Eye on Extremism: Jan 22, 2020

Associated Press: Documents: Extremist Group Wanted Rally To Start Civil War

“A hidden camera captured members of a white supremacist group expressing hope that violence at a gun rights rally in Virginia this week could start a civil war, federal prosecutors said in a court filing Tuesday. Former Canadian Armed Forces reservist Patrik Jordan Mathews also videotaped himself advocating for killing people, poisoning water supplies and derailing trains, a prosecutor wrote in urging a judge in Maryland to keep Mathews and two other members of The Base detained in federal custody. But the 27-year-old Canadian national didn’t know investigators were watching and listening when he and two other group members talked about attending the Richmond rally in the days leading up to Monday’s event, which attracted tens of thousands of people and ended peacefully. Last month, a closed-circuit television camera and microphone installed by investigators in a Delaware home captured Mathews talking about the Virginia rally as a “boundless” opportunity. “And the thing is you’ve got tons of guys who ... should be radicalized enough to know that all you gotta do is start making things go wrong and if Virginia can spiral out to (expletive) full blown civil war,” he said.”

The New York Times: Colombia Asks U.S., E.U. To Include FARC Dissidents On Terrorist Lists

“Colombia is asking the United States, the European Union and other countries to include dissidents from the former FARC rebels on their lists of terrorist organizations, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) demobilized under a 2016 peace deal after more than five decades of conflict with the government, becoming a legal political party. But several top commanders have rejected the accord and chosen either not to demobilize or to return to arms. The government considers the dissidents to be criminals without an ideological motivation unlike the traditional FARC. “The foreign ministry announces the beginning of diplomatic efforts through embassies for the inclusion of organized residual armed groups as terrorist organizations on the lists of the E.U., the U.S. and other countries,” the ministry said on Twitter. The effort is in line with a resolution adopted by a regional anti-terrorism conference held in Bogota on Tuesday, the ministry said in a statement. Conference attendees, including U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, among others, rejected acts of terrorism and crimes committed by the National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels and residual groups.”

The New York Times: Trump Administration Plans To Add Nigeria And Six Other Nations To Travel Ban List: Reports

“The Trump administration is planning to add seven countries - Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania - to its travel ban list, U.S. media reports said on Tuesday. Some countries will face bans only on some visa categories, the Wall Street Journal reported. The list of countries was not final and could yet change, website Politico said. U.S. President Donald Trump said in an interview with the Journal that he was considering adding countries to the travel ban, but declined to state which ones. Politico said an announcement was expected as early as Monday. The move is likely to sour ties between the United States and the countries affected under the expanded ban. Nigeria, for example, Africa's largest economy and most populous country, is a U.S. anti-terrorism partner and has a large diaspora residing in the United States. A senior Trump administration official said that countries that failed to comply with security requirements, including biometrics, information-sharing and counter-terrorism measures, faced the risk of limitations on U.S. immigration. The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The State Department declined to comment.”

United States

ABC News: Coast Guard Officer Accused Of Terror Plot Asks For Leniency

“Federal prosecutors are recommending a 25-year prison sentence for a Coast Guard lieutenant accused of stockpiling guns and targeting Supreme Court justices, prominent Democrats and TV journalists for attacks inspired by racist killers. But defense attorneys are seeking leniency for Christopher Hasson, disputing the government's claim that he is a domestic terrorist. Hasson’s lawyers are urging a federal judge in Maryland to spare him a prison term and sentence him to jail time served since his arrest and three years of supervised release. “Chris is eager to put this chapter behind him and try to rebuild his life,” his lawyers wrote last week in court filing ahead of his sentencing hearing. Hasson, 50, has pleaded guilty to gun and drug charges and is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 31. Ahead of the hearing, the prosecutors and defense lawyers explained their sentencing recommendations in separate memos filed last week. Prosecutors say Hasson is a white nationalist intent on carrying out mass killings, but they filed no terrorism-related charges against him after his February 2019 arrest. “The defendant — inspired by racist murderers — stockpiled assault weapons, studied violence, and intended to exact retribution on minorities and those he considered traitors.”

The Washington Times: Man Accused Of Terror Plot May Be Mentally Unfit For Trial

“A psychologist who examined a man accused of planning an attack inspired by the Islamic State-group at a shopping and entertainment complex near Washington, D.C., found “ample evidence” that he is mentally unfit to assist in his defense, a court filing says. Neither prosecutors nor a defense attorney for Rondell Henry plan to dispute the opinion that a court-appointed forensic psychologist from the Federal Bureau of Prisons detailed in a Dec. 20 report, according to Saturday’s court filing. The lawyers agree that Henry should be hospitalized at a Bureau of Prisons facility for up to four months to determine if it’s likely he will “attain the capacity to permit the proceedings to go forward,” the filing says. Henry, 28, of Germantown, Maryland, was arrested on March 28, 2019, and is charged with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, the Islamic State group. Henry is accused of stealing a U-Haul van in Virginia and parking it at the National Harbor, a popular waterfront destination just outside the nation’s capital. Police arrested him the next morning after they found the van and saw Henry jump over a security fence.”

Yahoo News: Apple And The FBI At Odds Over Terrorist's Cellphones

“The U.S. government is pressuring Apple to unlock two phones belonging to a Saudi air force officer who went on a deadly shooting rampage at a Pensacola, Fla., naval base in December.  Mohammed Alshamrani killed three people and injured eight others before dying in a shootout with sheriff’s deputies. Last week Attorney General William Barr — who called the shooting an act of terrorism — admonished Apple for refusing to unlock Alshamrani’s phones, which are protected by passwords. President Trump blasted the company on Twitter and called for Apple “to step up to the plate and help our great Country, NOW!” Apple has declined to open the phones but said it had helped the investigation by handing over “many gigabytes of information” from Alshamrani’s account stored on its servers.  This isn’t the first time Apple has butted heads with the Justice Department over access to its devices after a mass shooting. A similar issue arose over a phone belonging to one of the people behind a 2015 terrorist attack that killed 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif. A court ordered Apple to build software to unlock the phone, but the company refused.”

Syria

Fox News: New ISIS Leader? What To Know About The Terror Network’s Hardline Founding Member

“The Islamic State has named a new leader to replace Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who died in a U.S. Special Operations forces raid on a compound in northern Syria’s Idlib Province in October, reports say. Amir Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Mawli al-Salbi, is a founding member of ISIS, having led the enslavement of Iraq’s Yazidi minority and overseen major operations around the world, The Guardian reported. Salbi is of Turkish descent but was born in the Iraqi town of Tal Afar, making him one of the few non-Arab leaders in the terrorist group. He is also believed to have at least one son. He holds a degree in sharia law from the University of Mosul. His status as an Islamic scholar allowed him to rise through the ranks and sanction genocide against the Yazidis. In 2004, he met Baghdadi while detained by U.S. forces at Camp Bucca in Southern Iraqi. He confirmed as the new leader within hours of Baghdadi’s death in October. Before the U.S.-led raid, the State Department had placed a $5 million bounty on Salbi, as well as two other leading members of the terrorist group. Since Baghdadi’s death, Salbi is understood by western and regional intelligence services to be reconsolidating ISIS while drawing upon a younger generation of militants.”

Reuters: Russian-Led Strikes On Rebel-Held Northwest Syria Kill 40: Rescuers

“Russian-led air strikes killed at least 40 people on Tuesday in northwest Syria in a major army assault backed by Iranian militias to clear out rebels that has sent tens of thousands of people fleeing toward the border with Turkey, residents and rescuers said. They said a family of eight including six children was killed in the rural village of Kfar Taal west of government-controlled Aleppo, while another nine civilians were killed in Maardabseh in the southeast of Idlib province. “God take revenge on all tyrants. There is no one else left in my family, they are all gone,” Abu Yasser, 71, a relative of the family wiped out in Kfar Taal, said in a voice recording sent to Reuters. At least 22 other civilians were killed in other strikes by Russian and Syrian government warplanes on rural opposition areas that have been hit hard since the Russian-led military campaign, supplemented by Iranian militias, began in December. The aerial bombings in which Moscow has also deployed special forces on the ground to push deeper into rebel-held territory has left dozens of towns in ruins and knocked down hospitals and schools, rescuers and aid agencies say.”

Iran

Radio Farda: General Admits Soleimani's Role In Syria's Civil War Long Before Extremists Emerged

“The Syrian Defense Minister has implicitly admitted that the Islamic Republic of Iran's military was closely involved in stopping the uprising against the Assad regime, long before the emergence of extremist fronts such as ISIS and al-Nusra. A video circulated on social media shows Syrian Minister of Defense, General Ali Abdullah Ayyoub, paying homage to the Chief Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps' Qods Force, Major General Qassem Soleimani, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike on January 3, outside Baghdad international airport. In the video, the former Chief of the General Staff of the Army and Armed Forces (July 2012- January 2018), and current Minister of Defense of Syria, Ali Abdullah Ayyoub, praising Soleimani for helping to design a plan for the forces loyal to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to retake Baba Amr, a suburb of the country's third-largest city, Homs, in March 2012. “I initially met Qassem Soleimani in 2011, and the 1st battle we planned and carried out was in Homs, Baba Amr,” Ayyoub disclosed on January 13, while visiting Tehran.”

Iraq

Military Times: Joint Syria Raid Killed ISIS Oil Official Who Financed Sleeper Cells

“An Islamic State group official who oversaw oil and gas operations and helped finance sleeper cells was killed last week in a joint coalition special operations raid with Syrian partner forces, the military said. The ISIS official known by the pseudonym Abu al-Ward al-Iraqi was killed along with another militant who officials have not yet identified during the raid in Deir al-Zour province on Jan. 14, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said in a statement on Sunday. Al-Iraqi's death “disrupts and degrades” ISIS's ability to finance terrorist activities in the Middle Euphrates River Valley along the Iraq-Syria border, said U.S. Army Col. Myles B. Caggins III, a military spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, via email. It's among the latest takedowns of top ISIS leaders since the killing in late October of the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, but it comes as the future of the coalition's continued presence in Iraq remains uncertain, which some fear could allow the group to resurge. In the fallout of a U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian Quds Force commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani earlier this month, Iraq's Shiite-dominated parliament demanded the government expel coalition forces, but acting Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi has since said that would be up to his successor.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Al-Azhar Warns Of ISIS Efforts To Regain Status

“The Al-Azhar Observatory for Combating Extremism warned against ISIS efforts to regain the group’s status and compensate for losses incurred following its defeat in Iraq and Syria over the past months. In Iraq, according to the Observatory, a reformation attempt has been detected and feared to give initiative for renewed deployment of the terrorist group. Security expert Major Farouq Al-Megrahi told Asharq Al-Awsat that ISIS will continue to rely on the recruitment of young enthusiasts that have been radicalized. Megrahi added that ISIS heavily depends on the recruitment of lone wolves, individuals, and sleeping cells. Speaking on ISIS reinstating itself to its former strength in Iraq, Megrahi said: “I don’t think ISIS will return with the strength it enjoyed during 2014 and 2015.” Megrahi attributed his belief to regular state forces and the international coalition regaining control over large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria. He, however, warned of the terror group resorting to guerilla warfare. ISIS sleeper cells in Iraq are difficult to capture given that they stay in rural hideouts nestled in mountains and tough terrain.”

Afghanistan

Bloomberg: U.S., Taliban Negotiators Inch Closer To A Deal, Officials Say

“The U.S. and Taliban leaders are moving toward a peace deal that would see the eventual withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan and an end to the 18-year long conflict, according to the militant group’s spokesman and a person in Washington familiar with the talks. It’s the second time in recent months the two sides have appeared close to announcing an agreement. In September President Donald Trump abruptly called off talks in response to a suicide bombing in Kabul that killed an American soldier. Led by special envoy on Afghan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. delegation is discussing the Taliban’s offer of a 7-to-10 day halt in its military operations in talks underway in Doha, where the group has a political office, the militant group’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed said via a series of messages on Tuesday. The talks will also decide when and where the agreement will be signed. Khalilzad has imposed a communications blackout on his team, wary that any leak could result in the deal again being scuttled at the last minute, the person said. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus declined to comment. General Scott Miller, the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, is also attending the meeting that began Monday night, Mujahed said.”

Long War Journal: Taliban Admits ‘Peace’ Negotiations With U.S. Are Merely Means To Withdraw ‘Foreign Forces’

“The Taliban admitted this week that current negotiations with the “arrogant” U.S. – often billed as “peace talks” that will purportedly end the fighting in Afghanistan – are merely being conducted to facilitate “the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan.” The Taliban made the statements in its latest commentary, titled “Powerless shall always remain shareless…!,” which was published in English on Jan. 20 on its official website, Voice of Jihad. In addition, the terrorist group called the Afghan government “impotent,” “powerless,” “incapable,” “a tool of the invaders,” and a host of other insults in the statement. The Taliban was clear, as it has consistently been clear, that it would not deal with the Afghan government, which has been “sidelined [by the U.S.] in every major decision regarding Afghanistan.” The statement opened with the Taliban referring to itself as “the Islamic Emirate,” the name of its government. The Taliban has repeatedly stated that the only acceptable outcome to the war is the reimposition of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and a return to its brutal form of “islamic governance.”

Lebanon

The Washington Post: Lebanon Gets A New Hezbollah-Backed Government Amid Mounting Unrest

“Lebanon formed a government Tuesday that is controlled exclusively for the first time by Hezbollah and its allies, affirming the Iranian-backed movement's increasingly powerful role in the country and raising concerns about Lebanon's ability to halt a spiral of economic and political collapse. Protesters, who have been demanding a government aligned with none of the existing political factions, called for fresh demonstrations against the new cabinet, which they said failed to meet their demands for substantial change. The dominant role in the government’s formation played by Iranian-allied Hezbollah, which proposed the candidacy of Prime Minister Hassan Diab in December and has pushed forcefully in recent days for his lineup of ministers, risks alienating some of Lebanon’s traditional Western allies, including the United States, at a time when Lebanon’s collapsing economy urgently needs international assistance. The announcement of a cabinet by Diab, a professor at the American University of Beirut, broke three months of political deadlock during which Lebanon had no functioning government and the country continued a slide toward economic and financial collapse.”

Nigeria

Daily Mail: Young Boy Executes Nigerian Christian Prisoner In Horrifying ISIS Video

“A video has emerged purportedly showing the execution of a Nigerian Christian by a young boy from an ISIS-affiliated terror group.  The horrific footage, released by ISIS's Amaq 'news agency', shows a child of around eight years old carrying out the execution in an unidentified outdoor area of Borno, Nigeria. The child in the video warns other Christians: 'We won't stop until we take revenge for all the blood that was spilled.' An image taken from the distressing footage has been shared online by SITE Intelligence Group, an organisation which tracks the activity of jihadist groups. Director of SITE Intelligence Group, Rita Katz, said of the video: 'There is no end to ISIS's immorality.'  According to Katz, the video was taken in Borno in north-eastern Nigeria and the boy is from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) terror organisation. While ISIS has ramped up its attacks on Christians in recent years, Katz added that the video was also a 'throwback' to the terror group's days of children conducting gruesome executions. ISIS has routinely used young children, dubbed 'cubs of the Caliphate', to carry out the killings of prisoners in propaganda videos.”

All Africa: Nigeria: UN Condemns Boko Haram Attack On North-East Facilities, Aid Workers

“The United Nations has condemned an attack by Boko Haram on its facilities and aid workers in the troubled North-east of Nigeria. A statement yesterday by the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr. Edward Kallon, condemned Saturday's attack on its humanitarian hub in Ngala, a Nigerian border town with Cameroon. It had last Thursday expressed apprehension over the growing insecurity in the area, even as some of its workers in some Borno towns had been recalled to the state capital, Maiduguri. Kallon said: “On the evening of Saturday, January 18, the humanitarian hub in Ngala was the direct target of a complex assault by heavily armed non-state armed groups operatives. An entire section of the facility was burnt down as well as one of the few vehicles UN agencies rely on for movement and aid delivery. Protective security measures deployed at the humanitarian hub prevented any harm to the staff, who were in the facility. “I am shocked by the violence and intensity of this attack, which is the latest of too many incidents directly targeting humanitarian actors and the assistance we provide. “I am relieved all staff are now safe and secure. Aid workers, humanitarian facilities and assets cannot be a target and must be protected and respected at all times.”

Gulf Today: Seven Nigerian Troops Killed In Militants Attack

“Seven soldiers were killed on Tuesday when Daesh-affiliated militants attacked a military position in northeastern Nigeria, two military sources told the media. Fighters in several trucks fitted with machine guns attacked a military position in Mainok village, 56 kilometres (35 miles) from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, they said on Wednesday. “We lost seven men in the attack by the terrorists. Two soldiers went missing and five soldiers were injured,” the first source said. The second source confirmed the toll, adding that the militants destroyed two military guntrucks and three anti-aircraft machine guns. Borno state police spokesman Edet Okon said in a statement that four guntrucks, including two seized from the army in the attack, had been recovered. The assailants are suspected members of the Daesh West Africa Province (ISWAP), a group that split from Boko Haram in 2016 and has stepped attacks against the military since mid-2018. The group has increasingly been abducting motorists at bogus checkpoints in Borno state, targeting security personnel, anti-militant militia and Christians.”

Somalia

All Africa: East Africa: Somalia, Terrorism And Kenya's Security Dilemma

“Barely two weeks into 2020, al-Shabaab has attacked Kenya five times, leaving scores of Kenyans and foreigners dead. For the first time, one of the attacks involved infiltrating an air strip and destroying several aircraft in Lamu county - an area where the Kenyan and US armies operate. Kenya has borne the brunt of al-Shabaab attacks outside Somalia. Over the past decade, the group has attacked Kenya at least 30 times, leaving over 600 citizens and scores of foreigners dead, thousands injured and millions of US dollars lost in damages to infrastructure - both public and private. Al-Shabaab has warned of more attacks in Kenya. In these statements one key message has remained consistent over the years: Kenya should remove its troops from Somalia if it ever wants peace with al-Shabaab. If it fails to do so, 'its streets will continue to be filled with rivers of blood of its own people', said an al-Shabaab statement following the high-profile Westgate Mall attack in 2013. Kenya's military deployment in Somalia in October 2011 was to push back al-Shabaab from its territory, create a 'buffer zone' with Somalia and safeguard its sovereignty.”

Africa

The Washington Post: West African Presidents Urge U.S. To Stay In The Fight Against Terrorism

“West African leaders are urging the United States to stay in the fight against extremist groups that are rooting deeper into the region as the Pentagon weighs a significant troop pullout from the continent. Parts of the Sahel, a dry stretch of land south of the Sahara Desert, have fallen to militants linked to the Islamic State and al-Qaeda who are offering shelter to fighters fleeing the Middle East, the presidents of Senegal and Togo told The Washington Post in separate interviews. “If one actor leaves the chain, it weakens the whole group,” Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé said. The heads of state, whose nations border a worsening conflict, said the international community must unite against the attackers. Both expressed concern that terrorism is on the brink of spilling into their countries, which have not previously grappled with such a threat. Withdrawing U.S. troops as Islamist violence surges would be a “mistake,” Senegalese President Macky Sall said in his first public comments on the matter. “It would be a mistake, and it would be very misunderstood by Africans,” he said, “because instead of coming to help, you wish to remove the little help there is.” Gnassingbé, Togo’s leader of 15 years, said militants from Iraq and Syria are slipping into the region through restive Libya, where they aim to radicalize locals and build an army.”

Reuters: Militants Kill 36 Civilians In Burkina Faso Market Attack

“Thirty-six civilians were killed in Burkina Faso on Monday in what the government called a terrorist attack on a market in Sanmatenga province. Armed militants forced their way into the market of the village of Alamou and attacked people there before burning the structure to the ground, the government said in a statement on Tuesday. The bloodshed is part of a surge in violence in the West African country that has killed hundreds, forced nearly a million from their homes and made much of the north ungovernable over the past two years. “These repeated attacks on innocent civilians call for real cooperation between defense and security forces,” the government said. President Roch Marc Kabore called for two days of national mourning in response to the attack. It was not immediately clear who was responsible. Islamist groups with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State have carried out increasingly brazen attacks against civilian and military targets in Burkina Faso in recent months, including an attack on a mining convoy in November that killed nearly 40 people.”

Voice Of America: Five Terror Suspects Including American Await Trial In Kenya

“A Kenyan court has allowed security agencies to hold five terror suspects arrested Saturday for allegedly casing a bar in Nairobi. The five include three Somali nationals, a U.S. citizen, and their Kenyan driver. Five suspects, one American, three Somali nationals, and their Kenyan driver, are awaiting their second appearance in a Kenyan court after they were arrested for of what authorities say is surveying an entertainment establishment in Nairobi. The five, Mohamed Abas Mohamud, Ifrah Mohamed Abshir, Mohamed Hassan Bario, Hodhan Abdi Ismail, and Mohamed Adan, made an initial court appearance Monday. Prosecutors asked for more time to conduct an investigation on the individuals. They were arrested Saturday at the Whiskey River Club in Nairobi. David Mbugua, the head of the security of the club, told VOA the suspects were present in the club. “They came around seven guys. They got their seats in different positions. So we started worrying why they couldn't sit in one table and share their drinks,” said Mbugua.”

United Kingdom

The New York Times: U.K. Promises Stronger Terrorism Laws After Knife Attack By Convict

“The British government said on Tuesday that it would toughen terrorism sentences and end early release for serious offenders, following through on promises made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in November after a convicted terrorist who had been automatically released carried out an attack that killed two people near London Bridge. The attacker, Usman Khan, 28, who was released in December 2018 after serving eight years of a 16-year sentence for his involvement in a bomb plot, began a knife attack while attending an event on prison rehabilitation at Fishmongers’ Hall, a central London conference venue. Wearing a fake explosive vest, he fled over the nearby bridge, and he was shot and killed by the police shortly afterward. The attack, during the final weeks of a British general election campaign, set off a heated debate over jail sentences for convicted terrorists and their overall reintegration into society. Under the new legislation, which could be introduced in Parliament this spring, terrorism offenders would serve a minimum of 14 years in prison. The number of probation officers specializing in counterterrorism would be doubled, and the counterterrorist police would receive a 10 percent funding increase, the British Home Office, the government department responsible for policing and national security, said in a statement.”

Europe

Hungary Today: Suspected IS Terrorist’s Case Continues In Budapest

“The Budapest Municipal Court on Tuesday held another hearing in the case of Hassan F., a Syrian national charged with terrorism and mass murder, arrested at Budapest’s international airport in December 2018. Hassan F. was arrested when he presented false documents at the airport for himself and a woman in his company, and was to be expelled from Hungary. The suspicion of his having been a member of the Islamic State terrorist organisation and participating in several executions in 2015 was raised in March last year. At a hearing in November last year, the suspect denied all charges and said he had not been in Syria in 2015, having fled to Turkey with his family the previous year. The municipal court said it had sought information from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees office in Budapest as to when Hassan F. had arrived in Turkey but received no answer to their enquiry. The court has requested the justice ministry to apply for international legal assistance to obtain the necessary information. Concerning video footage about an execution in Syria, the court’s expert said that it was of bad quality and it could not be ascertained if the suspect was in it.”

Latin America

Asharq Al-Awsat: US Seeks To Corner Hezbollah In Latin America

“The United States provided information to Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Uruguay and Peru about “support and financing networks” affiliated with Lebanon’s Hezbollah, as part of its efforts to restrict the party’s activity in Latin America and to exert maximum pressure on Iran and its proxies. Diplomatic sources in Washington told Asharq Al-Awsat that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested a number of persons, who are involved with dealing with Hezbollah or suspected of planning to expand their activities inside the United States. These moves came in parallel with the holding of the Third Regional Conference Against Terrorism in Bogota, Colombia, during which the US is seeking to unify the stance of 20 Latin American countries against the party. US State Secretary Mike Pompeo, who is attending the conference, called on “all nations” on Saturday to classify Hezbollah as a terrorist group. “We call on all nations to designate Hezbollah as the terrorist organization it is,” Pompeo wrote on his Twitter account. The diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Honduras and Guatemala have indicated their intention to designate Hezbollah a terrorist organization, following a similar move by Argentina and Paraguay.”

Southeast Asia

Jakarta Globe: What To Do With Indonesia's Foreign Terrorist Fighters?

“The government says it is trying to find a way to bring home 660 Indonesian foreign terrorist fighters now stranded in several overseas countries including Syria, Afghanistan and Turkey. The Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Mahfud M.D. said his ministry has discussed the issue with other related ministries to find the safest and most efficient way to repatriate the fighters. “The Social Affairs Ministry will have to calculate the social impacts when these fighters return home. The Justice and Human Rights Ministry has to decide their citizenship status. [Their return] could also affect tourism and investment since many people still consider them as terrorists,” Mahfud said at his office in Jakarta on Tuesday. “Some of these fighters have already asked to be repatriated. But their host countries want them to follow their regulations. Some of them will only let go of the orphans and others say they will let go of the women and children,” Mahfud said. The former Constitutional Court chief justice also said that according to Indonesia's 1945 Constitution, no one should ever be left “stateless,” which means these fighters still retain their rights to return to Indonesia.”

Technology

The Wall Street Journal: How A Military Cyber Operation To Disrupt Islamic State Spurred A Debate

“A once-secret U.S. military cyber operation launched during the last year of the Obama administration to disrupt Islamic State’s online presence underwent a delayed rollout due to interagency disagreements about the clandestine mission, according to newly released government documents and former U.S. officials. Operation Glowing Symphony, initiated in late 2016, prompted at least one unidentified government agency to issue a formal “non-concur” opinion, disputing either the scope or necessity of the planned attack, according to internal documents written by U.S. Cyber Command. The disagreements, the substance of which weren’t disclosed, were elevated to senior leadership within the Obama administration and eventually resolved, but the process impeded the operation from going forward as originally conceived, the documents show. The declassified files, from late 2016 and early 2017, were obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests by the National Security Archive, a nonprofit group associated with George Washington University that advocates for greater government transparency, and were reviewed by The Wall Street Journal ahead of their public release.”