Eye on Extremism: January 17, 2019

The Wall Street Journal: At Least Four Americans Killed In Syria Attack Claimed By Islamic State

“A bombing in Syria claimed by Islamic State killed at least four Americans on Wednesday, the Pentagon said, hardening divisions in Washington over President Trump’s plan to withdraw troops from the country. The four Americans—two military service members, a civilian Defense Department employee and a Pentagon contractor—were among 19 believed killed in the blast, including allied fighters with the Syrian Democratic Forces and a number of civilians, according to local media and a monitoring group. Other Americans may have been among the wounded, U.S. officials said. Before Wednesday, two Americans had been killed in action in Syria, where U.S. ground troops have been deployed against Islamic State since 2015. There are more than 2,000 American troops in the country. The White House expressed “sympathies and love” to the families of those killed. “Our service members and their families have all sacrificed so much for our country,” the White House said. The bombing comes a month after Mr. Trump announced a rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria and said on Twitter, “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.”

The Washington Post: How Defeated Is The Islamic State?

“President Trump’s decision to remove U.S. troops stationed in Syria was predicated on a seemingly simple argument: The Islamic State, the extremist group that once controlled large swatches of that country and Iraq, had been defeated. “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” the president tweeted on Dec. 19, using an acronym to refer to the group. The White House later released a video in which Trump said “we have won against ISIS.” He later appeared to modify his language — but only slightly. “ISIS is mostly gone,” he tweeted on Dec 31. Vice President Pence reiterated that message Wednesday. “The caliphate has crumbled, and ISIS has been defeated,” he told a group of U.S. ambassadors gathered at the State Department in Washington. Hours after U.S. service members were killed in an Islamic State-claimed attack in Syria on Jan. 16, Vice President Pence said “ISIS has been defeated.” (Reuters) Just hours earlier, a suicide bomb had killed four American military members and wounded three more in Manbij, a Syrian city patrolled by U.S. troops. The supposedly defeated Islamic State claimed responsibility. Though the group’s involvement has not been confirmed, critics linked the attack to Trump’s decision to pull out of Syria.”

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia Man Plotted Attack On White House, Authorities Say

“Federal authorities on Wednesday arrested a metro Atlanta man they said was plotting to attack the White House but instead got entangled with the FBI. Hasher Jallal Taheb, 21, of Cumming, was taken into custody in Gwinnett County while allegedly trying to exchange his vehicle for explosives. He later appeared in court in downtown Atlanta in the case brought the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. Authorities said Taheb was acting alone and they made no accusation that had ties to any terrorist group. He was arrested after a tip from a resident who said the young man had been radicalized. Taheb’s alleged attack on the White House was supposed to take place around Thursday and involve various explosives and firearms, though even days before he claimed he had still never fired a gun in his life, according to the criminal complaint. He said he could learn fast, the document said. Authorities also said he planned to travel to the Islamic State territory but acknowledged he didn’t have a passport. “All potential threats have been neutralized and were under control from the inception of this case,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak, who added that authorities would take no questions on the investigation, which is ongoing.”

CNN: An American CEO Who Survived 9/11 Died In The Terror Attack On A Kenya Hotel

“American businessman Jason Spindler survived the September 11 attacks in New York only to die this week in another act of terror. Spindler was among those killed Tuesday in a terror attack on a Kenyan hotel compound, the company he founded said Wednesday. He would have turned 41 next week, his parents told CNN affiliate KTRK. Men armed with guns and explosives burst into Nairobi's DusitD2 compound, killing at least 21 people in an attack that lasted hours and ended Wednesday morning, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said. DusitD2 is an upmarket cluster of shops and hotel facilities in the Kenyan capital, his company said. Spindler dedicated his life to helping others through his work as a business investment adviser, his parents told KTRK. It's what brought him to Nairobi, they said. Spindler was the founder, CEO and managing director of I-DEV International, a strategy and investment advisory firm that attempts to grow businesses in emerging markets.”

CBS News: California Man Killed In Taliban Truck Bombing In Afghanistan

“A California man was among those killed in a powerful truck bomb attack against a heavily fortified foreign compound in Kabul this week, officials said Wednesday, as the government continued investigating the blast site. The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the bomb which detonated near the Green Village compound in east Kabul on Monday. Afghan authorities have said at least four people were killed and 113 wounded. On Wednesday an official at the U.S. embassy in Kabul said an American citizen was among the fatalities, but gave no further information. CBS Los Angeles identified the slain American 55-year-old Manoharan “Paul” Kamaleson, of Arcadia. CBS L.A. quoted authorities who had been informed by Kamaleson's family that he was among the victims. Kamaleson was the chief operating officer of The First MicroFinance Bank in Afghanistan, and was doing development work in the country alongside non-governmental organizations. The powerful blast ripped through surrounding neighbourhoods, shattering the windows of surrounding houses and shops.”

Clarion Project: Far-Right Groups Using Islamist Techniques To Recruit

“According to a new Counter Extremism Project (CEP) report, far-right groups are using Islamist techniques to recruit new followers. David Ibsen, CEP’s executive director, says: “[The far-right] Portraying themselves in this way is definitely a tactic to increase the reach of their message and, as such, increase the potential of radicalization… The real worrying issue is that, with the power of social media, these claims create an ecosystem where people looking for legitimate mainstream movements access extremist culture. What we cannot ignore is how these groups will affect pluralism, peace and tolerance.” Far-right groups using Islamist techniques navigate the online space much like their jihadi counterparts. They “build” communities” around key issues and then point to recent national headlines that further drive and validate their cause.”

United States

CBS News: To Recruit In The U.S., ISIS Steals Western Ideas, Says Terrorism Expert Robert Pape

“In crafting its video propaganda, militant group ISIS has often looked to common superhero narratives to maximize the effectiveness of their recruitment efforts in the west, according to terrorism expert Robert Pape. “They took a page right out of the Hollywood, right out of our blockbuster superhero movies called the 'heroic narrative,’” Pape said. “And what they did is they focused on a narrative how an ordinary individual can become super empowered to help a community that he or she doesn't really even know.” In so doing, Pape said, ISIS effectively targeted people “who are especially prone to take risks,” including convicted criminals or those with violent histories. In an interview with Intelligence Matters host and CBS senior national security contributor Michael Morell, Pape, who is a political science professor and Director of the Chicago Project on Security and Threats (CPOST) at the University of Chicago, explained that ISIS, in downplaying religion and emphasizing heroism, has managed to tap into a pool of recruits that Al Qaeda had not targeted or reached. (Morell serves as an advisory board member at CPOST; the position is unpaid.)”

New York Post: American Teacher Joined ISIS To See ‘What The Group Was About’

“An ISIS member from Texas said he joined the terror group simply out of curiosity — and wasn’t repelled by their brutality because in his home state, “they like to execute people, too.” “I wanted to go see exactly what the group was about, and what they were doing,” Warren Christopher Clark, 34, who spent more than three years teaching English for the terror group, told NBC News. “Of course I saw the videos. I think with the beheadings, that’s execution. I’m from the United States, from Texas. They like to execute people, too,” the Muslim convert said. “So I really don’t see any difference. They might do it off camera, but it’s the same.” The former substitute teacher from Sugar Land, Texas, was captured by US-backed Kurdish forces during the campaign to liberate the last pockets occupied by ISIS in Syria. He said he never fought alongside ISIS and that he was detained by the jihadists almost a dozen times for refusing to take up arms. Clark’s resume was found at a house in Iraq and was later obtained by the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, NBC News reported last year. He wrote in a cover letter that he hoped to land a job teaching English to students in territory seized by ISIS.”

Washington Examiner: Top Republican Urges Syria Withdrawal Delay After ISIS Bombing

“President Trump shouldn’t withdraw U.S. forces from Syria ‘until ISIS is completely destroyed,” a senior House Republican urged hours after a suicide bomber attacked a group of U.S. and local fighters. “Today’s deadly bombing targeting our troops in Syria is a reminder that ISIS still has the capacity to carry out attacks,” Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee, said Wednesday. “I strongly urge the president to forcefully respond and ensure we do not withdraw our troops until ISIS is completely destroyed.” The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, which reportedly killed “at least three” American soldiers patrolling alongside some of the Kurdish fighters who have provided a key ground force in the coalition to destroy the ISIS caliphate. The bombing comes just weeks after Trump’s unexpected decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria, declaring ISIS defeated despite recent warnings from administration officials that longer-term presence was needed to consolidate the victory.”

AZ Central: Man Shot By Deputy In Fountain Hills Accused Of Terrorism On Behalf Of ISIS

“An 18-year-old man shot by a Maricopa County sheriff's deputy in Fountain Hills earlier this month now is being charged as a terrorist who was acting on behalf of ISIS, according to a complaint filed by the Maricopa County Attorney's Office. The complaint filed Tuesday alleges Ismail Hamed “intentionally or knowingly, did provide advice, assistance, direction or management'' to the terrorist organization, which is listed under several formal names under which the organization is known, including the Islamic State of Iraq al-Sham. He is facing one count of terrorism under state law, a Class 2 felony, for that allegation. Hamed faces a second count of terrorism for his actions on Jan. 7, the night he was shot and wounded by a deputy in Fountain Hills outside the town's government complex. Hamed also is facing a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, which was filed prior to the terrorism charges were filed  Further court records pertaining to his arrest, including a detailed probable-cause statement related to his arrest, were not made available by Maricopa County Superior Court. A court official said the case had been ordered sealed by a judge.”


The New York Times: ISIS Attack In Syria Kills 4 Americans, Raising New Worries About Troop Withdrawal

“Four Americans were among 19 people killed in Syria on Wednesday in a suicide bombing that was claimed by the Islamic State, just weeks after President Trump ordered the withdrawal of United States forces and declared that the extremist group had been defeated. The attack targeted an American military convoy in the northern city of Manbij while troops were inside the Palace of the Princes, a restaurant where they often stopped to eat during patrols, residents said. While the Americans were inside, a nearby suicide attacker wearing an explosive vest blew himself up. The bombing raised new questions about Mr. Trump’s surprise decision last month to end the American ground war in Syria. Critics of the president’s plans, including members of his own party, said Mr. Trump’s claim of victory over the Islamic State may have emboldened its fighters and encouraged Wednesday’s strike. It was at least the sixth major attack by the Islamic State in less than a month, according to one United States official, and was one of the deadliest days that the American-led coalition had suffered in the fight against the group.”

NPR: Bombing In Syria Complicates Withdrawal Of U.S. Troops

“An attack claimed by ISIS killed U.S. troops in Syria. David Greene talks to Michele Flournoy, a former under secretary at the Pentagon, about how this might affect a planned troop withdrawal.”

CNN: Will A Deadly Syria Attack Force The US To Fight Back, Or Withdraw Faster?

“After the death of US troops in a gruesome explosion in northern Syria, Washington faces an uncomfortable question: Accelerate America's withdrawal from the country, do nothing, or stay longer and fight? The blast in the busy marketplace of Manbij has claimed several American and many Syrian civilian lives. It's a marked change from February last year, when I walked through the city with US special forces. At the time, they were relaxed in the market and wore no body armor, despite geopolitical tensions brewing just a few kilometers away. Manbij was the complicated center of Syria's new post-war reality then, and it still is today. The Syrian Kurds who control the city are US allies in the fight against ISIS. To their west are Syrian Arab rebels, backed by Turkey, who considers the Syrian Kurds to be terrorists.  When we visited the front line separating the beleaguered Kurds and Arabs of Syria last year, US troops monitoring the area spoke of the occasional pot shot fired over their trenches by the Syrian rebels. In the months since then, tensions have grown as regime forces approach the town, backed by the Russian military.  But none of these forces claimed today's attack on US personnel.”

Al Monitor: Islamic Jihad Seeks To Renew Ties With Damascus

“A delegation from the political leadership of Islamic Jihad met with an adviser to the Syrian regime in Damascus Jan. 8. It was the first meeting held between the two sides since 2011, when they became estranged over Islamic Jihad's neutral position in the conflict in Syria. Some Islamic Jihad leaders left Damascus and headed to Lebanon and Tehran in August 2012, while others remained to maintain some minimal ties with the Syrian regime. However, the movement’s neutral positions regarding the conflict in Syria and Yemen later angered Iran, the Syrian regime’s strategic ally. As a result, Iran reduced the movement’s funding in 2015. Islamic Jihad suffered a financial crisis until Iran resumed aid after its leaders repeatedly visited Tehran in 2017 and 2018. The Islamic Jihad delegation, led by political bureau member Khaled al-Batsh, visited Damascus as part of a tour by the Islamic Jihad leadership to Lebanon, Iran and Syria to rebuild ties with the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis and secure financial, political and military support for the movement. On Dec. 29, an Islamic Jihad delegation met with leaders from the Iranian regime in Tehran including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.”


CNBC: New Research Shows How Iranian Hackers Have Collaborated To Become One Of The World’s Most Fearsome Hacking Forces

“Iranian hackers have congregated since at least 2002 in online forums to share tips on the best ways to create successful cyberattacks. Those conversations have given birth to some of the most significant global cybersecurity incidents, including devastating attacks on Saudi Aramco, attacks against the public-facing websites of large banks and espionage campaigns on a wide range of Western targets, according to new research by cybersecurity intelligence firm Recorded Future. Among the findings in the report: A forum called “Ashiyane,” created by a cybersecurity company called the Ashiyane Digital Security Team, served as a medium for Iranian contractors to show off their talents for executing successful online offensive campaigns. The forum was one of Iran’s most popular with around 20,000 users and had direct ties to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.  Many of the hackers on the forum considered themselves “gray hats,” a term for hackers that participate in both legitimate and criminal cyber actions. It’s a mixture of the term “white hat,” which refers to ethical hackers, and “black hats,” which refers to hackers who take part in malicious or illegal activities.”

National Post: Kaveh Shahrooz: It's Time To Ramp Up The Pressure On Iran. Here's How

“Once they reconvene in February, Canada’s senators will be presented with a unique opportunity to pursue human rights in Iran in a new and effective way — through a new Iran-focused motion tabled by Conservative Sen. Linda Frum, condemning the Iranian regime’s human rights violations. The motion calls for the use of Canada’s Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (the Sergei Magnitsky law) to “sanction Iranian government … entities and individuals involved in egregious human rights abuses.” While its language is largely consistent with an earlier opposition motion adopted in the House of Commons in June 2018 (with the surprise backing of the Trudeau Liberals), the new motion’s call for the application of Magnitsky sanctions is novel. Magnitsky laws — recently adopted by a number of Western countries and named after a Russian lawyer killed by Vladimir Putin’s government — are designed to sanction foreign officials implicated in widespread corruption and human rights abuses. Once subject to Magnitsky sanctions, the assets of the listed official are frozen and the person is barred from travelling to the sanctioning jurisdiction. Such sanctions are narrowly tailored and avoid the harmful collateral damage caused by more comprehensive sanctions on regimes.”

The Guardian: Iranian Ambassador Claims Free Nazanin Campaign Is 'Unhelpful'

“The Iranian ambassador to the UK has told the husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe that his campaign to secure her release from a Tehran jail is reducing her chances of freedom. Speaking in response to the announcement by the Free Nazanin campaign that Zaghari-Ratcliffe had brought her three-day hunger strike to an end after prison authorities agreed she could receive medical treatment for a lump in her breast, the Iranian ambassador, Hamid Baeidinejad, claimed that she had already been given full access to the required facilities. While the foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has described the campaign by Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband – Richard Ratcliffe – as inspirational, Baeidinejad claimed: “The way he has tried to campaign and make this a public issue is not helpful.” He suggested that doing so was merely agitating Ratcliffe’s wife and causing her psychological distress.”

The National: Iran Says It Will Be Ready For New Satellite Launch In A Few Months

“Iran will be ready for a new satellite launch in a few months' time after a failed attempt this week, President Hassan Rouhani said, ignoring US and European warnings to avoid such activity. Western officials say the missile technology used in such launches could be applied to delivering a nuclear weapon. Iran's bid to send a satellite, named Payam, into orbit failed on Tuesday as its launching rocket did not reach adequate speed in its third stage. Mr Rouhani on Wednesday was quoted by state media as saying, however, that Iran had "achieved great success in building satellites and launching them. That means we are on the right track. The remaining problems are minor, will be resolved in a few months, and we will soon be ready for a new launch," he said. The United States warned Iran this month against undertaking three planned rocket launches that it said would violate a UN Security Council resolution because they use ballistic missile technology. France's Foreign Ministry on Wednesday condemned the abortive launch and urged Iran to cease ballistic missile tests, which Paris sees as potential use for nuclear arms.”

France 24: Iran FM Says Tehran Wants To Rebuild Iraq After IS Fight

“Iranian firms should have a key role in rebuilding Iraq after the fight against the Islamic State group, Tehran's top diplomat said Wednesday in a rare meeting with Iraqi paramilitary units. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke in Iraq's holy city of Karbala to commanders of the Hashed al-Shaabi, which is dominated by Iran-backed Shiite groups opposed by Washington. ”The world has realised the truth -- that the US wasn't the one who defeated Daesh (IS). You were, and that's why they exerted pressure on you and on us,” he told gathered commanders in Farsi.  After IS overran nearly a third of Iraq in 2014, the Hashed's auxiliary units partnered with Iraqi forces for three years to fight the jihadists.  Many Hashed factions receive military and political support from Iran.  Some commanders have been blacklisted by the US, which also reimposed tough sanctions on Iran last year after pulling out of an international deal on Tehran's nuclear programme. Now, as Iraq looks to rebuild, Zarif said Iranian firms should be favoured because of his country's support and the complex logistics of partnering with Western companies.”


Iraqi News: Iraqi Airstrike Kills Three Islamic State Terrorists In Kirkuk

“Iraqi warplanes killed on Wednesday three Islamic State terrorists in the oil-rich province of Kirkuk, a military spokesman was quoted as saying. “Acting on accurate intelligence reports, Iraqi jet fighters targeted three terrorists riding a motorbike in al-Mahkour village in Kirkuk,” Alghad Press quoted spokesman for the Security Media Center Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool as saying. “The airstrike left the terrorists dead,” added the spokesman. The Islamic State group appeared on the international scene in 2014 when it seized large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, declaring the establishment of an Islamic “caliphate” from Mosul city. Later on, the group has become notorious for its brutality, including mass killings, abductions and beheadings, prompting the U.S. to lead an international coalition to destroy it. Between June 2014 and December 2017, Islamic State seized large areas of Iraq and led a campaign of widespread violence and systematic violations of international human rights and humanitarian law – acts that amounted to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and possible genocide.”

Iraqi News: Iraqi Troops Arrest Two Islamic State Terrorists In Anbar

“Iraqi security forces arrested on Wednesday two Islamic State militants while hiding among the displaced families in Anbar province, a security source said. “Security forces carried out a crackdown targeting several villages of Anbar, managing to arrest two dangerous IS militants,” the source told Almaalomah news website. The source added that the pair was “implicated in launching attacks against security forces and civilians in Anbar.” They had fled to the liberated areas among the displaced families after the liberation of Anbar from Islamic State, the source added. Iraq declared the collapse of Islamic State’s territorial influence in November 2017 with the recapture of Rawa, a city on Anbar’s western borders with Syria, which was the group’s last bastion in Iraq. IS declared a self-styled “caliphate” in a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria in 2014. A government campaign, backed by a U.S.-led international coalition and paramilitary forces, was launched in 2016 to retake IS-held regions, managing to retake all havens, most notably the city of Mosul, the group’s previously proclaimed capital.”


Reuters: Turkey Deported Dutch Journalist On Suspected Terror Link: Official

“A journalist working for the largest Dutch financial newspaper who was expelled from Turkey on Thursday was deported on suspicion of links to terrorism, a Turkish official said. He did not provide further details on the allegations against Ans Boersma, 31. Her paper Het Financieele Dagblad said she had been visiting an immigration office in Istanbul to extend her visa on Wednesday when she was detained.”

The Daily Beast: Turkey Accuses Knicks Star Enes Kanter Of Being A Terrorist

“Turkish prosecutors on Wednesday accused New York Knicks center Enes Kanter of being a member of a U.S. terror organization and requested Interpol assistance in securing an international arrest warrant. The pro-government Daily Sabah newspaper reported that the Istanbul chief prosecutor’s office had also prepared an extradition request for the 26-year-old NBA player, along with the Interpol “Red Notice.” “Turkish Government can NOT present any single piece of evidence of my wrongdoing,” Kanter tweeted on Wednesday morning. “I don’t even have a parking ticket in the US (True). I have always been a law-abiding resident.” In another post, Kanter captioned a video of himself dunking during a recent game: “The only thing I terrorize is the rim.” Turkish prosecutors alleged that Kanter, an outspoken critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, belongs to a movement founded by U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen—which Turkey regards as a terrorist organization allegedly behind the failed coup in 2016. Kanter, who is a Turkish national, allegedly provided financial support to Gulen’s group. In November, Turkey made similar extradition requests for more than 80 people that the country believes are linked to Gulen.”


Channel NewsAsia: Taliban Officials Say Pakistan Applying Pressure Over Afghan Talks

“The arrest of a senior Taliban leader in Pakistan this week underlines a push by the government in Islamabad to pressure the insurgents to open talks with the Afghan government, Taliban officials said. Hafiz Mohibullah, a senior military commander who has been closely involved in talks with the United States, was arrested in Peshawar, close to the border with Afghanistan, at the weekend but was subsequently released.”After his arrest, Pakistani authorities started raids on many other houses of the Taliban movement, their friends and commanders in different places in Pakistan,” said one senior Taliban leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The Taliban confirmed that Mohibullah had been released on Wednesday and spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said he was safe. The move came as talks between Taliban representatives and U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad hit a stumbling block after the insurgents issued a statement on Tuesday threatening to stall peace talks. Khalilzad, who arrived in Kabul on Tuesday, was due to meet Taliban representatives in Qatar last week but the meeting was cancelled. The Taliban have so far refused to talk to the Afghan government, which they dismiss as a puppet regime put in place by foreign powers.”

Radio Free Europe: Taliban Must Talk To Afghan Government, Says U.S. Envoy

“U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad says that a peaceful end to the 17-year conflict in Afghanistan requires the Taliban to engage in direct talks with the Afghan government, which they have consistently refused to do. Zalmay Khalilzad spoke to the Afghan media in Kabul on January 16 on his latest visit to the country, amid diplomatic efforts to bring an end to the conflict which began with the 2001 U.S. invasion. “The road to peace will require Taliban to sit with other Afghans, including the government,” Khalilzad said. “There is a consensus among all regional partners on this point,” he added, according to a press release by the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. Taliban representatives have long refused to hold direct talks with the Afghan government, which they say is an U.S. puppet. Taliban envoys have met several times with U.S. officials over the past months, but earlier this week threatened to suspend the talks, accusing Washington of changing the agenda of the talks and “unilaterally” adding new points. “If the Talibs want to talk, we can talk, if they want to fight we can fight. We hope that the Talibs want to make peace,” Khalilzad said in response to the threat. Khalilzad arrived in Kabul late on January 15, where he met with the country's political leaders.”


Xinhua: Pakistani Forces Kill Four Taliban Militants: Army

“Pakistani forces have killed four Taliban militants in the country's northwest Hangu district, the military said on Wednesday. An army statement said security forces conducted an intelligence-based operation on terrorist hideout in Hangu district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the early morning. “During the exchange of fire, four terrorists of proscribed TTP (Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan) were killed,” the statement from the army's media wing Inter-Services Public Relations said. The terrorists were involved in a deadly suicide attack in a marketplace in Orakzai tribal district last year in November, which had killed over 30 people, the army said. Earlier, officials in the region said forces conducted a raid on a house that militants were hiding there. Pakistani Taliban commander, Muhammad Islam, was among the militants killed in the raid. He was wanted to the authorities for his involvement in several attacks. Pakistani forces have cleared Hangu district from the Taliban militants in a series of operations, however, some militants are hiding in remote areas and they make attempts to sneak into urban areas for attacks. Pakistan army is presently conducting intelligence-based operations as part of the major offensive “Radd-ul-Fasaad,” reject discord in English.”


The Minneapolis Star Tribune: Yemeni Group: Houthi Rebels Hold, Torture Female Detainees

“Yemen's Houthi rebels hold dozens of women without bringing them to trial or charging them with a crime, often torturing the detainees and blackmailing their families, activists said on Thursday. The allegations were first raised over the weekend by the Yemen Organization for Combating Human Trafficking, based in the capital, Sanaa. The group's founder, Nabil Fadel, told The Associated Press that he received information from families, former female detainees, and other sources showing that over the past months, the Houthis have been rounding up women over allegations of prostitution and collaboration with the Saudi-led coalition, which is at war with the rebels. The rebel-run Interior Ministry responded Monday by saying the allegations were rumors from the "mouthpieces of the mercenaries" that are "tarnishing the image of security apparatus." It also denied the existence of secret prisons and illegal and arbitrary detentions and vowed to prosecute those behind the reports.”


ABC News: Egypt Says Police Forces Kill 5 Militants In Northern Sinai

“Egypt says its police forces have killed five militants in a shootout in the city of el-Arish in the turbulent northern Sinai Peninsula. A statement Wednesday by the Interior Ministry said the shootout took place on a deserted farm used by the militants as a hideout. It said forces seized explosives and weapons. It was unclear when the battle took place. Egypt has been battling Islamic militants for years, but the insurgency gained strength after the 2013 overthrow of an elected but divisive Islamist president. The militants have mainly targeted security forces and Christians. Egypt last year launched a wide-scale security operation focused on the northern Sinai Peninsula, where an affiliate of the Islamic State group has carried out many attacks in recent years.”


Yahoo News: Fighting Flares Up In Libyan Capital, Killing 5, Wounding 20

“Libyan authorities say fighting between rival armed groups in the capital of Tripoli has flared up again, four months after a U.N.-brokered cease-fire. Malek Merset, spokesman for the Tripoli-based Health Ministry, says at least five people were killed and 20 others wounded Wednesday. A previous round of fighting, which erupted in August last year, killed at least 96 people, including civilians. The U.N. mission has warned against any breach of the cease-fire, brokered in September. The fighting between militias allied to the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli and an armed group from a nearby town underscores Libya's lingering lawlessness since the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed Moammar Gadhafi. Libya is governed by rival authorities in Tripoli and the country's east, each of which is backed by an array of militias.”


Daily Mail: National Security Under Scrutiny At Nigeria Vote

“In December 2015, Buhari was confident enough to declare Boko Haram "technically" defeated. But the truth of that statement has since been repeatedly questioned. Suicide bombings and hit-and-run raids persisted, while troops were unable to stop another mass abduction of more than 100 schoolgirls from the town of Dapchi. More concerning still, according to analysts, is the wave of attacks by the Islamic State West Africa Province faction of Boko Haram against military bases. This month, even Buhari acknowledged Nigerian troops were exhausted and demoralised. "Boko Haram has shown it has not gone away,' Josh Lipowsky, a senior research analyst at the Counter Extremism Project in New York, told AFP. 'The government has to take further steps in order to fulfil its promises, which it has not yet done despite its proclamations.”

Pulse Nigeria: Buhari Says Foreigners Are Funding Boko Haram's Terrorism In Nigeria

“President Muhammadu Buhari has alleged that the terrorist activities of Boko Haram within Nigeria's borders are backed by forces outside the country. Since Boko Haram's insurgency escalated in 2009, it has killed over 27,000 people and displaced millions in the northeast region, with its operations also extending to border countries like Cameroon, Chad and Niger. Buhari had declared in 2015 that the terrorist group was 'technically defeated' but a recent resurgence has led to growing concerns as the group's faction, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), attacked several military bases in 2018 with dozens of unfortunate military casualties. While speaking during a two-hour town hall programme, tagged 'The Candidates', in Abuja on Wednesday, January 16, 2019, the president said the military needs equipment to completely neutralise the group being backed by outside forces.”

The Japan Times: Deadly Boko Haram Attack In Northeast Nigeria Sends Thousands Fleeing

“Thousands of people have fled a remote town in northeast Nigeria, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said on Wednesday, after Boko Haram fighters attacked a military base and torched aid buildings. Monday’s attack in Rann, in Borno state, has been blamed on the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) faction of Boko Haram, which has carried out similar raids against troops since July last year. The upsurge in violence has forced tens of thousands of people to flee, including internally displaced people (IDPs) who have returned home after previous attacks. Last week, the United Nations said there had been a “massive displacement” of more than 30,000 people after ISWAP strikes in and around Baga, on the shores of Lake Chad, in northern Borno. Military and humanitarian sources on Tuesday told AFP seven people were killed in Rann, including three soldiers. But the medical charity’s emergency program manager, Hugues Robert, said they were told the death tally was higher — and that some 10,000 people had fled to the border. “The figures we got yesterday from people who have been there … were 14 people died,” he told AFP by phone from Geneva. Rann…”

Washington Times: Saving Nigeria's Christians

“Last month, Amnesty International released a new report that outlined the costs of a dangerous and often deadly cycle of violence occurring in Nigeria’s Middle Belt region between Christian farmers and Muslim herders — 3,600 people have been killed in the past 3 years, with 2018 being the worst year on record so far. The Amnesty report is the latest warning that the situation in the Middle Belt is worsening. These concerns have been echoed by others from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to the U.K.’s Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust, chaired by Baroness Caroline Cox, and local Nigerian religious organizations such as the Saint Raphael’s Society of Nigeria. Ahead of Nigerian elections in February, which have the potential to cause further divisions, the Trump administration has now begun to acknowledge the scale of the problem. The administration recently designated Boko Haram an Entity of Particular Concern, a designation for non-state entities engaging in severe religious freedom abuses. This is a necessary, but not enough to end sectarian violence in Nigeria’s troubled regions. The Nigerian government has undoubtedly made progress, quelling Boko Haram’s ambitions for territorial expansion by limiting the group’s active presence to small villages across the countryside.”


Reuters: Somali Militants: Kenya Attack Revenge For Trump's Jerusalem Policy

“Somali militant group al Shabaab said on Wednesday that they had launched a deadly attack on an upscale Kenyan hotel and business complex because of U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.  The two page statement said: “The Mujahideen (holy warriors) carried out this operation ... (as) a response to the witless remarks of U.S. president, Donald Trump, and his declaration of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) as the capital of Israel.”


Washington Post: AP Explains: Who Are Al-Shabab Attackers Of Kenya Hotel?

“The overnight attack on a hotel complex in Nairobi that left 14 dead was quickly claimed by the Islamic extremist group al-Shabab, which has targeted Kenya with several devastating assaults in recent years, leaving hundreds dead. Here’s a look at the group which has been called the deadliest in Africa: Al-Shabab, meaning “the youth” in Arabic, emerged in neighboring Somalia more than a decade ago as the chaotic Horn of Africa country was deep in warlord-led fighting. The extremist group, linked to al-Qaida, has been fighting to establish an Islamic state in Somalia based on Shariah law. Its members are mostly Somalis but include many foreign fighters. Recently al-Shabab has fought a splinter group of fighters who have claimed allegiance to the Islamic State organization. Al-Shabab is fighting Somalia’s fragile central government, which is supported by a multi-national African Union force that expects to pull out in the next few years and leave security to Somalia’s military. The extremists once controlled large parts of Somalia, including most of Mogadishu, the capital, but a concerted effort by the AU and Somali forces in 2015 pushed al-Shabab out of most urban centers.”

The Wall Street Journal: Questions Mount As Kenyan Hotel Siege Ends

“Islamist militants’ deadly 18-hour siege of an upscale complex here jolts a key U.S. ally in the war on terrorism and raises questions over how the Somalia-based insurgents have survived more than a decade of international military campaigns. On Tuesday afternoon, unmasked attackers carrying AK-47s and explosives shot their way into the 14 Riverside hotel and office complex in the capital—a favorite hangout for foreigners and upper-class Kenyans—detonated at least one suicide bomb and barricaded themselves in with hundreds of hostages overnight. It took until late Wednesday morning for Kenyan special forces to kill five gunmen and free the remaining captives. By then, at least 20 people, among them a Kenyan accountant for Colgate-Palmolive Co. and an American who specialized in development finance, were dead. A police officer later succumbed to his injuries in hospital. The foyer of the DusitD2 hotel, an emblem of Nairobi’s emergence as East Africa’s business hub, was covered in blood and debris; parked outside were the skeletons of several incinerated cars. Al-Shabaab, a Somali extremist group affiliated with al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the assault. Kenyan police said it had arrested two people it believes helped facilitate the attack."

CNN: Nairobi Attack Shows Attempts To Neutralize Africa's Terror Threat Have Failed

“The terrorists used ammunition with such merciless abandon their automatic gunfire tore through the Nairobi dawn like a chainsaw in long screaming bursts. Grenade after grenade detonations thumped among the buildings. How could a gang of five -- one suicide bomber and his four gunman accomplices -- get into the heart of the Kenyan capital so heavily armed, and with what seemed like unlimited ammunition? The answer lies along Kenya's border with neighboring Somalia -- the home of Al-Shabaab terrorists who claimed to have carried out the attack on the Dusit II complex in Nairobi's Westlands. A woman hides behind a car at the scene of the attack in Nairobi's Westlands suburb on January 15. The al Qaeda-linked group has been able to exploit a largely unguarded border that stretches for hundreds of miles separating the most remote reaches of Kenya from the most lawless nation on the planet. It also lies in Kenyan corruption. A UN report, published at the end of last year, details how Kenyan border security agents had been easily bribed by known al-Shabaab terrorist not to search their cars. The UN investigation, published in November, by the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group, detailed how plans to attack targets in Nairobi with bombs and small arms were thwarted early last year.”

NBC New York: NYU Grad Killed In Kenya Terrorist Attack Was 9/11 Survivor

“An American investment adviser and NYU School of Law graduate survived one terror attack only to tragically die in another. A mother and father in Texas are shattered after learning their son, Jason Spindler, was one of the people killed in Tuesday's terror attack in Kenya. “I got a call from the embassy letting us know that he had been identified and was at the morgue,” Jason's father, Joseph Spindler, said tearing up. Forty-year-old Jason Spindler was from Houston, but he went to NYU School of Law and worked at the World Trade Center where his family says he survived 9/11 — arriving at work just after the attacks. “Of course he had to take off. The next day he went down to offer some help and building seven collapsed. Right when he was there,” Jason's mother said. When terror struck this luxury hotel in Nairobi, Spindler was having lunch. He had lived in Kenya for 5 years, operating his business. “He was there to help people,” Jason's father said. “He was in a country, he was trying to help, and it’s devastating that the same people he was trying to help killed him. It just doesn’t make sense.” The extremist group Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack.”

Al Jazeera: Kenya Attack: 50 Still Missing After Al-Shabab Hotel Raid

“Fifty people remained missing on Thursday as Kenyan security forces searched for suspects involved in the brazen attack on a Nairobi hotel complex that killed 21 people. The al-Shaban armed group, an al-Qaeda affiliate, said it carried out the attack in the Kenyan capital in response to US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Two people accused of facilitating the attack have been arrested. Kenya's Red Cross said 50 people remained missing, raising the likelihood of a sharp rise in the death toll. Of the victims, 16 were Kenyan, one was British, one was American and three were of African descent but their nationalities were not yet identified, police said. Uhuru Kenyatta, the president of Kenya, announced the end of the 20-hour siege at the DusitD2 hotel complex that echoed a 2013 assault that killed 67 people at the Westgate mall in the same district.”The security operation at Dusit complex is over and all the terrorists have been eliminated,” Kenyatta said in a televised address on Wednesday. Authorities sent special forces into the hotel to flush out the gunmen. The president said more than 700 civilians were rescued from the complex.”

United Kingdom

Washington Free Beacon: New ISIS Poster Flies Jihadi Flag Atop Big Ben

“The ISIS terror group continues to disseminate radical propaganda aimed at motivating jihadi sympathizers of the group across this globe, despite the militant group's near destruction in key Middle Easter territories. The terror group's propaganda arm on Monday disseminated a new propaganda poster, this time showing the ISIS flag flying atop London's Big Ben landmark, according to a new release on online media networks backing the group. “The poster features an ISIS flag flying from a damaged Big Ben in London, an ISIS symbol bearing the words ‘Islamic State' affixed to the clock tower, armed ISIS fighters in the foreground, and a faded image of late ISIS spokesman Abu Muhamad Al-Adnani in the background,” according to a translation of the message performed by the Middle East Media Research Institute, which tracks radical propaganda networks. “The poster is captioned with a quote from the Quran (9:41) urging Muslims to engage in jihad: ‘Go forth, whether light or heavy, and strive with your wealth and your lives in the cause of Allah. That is better for you, if you only knew,'“ according to MEMRI. The latest propaganda poster is meant to galvanize radicalized individuals across the globe, particularly in London, which has been beset with terror attacks in recent months and years.”


Asharq Al-Awsat: German Woman Charged Over Years In ISIS-Controlled Territory

“German prosecutors have filed terrorism charges against a German woman arrested after allegedly spending several years in a part of Syria controlled by ISIS.The Associated Press quoted federal prosecutors as saying Wednesday that 32-year-old Sabine Ulrike Sch., whose full name wasn't disclosed in line with privacy rules, faces charges of membership in a terrorist organization, looting and violating weapons laws. They said she traveled to Syria in late 2013 and married an ISIS militant, living with him in houses seized by the group. She allegedly received weapons training between 2014 and mid-2017 and wrote blogs praising life in territory controlled by the terrorist organization. Her husband died in fighting in 2016. The woman was captured by Kurdish forces in September 2017 along with the wives of other ISIS militants and returned to Germany in April.”


The Times: Italy Abandons Chase For ‘Terrorist’ Exiled In Britain

“Italy appears to have given up on extraditing a convicted terrorist from Britain despite its campaign to have alleged fugitives returned from across Europe. Vittorio Spadavecchia, 56, has lived in London since 1982. In 1986 he was convicted in absentia in Italy on 21 charges relating to terrorism, firearms possession, theft and armed robbery. Italy has issued no new warrants since a British judge ruled against his extradition in 2016 and the country did not appeal against that decision, The Times has learnt. Mr Spadavecchia has always strongly denied any involvement in wrongdoing. Matteo Salvini, the Italian interior minister, demanded this week that President Macron arrest and hand over 30 alleged Italian fugitives in France.”


Vice: Canada's Minister Of Public Security Admits Right-Wing Extremist Groups Are A Threat

“In recent years, Canada has seen a rise in far-right extremists, including groups like La Meute in Quebec and the Three Percenters in the West. But few politicians or police forces have spoken out about this concerning trend, with Islamic terrorism still controlling much of the narrative.  But in a speech at the University of Regina on Tuesday, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale warned against far-right , neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups. In particular, he mentioned the case of Alek Minassian, the alleged perpetrator of the ram-sweeper attack in Toronto in April 2018 that killed more than 10 people, as well as that of Alexandre Bissonnette, who killed six people in the Great Mosque of Quebec in 2017. “They may have behaved themselves as singular individuals doing very evil deeds but they were inspired by something and largely that relates back to what they saw on the internet” said Goodale, adding that ISIS and al-Qaeda are not the only sources of extremist violence.  According to Goodale, the federal government is working with several Internet service providers to address the problem of the proliferation of extremist content, saying that ISPs do not want to have the reputation of being suppliers of “this kind of disgusting stuff.”

Global News: Woman Admits In Court That Attack At Toronto-Area Canadian Tire Was ‘For ISIS’

“Thirty-four-year-old Rehab Dughmosh, who is facing terror-related charges, admitted in court that she attacked people inside a Scarborough Canadian Tire store in the summer of 2017 “for ISIS.” This acknowledgement came about after the crown read a six-page agreed statement of facts presented to the jury on the first day of her trial on Wednesday. When asked by the crown after reading the statement if the facts were true, Dughmosh — who is self-represented — said, “Yes.” According to the statement of facts, Dughmosh packed a bag with several homemade weapons, including a bow and a butcher’s knife, just before 5 p.m. on June 3, 2017, and made her way to the department store at Cedarbrae Mall.”

National Post: Captured Canadian ISIL Fighter In Syria May Have Appeared In Notorious Execution Video

“A Toronto man captured in Syria while fighting for Islamic State is believed to be the masked host — and apparent gunman — in a notorious ISIL execution video as well as the narrator of the terror group’s claim of responsibility for 2015’s deadly Paris attacks, according to a leading researcher of foreign fighters. On Sunday, a man identifying himself as Mohammad Abdullah Mohammad, a Canadian from Toronto, was captured during a firefight with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a U.S.-supported coalition of militias led by the Kurdish YPG. An initial brief video released by the SDF shows him being questioned in Arabic, which he spoke and understood fluently. On Wednesday, the SDF released a longer video, almost 12 minutes long, of him speaking in fluent English about his time with the Islamic State, also known as ISIL and ISIS.”

Southeast Asia

The Indian Express: Islamic Teacher Placed On Restriction Order For Extremist Teachings

“A religious teacher and another person were placed under restriction order (RO) by Singapore authorities for extremist teachings that promote violence, according to a Ministry of Home Affairs statement. Murad Mohd Said, 46, has been placed on a RO under the Internal Security Act for spreading exclusivist and extremist teachings that promote violence, the statement issued Wednesday stated. He taught that it was compulsory to kill apostates, defined broadly to include non-believers, Sufis, Shi’ites, and Muslims who have renounced Islam or disregarded texts and rulings from the Quran and Sunnah, it said. The statement said a person issued a RO has to adhere several conditions and restrictions such as not allowed to travel out of Singapore and change address and employment. Said also taught that Muslims were allowed to defend themselves by waging “armed jihad” against “infidels who persecuted them”, it said.”


The Conversation: Amazon, Facebook And Google Don’t Need To Spy On Your Conversations To Know What You’re Talking About

“If you’ve ever wondered if your phone is spying on you, you’re not alone. One of the most hotly debated topics in technology today is the amount of data that firms surreptitiously gather about us online. You may well have shared the increasingly common experience of feeling creeped out by ads for something you recently discussed in a real life conversation or an online interaction. This kind of experience has led to suggestions that tech firms are secretly  recording our private conversations via smartphones or other internet-connected devices such as smart TVs, Amazon Echo or Google Home. Or that they are reading our private messages even when they are supposedly encrypted, as with Facebook’s WhatsApp. If this were proven to be true, it would reveal a huge conspiracy that could do untold damage to the tech industry – which makes it seem somewhat far-fetched. But recent revelations about the degree to which Facebook users’ data has been shared certainly won’t help to convince people that the big firms aren’t spying on them.”

Terror Financing

Tuniscope: National Commission For War On Terrorism Verifies Freezing The Assets Of 64 Tunisian Terrorists

“The head of the Tunisian National Commission for the War on Terrorism, Mokhtar Ben Nasr, announced that the funds of 64 Tunisian terrorists have been frozen. The move awaits the publication of the list of terrorists named in the Commission's decision to freeze the funds and assets of terrorists in the official Tunisian gazette. Bin Nasr said in a media statement that the first list was issued in November and the second in December.”

Erem News: Tunisian Prime Minister Expedites Amendment Of Law For Countering Terror Financing

“Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed urged his country's parliament to expedite its amendment of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Law (AML/CFT) in order to prevent Tunisia from being "blacklisted." Chahed called on parliament to promptly modify and fill the loopholes in the existing law against money-laundering and countering the financing of terrorism. These loopholes recently resulted in the inclusion of the North African state in the list of countries considered to be at high risk of money-laundering and terrorism financing, the prime minister noted. On his part, the Chairman of the Tunisian Parliament, Mohammed Al-Nasr, asserted that parliament has changed its agenda in order to review and amend the AML/CFT law as soon as possible.”


Gulf365: Iraq: ISIS Bomb Factory Uncovered

“The Iraqi Military Intelligence Directorate confirmed on Wednesday the unearthing of a bomb factory used by ISIS in Rawa before that district was liberated {by Iraqi forces}. According to a statement issued by Military Intelligence, security forces seized 1200 detonators, 50 explosive belts, 15 mortars, 15 gas cylinders for detonation, 15 time-bombs, 14 explosive devices, three capsules and a number of remote-control detonation devices. In addition, Iraqi forces uncovered electronic components used in the manufacture of explosive devices.”

Muslim Brotherhood

Wikimsrweb: Exiled Muslim Brotherhood Leaders Halt Remittances To Members' Families In Egypt

“The crisis of embezzlement and thievery within the Muslim Brotherhood, which has recently resurged, reveals that the monetary rifts inside the group refuse to ebb. The financial crunch resurfaced lately as the leaders of the banned Islamist group residing abroad halted the transfer of financial aid to their members' families and supporters in Egypt. This decision engendered outrage among the ordinary members of the organization, particularly since the senior leaders abroad continue to enjoy a lavish lifestyle and acquire luxury cars and villas. This reality was exposed by Ezz Eldeen Dwedar, a film director and Muslim Brotherhood leader, who sent a letter to the top leaders of the group, asking them to stop squandering membership fees on fancy cars and real estate properties instead of supporting the rank and file members.”


Khabar News Agency: Houthis Impose New Levies On Merchants And Businessmen

“Houthis have begun preparations for the so-called "Martyr's Day" which they plan to mark in the upcoming days. Ahead of it, the militants imposed new levies on merchants and businessmen. Sources in the education sector said that the Houthi leadership in the Ministry of Education, in the provinces under their control, directed all government schools to observe "Martyr's Day" and prepare for conducting student activities, starting from Tuesday until the anniversary on Saturday. The sources pointed out that the events include encouraging students to join the ranks of the armed group and move to the fronts to fight "for the sake of jihad.”