Eye on Extremism: January 14, 2019

The New York Times: Israel, In Rare Admission, Confirms Strike On Iranian Targets In Syria

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel acknowledged on Sunday that Israeli forces had attacked Iranian weapons warehouses in Syria, after years of ambiguity over involvement in specific attacks on the country. “We worked with impressive success to block Iran’s military entrenchment in Syria,” Mr. Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, adding that the Israeli military had struck Iranian and Hezbollah targets “hundreds of times.” “Just in the last 36 hours, the air force attacked Iranian warehouses with Iranian weapons at the international airport in Damascus,” Mr. Netanyahu said. “The accumulation of recent attacks proves that we are determined more than ever to take action against Iran in Syria, just as we promised.” The rare admission came hours after the Israeli military announced that it had exposed the sixth and final tunnel under its border with Lebanon, which it says the Iranian-backed organization Hezbollah dug, wrapping up a six-week operation to seal the cross-border tunnels.”

CNN: Trump Threatens To 'Devastate' Turkey's Economy If They Attack Kurds In Syria

“President Donald Trump said Sunday the US would "devastate Turkey economically" if the NATO-allied country attacks Kurds in the region. "Starting the long overdue pullout from Syria while hitting the little remaining ISIS territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions. Will attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms," the President tweeted on Sunday. He added, "Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds," but followed up in a second tweet, "Likewise, do not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey." "Russia, Iran and Syria have been the biggest beneficiaries of the long term U.S. policy of destroying ISIS in Syria - natural enemies. We also benefit but it is now time to bring our troops back home. Stop the ENDLESS WARS!" Trump continued in the second tweet. It's a stark threat toward an ally in the region that has partnered with the US in the fight against ISIS. Turkey views some Kurdish groups in the region as terrorist organizations and Kurds make up the majority of US-allied fighters operating in Syria in the civil war against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.”

Reuters: U.S.-Backed Syrian Force: Islamic State In Its 'Final Moments'

“Islamic State militants are “living their final moments” in the last enclave they hold near the Iraqi border, where U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are attacking them, an SDF official said on Sunday.  A defeat of the jihadists in the enclave would wipe out Islamic State’s territorial foothold on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River.  A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition said the SDF were making “great progress ... but the fight continues”.  The SDF, a coalition of militias led by the Kurdish YPG, have driven Islamic State from a swathe of northern and eastern Syria with the help of the U.S.-led coalition over the last four years. Mustafa Bali, head of the SDF media office, said its fighters had stepped up attacks in the last two days and taken control of the area between the Islamic State enclave and the Iraqi border, cutting an escape route. “They are living their final moments and realize that this battle is the battle to eliminate them,” he said. U.S. President Donald Trump last month announced he would withdraw U.S. forces from Syria, declaring they had succeeded in their mission to defeat Islamic State and were no longer needed. Since then, U.S. officials have given mixed messages.”

The New York Times: Teenager Captured With ISIS Fighters Is From Trinidad, Not The U.S., Officials Say

“A 16-year-old boy who was captured on the battlefield in Syria this week with fighters for the Islamic State is not American, but is instead from Trinidad and Tobago, according to American officials and the boy’s sister. The teenager was taken from the Caribbean nation to the war zone when he was 12 by his mother, who converted to Islam after becoming romantically involved with a radicalized man, Sarah Lee Su, the boy’s older sister, said in a phone interview. After a four-year silence, she heard from them for the first time last month, when her mother contacted her on Facebook Messenger and sent a series of audio recordings that said the two were alive and pleading for help. She said they were hiding somewhere in Syria. “I need money to help us get out of here,” Gailon Su, the mother, said in one of the recordings she sent to her daughter, which was shared with The New York Times. “If not me, your brother. He is innocent.” The American-backed militia that announced the boy’s capture on Wednesday said he was among three American citizens apprehended in recent days in the battle zone fighting for the Islamic State, which is also called ISIS.”

The Guardian: Houthis Threaten More Drone Strikes After Yemen Airbase Attack

“Houthi rebels in Yemen have threatened to launch more drone attacks after a deadly strike last week on a Yemeni government military parade killed seven people, stoking tension between the warring parties and threatening UN efforts to broker peace. Houthi spokesman Yahya Sarea said Thursday’s drone strike on a military base in Lahaj province, which killed several people, was a “legitimate operation against aggression”. He said the movement was building a stockpile of locally manufactured drones. “Soon there will be enough in the strategic stockpile to launch more than one drone operation in multiple battle fronts at the same time,” Sarea told reporters in the Houthi-held capital, Sana’a, on Sunday. The Houthi statement came as Britain said it was pressing ahead in seeking an enhanced mandate for a UN mission to oversee a ceasefire in the port city region of Hodeidah, despite claims by the Saudi-backed Yemeni government that the Houthis were not implementing the agreements struck between the parties in talks in Stockholm last month.”

Voice Of America: Arab Nations Inch Toward Rehabilitating Syria's Assad

“He has survived eight years of war and billions of dollars in money and weapons aimed at toppling him. Now Syrian President Bashar Assad is poised to be readmitted to the fold of Arab nations, a feat once deemed unthinkable as he forcefully crushed the uprising against his family's rule. Gulf Arab nations, once the main backers of rebels trying to oust Assad, are lining up to reopen their embassies in Syria, worried about leaving the country at the heart of the Arab world to regional rivals Iran and Turkey and missing out on lucrative post-war reconstructive projects. Key border crossings with neighbors, shuttered for years by the war, have reopened, and Arab commercial airlines are reportedly considering resuming flights to Damascus. And as President Donald Trump plans to pull out America's 2,000 soldiers from northeastern Syria, government troops are primed to retake the area they abandoned in 2012 at the height of the war. This would be a significant step toward restoring Assad's control over all of Syria, leaving only the northwest in the hands of rebels, most of them jihadis. It can seem like a mind-boggling reversal for a leader whose military once seemed dangerously close to collapse.”

United States

Fox News: Trump Touts 'Long Overdue' Syria Pullout, Says US 'Will Devastate Turkey Economically' If They Attack Kurds

“President Donald Trump on Sunday tweeted that the "long overdue pullout from Syria" is starting, and threatened that the U.S. will "devastate Turkey economically" if they attack Kurdish forces in the war-torn country. Trump said the removal of troops, which he announced via Twitter in December, is happening "while hitting the little remaining ISIS territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions." The president also vowed that the U.S. "Will attack [ISIS] again from existing nearby base if it reforms." Trump promised the U.S. will hit Turkey financially if Ankara attacks the Kurds, but noted in a follow-up tweet that he does "not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey." "Russia, Iran and Syria have been the biggest beneficiaries of the long term U.S. policy of destroying ISIS in Syria - natural enemies," he wrote online. "We also benefit but it is now time to bring our troops back home. Stop the ENDLESS WARS!" A U.S. defense official told Fox News on Friday that the U.S.-led military coalition in Syria started the process of removing troops from the region, but wouldn't confirm further details for security purposes.”

The San Francisco Chronicle: Lodi Man Convicted Of Terrorism In 2006 Should Go Free, Judge Says

“A federal magistrate judge has recommended that the terrorism convictions that have kept a Lodi man in federal prison since 2006 be overturned on the grounds that his lawyer didn’t adequately represent him. Hamid Hayat was 23 when — in a case that riveted the nation’s attention — a federal jury convicted him of training at a terrorist camp in his family’s homeland of Pakistan and returning to the United States to lie in wait for orders to kill Americans as a jihadi. He is now in a federal prison in Arizona and has served half of the 24-year sentence he drew. However, U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Barnes on Friday filed her recommendation that the convictions be thrown out based on her examinations of the case and of testimony by more than a dozen witnesses and experts. Barnes concluded that the failure of Hayat’s trial attorney, Wazhma Mojaddidi, to present the witnesses — most of whom are in Pakistan — deprived Hayat of a sufficient alibi that would likely have persuaded the jury not to convict him.”

Associated Press: Trump Says US Will Hurt Turkey Economically If It Hits Kurds

“President Donald Trump’s warning that if Turkey attacks U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in Syria, the United States will “devastate Turkey economically” has drawn a sharp response from Ankara and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman. Trump’s decision to pull American troops out of Syria has left the United States’ Kurdish allies in the war against the Islamic State group vulnerable to an attack from Turkey. Ankara views the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces as terrorists aligned with insurgents inside Turkey. Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin responded to Trump on Twitter by saying: “Terrorists can’t be your partners & allies.” He also insisted that Turkey “fights against terrorists, not Kurds” as a people. In Sunday’s tweet, Trump also warned the Kurdish forces not to “provoke Turkey.” The U.S. withdrawal has begun with shipments of military equipment, U.S. defense officials said. But in coming weeks, the contingent of about 2,000 troops is expected to depart even as the White House says it will keep pressure on the IS network.”

Fox News: Decorated Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher To Remain Jailed Ahead Of Trial For ISIS Terrorist's Death

“The decorated Navy SEAL leader alleged to have killed an injured ISIS prisoner of war in Iraq will remain in confinement as he awaits trial -- which is now scheduled to start in February, his lawyer tells Fox News. Edward Gallagher, who is also accused of intentionally firing sniper rounds at innocent civilians, is currently being held at a Navy brig in California. “The military judge denied our motion to release Special Operations Chief Edward “Eddie” Gallagher from pretrial confinement where he has been since September 11, 2018 – Patriots Day,” his lawyer, Phil Stackhouse, told Fox News in a statement. “The court recognized Eddie’s record of excellent service as evidenced by the testimony of several senior, current and former SEAL Team members. The court also acknowledged Eddie’s strong support network of family, friends and well-wishers,” Stackhouse added. “However, it was not enough when the complaining witnesses refused to be questioned by the defense and the Government refused to bring them to court.” Stackhouse says Gallagher’s trial will start Feb. 19. Gallagher has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which include premeditated murder.”

Bloomberg: Why Teaching English To Terrorists Is Not An Act Of War

“American allies in Syria have reportedly captured a U.S. citizen who sent his resume to Islamic State and then went to work for them — as an English teacher. The problem of what to do with an American member of the militant group has arisen before. Now, there’s a twist: A civilian who genuinely volunteered to go to Islamic State’s caliphate and who genuinely worked there only as a civilian probably can’t be treated as a prisoner of war. Instead, the main legal option would be to return him to the U.S. and put him on trial for material support of terrorism. For better or worse, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that someone can be convicted of the crime of material support just by teaching English in coordination with a terrorist group, even if that person never went near a weapon or battlefield. In this instance, however, the best legal option may not be a very good fit for the American’s conduct. Warren Christopher Clark is just the most recent of several Americans who went to the Islamic State caliphate to join in some fashion and were subsequently captured by U.S.-allied forces in Iraq or Syria. One, Mohamad Jamal Khweis, was captured at the end of President Barack Obama’s administration.”

BBC News: Syria Conflict: Pompeo 'Optimistic' On Deal To Protect Kurds

“US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he is optimistic an agreement can be reached with Turkey to protect Kurdish fighters in Syria after the US leaves. He was speaking in the United Arab Emirates following a phone call with his Turkish counterpart. US forces in northern Syria have fought alongside a Kurdish militia against Islamic State (IS) militants. Turkey, however, regards the People's Protection Units (YPG) as a terrorist group and has vowed to crush it. Mr Pompeo is touring the Middle East to try to reassure allies following President Donald Trump's abrupt announcement last month that US forces would withdraw from Syria. Talking to reporters in Abu Dhabi, Mr Pompeo said the US recognised "the Turkish people's right and [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan's right to defend their country from terrorists". "We also know that those fighting alongside us for all this time deserve to be protected as well," he said. Mr Pompeo said he had spoken to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, adding: "Many details (are) still to be worked out but I'm optimistic that we can achieve a good outcome.”


The Straits Times: 600 People Leave In First Evacuation From ISIS Holdout In Eastern Syria

“More than 600 people had been evacuated from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group's remaining holdout in eastern Syria, a monitor said, as United States-backed fighters prepare for a final assault on the area. More than 600 people, mainly women and children, were evacuated on 25 buses sent by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said that several dozen Islamist fighters were among those evacuated to areas held by the Kurdish-Arab alliance. In September, the SDF, backed by air strikes from a US-led coalition, launched an offensive to oust ISIS from the rump of the once-sprawling "caliphate" it proclaimed in 2014. Mr Abdel Rahman said some 16,000 people, including 760 ISIS fighters, had fled the area since the start of December. But "this is the first time that buses have been provided by the SDF and coalition", he said, suggesting that a potential deal had been struck between the warring sides. The United Nations said last Friday that overall, some 25,000 people had fled the violence over the last six months as the die-hard extremists battled to defend their dwindling bastions. An estimated 2,000 civilians remain trapped in the area around the town of Hajin, the UN said.”

CNBC: No US Assistance On Syria Reconstruction Until Iran Is Out: Top US Diplomat

“Top U.S. diplomats are stridently pledging the Trump administration's determination to drive Iran out of Syria, even as it prepares to withdraw its military presence. And they're fielding new ideas to further that aim — even if it means withholding crucial aid. Doubling down on the Trump's administration's anti-Iran message, the senior policy advisor to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Brian Hook, vowed no U.S. reconstruction assistance to the war-torn country until Iranian forces and its proxies are completely driven out. "We think that if working with everybody in the region, and if we construct our diplomacy the way we want to, that we will be able to get rid of all forces under Iranian control," Hook told CNBC's Hadley Gamble in Abu Dhabi. "We are not going to permit them do in Syria what they did in Lebanon, and we will be withholding reconstruction assistance, we have a number of tools at our disposal to help accomplish that objective.”

CNN: Mother Of Journalist Killed By ISIS Concerned About Syria Withdrawal

“As the United States prepares to withdraw troops from Syria, the mother of a journalist murdered by ISIS is concerned about the impact the withdrawal could have on the fight to get justice for her son. Diane Foley, whose son James Foley was brutally executed in 2014, said she is worried that without US support, the Kurdish forces will not have the capacity to continue to hold her son's alleged killers. Those men -- Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh -- are being held in a detention facility in northern Syria. "I would ask President (Donald) Trump to remember that these Syrian Kurds are holding these men who targeted and murdered our citizens and that we need to assist them with getting justice for our citizens," Foley told CNN Friday.  Kotey is accused by the US State Department of having "likely engaged in the group's executions and exceptionally cruel torture" of Western journalists and aid worker hostages. Elsheikh "was said to have earned a reputation for water-boarding, mock executions, and crucifixions," according to the State Department. Their ISIS execution cell, dubbed the "The Beatles," is accused by the State Department of "holding captive and beheading approximately two dozen hostages," including James Foley, American journalist Steven Sotloff, and American aid worker Peter Kassig.”


The Wall Street Journal: White House Sought Options To Strike Iran

“President Trump’s National Security Council asked the Pentagon to provide the White House with military options to strike Iran last year, generating concern at the Pentagon and State Department, current and former U.S. officials said. The request, which hasn’t been previously reported, came after militants fired three mortars into Baghdad’s sprawling diplomatic quarter, home to the U.S. Embassy, on a warm night in early September. The shells—launched by a group aligned with Iran—landed in an open lot and harmed no one. But they triggered unusual alarm in Washington, where Mr. Trump’s national security team led by John Bolton conducted a series of meetings to discuss a forceful U.S. response, including what many saw as the unusual request for options to strike Iran. “It definitely rattled people,” a former senior U.S. administration official said of the request. “People were shocked. It was mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran.” The Pentagon complied with the NSC’s request to develop options for striking Iran, the officials said. But it isn’t clear if the proposals were provided to the White House, whether Mr. Trump knew of the request or whether serious plans for a U.S. strike against Iran took shape at that time.”

The Wall Street Journal: Pompeo Urges Gulf States To Resolve Dispute, Unite Against Iran

“Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reinforced support for the U.S. relationship with Qatar on Sunday while promising to renew attempts to resolve a standoff between the tiny Gulf nation and its rivals led by Saudi Arabia that has complicated the Trump administration’s efforts to isolate Iran. During a visit to Doha as a part of a nine-country Middle East tour, Mr. Pompeo signed a memorandum of understanding with his Qatari counterpart on expanding Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, which hosts the largest U.S. military installation in the Middle East with some 13,000 troops from the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State. Mending the breach between Qatar and its neighbors has emerged as a central challenge for the Trump administration’s Middle East strategy as it tries to bring eight Arab states together in a NATO-like military alliance to generate pressure on Iran. The Trump administration has adopted an aggressive approach to Iran, reapplying sanctions and blaming the country for what it describes as support for terrorism in connection with its involvement in conflicts around the Middle East.”

Associated Press: Nuclear Chief Says Iran Exploring New Uranium Enrichment

“The head of Iran’s nuclear program said Sunday that the Islamic Republic has begun “preliminary activities for designing” a modern process for 20-percent uranium enrichment for its 50-year-old research reactor in Tehran, signaling new danger for the nuclear deal. Restarting enrichment at that level would mean Iran had withdrawn the 2015 nuclear deal it struck with world powers, an accord that President Donald Trump already pulled America out of in May. However, Ali Akbar Salehi’s comments to state television appeared aimed at telling the world Iran would slowly restart its program. If it chooses, it could resume mass enrichment at its main facility in the central Iranian town of Natanz. “Preliminary activities for designing modern 20 percent (enriched uranium) fuel have begun,” state TV quoted Salehi as saying. Salehi said adding the “modern fuel” will increase efficiency in Tehran research reactor that consumes 20-percent enriched fuel. “We are at the verge” of being ready, he said, without elaborating.”

CNN: Iran Summons Polish Diplomat Over Planned 'Anti-Iranian' Warsaw Conference

“The Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned Poland's Charge d'Affaires Wojciech Unolt on Sunday over an "anti-Iranian conference" that Warsaw is hosting, according to Iranian state media. Poland and the United States are jointly organizing a global conference in Warsaw on February 13-14 that will focus on Iran's influence in the region, according to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The conference, known as the Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East, will address "terrorism and extremism, missile development and proliferation, maritime trade and security, and threats posed by proxy groups across the region," according to a statement from the US State Department. Iran's head of the Eastern Europe First office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs described the conference as "a hostile move by the United States against the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Poland is expected to refrain from co-sponsoring the conference with the US." Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif criticized the Polish government on Friday on Twitter, writing: "Those who attended last US anti-Iran show are either dead, disgraced, or marginalized. And Iran is stronger than ever. Polish Govt can't wash the shame: while Iran saved Poles in WWII, it now hosts desperate anti-Iran circus.”

The Express: Iran Sends Shudder Through US By Launching 'Ballistic Missile Technology' Into Space

“IRAN has sent a shock wave through Washington DC after it defiantly vowed to proceed with the launch of a satellite which officials fear will incorporate ballistic missile technology that is capable of reaching the US mainland. The Islamic Republic will send the satellites into orbit using a Simorgh space launch vehicle from the Imam Khomeini Space Centre. The US fears Iran could potentially use this satellite system to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles. Tehran has denied any such motive but US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has insisted Iran stop its satellite launches. He has claimed they "incorporate technology that is virtually identical to that used in ballistic missiles”, inferring the launches would be a violation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution which prohibits Iran from testing nuclear-capable weapons. Mr Pompeo said: ”The United States will not stand by and watch the Iranian regime's destructive policies place international stability and security at risk.”

ABC News: British-Iranian Woman's Health Deteriorates In Iran Prison

“The head of the Thomson Reuters Foundation said Monday she's "sincerely worried" about a detained British-Iranian national going on hunger strike to protest her treatment in the Islamic Republic. Monique Villa said in a statement that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's "health is already at its poorest" and that she hasn't received access to serious medical care after discovering lumps in her breasts. "This is slow and cruel torture, yet one more injustice inflicted upon her," Villa said. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who worked for the charity arm of Thomson Reuters, is set to begin a three-day hunger strike on Monday. She will be joined by famed imprisoned Iranian human rights activists Narges Mohammadi. Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in April 2016 in Iran and is serving a five-year prison sentence for plotting the "soft toppling" of its government while traveling with her toddler daughter. Her sentence has been widely criticized. Last November, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt raised the case of Zaghari-Ratcliffe with Iranian officials during his visit to the Islamic Republic.”

Al Jazeera: Nuclear Chief: Iran Advances Technology To Enrich Uranium

“The head of Iran's nuclear programme Ali Akbar Salehi has announced that the Islamic Republic has broken new ground on nuclear technology, with scientists taking the first steps to design a modern process for 20 percent uranium enrichment, a move Iranian observers say is a warning to the United States and Europe. In an interview with the state news agency, IRIB, Salehi said on Sunday that Iranian scientists are "on the threshold" of modernising the mechanism to produce 20 percent uranium. "This is distinct from the previous 20 percent fuel produced, and we can provide fuel to any reactor similar to the Tehran reactor," Salehi said. "Right now, designing a reactor has become very possible for our scientists," he said without elaborating on the purpose of such enrichment.  Enriching uranium at 20 percent is considered above the requirement for nuclear energy production, but still well below the 80 to 90 percent enrichment required for a nuclear weapon. Under the 2015 nuclear deal, which Iran and world powers signed, Tehran significantly scaled back its nuclear enrichment and gave up its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Its enrichment of uranium for civilian purposes was also restricted at 3.5 percent, and limited only to 300kg of uranium.”


Asharq Al-Awsat: Blast In West Iraq Popular Market Leaves Several Dead, Injured

“A blast in a popular market in Al-Qaim, a city along the border with Syria in Iraq’s western Anbar province, killed three civilians and wounded more than 20 after a relative calm following the defeat of ISIS end of 2017.
Member at Anbar Provincial Council Karim al-Karbouli stated to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the vehicle that blasted in Qaim’s popular market was most likely prepared to explode during the celebrations on Wednesday for National Police Day, but the nature of security procedures stood against this plot. Responding to a question on whether this blast bears the imprint of ISIS, he stated that the group’s sleeper cells still exist - there is an intelligence fault that should be addressed, especially that Qaim can’t be accessed without a security inspection. MP Mohammed al-Karbouli, a member of National Axis bloc, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the return of terrorist explosions to liberated regions is a dangerous indicator and demands taking all possible procedures to deal with it. He affirmed that what happened in Qaim is linked to previous attacks in Mosul, Kirkuk, and Tikrit. After defeating ISIS, eyes were at reconstruction, but these explosions mean that these regions need an intelligence and security reinforcement.”

Kurdistan 24: Islamic State Trying To 'Restart The Cycle Of Violence' Warns Iraqi Parliament Leaders

“Following a deadly market bombing in the western border town of al-Qaim, Iraq's three top parliamentary officials warned of the danger of Islamic State sleeper cells attempting to reignite violence in the embattled country. In a statement released on Saturday by the Council of Representatives in Baghdad, First Deputy Speaker Hassan al-Kaabi called on Iraqis to "not tolerate in any way the terrorist sleeper cells that are trying to instill terror in families" and "restart the cycle of violence" that has plagued the nation for decades. In other statements, Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi called "the repeated terrorist bombings" in areas liberated from the Islamic State a "dangerous indicator" and Second Deputy Speaker Bashir Haddad called for "strict security measures to protect the lives of citizens and their property." The comments come in response to a car bomb blast on Friday that killed at least two people and injured dozens more in a town at a busy market in Iraq's Anbar Province. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the incident, described by the Iraqi military as a terrorist attack. Al-Qaim was among the last major strongholds of the Islamic State in Iraq, having control of the area as late as November 2017 before the town was retaken by Iraqi forces.”

Kurdistan 24: Four Yezidis Kidnapped By Islamic State Rescued So Far In 2019: Kurdistan Official

“The Kurdistan Region’s office dedicated to the rescue of Yezidis (Ezidis) kidnapped by the Islamic State announced on Sunday that they had brought back another woman who was abducted in mid-2014, making a total of four in just under the first two weeks of 2019. The 20-year-old member of the Ezidi religious minority was rescued from Syria, the head of the rescue office in Duhok, Hussein Qaidi, told Kurdistan 24 on Sunday. He offered no further details on her current state or situation. “The Ezidi woman, identified as A. Babir. K., is from the village of Kocho (Kojo) and was kidnapped by Da’esh [Islamic State] along with many other Ezidis on Aug. 15, 2014,” Qaidi said. He mentioned that the office had rescued three other Ezidis so far in 2019 and had reunited them with their families in the Kurdistan Region. “Since opening the rescue office at the end of 2014, we have been able to save 3,336 Ezidis from both genders from the total of 6,417 kidnapped Ezidis by terrorists,” Qaidi added, stating the office would continue to put great effort into the daunting task of rescuing all Ezidis who remain in captivity. The emergence of the Islamic State and its violent assault on the predominantly Ezidi city of Sinjar (Shingal) in 2014 led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Ezidis. Most of them fled to the Kurdistan Region, while others moved to neighboring countries in the region or Western states.”

Xinhua: Local Woman Poisons 2 IS Militants For Revenge In Eastern Iraq

“A local woman "apparently" killed two Islamic State (IS) militants by poison in revenge for the killing of her son and her husband by the extremist militants in Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, a local police officer said. The two IS militants broke into the house of the 47-year-old widow, who is originally a relative to them, in a village located some 65 km northeast of Baghdad, and forced her to prepare a meal, the police officer told Xinhua on condition of anonymity. The woman prepared the meal, poisoned it and fled her house and the village after the militants left, the source said. Later on, many IS militants broke into her house and when they did not find her, they set fire to the house and searched some nearby houses in the village, the source added. The militants told the villagers that the two poisoned militants were dead, according to the source. The widow's act came after the killing of her 16-year-old son in 2015 by IS militants and the killing of her husband earlier in 2011 by the extremist militants after he joined U.S.-backed Sahwa groups, also known as Awakening Councils who fought al-Qaida militants in Iraq. Sadiq al-Husseini, head of the security committee in Diyala provincial council, told Xinhua that residents across the province are increasingly rejecting the extremist militants and this can be felt by the increasing cooperation by the residents with the security forces.”


Arab News: Erdogan’s Diminishing Returns In Syria

“A day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had an opinion piece titled “Trump is right on Syria. Turkey can get the job done” published in the New York Times, he snubbed US National Security Adviser John Bolton by refusing to meet him and describing his statements on a conditional US withdrawal from Syria as a “serious mistake.”  Bolton had contradicted Donald Trump’s recent announcement that US troops would be returning from Syria quickly and that Daesh has been defeated. Standing next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Bolton warned Turkey not to launch a military operation in northern Syria without coordinating with Washington first. He also said that the US would only pull troops out of Syrian territory once the Pentagon had formalized a contingency plan to shield US allies fighting there — meaning the Syrian Kurdish militias.”

The National Interest: Is Turkey Capable Of Defeating ISIS In Syria?

“The Islamic State exploded in the Middle East, gaining control of large sections of Iraq and Syria. No nation was safe from its ambition to create an Islamic caliphate. But Turkey initially accommodated Daesh, even profiting from illicit oil sales. Eventually, the insurgents turned terrorist inside Turkey, forcing the Erdogan government to respond. However, Turkish forces still targeted Kurdish militias as the true threat. With President Donald Trump apparently planning an American withdrawal from Syria, the administration suggested that Turkey take over the task of finishing off ISIS. Ankara’s response? Maybe if the United States does most of the work.  Reported the Wall Street Journal : “Turkey is asking the U.S. to provide substantial military support, including airstrikes, transport and logistics, to allow Turkish forces to assume the main responsibility for fighting Islamic State militants in Syria.” These demands, added the paper, “are so extensive that, if fully met, the American military might be deepening its involvement in Syria.”  Given these requests, one would assume Turkey to be a military midget, a featherweight drafted to take on a heavyweight champion.”


The New York Times: Taliban Attack On Checkpoint Kills 5 Police In Afghanistan

“At least five members of the Afghan security forces were killed after their checkpoint came under attack by insurgents in the southern province of Kandahar, according to a provincial official. Aziz Ahmad Azizi, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said that two other policemen were wounded in Saturday’s attack in the Spin Bolduk district. He said seven Taliban insurgents were killed and six were wounded in the fighting. Qari Yusouf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, claimed responsibility for the attack in Kandahar. In a separate attack in western Herat province, gunmen attacked a city police station on Saturday evening, killing five people, said Gelani Farhad, a spokesman for the provincial governor. Mr. Farhad said that two policemen and three civilians were killed in that attack and four people were wounded. Initial findings showed that three gunmen started shooting at the entrance of the police station and one of them was killed by security forces, he added. Security forces regained control of the area and a search was continuing, he said. A car bomb also detonated near the attack site, Mr. Farhad added.”

Bloomberg: Afghan Taliban Mounts Fresh Attacks Amid Ongoing Peace Talks

“Taliban militants have accelerated attacks across Afghanistan in a show of strength as the U.S. pushes forward with negotiations to end the 17-year-long war. The upswing in violence comes against the backdrop of accelerated peace talks and reports that the U.S. plans to dramatically cut troop levels in Afghanistan. U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, has stepped up efforts to bring the Taliban to the table, with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Russia and Iran involved in discussions with the Taliban over the last few months, either with the U.S. or in a parallel process. Neither track has involved Afghan government representatives. The insurgents have been battling Afghan forces in the north of the strife-torn country for territorial gain in the past week. They’re fighting now in or on the outskirts of Balkh, Takhar, Baghlan, Kunduz and Sar-e-Pul provinces, according to local government officials. Local military officials refused to provide exact figures of the casualties. In four separate email statements sent by Taliban spokesmen Zabihullah Mujahed and Qari Yousef Ahmadi, the Taliban claimed responsibility for all attacks, adding that it took over several villages, destroyed several bases of Afghan forces, grabbed weapons and ammunition and killed or wounded more than 150 forces.”

Reuters: Islamic State Commander Killed In Afghanistan, U.S. Forces Say

“A senior commander of the Islamic State militant group was killed in Afghanistan in a raid, U.S. Forces Afghanistan said on Saturday.  Khetab Emir was killed in the raid on Jan 10 in the eastern area of Nangarhar province, said Lt. Ubon Mendie, a spokesman for the U.S. forces based in Afghanistan.  Emir, who was known by multiple names, facilitated high-profile attacks and supplied Islamic State fighters with weapons and materials to make explosives, Mendie said in a statement.  “His removal helps protect innocent Afghans from future Islamic State violence and weakens their presence in Nangarhar,” Mendie said.  Islamic State fighters have developed a stronghold in the province on Afghanistan’s eastern border with Pakistan and have become one of the country’s most dangerous militant groups.  The hardline militant group’s local affiliate, known as Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) after an old name for the region that includes Afghanistan, has been active since 2015, fighting the Taliban as well as Afghan and foreign forces.  The fight against Islamic State and other militant groups including Al Qaeda and the Taliban is at the heart of the U.S. led counterterrorism mission being conducted alongside the NATO-led Resolute Support operation aimed at training and advising Afghan security forces.”

The New York Times: ‘The Taliban Made Me Fight’: What To Do With Child Recruits After They Serve Time?

“The 14-year-old boy squatted on his haunches on the floor of the prison and, unbidden, began to chant the verses of a Pashto poem in a high, beautiful voice. It was an a cappella elegy in which a prisoner implores his family not to visit him on the Muslim holiday of Eid. And do not come to us for Eid, for we are not free to welcome you. I don’t want you to look at my chest, for there are no buttons on my shirt. Don’t come to this asylum, for we are all lunatics in here. The boy’s name was Muslim, and he was among 47 boys being held in the Badam Bagh juvenile detention center in Kabul as national security threats. Most were charged with planting, carrying or wearing bombs, and many of them, like Muslim, were accused of trying to become suicide bombers. None of Muslim’s family visited him during Eid last summer. “They are angry with me,” he said. “I don’t blame them.” For the authorities, children like him present a conundrum: what to do with them when they finish their sentences, which often range from two to 10 years. Many will be released just as they reach adulthood, when they are even more capable of causing mayhem. Shakur, a 14-year-old from Kunduz, bore cuts and bruises from a bomb that had accidentally blown up in his face the week before.”

Xinhua: Drone Attack Kills 8 Militants Including Taliban Key Commander In N. Afghanistan

“Eight militants including a key Taliban commander, Qari Assadullah, were confirmed dead as an unmanned plane struck a Taliban hideout in Baghlan-e-Markazi district of northern Afghan Baghlan province on Monday, said Abdul Hadi Jamal, an army spokesman in the northern region. "Acting upon intelligence report, the unmanned plane targeted the Taliban hideout in Kokchinar area of Baghlan-e-Markazi district today morning, killing eight rebels including notorious commander Qari Assadullah on the spot," Jamal told Xinhua. Terming Assadullah as an infamous and merciless Taliban commander who had organized subversive activities to kill people, the official said that Assadullah's physical elimination could prove to be a major setback to the Taliban fighters in Baghlan province. Taliban militants who have shelters just a few kilometers from Baghlan provincial capital Pul-e-Khumri have yet to make comment.”


South China Morning Post: Attack On Chinese Consulate In Karachi ‘Planned In Afghanistan, Aided By Indian Spy Agency’

“Police in Pakistan alleged that a deadly attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi last year was planned in Afghanistan with the support of India’s spy agency – a claim India has denied. Karachi police chief Amir Shaikh also highlighted the grave security risks Beijing is facing over its ambitious investment scheme in the region. Five suspects – all from Pakistani separatist group the Balochistan Liberation Army – have been arrested in Karachi, Hub and Quetta over the attack, Shaikh told media on Friday, according to The Express Tribune. During the attack on November 23, three militants attempted to enter the Chinese consulate in Karachi but were shot dead by police at the checkpoint. Two police officers and two civilians were also killed during the exchange of fire. The BLA claimed responsibility for the attack. Shaikh said it was an attempt to sabotage the Beijing-funded China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – a flagship project under Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “Belt and Road Initiative”. “They wanted China to believe that Karachi is not safe,” Shaikh was quoted as saying. Revealing new details of the attack, the second targeting Chinese nationals in Balochistan, a province at the centre of the CPEC, Karachi police said it had been planned in Afghanistan and was aided by India’s intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing.”


Al Jazeera: Israel Says It Has Found All Hezbollah Tunnels On Lebanon Border

“Israel says it has completely dismantled a series of tunnels under its border with Lebanon, which it claims were dug by the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah. A military spokesman said the Israeli army would now end its operation to find and destroy the tunnels that it said the armed group wanted to use to conduct cross border attacks. "According to our intelligence and our assessment of the situation there are no longer any cross-border attack tunnels from Lebanon into Israel," Israeli Officer Jonathan Conricus said. Israel launched "Operation Northern Shield" on December 4 to find and destroy what it described as a vast network, with troops finding six tunnels in total. Conricus said the latest tunnel originated in the Lebanese border town of Ramyeh and was found Saturday night. It was 55 metres deep and ran 800 metres inside Lebanese territory and "dozens" of metres into Israel, he said, adding that it included stairs, a rail system, and a wide passageway that allowed for the movement of equipment, and a large number of forces, he added. The Israeli military said the structure would be destroyed in the next few days. Hezbollah has not commented on the Israeli operation, which Israel says occurred within its own territory.”

Arab News: US Reiterates Concern About Hezbollah Agenda To Destabilize Region

“US officials are in Beirut holding talks with Lebanese officials about the growing threat posed by Hezbollah as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continues to tour the Middle East. During the visit, David Hale, US undersecretary of state for political affairs, will underscore US concerns about Hezbollah’s destabilizing activities in Lebanon and the region, which include the recent discovery of Hezbollah’s cross-border tunnels. The tunnels “defy UN Security Council Resolution 1701, jeopardize the security of the Lebanese people and undermine the legitimacy of Lebanon’s state institutions,” the US Embassy in Lebanon said in a statement issued ahead of the meeting. Hale’s visit came ahead of the global summit that will take place in Poland on Feb. 13 and 14 “to counter Tehran’s regional influence,” according to a statement made by Pompeo two days ago. Pompeo announced on Twitter before embarking on his Middle East tour that he would send a clear message to US friends and partners that “the US is committed to the region, committed to defeat Daesh and committed to countering Iran’s destabilizing activities.” Lebanon is not included in Pompeo’s visit, which covers eight Arab countries and concludes on Tuesday. The US Embassy also said in its statement that Hale “will meet with senior Lebanese officials to discuss the full range of bilateral and regional issues.”


The Hill: Pompeo: Rift Between Qatar, Allies Threatening Regional Unity Needed To Counter Iran

“Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday called for an end to the dispute between Qatar and other Arab countries, saying there needs to be unity in opposition to Iran. “When we have a common challenge, disputes between countries with shared objectives are never helpful,” Pompeo said, according to Reuters. “They never permit you to have as robust a response to common adversaries or common challenges as you might,” he continued. Pompeo's comments came during a news conference held as part of his eight-day trip to the Middle East. The rift dates back to 2017, when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar, citing what they described as the country's support for extremist groups. President Trump took credit for the split at the time. Pompeo said Sunday that he discussed the dispute with leaders from Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE, but added that he doesn't believe it's "any closer to being resolved.”


CNN: Netanyahu: Israel Struck Iranian Weapons Depot At Damascus Airport

“In a rare acknowledgment of Israeli operations in Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the country's air force struck Syria over the weekend. Speaking at Sunday's weekly Cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said: "In the last 36 hours, the air force has attacked Iranian warehouses with Iranian weapons in the Damascus International Airport. The total sum of the last attacks prove that we are more determined than ever to act against Iran in Syria exactly as we promised." Netanyahu, who also serves as Israel's Defense Minister, made the statement while addressing outgoing Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot. On Friday night, Syria's state news agency, SANA, said Israeli warplanes fired several missiles at the airport in Damascus, most of which were downed. The strike damaged a warehouse, SANA said, but did not otherwise affect airport operations. As the Syrian conflict has developed into a complex proxy war, reports have emerged of Israeli strikes on Iran-linked targets.”

Middle East

The Hill: There's No Walking Away From Islamic Jihad

“President Trump announced in December that we are pulling out of Syria, and cutting our forces in Afghanistan by half.  The statements took everyone by surprise, including at the Pentagon, and generated a tsunami of commentary. Lost in most of the rhetoric was any context about the nature of the war that the U.S. is actually fighting in those countries.   There are all kinds of wars — conventional and irregular wars, direct and proxy wars, ethnic, political, economic and religious wars. The differences between them are crucial; they drive — or should drive — how we fight them. How we engage with China over Brazil, for example, or Russia over Venezuela, is very different from how we fight Islamic jihadists in Syria, Afghanistan and the Philippines.  The United States is now engaged in two very different kinds of war. The first is an evolving cold war with Russia and China over economic and political power. It is part of the ebb and flow of great power competition, and it will endure as long as great powers vie for influence and resources. This war is playing out in a growing number of proxy countries, driven mostly by China’s new grab for geostrategic dominance.   The second is a religious war with Salafi jihadists.”


ABC News: Egypt Says Its Security Forces Killed 6 Militants

“Egypt's interior Ministry says security forces have killed six Islamic militants in a raid on their desert hideout south of the capital Cairo. It said the militants killed in the early Saturday raid were hiding in an area between the southern provinces of Sohag and Assiut. The militants were killed in a firefight initiated by the militants, it added. Egypt has been battling Islamic militants for years. An all-out military campaign to quash their insurgency in the north of the Sinai Peninsula began nearly a year ago with the government throwing into battle tens of thousands of troops, jet-fighters, tanks and helicopter gunships. The campaign brought to a halt high-profile attacks blamed on the militants, like one last year in which they killed more than 300 worshippers in a Sinai mosque.”


Premium Times: Boko Haram Attacks Magumeri In Borno

“Suspected members of the Boko Haram on Sunday attacked Magumeri, a local government headquarters in Borno State. Magumeri is about 50km from Maiduguri, the state capital. According to sketchy reports that filtered into Maiduguri, the attack occurred at the agrarian community at about 6 p.m. Magumeri, a quiet agrarian community, had its first major attack by Boko Haram on November 25, 2017, during which three soldiers were killed while six others got injured. The military had then blamed the November 2017 attack on the collusion of the residents with the insurgents; an allegation that was rebuffed by leaders of the community.”

Pulse Nigeria: Boko Haram: Troops Diffuse Bomb Planted On Borno Road

“The Nigerian Army on Sunday said its troops had successfully diffused a bomb planted by Boko Haram insurgents on Kawuri-Alauri Road in Konduga Local Government Area of Borno. In a twitter post, the army said that troops of the 222 Battalion on clearance operations diffused an Improvised Explosive Device (IEDs) planted on the road by the insurgents. “At about 1:00 p.m today, 13th January, 2019; gallant troops of 222 Battalion Konduga, on clearance patrol with the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Scanning Team, operating along Konduga-Aulari Road, recovered IED planted by Boko Haram terrorists along Kawuri-Aulari Road. The IEDs were successfully detonated” it said.”


Al Arabiya: Tunisia Sentences 41 To Death Over 2014 Attack On Army

“A Tunisian court has sentenced 41 extremists to death over an attack that killed 15 soldiers on the border with Algeria in 2014, prosecutors said Saturday. The sentences for the men, only two of whom are currently in custody, were delivered in the capital Tunis on Friday, spokesman Sofiene Sliti told AFP. The other 39 convicted remain at large, he said, adding that all of the those found guilty were linked to ISIS. Tunisian courts continue to issue death sentences despite no executions being carried out since 1991. The gun and rocket launcher assault on army positions in July 2014 left 15 troops dead in the Mount Chaambi area of the western Kasserine region that remains a hideout for extremists. The attack was the deadliest ever against the country’s army. Tunisian armed forces have for the past six years carried out operations to track down wanted extremists in the area, which was declared a closed military zone in 2014.”

News 24: 12 Civilians Killed In Jihadist Attack In Burkina Faso

“Twelve civilians were killed on Thursday during a jihadist attack in the north of Burkina Faso, which has been battling a wave of Islamist violence, officials said on Friday. The west African country declared a state of emergency in several provinces at the end of last year and on Thursday replaced its army chief as it struggled to put a stop to a spate of such attacks.  In the latest violence, gunmen attacked a village market in broad daylight, the security ministry said in a statement issued late on Friday. "Around 30 armed individuals perpetrated... a terrorist attack in the village of Gasseliki," it said, giving a toll of 12 dead and two wounded. "A barn, a cart and six shops were also set alight," it added. A local source told AFP that the attackers "ransacked stores and opened fire on people who had gathered for the weekly market". Jihadist attacks began in northern Burkina Faso in 2015 but then spread to the east, near the border with Togo and Benin. The country is part of the vast Sahel region and one of the poorest states in the world. The region turned into a hotbed of violent extremism and lawlessness after chaos engulfed Libya in 2011, which was followed by an Islamist insurgency in northern Mali and the rise of Boko Haram in northern Nigeria.”

United Kingdom

BBC News: Sheffield Men Jailed For Funding Jihadists In Syria

“Two men from Sheffield who sent money to Syria to fund terrorism have been given jail sentences. Abdurahman Kaabar and Badroddin Kazkaz sent money to Kaabar's brother after he left the UK to "engage in violent Jihadi activity". Sheffield Crown Court previously heard Kaabar, a former dental student, also gathered and shared a "breathtaking" amount of terrorist-related material. Kaabar, 24, was jailed for eight years, with Kazkaz sentenced to four years. Kabaar, of Martin Street, Upperthorpe, Sheffield, admitted 15 offences relating to disseminating or possessing material likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism. The former Plymouth University dental student was found guilty by jury of two counts of terrorist fundraising relating to cash sent to his brother in Syria. Kazkaz, 23, of Cross Myrtle Road, Heeley, Sheffield pleaded guilty to a similar terrorism funding offence. During the trial, jurors heard Mohammed Kaabar had left the UK in March 2016 to fight against the Syrian government. He went with another man, Ahmed Hadrami, who sent messages to say he went to Idlib in north-west Syria "to sacrifice myself for Allah's religion". Kaabar and Kazkaz sent money to Mohammed Kaabar between September 2016 and January 2017.”

New York Post: ISIS Fanatics Allegedly Planned To Poison Kate Middleton’s Groceries

“ISIS supporters have concocted a sick plot to kill Kate Middleton — by poisoning the food she buys at the supermarket, according to a report published Sunday. Terror fanatics have been encouraging each other to tamper with the Duchess of Cambridge’s food while communicating on the Telegram messaging app, according to the UK Daily Star. “We know what she eats — poison it,” read the caption of one image showing the 37-year-old royal with a shopping cart. The location of the stores where the mom-of-three reportedly shops were also shared. One vile picture posted on the app threatened Prince George. The composite image showed the toddler holding his father Prince William’s hand and standing beside a knife-wielding ISIS militant with the caption: “Rise of the kuffar” — which translates to “unbeliever.” A security source told the paper that the threats were being taken “very seriously.” “It’s a disgusting plot as it involves Kate’s young children and hits out at her attempt to live a normal life like any mother wants to,” the source said. Intelligence agents believe the threats are linked to messages sent by ISIS fanatic Husnain Rashid, who was jailed in 2017 for encouraging fellow jihadis to target Prince George, the source said.”


Engadget: Germany May Order Facebook To Stop Collecting Some User Data

“Germany's efforts to regulate Facebook's practices might just escalate in the near future. Bild am Sonntag sources claim the country's Federal Cartel Office will order Facebook to stop collecting some user data. It's chiefly concerned with how the social network shares data with apps and sites outside of Facebook proper, including its own Instagram and WhatsApp properties. The antitrust overseer will present its ruling to Facebook within a few weeks, according to the insiders. It's not certain how quickly Facebook would have to change its practices. Germany is most likely to set a deadline instead of demanding immediate reforms, Bild said, so it would have some time to get its affairs in order. It could face fines up to €10 million (about $11.5 million) if it declined. Regulators in the country have already determined that Facebook abused its lead in social networks to collect info without consent, and Facebook has accordingly denied misusing its power in a statement to Bild. The company disagreed with the Federal Cartel Office and would "continue to defend this position," according to a spokesperson.”


The Washington Post: Czech Jailed For Blaming Train Attacks On Islamic Militants

“A court has convicted a Czech national of carrying out two attacks on trains while blaming them on Islamic militants and sentenced him to four years in prison. Prague’s regional court ruled Monday that 71-year-old Jaromir Balda cut down two trees in 2017 that fell on train tracks near the city of Mlada Boleslav, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Prague. Two passenger trains later hit the trees. Nobody was injured. The retiree also placed pamphlets at the sites with threats of extremist attacks planned on Czech territory. Prosecutors say the man’s motivation was to incite fear of Muslims and attacks. The man pleaded guilty but claimed he didn’t want to harm anyone. The court also ordered him to undergo psychiatric treatment.”


Alanbat: Iraq: ISIS Selling Itself Under A New Name  

“Although Iraqi forces have regained control of the areas dominated in the past by ISIS, the terrorist organization is preparing to reconquer some of these {lost} Iraqi territories. ISIS is doing this by marketing itself under a new name, i.e. the Guardians of Religion. "ISIS's sleeper cells have been on the move in some areas of Mosul, Saladin and Kirkuk, {in an effort} to restore their activity under a new name," said a local source in Mosul. They are communicating with other leaders of ISIS in an attempt to reinstate their ranks, which collapsed during raids by the Iraqi forces. The source pointed out that "the number of militants of the Guardians of Religion, who are trained by ISIS leaders, ranges between 3500 and 4000. The source added that, so far, the "organization has not carried out any armed activity or terrorist attack targeting Iraqi forces or civilians.”

Shafaaq: Iraqi General: ISIS Lost Funding Thanks To Stricter Border Control

“A general in the Military Intelligence Agency at the Iraqi Ministry of Defense disclosed that ISIS is suffering from a shortage of charismatic commanders who wield influence over local youths, as well as {a shortage of} foreign Jihadists who entered Syria and Iraq in past years. Nearly 90% of ISIS leaders have either been killed, fled or lost contact with the terrorist organization over the last 16 months, the Iraqi military expert explained. The group currently relies exclusively on its sleeper cells to perpetrate attacks in the territories from which it was expelled. To launch attacks, ISIS usually 'awakens' its covert members in those areas. Additionally, ISIS uses so-called cluster cells to carry out terrorist assaults. The fact that these cells are decentralized means that the capture of one doesn't necessarily result in the capture of the other cells, since they have no connection with each other. Nonetheless, ISIS is now suffering from the loss of its funding sources due to strict tightening of the border control in Iraq, the general asserted.”

Muslim Brotherhood

Elbashayer: Egyptian Media Figure: Muslim Brotherhood Collected Paupers' Money For Terrorist Financing

“Ahmed Moussa, a prominent Egyptian media figure, noted that the banned Muslim Brotherhood used to con citizens by persuading them to donate funds for paupers, while this money was, in fact, directed towards financing terrorism. During his program “Ala mas'uliyati” (“My Responsibility”) on the Egyptian Sada El-Balad television channel, the popular TV host added that, in a period of 90 years, the outlawed Islamist group has raised financial donations under the guise of helping the poor. Yet, the group ultimately channeled these funds towards setting up its own companies and financing terrorism, which continues until today, Moussa claimed. He also mentioned that the Guidance Office of the Muslim Brotherhood allocated funds, which were purportedly raised for aiding the needy in Gaza and other Palestinian territories, for training its own armed battalions.”


Al-Arabiya: Source: Hezbollah Digs For Gold In Venezuela

“An opposition member of Venezuela's Parliament disclosed that members of the Lebanese Hezbollah organization are operating and overseeing gold mines owned by the Shiite militia in his country. These mines are located inside a strategic excavation project that was approved by the Venezuelan government in 2016. The project, called "Arco Minero del Orinoco," aims to extract gold, diamonds, bauxite, iron and copper, explained MP Américo de Grazia. He added that Hezbollah, which owns two mines in that strategic project, is excavating in search of precious metals to finance its terrorist activities and to serve the regime which uses it, in reference to Iran.”


Yemen Akhbar: Houthis Force Money-Exchange Companies To Pay Vast Sums

“The Houthi group, which is the Iranian arm in Yemen, has been working to strengthen its financial resources, to finance its military operations, buy loyalties, increase its number of members and enable them economically. The group employs various types of extortion and imposition of fees. According to private information, the Houthi militants have disrupted state institutions, including the Central Bank, so that licenses are now granted to currency exchange companies by a Houthi official. It is claimed that this official has amassed large sums of up to YR35 million ($140K). The information confirms that the Houthis are compelling the money-exchange companies to pay an estimated YR46 million ($184K), including YR3 million ($12k) in license fees and YR500K ($2K) for each branch of large companies that have 10 or more branches, and YR40 million ($160k) as a guaranteed deposit with the Central Bank of Sana'a. This is in addition to a tax of YR 3 million.”