Eye on Extremism: February 13

PRI: How We Can Use 'Digital Fingerprints' To Keep Terrorist Messaging From Spreading Online

“In collaboration with the Counter Extremism Project, Farid has expanded the technology to include video and audio, which he says are major sources of extremist messaging. Like child pornography, extremist content doesn’t change on a daily basis, he explains, making it a prime target for the tool’s database approach. But the tool is encountering a hitch: Tech companies have been slow to sign on, Farid says. ‘I feel like the issues with the counter-extremism [space] are playing out in a very similar path as the child pornography space. There is an initial, ‘We can't do this, the technology doesn't exist.’ We develop the technology, it’s like, ‘Oh, but there are legal issues, there are speech issues.’”

Washington Post: Rachid Kassim, ISIS Recruiter And Failed Rapper, Targeted In U.S. Airstrike

“Rachid Kassim, an Islamic State recruiter known for his social-media presence, failed music career and links to high-profile terrorist attacks in Europe was targeted by a U.S. airstrike in Iraq, the Pentagon said Friday. Maj. Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway, a Pentagon spokesman, said the strike occurred near the Iraqi city of Mosul within the past three days. “We are currently assessing the results of that strike,” Rankine-Galloway said. Citing French police sources, the Telegraph reported that Kassim was killed in the strike Wednesday.”

BBC News: Tahrir Al-Sham: Al-Qaeda's Latest Incarnation In Syria

“The new group's leader has been named as Hashim al-Sheikh, who previously served as the head of the powerful Islamist rebel group, Ahrar al-Sham. Ahrar al-Sham itself has refused to join the new body and has been at loggerheads with JFS in northern Syria. On 9 February, al-Shaikh delivered the group's first leadership message in which he insisted the new entity was independent and not an extension of former organisations and factions. By reinventing itself again, JFS appears to be trying to distance itself from its al-Qaeda past and embed itself more deeply within the Syrian insurgency. No mention has been made of JFS leader Abu Mohammed al-Julani in any of the new group's communications. But he is widely believed to be serving as its military commander.”

New York Times: Report Rebuts Russia’s Claims Of Restraint In Syrian Bombing Campaign

“Russian military officials have vociferously denied that their airstrikes have killed civilians in Syria, going so far as to say that eyewitness accounts that a major hospital was bombed last year in the brutal fight to retake Aleppo were mere fabrications. But a new analysis that draws on satellite images, security camera videos, social media and even footage from the Kremlin-backed Russian television network has challenged Moscow’s claims that its airstrikes on behalf of the Syrian military were an exercise in prudent restraint. The analysis shows that the hospital, contrary to claims by a Russian general, was bombed multiple times. It indicates that Russian aircraft used incendiary munitions and cluster bombs, despite the Kremlin’s denials, and concludes that Syrian forces used chlorine gas on a far greater scale than is commonly believed.”

The Times Of Israel: Islamic State Leader Badly Injured In Iraq Airstrike — Reports

“Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Bahgdadi was seriously injured in a recent airstrike, several Iraqi news outlets reported on Sunda. The Iraqi television station al-Hura cited a security source saying Baghdadi and other senior members of the terror group were injured two days ago in an airstrike in Iraq. They were reportedly transferred to Syria for treatment. The Iraqi air force reportedly carried out the airstrike that injured Baghdadi after receiving information from the Iraqi Falcon Intelligence Cell of his whereabouts. The security source also said Baghdadi had been living in an underground bunker and was targeted while meeting with the jihadi group’s leadership.”

NPR: Fight Against ISIS In Western Mosul To Begin After A Pause In Fighting

“In Iraq, the eastern side of Mosul was retaken from ISIS last month. Iraq's security forces and their allies have paused before beginning the next stage of the offensive.”

Washington Post: They’re Young And Lonely. The Islamic State Thinks They’ll Make Perfect Terrorists

“The package ordered online arrived at his second-floor apartment on a brisk Saturday morning, a cardboard box packed with magnesium, potassium nitrate and aluminum powder for a homemade bomb. Weeks ahead of the attack, police said, the terrorist cell’s leader — an Islamist his comrades called the Emir — had issued precautionary orders. “Delete ALL pictures and videos of the Islamic State,” the Emir warned via WhatsApp. “Delete your chats.” “Everything that is weapon-like or similar (also bombs) must be immediately disposed of. . . . Sell it, give it away, move it or destroy it.”

The Jerusalem Post News: Amid Internal Threats, Hamas May Seek Escalation With Israel

“Hamas and Israel both talk about not wanting another war, but are preparing for one. Since the 2014 Operation Protective Edge, the Gaza Strip has remained mostly quiet, with only a few intermittent rocket attacks such as last week’s, which actually seems to have been carried out by a Hamas-linked Islamic State affiliate in Sinai that spends most of its terrorist effort on ambushing Egyptian soldiers. But this is only another misleading calm before another explosive storm. Since 2014, Hamas has been working furiously to rebuild its military capability, digging and repairing attack tunnels and replacing most of the 4,000 rockets it fired at Israeli civilian targets over the years. Recent missile launches and sniper fire at IDF units along the border seem to indicate a round of testing Israel’s patience that precedes another Gazan provocation that leads inevitably to war.”

Voice Of America: US Commander Warns Of Russian, Iranian, Pakistani Influence In Afghanistan

“The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan says Russia, Pakistan and Iran are pursuing their own agendas with regard to the fragile country, complicating the fight against terrorism and extremism. ‘We're concerned about outside actors,’ General John Nicholson told VOA's Afghan service in an interview. Russia, which had an ill-fated intervention into Afghanistan that started in 1979 and ended nearly a decade later, has been trying to exert influence in the region again and has set up six-country peace talks next week that are excluding the United States. Nicholson worries about Russia's links with the Taliban.”

Bloomberg: Why Trump Might Target Iran’s Revolutionary Guard

“President Donald Trump’s administration is weighing whether to list Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, a decision that would have economic, political and geopolitical implications because of the enormous might it wields. A move against the Guards -- the official protector of the Islamic revolution -- would fit with Trump’s push to get tough on Iran, whose 2015 nuclear agreement with six world powers, he argues, will "give" the country nuclear weapons. Trump’s administration warned it was putting Iran "on notice" for test-firing a ballistic missile on Jan. 29. The U.S. accuses Iran of violating United Nations restrictions on its ballistic missile program. Iran says the program is a sovereign affair and doesn’t contravene UN resolutions because it isn’t aimed at conveying atomic weapons. The Revolutionary Guards control the ballistic missile program.”

CBS News: New York Man Munther Omar Saleh Admits Plotting To Help ISIS

“A New York City man who pleaded guilty Friday to terror charges was in contact with a recruiter for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Syria in 2015, according to a federal prosecutor. As part of his guilty plea in federal court in Brooklyn, Munther Omar Saleh admitted that he had sought to communicate with and support the group, “knowing that it was involved in terrorism.” Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Solomon told the judge that there was evidence that before his arrest in June 2015, the 21-year-old Queens resident was taking instructions from Junaid Hussain, a convicted British hacker who fled to Syria and became one of ISIS’ top online recruiters before his killing.”

Channel Newsasia: Arrest Of Islamic State-Linked Guard Puts Malaysia Airport Security Under Spotlight

“Malaysia's airport security has come under scrutiny following last month's arrest of an airport security guard for suspected links to the Islamic State (IS). He is believed to be the second airport personnel to be arrested by the Royal Malaysian Police in the past two years, a development counter-terrorism police and experts called a concern. While initial investigations showed he was not planning any terror attack, he had plans to go to Syria to join IS, according to police.”

United States

The Daily Caller: The Total Bill For US ‘Stalemate’ In Afghanistan Is Staggering

“The top U.S. Army commander in Afghanistan confessed to Congress earlier this week that the conflict with the Taliban remains at an impasse, an incredible admission given the staggering bill racked up over the last 15 years. ‘I believe we’re in a stalemate,’ Army Gen. John W. Nicholson told Senate Committee on Armed Services Chairman John McCain. McCain had asked Nicholson for a direct answer Thursday on whether the U.S. was winning or losing the fight, which has raged on and off since 2001.”

Syria

Reuters: Islamic State's Syrian Stronghold Should Be Isolated By Spring: UK Minister

“Western-backed Syrian forces should isolate Islamic State's de facto capital in Syria ‘by the spring’ before an offensive on the city itself, British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said on Saturday. The Syrian Democratic Forces, which includes the powerful Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, launched the campaign on Raqqa in November. It announced this month the start of a new phase in the offensive, aiming to complete its encirclement of the city and cut off the road to the militants' stronghold in Deir al-Zor, southeast of Raqqa. ‘I hope that isolation will be completed by the spring and then operations to liberate Raqqa itself can begin thereafter,’ Fallon told reporters in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq.”

Reuters: Hezbollah Supports Syria Ceasefire And Political Talks

“The Lebanese Hezbollah movement strongly supports the Syrian ceasefire agreed on in Kazakhstan and any truce that could lead to a political solution, its leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Sunday. Moscow and Ankara brokered a shaky ceasefire in December between the Syrian government and rebel groups opposed to President Bashar al-Assad. The agreement led to indirect talks last month in the Kazakh capital of Astana, where Russia, Turkey and Iran agreed to monitor the fragile truce. Several senior Hezbollah commanders and hundreds of fighters have died in Syria, where the Shi'ite Iranian-backed group is fighting in support of Assad.”

Daily Mail: Bashar Al-Assad Says He Would Welcome Us Troops Into Syria To Help In The Fight Against ISIS

“Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said he would 'welcome' US troops into the war-torn country to fight ISIS militants. He made the comments amid reports that President Trump is considering sending thousands of troops and Apache helicopters into the country to 'crush' Islamic State.  However, he cautioned that any such move must be part of a 'genuine' effort to fight terrorists and must 'respect the sovereignty of Syria'. He referred to his ally Russia, who Assad said had respected Syria's sovereignty while waging war in the country.”

Reuters: Syrian Opposition Picks Delegation To Geneva Talks

“Syria's main opposition body on Sunday approved a new delegation to take part in Geneva peace talks later this month, which include Russian-backed blocs that have been critical of the armed insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad. The High Negotiation Committee, (HNC) the main umbrella group, said in a statement after two-days of meetings in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, that the new 21-member negotiating team included members of two dissident alliances with which it has previously been at odds. Those two alliances -- the so-called Moscow and Cairo groups -- have long disavowed the armed rebellion and insisted that political change can only come through peaceful activism. Their members include a former Syrian government minister with close ties to Moscow.”

Voice Of America: Islamic State Ouster From Key Northern Syrian Town ‘Imminent’

“Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed Sunday that Turkish troops and allied Syrian rebel militias have entered the center of the Syrian town of al-Bab, saying the ouster of Islamic State forces is just a ‘matter of time.’ ‘Al-Bab is now besieged from all fronts ... Our forces entered the center,’ Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul. ‘Daesh forces have begun leaving al-Bab completely,’ he said, using the Arabic acronym for the terror group. His comments came a day after Turkish forces first breached the northern and western limits of al-Bab, the last urban stronghold of Islamic State in Aleppo province.”

Iraq

Reuters: Iraq Says Will Stay Clear Of U.S.-Iran Tensions

“Iraq won't take part in any regional or international conflicts, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told state TV on Saturday. The comment came after Abadi had spoke in a phone call with U.S. President Donald Trump during which tensions with Iran were mentioned. The call was the first between the two leaders. A political commentator close to Abadi, Ihsan al-Shammari, said Abadi's comment addressed the U.S.-Iranian tensions. Iran has close ties with the Shi'ite political elite ruling Iraq while Washington is providing critical military support to Iraqi forces battling Islamic State.”

Radio Free Europe: Islamic State Leader Said Likely Killed In Air Strike Near Mosul

Officials say a militant suspected of inspiring several attacks in France was targeted by a coalition air strike near the Iraqi city of Mosul and likely was killed. ‘We can confirm that coalition forces targeted Rashid Kassim, a senior [Islamic State] operative, near Mosul in a strike in the past 72 hours,’ Pentagon spokesman Major Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway said on February 10, although he said he could not as yet confirm Kassim's death. In Paris, a high-ranking official involved in counterterrorism operations told AFP there was not ‘absolute confirmation’ of his death, but the probability is high. Kassim, who is in his 30s, is believed to have inspired an attack last year in which a senior French policeman and his partner were stabbed to death and another in which an elderly priest's throat was cut.”

Reuters: Inter-Shi'ite Tension Mounts In Baghdad After Clashes

“Tension between Iraq's Shi'ite leaders mounted on Sunday as the toll from protests in central Baghdad on Saturday increased to six killed, five demonstrators loyal to the fiery cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and one policeman. At least 174 other protesters were injured in clashes that pitted police and Sadr's followers who had gathered to demand an overhaul of a commission that supervises elections, ahead of a provincial poll due in September. The clashes broke out as the protesters attempted to cross the bridge that links Tahrir Square where they had gathered and the heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses government buildings, embassies and international organizations.”

Daily Mail: ISIS Uses Drones To Drop Bombs On Iraqi Army Tanks In Shocking New Video From War-Torn City Of Mosul

“Footage has been released by ISIS purporting to show the moment drones were dropped on Iraqi tanks. The video shows three bombs being dropped from the sky, and it is believed some of the footage was taken in war-torn Mosul. The three clips were taken from unmanned drones, and appear to show the bombs being dropped with a high level of accuracy. On the ground people are seen scrambling around, but it is not known if anyone was killed or injured by the bombs. Last months coalition forces battling the terror group said they had hit drone production sites in both Iraq and Syria, with ISIS modifying commercial unmanned devices in an effort to cause maximum damage. A US central command official told Defense One last month: 'Over the last two months, coalition forces have observed about one adversary drone every day around Mosul.”

Associated Press: Rockets Hit Baghdad's Green Zone After Protests Turn Violent

“Two rockets landed in Baghdad's highly fortified Green Zone on Saturday night following clashes at anti-government protests that left five dead, according to Iraqi security and hospital officials. The rocket attack left no casualties as the munitions landed on the parade grounds in the center of the highly fortified Baghdad compound that is home to Iraq's government and most foreign embassies. It was not immediately clear who fired the projectiles. Saturday's protests were called for by influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and clashes that erupted as crowds pushed toward the Green Zone left two policeman and three protesters dead, according to police and hospital officials. The officials said six other policemen were injured along with dozens of protesters. The violent outbreak prompted the government to call for a ‘full investigation.’”

Turkey

Reuters: Turkey To Hold Referendum On Stronger Presidency On April 16

“Turkey will hold a referendum on April 16 on replacing its parliamentary system with the stronger presidency long sought by incumbent Tayyip Erdogan, electoral authorities announced on Saturday. The proposed constitutional reform would mark one of the biggest changes in the European Union candidate country's system of governance since the modern republic was founded on the ashes of the Ottoman empire almost a century ago. It would enable the president to issue decrees, declare emergency rule, and appoint ministers and top state officials. It could also see Erdogan remain in power in the NATO member state until 2029. Erdogan's supporters see the plans as a guarantee of stability at a time of turmoil, with Turkey's security threatened by the wars in neighboring Syria and Iraq, and by a spate of Islamic State and Kurdish militant attacks.”

Associated Press: Turkey Arrests 2 Suspected Islamic State Militants

“Two men suspected of planning Islamic State group attacks in Europe were arrested in Turkey following 10 days of being interrogated by police, Turkey's state-run agency reported Saturday. Mahamad Laban, 45, a Danish citizen, and Mohammed Tefik Saleh, 38, a Swedish citizen, received weapons and explosives training in Syria for the past three months, the Anadolu Agency said. Pictures published by Anadolu show Laban and others in trenches covered with sandbags. In several pictures, Laban is seen wearing camouflage gear and holding a machine gun. Anadolu did not provide details on the arrests but said Saleh's wife had informed Swedish authorities that he had crossed from Turkey to Syria and joined IS in 2014, along with his two daughters. The agency says the wife didn't go to Syria and returned to Sweden.”

Reuters: Suspected Istanbul Nightclub Attacker Formally Charged - Agency

“A Turkish court on Saturday remanded in custody an Uzbek national accused of killing 39 people in an Istanbul nightclub on New Year's Day, state-run media said, an attack the authorities blamed on Islamic State. Abdulgadir Masharipov, who was caught in a police raid in Istanbul on Jan. 16, was formally charged with membership of an armed terrorist group, multiple counts of murder, possession of heavy weapons and attempting to overturn the constitutional order, the state-run Anadolu news agency said. Islamic State claimed responsibility a day after the mass shooting at the exclusive Reina nightclub on the shores of the Bosphorus waterway, saying it was revenge for Turkish military involvement in Syria.”

Reuters: Erdogan Says End Goal Of Turkish Operation In Syria Is Raqqa

“President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday the final goal of a Turkish incursion into Syria was not just to retake the city of al-Bab from Islamic State, but to cleanse a border region including Raqqa of the jihadists. Turkish-backed Syrian rebels are pressing a major offensive on al-Bab, 30 km (20 miles) south of the Turkish border. The advance risks putting them in direct conflict with Syrian government forces who are closing in on the city from the south. ‘The ultimate goal is to cleanse a 5,000-square-km area,’ Erdogan told a news conference before his departure on an official visit to Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. He said Turkish forces had no intention of staying in Syria once the area had been cleared of both Islamic State and Kurdish YPG militia fighters, whom Turkey sees as a hostile force.”

Deutsche Welle: Turkey Pressures Media Ahead Of Erdogan Referendum

“The firing of a prominent news anchor for his objection to constitutional changes that would expand presidential powers is the latest development to highlight Turkey's tightening choke hold on critical voices ahead of a referendum that the opposition considers unfair. On April 16, Turkey will vote in one of the most critical polls in its modern history, deciding whether to change the country to an executive system, which would grant President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the sweeping powers that he has long sought. If approved in the referendum, the constitutional changes greenlighted by parliament last month would, among other things, give Erdogan the power to dismiss ministers and dissolve parliament, issue decrees, declare emergency rule, and appoint figures to key positions, including within the judiciary.”

Afghanistan

CNN: Taliban Claim Responsibility For Deadly Afghan Blast

“The Taliban have claimed responsibility for a car bomb blast Saturday that killed at least eight people in southern Afghanistan. In a text message to journalists, Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said the group was behind the early-morning attack. The explosion happened in Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand province. A least 19 other people were wounded in the explosion, according to Omar Zwak, a spokesman for the province.”

The New York Times: NATO Checking Claim That U.S. Airstrikes Killed 22 Afghan Civilians

“The NATO mission in Afghanistan has opened a preliminary investigation into claims that more than 20 civilians were killed in recent American airstrikes in the southern province of Helmand, military officials said Saturday. Elders from the Sangin district, the scene of heavy fighting in recent weeks, with the Taliban blowing up Afghan Army posts there, have said that multiple American airstrikes early Friday morning killed at least 22 civilians, including several women and children. Brig. Gen. Charles H. Cleveland, a spokesman for the American-led NATO mission, insisted that the military command had seen no conclusive evidence that civilians were killed in the airstrikes, but said that ‘a formal review to determine the credibility of the claims’ had been opened. The investigation team involved NATO officers outside the American command to ensure impartiality, he added.”

The Guardian: Afghanistan Civilian Deaths May Have Been Caused By US Airstrike

“US airstrikes in Afghanistan’s Helmand province may have been responsible for the deaths of at least 18 civilians, mostly women and children, according to the UN and local sources. Airstrikes took place late on Thursday in Sangin district, which has been highly contested for most of the Afghan war. It is the first claim of civilian casualties at the hands of US forces in Afghanistan since Donald Trump assumed the US presidency, and comes two weeks after a botched US raid in Yemen allegedly killed dozens of civilians.”

Yemen

Associated Press: 7 Pakistani Fishermen Jailed In Yemen For 10 Years Returned

“Seven Pakistani fishermen who remained jailed in Yemen for over a decade have been returned home. Najum Abbasi, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, said Saturday that the fishermen who hail from coastal areas in the provinces of Baluchistan and Sindh, had crossed international water boundaries 10 years ago and were detained by authorities in Yemen. He said the fishermen had been held in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, and were released as a result of collaborated efforts by the ICRC and Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The released fishermen returned to the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, late Friday night to reunite with their families, who were brought to the airport by the Red Cross.”

Reuters: U.N. Chief Affirms Full Support For Yemen Peace Envoy

“U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Sunday the U.N. envoy to Yemen had his full support, days after Yemen's Houthi group asked him not to renew the diplomat's term due to what it said was bias against the Iranian-aligned movement. ‘Our envoy has my full support and I believe that he is doing an impartial work, that he is doing it in a very professional way and independently of what other people may think, he has my full support,’ said Guterres during a stop in Riyadh, part of a regional tour that also includes the United Arab Emirates. In a joint news conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir in Riyadh, Guterres appealed to the combatants in Yemen's almost two-year-old war not to exploit the delivery of humanitarian aid, adding any such action was to be condemned.”

Egypt

The Times Of Israel: Egypt Opens Rafah Crossing To Gaza For 3 Days

“The Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Hamas-run Gaza Strip reopened Saturday, reflecting the improved ties between Cairo and the Islamist terror organization. The crossing will be open for three days, Israel Radio reported. Since the beginning of the year, the crossing has opened with a much greater frequency following talks between Cairo and Hamas to resolve long-simmering tensions. Last month Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh led a delegation to Cairo, the first visit by the group’s top leader in over three years.”

Middle East

The Times Of Israel: Troops Thwart Palestinian Stabbing Attack In Hebron; None Hurt

“Palestinian woman was arrested Saturday after she pulled out a knife and headed toward a Border Police force in the flashpoint West Bank city of Hebron. The troops identified her intentions, drew their weapons and called on the woman to halt. The suspect came to a sudden stop without any shots fired, and threw the knife to the floor. No injuries were reported in the incident, which took place at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a site considered holy to both Jews and Muslims. The woman, who is reportedly a resident of Hebron, was taken for questioning by security forces.”

Associated Press: Famed Church In Israel Reopens 2 Years After Arson Attack

“One of the most famous Catholic churches in the Holy Land has reopened with a special mass two years after an arson attack blamed on Jewish extremists. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin attended the reopening ceremony at the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish on Sunday, saying he wanted ‘to say loud and clearly, that hate cannot win.’ The church, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel, marks the traditional site of Jesus' miracle of the loaves and fish. It is one of the most popular stops for Christian pilgrims visiting the Holy Land. The 2015 arson caused extensive damage to the building. Jewish extremists have targeted mosques, churches and dovish Israeli groups in recent years.”

The New York Times: Netanyahu’s Meeting With Trump To Set Tone For U.S.-Israel Relations

“As President Trump appeared to shift closer to the political center on several contentious policies on Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested on Sunday that it was unrealistic to expect their two countries to agree completely on all issues. But amid growing challenges from the right, Mr. Netanyahu said he was the strongest leader to navigate the relationship — the nation’s most important, yet often its trickiest. The Israeli leader’s comments came the night before he leaves for Washington for his first face-to-face meeting with Mr. Trump as president. While Mr. Trump at first appeared to give Israel’s leaders carte blanche — he remained silent, for example, as the nation announced the construction of thousands of new homes in the occupied West Bank — he has since said he does not believe that ‘going forward with these settlements is a good thing for peace.’”

The Jerusalem Post: Egypt-Israel Relations Have Quietly Reached A High Point

“The vast six-lane boulevard from Cairo International Airport into the city center is lined with buildings and offices connected to Egypt’s powerful military. Hotels cater to air force officers, and buildings commemorate, with glorious murals, the country’s fighting history. One shows Egyptian soldiers crossing the Suez Canal in 1973 to strike at Israeli forces in Sinai. Many Egyptians see the 1973 war as a victory. From that war came the peace treaty signed in Washington in 1979 between president Anwar Sadat and prime minister Menachem Begin. Insiders say that Israel and Egypt are experiencing the closest cooperation in decades, based on shared interests.”

Germany

Reuters: Germany Rules Out Attack In Hamburg Airport Closure

“German authorities said on Sunday the leak of a corrosive substance through the air conditioning system at Hamburg airport was not an attack, adding that police were investigating the incident that forced the brief closure of the facility. Firefighters and ambulances were rushed to the scene after some 50 people at one terminal complained of eye irritation and breathing difficulties. ‘I want to explicitly deny ... that this was a terrorist attack. As far as we know it was at no period considered a terrorist attack,’ Hamburg fire department spokesman Torsten Wessely told a news conference in the northern city.”

Europe

USA Today: Europeans Who Join Islamic State Leave Parents Fretting They'll Die In Battle

“Veronique Loute hoped her son was not in a combat zone last year, after the war against the Islamic State heated up in Iraq and Syria. Her son, Sammy Djedou, 27, was among the first Belgians to join the militant group when it grew in power in Syria and Iraq nearly three years ago. But she hadn’t seen or heard from him  since August 2015. ‘He never told me where he was,’ she said in an interview. ‘It's not impossible — since he has a family with two children — that they fled when they found out what was about to happen. I am just hoping he is safe and that he is not taking part in this horrific war.’”

Australia

Fox News: ISIS Fighter Becomes First Stripped Of Australian Citizenship

“An Islamic State fighter was stripped of their Australian citizenship under anti-terrorism laws, Reuters reported. This is the first time a dual citizen has been stripped of the country’s citizenship under the terrorism laws. According to the 2015 law, any Australian can be stripped of their dual citizenship if they have ties to any terrorist organization or if they have engaged in any terror-related activities. This isn’t the first time the ISIS fighter, Khaled Sharrouf, has made headlines. In 2014 he gained global attention after pictures of his son holding Syrian soldiers’ severed heads emerged. Sharrouf’s son was 7-years-old at the time.”

Terror Financing 

Masralarabia: Egypt: Network To Finance Terrorist Gangs Dismantled

“Maj. Gen. Mohammed Faraj Al Shahat, Director of Egypt’s Intelligence and Reconnaissance Directorate, stated that the Egyptian armed forces recently dismantled a network which had been operating and smuggling various items on behalf of terrorist groups, including electrical circuits, technical equipment and diving gear. He made these comments in a speech he delivered at the 24th Intellectual Seminar of the Egyptian Armed Forces, in the presence of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Al Shahat also disclosed that members of gangs that provide financial and logistical support have been detained. These gangs acted in cooperation with more than 10 companies in the sectors of foreign currency exchange, jewelry and tourism. He added that during this latest campaign, security forces seized 115 million pounds (over $6 million) in the suspects' possession.”

Akhbar Alasr: African Forum Calls For Combating Financing Of Terrorism

“Participants at the 8th Session of the African Security Forum, held on Saturday in Moroccan city of Marrakech, called to strengthen the viable institutional mechanisms dedicated to the fight against terror financing on continental and regional levels. During the closing session of the two-day forum, held under the auspices of Morocco's King Mohammed VI, participants recommended the creation of a special unit belonging to the security forces. The unit will be in charge of countering terror in various ways. They also called for taking action to improve crisis management systems, in addition to creating and promoting preventive mechanisms against extremism. This will be done in line with the specific features of each country and region. Participants stressed the importance of working for better border controls in order to monitor the flow of migrants, in addition to the introduction of integrated development programs for border areas.”

Libya-Al-Mostakbal: Libya: Extremist Organizations Implicated In Trafficking Of Drugs And Counterfeit Money

“Intelligence and security sources revealed that Libyan militias, some affiliated with radical organizations such as ISIS, Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, are engaged in drugs and counterfeit currency trafficking. This is being carried out in cooperation with international criminal networks. These activities are part of the efforts by these militias to obtain arms and financial resources to fund the salaries of its militants, especially amid the economic crisis in the country, which has affected their funding sources. These trafficking activities have raised US and European concerns. The financial crunch faced by the militias is partly linked to the new US administration, which placed the war on terrorism at the top of its agenda in the region. This prompted the Libyan government to back down from assigning the militias to provide protection to state institutions in exchange for payment of salaries to their militants. A security official in Tripoli disclosed that hundreds of applications from militias to pay salaries of their members have been "stalled for over two months due to a lack of funds, and due to the understanding by the authorities that reliance on {protection} by militias is no longer acceptable, locally or internationally.”

ISIS

New Sabah: Mosul: ISIS Calling For Food Storage

“ISIS called on the population on the right side of the city of Mosul to store food and drinking water in preparation for the upcoming battle {against Iraqi security forces}. An Iraqi security source in Nineveh province said: "The {terror} organization believes that the battle to liberate the right side {of Mosul} is imminent. Therefore, it told local residents and its militants to start storing food and drinking water, in accordance with commands from ISIS {leadership}. In addition, the terrorist organization distributed flour to its militants and families that support it.”

Muslim Brotherhood

Elfagr: Egypt: New Summons For 69 Accused Of Muslim Brotherhood Financing

“The East Cairo General Prosecution renewed its request to summon 69 owners of foreign exchange and tourism companies as well as schools affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. This is to hear their version of suspicions against their {allegedly} financing terrorist entities. On the other hand, the Prosecution ordered the release of four owners of foreign currency exchange companies, who had been jailed for financing the Brotherhood. Note that the North Cairo Criminal Court ordered the inclusion of 1,500 people on the list of terrorist entities, against the backdrop of allegations of financing the Brotherhood. The people on this list are also being charged with harming Egypt's national security.”

Sada-Elarab: Muslim Brotherhood Accused Of Raising Money From The Sale Of Water In Egypt's Bahariya Oasis

“Egyptian TV host, Mahamoud Moussa, said during his “The Red Line" show aired by Alhadas Elyoum TV that "water-pumping stations in the Bahariya Oasis belong to the Brotherhood-affiliated Freedom and Justice Party. He noted: "Brotherhood activists are raising funds by selling the water to citizens in the Bahariya Oasis, in the complete absence of relevant authorities." He stressed: "I ask Engineer Mohy el-Serafy, Spokesperson of the Holding Company for Drinking Water and Sanitation in the Bahariya Oasis water stations, to verify this matter." The TV star added: "This is a crime." He also urged the Administrative Control Authority (ACA) to intervene and investigate the matter.”

Elbalad: Egypt: Government Appeal To Cancel Decision On Seizure Of Funds Belonging To Brotherhood-Affiliated Pakinam Sharqawi Postponed

“Egypt's Supreme Administrative Court has postponed till March 18th the session to review an appeal filed by the State Lawsuits Authority on behalf of the Ministry of Justice. The appeal seeks to invalidate the {previous} decision to appropriate funds belonging to Dr. Pakinam el-Sharqawi, the political adviser of ousted President Mohammed Morsi. The Supreme Administrative Court claimed that documents presented in the lawsuit were insufficient, based on the Terrorist Entities Act, to add el-Sharqawi to the list of terrorists. The Court added that the government had also failed to provide compelling proof for the inclusion of her name on the terrorist list.”

Masralarabia: Reports Of Muslim Brotherhood International Organization Being Hit By Major Financial Fraud

“Turkey-based sources within the Muslim Brotherhood's International Organization claim that it is facing a major crisis. This is after leaders of the Front affiliated with Mahmoud Ezzat, Deputy Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, encountered a major fraud ordeal, which caused the Brotherhood a loss of roughly 150 million Saudi riyals ($41 million). The sources revealed that there are calls inside the International Organization to launch a probe into the case of two leaders, namely, Ali Abdul Fattah and Medhat Elhaddad, an Egyptian Brotherhood leader affiliated with the Ezzat Front. The fraud case involves a Yemeni businessman who stole roughly 150 million Saudi riyals belonging to the group's funds. The sources insist that Abdul Fattah and Elhaddad were in charge of the transfer of funds from one Gulf state to another state through the Yemeni businessman, who had been recommended by the Brotherhood in Yemen, for his expertise in this kind of activity. However, the businessman vanished after receiving the funds, and later re-appeared, claiming he had been arrested in the UAE and forced to hand over the money.”

Al Wafd: Egypt: Chairman Of The Board Of Brotherhood Schools Speaks Amid Claims He Concealed Irregularities

“Egypt's Administrative Prosecution Authority (APA) heard the version of Dr. Reda Hejazi, head of the General Education Sector at the Egyptian Ministry of Education, who also serves as Chairman of the Board of the {seized} Brotherhood's June 30Schools. He refuted evidence that he had concealed irregularities in "Noor International Schools" in the districts of Dar Al-Salam and el-Basatin. Earlier, an APA committee found "administrative corruption" within "Noor International Schools," which is a subsidiary of the June 30th Schools.”

Houthi

Yemen Akhbar: Houthis Arrest Money Changers Amid Collapse Of Yemeni Riyal

“The Yemeni riyal continued its sharp decline against the dollar on the black market during trading yesterday. This comes as the rates of foreign currencies are posting huge rises on a daily basis, meeting no response by the central government. Meanwhile, eyewitnesses confirmed that Houthis have detained numerous money-changers and closed foreign currency exchange offices. They were arrested following their refusal to exchange currencies for low rates amid the current market conditions. The rate of the dollar rose to more than 360 riyals on the black market, compared to 250 riyals in the official market.”