. That's the warning from an international counter-terrorism expert. "We are facing a challenging time with a much more connected world and much more volatility," former Scotland Yard police chief Mark Rowley warns. "All the analysis, all the experts would say that this high level of threat is certainly going to continue for the next couple of years." As Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations in London's Metropolitan Police Service, Sir Mark Rowley oversaw investigating some of Britain's most horrific terrorist attacks. He's in Australia providing insight into tackling extremism, and he's taking aim at social media co-operation. "So, there is a million and one ways the tech world is affecting us all, isn't there?" he asks. "And a lot of them are fantastic and positive. "But the negative edge to it needs more attention and I think we need these companies to get more proactive at helping us fix it." One of the biggest problems is the use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter - fertile recruiting ground for terror networks such as ISIS. "What we were used to wrestling with were terror networks, secret cells, secret organisations working very, very privately behind closed doors," Sir Mark says.”

CNBC: Facebook Emails Show EU Must Toughen Regulation On Social Media 'Monopoly,' Lawmaker Says

“A European lawmaker has called for updated regulation on Facebook and other social networks after a trove of revelatory emails was released by the British Parliament. Internal documents made public Wednesday by Britain’s digital, culture, media and sport committee showed senior executives at Facebook — including CEO Mark Zuckerberg — discussing the prospect of charging developers for access to user data and shutting off competitor Vine’s access to the data. Claude Moraes, a member of the European Parliament representing the U.K.’s Labour party, said in response to the news that the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, should revamp its competition rules to probe the “possible monopoly” of social media giants and to “audit the advertising industry on social media.” “In the European Parliament, we have repeatedly raised concerns about the manipulation of online data and have made clear that competition law is crucial to make sure that the dominant players are accountable and that democracy is protected from excessive market power,” Moraes told CNBC in an emailed statement Thursday.”

Business Insider: A Former Spy Boss Said Facebook Could Threaten Democracy If It Isn't 'Controlled'

“The former head of Britain's domestic intelligence agency GCHQ has said Facebook poses a threat to democracy unless it is "controlled and regulated." In an interview with the BBC's "Today" programme, Robert Hannigan said Facebook's primary goal was to squeeze every drop of profit from its users' data. He said: "This isn't a kind of fluffy charity providing free services. It's is a very hard-headed international business and these big tech companies are essentially the world's biggest global advertisers, that's where they make their billions. "So in return for the service that you find useful they take your data... and squeeze every drop of profit out of it." He added that Facebook was "potentially" a threat to democracy if "it isn't controlled and regulated." "But these big companies, particularly where there are monopolies, can't frankly reform themselves. It will have to come from outside," he said.”