Eye on Extremism: February 13

CBS News: U.S. Urges Home Countries To Take Back Foreign Fighters Caught In Syria

“The United States is urging allied nations to help deal with the growing number of foreign fighters that are being held by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, saying the militants should be turned over to face justice in their home countries. U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to raise the issue during a meeting in Rome this week with other members of the coalition that is fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in both Syria and Iraq. The SDF is currently holding thousands of ISIS detainees, including hundreds of foreign fighters from a number of nations. The issue became more prominent in recent days, after the announcement that the SDF had captured two notorious British members of an ISIS cell who were commonly dubbed the Beatles and were known for beheading hostages.”

The Telegraph: Tech Companies Have No Incentive To Monitor Their Content – So Governments Need To Give Them One, Sharpish

“The devastating impact of online radicalisation through extremist videos was felt far too often in 2017. Whether it was the attacks carried out in Manchester and London by Islamist extremists or those perpetrated in Charlottesville, Virginia by White supremacists, online radicalisation is the common thread that ties these deadly events together.”

Fox News: Maryland Man Who Supported ISIS Plotted Major Attack, Feds Say

“A Maryland man who pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to provide material support to the ISIS terror network was planning to carry out bloodshed in the U.S., prosecutors revealed Monday. Mohamed Elshinawy is tentatively scheduled to be sentenced March 9, but CBS Baltimore reported that prosecutors were trying to convince a judge to apply a federal terrorism enhancement to ensure a longer jail term. According to the plea deal to which Elshinaway and prosecutors agreed, he pledged allegiance to ISIS and received $8,700 from people he believed were linked to the terror network. Prosecutors said Elshinawy was in contact with ISIS leaders who gave him a choice between two plots. One option, according to CBS Baltimore, was assassinating "a Texas businessman." The other option was detonating a bomb that would "kill a lot of people." Elshinawy apparently chose the second option, as prosecutors said he received videos from ISIS that included instructions on how to build a peroxide bomb. Prosecutors also said that Elshinawy was researching federal buildings in Baltimore as possible targets.”

Axios: Bill Gates: Tech Companies Inviting Government Intervention

“Researcher and technologist Aviv Ovadya, one of the first to identify the fake news catastrophe in early 2016, tells Buzzfeed he is worried about an “Information Apocalypse,” which could lead to “reality apathy,” or people just giving up on finding the truth because it is too indistinguishable from misinformation. Why it matters: Red flags are continuously being waved by engineers, academics, lawmakers and technologists about the dangers of big tech, yet very little is being done to actually stop the crisis from worsening. Meanwhile, big tech companies grow bigger. The latest: Critics continue to explore the adverse impacts of automated content and platform abuse.”

CNN: Funding Al-Shabaab: How Aid Money Ends Up In Terror Group's Hands

“The murderous al Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab is making millions of dollars each year by exploiting foreign aid money sent to Somalia by the very western nations who are trying to eliminate the terror group. A CNN investigation has revealed how money given directly by the United Nations to people displaced by conflict and famine is ending up in the hands of Africa's oldest terrorist organization. Former members of al-Shabaab and Somali intelligence agents said the terror group is extorting thousands of dollars per day through road blocks and taxes on merchants attempting to transport food and supplies to sell to internally displaced people in towns where they are concentrated. People who have fled their homes and are living in a sprawling camp in the central Somali city of Baidoa are screened by the UN and issued cash cards that the UN tops up with around $80 to $90 each month, enabling them to buy essentials from local merchants.”

United States

The New York Times:  US Tells Anti-IS Coalition To 'Keep Eyes On Prize'

“The Trump administration, increasingly concerned that the 74-strong coalition it cobbled together to destroy the Islamic State group is losing sight of the prime objective, pressed its partners on Tuesday to refocus their efforts, overcome rivalries and concentrate on the task at hand: the eradication from Iraq and Syria of the extremist group. The alarm U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sounded at a coalition gathering in Kuwait came with the fight at a critical moment and the mission shifting from offensive military operations to stabilization. Distractions are adding up, such as Turkey's fighting with U.S.-backed Kurdish rebels in Syria and intensifying anti-American rhetoric from Turkish leaders. Meanwhile, renewed spillover from Syria's civil war, including hostilities between non-coalition actors — Iran, its proxies in Syria, and Israel — risk creating a new conflict in an already crowded battle space. "The end of major combat operations does not mean we have achieved the enduring defeat of ISIS," Tillerson told the meeting in Kuwait City, using an alternative acronym for the Islamic State group.”

Newsweek: Let ISIS Fighters Go Home, U.S. Says

“The United States is lobbying its partners to let their fighters from the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) return home from Syria to face justice there. Top U.S. officials are calling on coalition allies to repatriate the foreign fighters who have been captured by the Syrian Kurds. “We're working with the coalition on foreign fighter detainees, and generally expect these detainees to return to their country of origin for disposition,” said Kathryn Wheelbarger, the principal deputy assistant defense secretary for international security affairs, the Associated Press reported. “Defense ministers have the obligation and the opportunity to really explain to their other ministers or their other Cabinet officials just the importance to the mission, to the campaign, to make sure that there's an answer to this problem.” European security services have long feared the return of thousands of foreign ISIS fighters to their home countries. But those who are returned as captives also pose problems for governments about what they should do with them.”

Kurdistan 24: Pentagon Admits US Abrams Tanks Sold To Iraq Used By Pro-Iranian Militia

“US Abrams tanks sold to Iraq have been used by Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias fighting the Islamic State (IS) in Syria, the Pentagon said on Friday. The tanks were later returned to the Iraqi army, Pentagon spokesperson Eric Pahon stated. He mentioned that the M1 Abrams tanks were sold to the Iraqi government, but Washington had “not provided defense articles to the Shia Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), which are part of the Iraqi security forces by law.” Hashd al-Shaabi is made up of dozens of Shia militias established in 2014 following a religious call for Shias to take up arms against IS. The militia is estimated to have 60,000 to 140,000 fighters. “We have discovered incidents where some US-origin equipment, including M1 Abrams tanks, came into the possession of certain PMF groups. This equipment was subsequently used by these groups in the fight against the jihadist group,” Pahon added. “All of these tanks were recently returned to Iraqi Security Forces custody,” the spokesperson said. The Iraqi parliament considers the PMF an official part of its country’s forces.”

The New York Post: US Backs Egypt In Fight Against ISIS: Rex Tillerson

“U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Monday the United States supports Egypt’s fight against Islamic State but reiterated that it advocated free and fair elections in the Arab country. Speaking at a joint news conference with his Egyptian counterpart, Tillerson also said that Washington remained committed to achieving a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, despite President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Tillerson arrived in Egypt at the start of a regional tour amid heightened tensions between Israel and Syria after an Israeli F-16 aircraft was shot down. It also follows a major security operation by the Egyptian military to crush Islamist militants who have killed hundreds of people since 2013. “We agreed we would continue our close cooperation on counterterrorism measures,” Tillerson said.”

The Miami Herald: He Wanted To Join Islamic State. He Got As Far As Airport Security.

“A West Palm Beach man’s desire to join the Islamic State ended in a federal court guilty plea last week to conspiring to provide material support to the terrorist group. Gregory Hubbard, 54, was arrested at Miami International Airport on July 21, 2016. Hubbard, who also went by “Jibreel,” along with Dayne Christian (“Shakur”) and Darren Jackson (“Daoud”), were arrested and charged with conspiracy to help the Islamic State. Christian pleaded guilty March 29 to conspiracy to provide material support to the Islamic State in Syria and to being a felon in possession of a firearm. Jackson pleaded guilty on April 4 to conspiracy to provide material support to the group. Christian and Jackson will be sentenced after Hubbard learns his federal prison stay in April.”

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Richmond Man Who Swore Allegiance To ISIS Sentenced To 10 Years For Gun Charge

“An ISIS supporter who was caught in possession of a firearm weeks after his release from a Virginia prison last year will now do time in federal prison. Casey Charles Spain, 29, of Richmond, who became radicalized while in state Department of Corrections custody and swore a pledge of loyalty to the leader of ISIS, was sentenced to the maximum 10-year term Monday by U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney Jr. Spain, who had the words “Cop Killa” tattooed on his face and the flag of ISIS tattooed on his back, pleaded guilty last year to a charge of possession of a firearm by a felon. He was indicted in September for possessing an inoperable 9 mm Glock handgun given to him by an unidentified FBI source. Convicted in Henrico County in 2006 of malicious wounding and in 2010 of abduction with the intent to defile, Spain was released from the Greensville Correctional Center on Aug. 11. He was arrested shortly after he was handed the firearm outside his home early on the morning of Aug. 31.”

Syria

The Washington Post: Syria’s War Mutates Into A Regional Conflict, Risking A Wider Conflagration

“A war that began with peaceful protests against President Bashar al-Assad is rapidly descending into a global scramble for control over what remains of the broken country of Syria, risking a wider conflict. Under skies crowded by the warplanes of half a dozen countries, an assortment of factions backed by rival powers are battling one another in a dizzying array of combinations. Allies on one battlefront are foes on another. The United States, Russia, Turkey and Iran have troops on the ground, and they are increasingly colliding. In the space of a single week last week, Russia, Turkey, Iran and Israel lost aircraft to hostile fire. The United States, meanwhile, has been battling for days to hold back Iranian-supported Syrian tribal militias in the eastern desert, drawing U.S. forces closer toward entanglement in Syria’s conflict. “The risks are high,” said Sami Nadir of the Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs. “There is a new Cold War prevailing in Syria and any escalation could pave the way for a regional or international war given the fact that the big powers are directly present on the ground and not through proxies, as used to be the case in the past.”

Newsweek: This Is How ISIS Booby-Trapped The City Of Raqqa

“The Islamic State militant group (ISIS) killed and maimed civilians in the eastern Syrian city of Raqqa with a wide range of booby traps, including washing machines and refrigerators. The jihadi group controlled the city for more than three years, from January 2014 to October last year, when the Kurdish-Arab coalition supported by U.S. air and ground support liberated the city after a months-long offensive. The aftermath of the campaign left residents suffering ISIS's deadly legacy: munitions, and lots of them. Human Rights Watch (HRW) found that hundreds of civilians, including many children, had been injured or killed by mines or improvised explosive devices (IEDs) left in the city by ISIS. Tens of thousands of people returned to the city after its fall. The rights group collected their information from the Kurdish Red Crescent and international medical organizations. The mines injured at least 491 people between October 21 last year and January 20, a three-month period after the battle for the city had concluded.”

The Daily Mail: 'Are You Going To Shoot Me?' Footage Shows The Moment ISIS Child Soldier 'Who Fought In Raqqa For Two Years' Is Captured By Anti-Assad Rebels In Syria

“This is the disturbing moment a child soldier fighting for ISIS was captured by rebels in northern Syria. The boy, who barely looks old enough to be a teenager, was filmed lying face-down in the dirt after a surprise ISIS attack on the village of al-Khuwain, near Idlib. In the footage the boy is completely calm as he tells the anti-Assad rebels who captured him that he has been with ISIS for two years, and fought in Raqqa. The boy does not even flinch as a rebel fighter approaches him from behind with his weapon hanging by his side. 'Are you going to shoot me?' He asks, according to a translation posted on Twitter by the BBC's Riam Dalati. 'Shoot him,' comes the response from one of the fighters before the video stops.”

Iraq

Associated Press: $88.2B Price Tag For Rebuilding Iraq After Islamic State War

“Kuwait on Monday opened a week of conferences seeking aid for rebuilding Iraq after the onslaught of the Islamic State group, seeking tens of billions of dollars for a nation only a generation ago that invaded it. Authorities estimate Iraq needs $88.2 billion to restore a country smashed after the Sunni extremists seized the country's second-largest city of Mosul and a mass of territory in June 2014. While the U.S. will not make any new direct aid pledges at the conference, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is expected to announce an over $3 billion financial package, an American official said. Still, far more money will be needed, Iraqi officials say. "We finished one battle but we are engaged now with a war for reconstruction," said Mustafa al-Hiti, the head of Iraq's reconstruction fund for areas affected by terrorist operations. Among the hardest-hit areas is Mosul, which Iraqi forces, aided by Iranian-backed Shiite militias and a U.S.-led coalition, recaptured in July 2017. Their victory came at a steep cost for Mosul, as coalition airstrikes and extremist suicide car bombs destroyed homes and government buildings.”

Al Jazeera: Iraqi Tribesmen Warn ISIL Fighters' Families

“In Iraq's western Anbar province, tribesmen starting to rebuild have warned they will take revenge on the families of ISIL fighters if they return. Anbar is the biggest province in Iraq and one of the last places to be freed from ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group. ISIL, also known as ISIS, swept into the province in 2013. The cities of Falluja, Ramadi and al-Qaim soon became urban battlefields. "We don't want to go back to square one," Omar Shihan al-Alwani, who fought against ISIL, said. "We're totally against that. If they come back, then blood will flow and neither tribes nor military operations will be able to stop it." The homes of ISIL family members have been destroyed - a tactic ISIL itself has used in the past. "We're not against [ISIL family members] returning, but the timing is bad and would risk provoking unrest and a return to bloodshed in the streets," said Omar Ibrahim, a former tribal fighter.”

Afghanistan

Associated Press: Afghan Officials: Taliban Killed 16 Pro-Government Fighters

“Afghan local officials have confirmed an attack over the weekend in southern Helmand province, saying the Taliban there killed 16 pro-government militiamen. Two officials in Helmand say the attack took place on Saturday night. They say the attackers targeted a checkpoint belonging to the pro-government militiamen in Gareshk district. The two officials spoke to The Associated Press on Monday on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. Omar Zwak, spokesman for the provincial governor, says an investigation is underway. Qari Yusouf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement sent to the media. He says two Taliban fighters involved in the attack had managed to escape, confiscating all the ammunition from pro-government fighters.”

Israel

Jerusalem Post: Preparing For War In The North, Israel Boosts Air Defenses

“Israel has boosted its air defense in the North following a significant confrontation between the Jewish state, Syria and Iran that led to the loss of an F-16i fighter jet. While the army refused to comment on the reports, witnesses reported seeing a convoy of missile-defense batteries heading north near the Israeli-Arab city of Baka al-Gharbiya. Other witnesses posted photos of several trucks carrying the batteries on central highways in northern Israel. Israel’s air defenses currently include the Iron Dome, designed to shoot down short-range rockets; the Arrow system, which intercepts ballistic missiles outside of the Earth’s atmosphere; and the David’s Sling missile-defense system, which is designed to intercept tactical ballistic missiles, medium- to long-range rockets and cruise missiles fired from ranges of between 40 km to 300 km. Israel also has Patriot-missile batteries stationed in the North and has used them to intercept drones infiltrating into Israeli airspace from Syria. In September, an Iranian-built unmanned aerial vehicle breached the “Bravo line” that marks the Syrian demilitarized zone, and was intercepted by an Israeli Patriot anti-ballistic missile launched from a station near the northern city of Safed.”

Middle East

Jerusalem Post: Renewed Hamas-Iran Ties Make Risk Of Two-Front War More Realistic

“If a war were to break out between Israel and Iranian-backed forces in Syria, the possibility that Hamas fighters in the Gaza Strip would join the battle is more realistic today compared to a year ago. What has made the possibility of Israel facing a two-front war more realistic? Hamas’s relations with Iran deteriorated in 2011 after the group refused to support the Iranian-backed Syrian President Bashar Assad when a civil war broke out in Syria. At the time, senior Hamas leaders relocated from their headquarters in Damascus to Doha, and Iran started to provide support for armed groups in Gaza that strongly oppose Hamas. However, in the past year, Hamas has expended many efforts to restore its ties with Tehran, dispatching a number of delegations to Iran to meet with senior Iranian officials and defending it in public forums against the criticisms of its Middle Eastern rivals. In August, Hamas chief in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar told reporters that Iran had become the biggest supporter of Hamas’s armed wing, the Izzeldin Kassam Brigades.”

Reuters: Syrian Frontline Town Divides NATO Allies Turkey And U.S.

“A dispute between Turkey and the United States over control of a north Syrian town has put the NATO allies on opposing sides of the conflict's front line, deepening a diplomatic rift ahead of a visit to Turkey by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. This week's talks, already challenging given disagreements over President Tayyip Erdogan's crackdown after a failed 2016 coup, the detention of U.S. consulate staff and citizens, and the trial of a Turkish bank executive for evading U.S. sanctions on Iran, have been given added edge by the dispute over Syria. Turkish and U.S. troops, deployed alongside local fighters, have carved out rival areas of influence on Syria's northern border. To Ankara's fury, Washington allied itself with a force led by the Kurdish YPG, a militia which Turkey says is commanded by the same leaders overseeing an insurgency in its southeast. The dispute has come to a head over the Syrian town of Manbij, where Turkey has threatened to drive out a YPG-led force and warned the United States - which has troops there - not to get in the way.”

Vanguard: Libya Accuses Turkey Of Supporting Terrorists

“Speaker of the Libyan House of Representatives,  Aguila Issa,has accused Turkey of supporting terrorism in that country. In January, two bomb-laden cars exploded near a mosque in Benghazi following prayer time. Forty people were killed. Two people were killed in a similar incident last week. “Terrorist organisations are behind this [explosions in Benghazi], unfortunately with support of foreign countries, with Turkey’s support,” he said. NAN reports that on Jan. 15, Libya’s eastern-based army spokesman also slammed Turkey as the sponsor of terrorism in Libya. “Turkey is the sponsor of terrorism in our country even before the start of the military war against terrorism more than three years ago,” said spokesman Ahmad Al-Mismari at a news conference in the eastern city of Benghazi. “The House of Representatives has not yet charged a commission of inquiry on the ship carrying explosives coming from Turkey.”

Nigeria

Reuters: Nigeria Resumes Mass Trial Of Hundreds Of Boko Haram Suspects

“Hundreds of people suspected of links to Boko Haram stood trial in a detention center in central Nigeria on Monday in a resumption of the country’s biggest legal investigation of the militant Islamist insurgency, authorities said. More than 20,000 people have been killed and two million forced to flee their homes in northeastern Nigeria since Boko Haram began an insurgency in 2009 aimed at creating an Islamic state. The justice ministry said the suspects appeared in open court, after rights groups criticized earlier hearings in which more than 1,000 people stood trial in secret. On Monday four judges presided over the trial of another several hundred people accused of links to the group, the justice ministry said. ‘Unlike the first phase which was restricted, this phase is opened with some civil society groups, including human rights organizations and journalists invited to witness the proceedings,’ the ministry added in a statement.”

Daily Post: Boko Haram: Nigerian Troops Overpower Insurgents In Sambisa Forest, Rescue 46

“Troops of Operation LAFIYA DOLE have dislodged Boko Haram terrorists from one of their highly fortified hideouts around S-Shape part of the Sambisa forest in Borno State. The exercise is part of their continued clearance operation against all known hideouts of Boko Haram terrorists within the large expanse of Sambisa forest. Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu, Deputy Director Public Relations, Theatre Command Operation LAFIYA DOLE said The location was hitherto believed to be one of their prized locations. However, during a fierce offensive which was supported by Nigerian Air Force, against the terrorists on Monday 12th February 2018, the resilient troops neutralized quite a number of Boko Haram terrorists and captured major armaments, including 2 Spartan Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC), 1 Canter truck and 1 Laptop computer belonging to the insurgents. ‘The gallant troops also destroyed 8 gun trucks, several makeshift accommodation and tents. Similarly, the troops rescued 19 women and 27 children from the erstwhile terrorists enclave. The highly motivated troops remain dauntless as the operation continues,’ he said.”

Philippines

The New York Times: Duterte Draws Fire For Crude Threat To Female Rebels In Philippines

“President Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippine strongman who has earned a reputation for dirty tactics and language, was criticized on Monday for having boasted that he had ordered soldiers to shoot female communist guerrillas in the genitals. “Tell the soldiers, ‘There’s a new order coming from the mayor,’ ” the president said in a speech, recalling a directive he said he had given when he was mayor of Davao City. “ ‘We will not kill you. We will just shoot you in the vagina.’” Mr. Duterte made the remarks in a speech to former rebels last week, but the comments went largely unreported because he was speaking in his native Visayan language. He expressed exasperation that some women preferred joining the New People’s Army, a communist rebel force that has been waging an insurgency since 1969, to raising children. Since Mr. Duterte’s remarks began circulating more widely, the criticism of his choice of words has been fierce. It “is just the latest in a series of misogynist, derogatory and demeaning statements he has made about women,” said Carlos H. Conde, the Philippines researcher for Human Rights Watch.”

United Kingdom

The Times: ‘Jihadi’ Briton Jack Letts In Rescue Plea

“A British Muslim convert who travelled to Syria and became known as Jihadi Jack says that Guantanamo Bay would be preferable to his imprisonment by Kurdish militia. Jack Letts, 22, said that he had not seen a doctor for seven months despite kidney problems. He had been confined for 35 days in a tiny room with no toilet in Qamishli on the Turkish border with Syria. Kurdish officials said that they were investigating him for being a member of Isis, which Mr Letts, who has dual British-Canadian nationality, denies. He has sought help from Canada and told diplomats by phone: “Any place other than here is better.”

France

NDTV: French Trial Opens For Suspected High-Ranking Al-Qaeda Member

“A French-Algerian man suspected of being a ranking Al-Qaeda member tasked with helping carry out attacks in Europe went on trial Monday in Paris, years after his arrest in Pakistan in 2012. Intelligence officials believe Naamen Meziche was once connected to Al-Qaeda's so-called "Hamburg cell", which planned the 9/11 attacks on the United States. He is suspected of first travelling to Afghanistan in the early 1990s, being trained by the jihadist group and eventually being assigned to the cell led by Younis al-Mauritani, a close associate of Osama bin Laden in charge of preparing European attacks. But it was a second trip, as part of a group from Hamburg in March 2009, that prompted the legal action against him. Meziche, 47, told a judge he denied the charges, saying he had left for Afghanistan to scout out a potential home for his family. He said he was forced to join Al-Qaeda as the only chance for eventually getting back to Germany, where the Paris-born man had spent most of his life.”

Europe

Radio Free Europe: Stockholm Truck Attack Suspect Pleads Guilty As Trial Opens

“The suspect in a deadly truck attack that stunned Sweden in April 2017 has pleaded guilty on the first day of his trial in a Stockholm court. At the hearing on February 13, Rakhmat Akilov's lawyer said the Uzbekistan native was bent on causing "fear" and driving Sweden out of the U.S.-led coalition against the extremist group Islamic State (IS). Akilov is accused of stealing a truck and plowing it into a crowd on a pedestrian street in Stockholm on April 7, killing five people. The prosecution has requested a life sentence for the 39-year-old, who police say confessed to the attack and told them he wanted to run down what he called "infidels." "Akilov took the truck...and drove it the way the prosecutor described. He killed five people and physically injured 10," defense lawyer Johan Eriksson told the Stockholm district court hearing. Eriksson said his client aimed "to instigate fear and to get Sweden to end its participation in the international coalition against [IS].”

Technology

Telegraph: Facebook Promise Extremism Clean-Up After Unilever Boycott Threat

“Facebook executives promised to fight content that ‘promotes anger and hate’ after a major advertiser threatened to stop publishing on the platform, a moment that has been described as the advertising industry's "#MeToo" moment. Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods maker of brands from Dove to Persil, on Monday threatened social media companies with an advertising boycott if they failed to tackle abusive content. In retaliation, Facebook's head of news feed Adam Mosseri and head of news partnerships Campbell Brown both said the platform was taking steps to improve the content on the social media site. ‘We think the commitment by such a large advertiser is great, it's a great thing,’ Mr Mosseri told Recode's Code Media conference in California. ‘It's on us to make sure we deliver and meet whatever expectations that they have, but we commend the announcement.’”

TechCrunch: Unilever Warns Social Media To Clean Up "Toxic" Content

“Consumer goods giant Unilever, a maker of branded soaps, foodstuffs and personal care items and also one of the world’s biggest online advertisers, has fired a warning shot across the bows of social media giants by threatening to pull ads from digital platforms if they don’t do more to mitigate the spread of what it dubs “toxic” online content — be it fake news, terrorism or child exploitation. “It is critical that our brands remain not only in a safe environment, but a suitable one,” CMO Keith Weed is expected to say at the annual Interactive Advertising Bureau conference in California today, according to extracts from the speech provided to us ahead of delivery. “Unilever, as a trusted advertiser, do not want to advertise on platforms which do not make a positive contribution to society.” The remarks echo comments made last month by UK prime minister Theresa May who singled out social media firms for acute censure, saying they “simply cannot stand by while their platforms are used to facilitate child abuse, modern slavery or the spreading of terrorist or extremist content”. Unilever’s Weed is expected to argue that consumers are worried about “fraudulent practice, fake news, and Russians influencing the U.S. election”, and are sensitive to the brands they buy becoming tainted by associated with ad placement alongside awful stuff like terrorist propaganda and content that exploits children.”

Financial Times: ISIS Videos Targeted By UK-Funded Artificial Intelligence Software

“The UK government has funded a new artificial intelligence tool to target Isis propaganda videos, as it steps up the pressure on technology companies to do more to tackle extremist online content. But there are nevertheless growing concerns that terror groups will adapt their propaganda to evade detection or switch to the dark web as large tech companies crack down. “Isis is not going to just roll over,” said Hany Farid, a professor in computer science at Dartmouth College. “There’s going to be an adversarial response.”

Terror Financing

Masrawy: Egypt: MoU To Enhance Counter-Terrorism Financing Efforts

“Egypt's Court of Cassation, represented by the President of the Supreme Judiciary Council (SJC), headed by Counselor Magdy Abu al-Ela, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Unit. The MoU aims to enhance cooperation in the sphere of combating money laundering and related crimes, financing terrorism, and drying up its sources. The Court of Cassation signed the MoU, pursuant to Article 237 of the Constitution of the Arab Republic of Egypt from the year 2014, which declared the State's commitment to counter terrorism in all its forms and sources of funding in accordance with a specific timetable, since it is considered a threat to the homeland and its citizens.”

The Seventh Day: Egypt: Earmarking Part Of Terrorist Groups' Seized Funds For The Families Of Victims

“The Egyptian Parliament approved in its plenary session on Monday the proposal by Deputy Mustafa Bakri on seized terror groups' funds. The proposal allows the government to use the funds seized from terror groups. These assets will help the government to bankroll the fund dedicated to honoring the martyrs, missing persons and those wounded by terrorists and during security operations. MP Bakri said there are billions of Egyptian pounds owned by terrorist groups, and judicial rulings were issued to confiscate them. He demanded that part of the money be allocated as a resource to support families of terror victims.”

Muslim Brotherhood

Tahrir News: Egypt: State Security Prosecution Accuses Hassan Malek Of Bankrolling The Muslim Brotherhood

On Monday, the Supreme State Security Criminal Emergency Court held its first hearing in the case of Hassan Malek and other Muslim Brotherhood members in what is known in the media as the “Damaging of National Economy” case. The hearing was held following an earlier order issued by Egypt's Supreme State Security Prosecution to forward the Malek case to this court. The representative of the State Security Prosecution stated that the first and the second defendants in this case, who are Hassan Malek and businessman Abdul Rahman Seoudi, had chaired the Central Economic Committee of the Muslim Brotherhood Guidance Office. This committee was aimed at overthrowing the regime by spreading violence, assaulting the army, police and their installations, sabotaging public facilities in addition to causing detriment to the national economy through the use of terrorism, he claimed. The representative of the State Security Prosecution added that all defendants had committed the crime of funding the outlawed Islamic movement being well-aware of its goals and its means of achieving them.”

Dostor: Egypt: Judicial Body To Examine Implementation Of Law Aimed At Firing Muslim Brotherhood's Members From Public Posts

“Egypt's Parliament Deputy Mohammed Abu Hamed, a member of the State Support Coalition, announced that he had completed preparation of all the articles of his draft law aimed at dismissing members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood from their public posts and confiscating their funds. Abu Hamed noted that perceiving his draft law as being aimed exclusively at firing members of the outlawed Islamic organization from the public administration sector is not completely accurate. He explained that the articles that deal with the Muslim Brotherhood's members constitute only 5% of the law's total articles. He also declared that the draft law consists of six categories of employees who should be dismissed from their public posts. Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated workers represent only one category listed under the national security section. Abu Hamed disclosed that a specialized judicial body will be established to review the proposed layoffs and to make a final decision whether to dismiss the employee or to forward him for investigation.”

Houthi

Veto Gate: Yemeni Official: Houthis Embezzled $2.5 Billion And YR 2 Trillion From The Central Bank

“Yemeni Prime Minister, Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr, stated that the Iran-backed Houthis have embezzled $2.5 billion and YR 2 trillion ($8 million) worth of tax and customs revenues from the Central Bank. This theft urged Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to issue an order for relocating the financial institution from Houthi-held Sanaa to Yemen’s provisional capital Aden, the Prime Minister tweeted. He added that the Houthis had stolen the Yemeni people's money and launched a fierce war against them. In addition, the insurgent group refused to pay the salaries of state employees. Therefore, President Hadi had no option but to relocate the Central Bank to Aden in order to prevent a total collapse of the state, Bin Daghr noted.”