Eye on Extremism: January 2, 2020

The Wall Street Journal: Hanukkah Attack Suspect Charged With Hate Crime

“Federal prosecutors filed hate-crime charges against the man accused of a stabbing attack that left five people wounded during a Hanukkah celebration this weekend in Monsey, N.Y. The criminal complaint, filed Monday, said law enforcement agents recovered handwritten journals from the suspect’s home that included several pages expressing anti-Semitic sentiments and mentions of Hitler. Grafton E. Thomas, 37 years old, appeared in federal court Monday afternoon. He didn’t enter a plea and remains in custody. He previously pleaded not guilty in state court to five counts of attempted murder. Mr. Thomas’s family said in a statement that he is mentally ill and has a long history of hospitalizations. His attorney, Michael Sussman, released a statement from Mr. Thomas’s family late Sunday that said he hadn’t committed similar violent acts in the past and hadn’t been convicted of any crimes. “He has no known history of anti-Semitism and was raised in a home which embraced and respected all religions and races,” the statement said. “He is not a member of any hate groups. We believe the actions of which he is accused, if committed by him, tragically reflect profound mental illness.”

The Wall Street Journal: Iran-Backed Kataib Hezbollah Has Long Targeted U.S. Forces

“The Iranian-backed Iraqi militia targeted by U.S. airstrikes on Sunday was among the Shiite groups that joined in the fight against Islamic State. But for nearly two decades it has also attacked American forces and helped stoke sectarian strife in the Middle East. One of the most secretive and influential Shiite militias in Iraq, Kataib Hezbollah has close ties with the Quds Force, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard unit for international operations. The group was formed following the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and gained a reputation from the outset for targeting U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq with roadside bombs and mortars. Kataib Hezbollah has said its main goal is to thwart the American project in the region and expel U.S. soldiers from Iraq. Little is known about the Kataib Hezbollah group’s structure, but it is part of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces, or PMF, an umbrella for dozens of militias, many of them Shiite, of about 140,000 members that are part of the Iraqi security apparatus. The PMF is the largest armed group in Iraq outside state control, and was formed in 2014 as the regular security forces were collapsing. With their growing importance in securing Iraq against Sunni extremists, the militias have gained political importance.”

Reuters: Al Qaeda Ally Claims Responsibility For Somalia Blast That Killed 90 People

“Islamist group al Shabaab on Monday claimed responsibility for a bomb blast in Mogadishu that killed at least 90 people over the weekend while Somalia said a foreign government that it did not identify helped plan the attack. The bombing was the deadliest in more than two years in a country wrecked by nearly three decades of Islamist violence and clan warfare. In an audio message, al Qaeda-allied al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the bombing at the busy Ex-Control checkpoint northwest of Mogadishu. “The blast targeted a convoy of Turkish and Somali forces and they suffered great loss,” Ali Mohamud Rage, al Shabaab’s spokesman said in the message. The National Intelligence and Security Agency did not name the country that it said was involved in the blast. “A foreign country planned the massacre of the Somalis in Mogadishu on 28 Dec 2019,” it said in a tweet. NISA also said it would use assistance from an unnamed foreign intelligence organization in its investigation. Rage accused Turkey of “taking all resources of Somalia” and vowed to continue targeting their personnel in the country.”

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Fights An Islamic State Rise In Afghanistan

“Islamic State in Afghanistan has become the strongest branch of the militant group outside of Iraq and Syria, according to U.S. officials, posing a persistent threat despite a U.S.-led offensive and the killing in October of leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The branch has received a stream of funding from Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a sign of the group’s importance to its leadership. The group, known as ISIS-Khorasan and infamous for its violent attacks on civilians, has as many as 2,000 fighters and seeks to target the West, according to a June Pentagon report. It also has developed the most effective network of foreign fighters in terms of training, organization and recruitment, U.S. officials said. Most concerning, U.S. officials said, are its unflagging efforts to expand through South, Southeast and Central Asia in part by training leaders to command offshoot branches in countries including India, Pakistan and Indonesia, the officials said. The group—whose name refers to a historical region that includes parts of present-day Afghanistan—claimed responsibility for an August attack on a wedding party in Kabul that killed at least 63, one of the deadliest attacks on the capital. In early November, at least 17 people were killed during an attack on a border post in Tajikistan. U.S. officials said they suspected that Islamic State fighters were behind the attack.”

United States

CNN: There Was An Attack On Jewish New Yorkers Almost Every Day Last Week. Police Are Investigating These As Possible Hate Crimes

“Stabbings inside a rabbi's home on the seventh day of Hanukkah marked the latest in a string of incidents that have targeted the Jewish community in New York. On Saturday night, more than 100 people were gathered in the home when a man walked in and pulled out a knife that one witness said looked “almost like a broomstick.” The attack came a day after New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city's police department would be increasing their presence in multiple Brooklyn neighborhoods. “I think ... authorities are trying to do the best that they can,” Yossi Gestetner, the co-founder of the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council, told CNN. “But I think it's not enough.” “Those things shouldn't be just another story,” he said. “People need to understand that what they do has consequences.” After the latest attack, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he had directed the state's Hate Crimes Task Force to investigate and use all their tools to hold the attacker accountable. “In New York we will always stand up and say with one voice to anyone who wishes to divide and spread fear: you do not represent New York and your actions will not go unpunished.”

USA Today: Attacks On Faith Communities Raise A Familiar Question: When Does Hate Become Domestic Terrorism?

“One man goes on a stabbing spree at the home of a rabbi during a Hanukkah celebration. Another opens fire with a shotgun inside a Texas church with deadly results. When do these two apparently unrelated acts of hate during the holiday season become clear cases of domestic terrorism? Should perpetrators be prosecuted as terrorists under the law? New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo didn't hold back in labeling the machete attack in the town of Monsey on Saturday night as “an act of domestic terrorism.” Officials have yet to characterize or offer a motive for the killing of two worshipers at the West Freeway Church of Christ in the Fort Worth suburb of White Settlement the next morning. In the New York case, suspect Grafton Thomas faces five attempted murder charges. The criminal complaint against him, obtained by The New York Times, says he researched Adolf Hitler online before the attacks. In Texas, the Tarrant County sheriff's office identified the gunman as Keith Thomas Kinnunen, 43. He was shot to death by a member of the church security team. Whether or not it was the primary intent of the attackers, both incidents served to strike fear into groups, those gathered as members of communities of faith.”

New York Daily News: Appeals Court Orders Resentencing After Staten Island ISIS Wannabe Gets ‘Shockingly Low’ 17 Years

“An ISIS wannabe from Staten Island got a “shockingly low” 17 years behind bars for trying to stab an FBI agent, an Appeals Court ruled Friday, ordering the terrorist be resentenced. Armed with a kitchen knife, Fareed Mumuni, 25, lunged at an FBI agent in June 2015 after the feds showed up at his home with a search warrant. The agent, Kevin Coughlin, was saved by what he called a “last-minute decision” to wear an armored SWAT vest. Mumuni’s stabbing lunge was hard enough that the tip of the blade broke off. In a new decision, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals said the lower court hadn’t taken the incident seriously enough. “Here, the District Court drastically discounted the seriousness of Mumuni’s offense conduct based on a sterilized and revisionist interpretation of the record. This clearly erroneous assessment of the evidence leaves us with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed — a mistake that resulted in a shockingly low sentence that, if upheld, would damage the administration of justice in our country,” Judge Jose Cabranes wrote for the 2-1 majority. “Mumuni’s violent attack against Agent Coughlin was indisputably a premeditated, willful, and deliberate attempt to murder a federal officer in the name of ISIS.”

New York Post: ISIS’ Latest Horror Is A Reminder Of The Need For Vigilance

“The United States has been clobbering ISIS in the Middle East, but pockets remain, both there and elsewhere — and there’s just no end to the horrors. That was made painfully clear this week when a Nigerian ISIS branch released a video showing its execution of 11 Christians on Christmas Day, 10 of them beheaded. “This is a message to Christians all over the world,” a militant declared, saying the massacre was revenge for the October deaths in Syria of ISIS leaders Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Abul-Hasan al-Muhajir during US special forces operations. On Christmas Eve, jihadis from Boko Haram killed seven people in a Nigerian Christian village. Earlier this month, the Nigerian ISIS branch murdered 71 soldiers at a camp in Niger. America and its allies have made great progress against ISIS, eliminating its leaders and foot soldiers and destroying its caliphate. But it has been regrouping. In Iraq, one expert now calls the group “al Qaeda on steroids.” Last year, a terror watchdog ranked an Afghanistan branch the world’s fourth-deadliest terror group. The world, alas, is not likely to ever see a permanent end to all evil, but as long as evil remains, so, too, must vigilance.”

Syria

The Wall Street Journal: Almost 10,000 Children Of Islamic State Live In Perilous Limbo In Syrian Camps

“The crack of a gunshot scattered a group of women throwing stones at a surveillance camera watching over the camp where they have been held with their children since the fall of Islamic State’s would-be caliphate. As the internment of these non-Syrian adherents of the terror group drags on, desperation is swelling in the al-Hol camp, raising tensions between them and those left to guard this bleak assemblage of sagging tents surrounded by a chain-link fence. Nine months since Islamic State’s experiment collapsed, thousands of children remain trapped here and in several other camps in northeast Syria—victims of geopolitics and hostage to the fortunes of their parents. Only a fraction have made it out, including seven Swedish orphans whose grandfather, Patricio Galvez, traveled here in April and found them malnourished and traumatized. His journey helped pressure the Swedish government into taking them home. One of the almost 8,000 children in al-Hol refugee camp stands this month in front of a sagging tent. Since then, a number of other countries—notably Kazakhstan and Kosovo—have moved to repatriate a total of around 350 children from Syria in 2019, according to Save the Children.”

The Washington Post: After The Caliphate

“The phone had nearly stopped ringing by the time Mariam dared to answer. The number was unusual, American, she thought. Did someone know what had happened to him? She was starting to shake, unsure she could bear the news. It had been 3½ years since Mariam’s son Othman had turned into a person she said she barely recognized. A year since his letter from Syria, where he had journeyed along with thousands of other foreign fighters to join the Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate. Eight months since a letter from the Red Cross with a red-inked stamp declaring him “safe and well” in custody. But since then — silence. Dramatic battles had raged as the Islamic State fought fruitlessly to salvage its ruthless reign; she knew that. She also knew hundreds had died. This is part of a series about the perilous aftermath of the Islamic State, which fell in March, and the militant group’s prospects for revival. “Pick up,” her sister urged Mariam. “Before it goes to the mailbox, pick up.” Mariam took a deep breath, she later recalled, and did so. “Hello?” The call came from Syria. “We met a man called Othman,” said a reporter on the other end. “He’s my son!” she said, as tears stung her eyes. “How is he? Is he okay?”

Los Angeles Times: Syrian Army Captures Village; Missile Kills 8 Civilians

“A missile struck a school building in northwestern Syria on Tuesday morning, killing eight civilians, opposition activists said, as government forces captured a key village held by Al Qaeda insurgents in the last rebel stronghold in the war-torn country. Syrian government troops also besieged a Turkish observation post in the area but have not attacked it so far, the activists said. Syrian forces launched a wide ground offensive last week in the northwest, after weeks of bombardment that displaced tens of thousands of people in Idlib province, the country’s last rebel stronghold. Opposition activists say more than 40 villages and hamlets are now under government control in southern parts of Idlib. The U.N. estimates that some 60,000 people have fled the area, heading south, after the bombings intensified earlier this month. Thousands more have fled farther north toward the Turkish border in recent days. The activists blamed Russia, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s main ally in the war, for Tuesday’s missile attack that hit the Jobas village school. Among the eight killed were five children and a woman, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.”

Voice Of America: Surge Of IS Violence Seen In Syria

“Islamic State militants have increased their terror activity in recent weeks in Syria, carrying out deadly attacks against Syrian regime troops and U.S.-backed forces. Since early December, the terror group has conducted at least three major attacks on Syrian government forces and their allied militias in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour, local sources said.  According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor that has reporters across the country, recent attacks claimed by IS against Syrian military forces have killed at least 30 soldiers and wounded more than 50 others. Last week, at least three fighters with the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces were killed in what local military officials described as a suicide attack carried out by IS militants in the province of Raqqa, IS's former de facto capital before it was freed in 2017 by the SDF and its U.S.-led allies. IS “terrorists still pose a threat to our forces, especially in the eastern part of Syria,” an SDF commander told VOA. “They have been able to regroup and reorganize in some remote parts of Deir el-Zour, where there is a smaller presence of our forces or any other forces,” said the commander, who requested anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to journalists.” 

Foreign Policy: The Year The Islamic State Lost Its Last Strongholds

“At the start of 2019, the Islamic State lost its last territory in Syria, and tens of thousands of its remaining members were imprisoned. Behind bars, they added to the ranks of terrorists already jailed in Iraq, Syria, and even in Western countries. The year was bookended by another extremist event: Usman Khan’s stabbing attack in which two people were murdered in London while he was on parole after being sentenced on terrorism charges related to a 2012 attack plot. In the coming years, thousands more Islamic State and other terrorist prisoners will be released. And if what happened in the jails before that group’s rise is any guide, the consequences will be deadly. Before 2013, when the Islamic State first started its expansion and took control of some land in Syria, the majority of Islamic State leaders had already spent time in the United States-run Bucca prison camp in Iraq. Many among the group’s rank-and-file had, too. Some Russian-language Islamic State recruitment videos used such heavy prison slang that they were hard for the average person to even understand. Now, back in prison, Islamic State members can coordinate to spread propaganda, make future plans, orchestrate operations in other countries, and even develop technical equipment.”

Iran

Voice Of America: Iran's Iraqi Militia Proxy Kataeb Hezbollah Explained

“The hundreds of Iraqi Shiite protesters and militiamen who tried to storm into the U.S. embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday were led by a powerful pro-Iran militant group Kataeb Hezbollah. Kataeb Hezbollah commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis joined the attackers as they torched a security post and hurled stones at the U.S. compound, enraged by U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria that killed at least 25 members of the group on Sunday. Kataeb Hezbollah, or Brigades of the Party of God, is an Iran-sponsored Shiite paramilitary group in Iraq. Although the group was officially founded in April 2007, its leaders have been actively engaged in anti-Western pro-Iran activities since the 1980s and expanded their influence beginning in 2003 following the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The U.S. State Department describes Kataeb Hezbollah as “a radical Shia Islamist group with an anti-Western establishment and jihadist ideology.” The U.S. State Department designated the group as a terrorist organization in July 2009. On its official website, the group says it is an Islamic jihadist organization striving to, among other objectives, “foil the American project in the region, by defeating the occupation and expelling it from Iraq, failed and humiliated.”

Iraq

The Washington Post: ISIS At A Crossroads

“In caves tucked into craggy cliffs and tunnels dug deep beneath the desert, the remnants of a vanquished army are converging for what they hope will be the next chapter in their battle for an Islamic State. Hundreds and perhaps thousands of Islamic State fighters have made their way over recent months into a stretch of sparsely populated territory spanning the disputed border between the Kurdistan region and the rest of Iraq, according to U.S. and Kurdish officials. Off limits to Kurdish and Iraqi security forces because of historic disputes over who should control it, this area of twisting river valleys dense with vegetation has attracted the biggest known concentration of Islamic State fighters since they lost control of the last village of their once vast caliphate in eastern Syria in March. In recent weeks, they have been stepping up their attacks, focused on an area of northeastern Iraq in the province of Diyala near the border with Iran, carrying out ambushes by night and firing mortars. Grasses taller than men provide cover for snipers who sneak up on checkpoints and outposts. Government neglect and long-standing grievances foster a measure of sympathy among local residents. “They have good military plans, they attack when you don’t expect them, and they are posing a real threat to people’s lives,” said Maj. Aram Darwani, the commander of Kurdish peshmerga military forces in the area.”

The Wall Street Journal: Yazidi Survivors Are Key To Bringing Islamic State Members To Justice

“Ivana says she was eight years old when she was sold as a sex slave to an American member of Islamic State after the group murdered her parents. Five years after the terror militia sought to exterminate her fellow Yazidi, a religious minority in Iraq and Syria, Ivana’s testimony and those of hundreds of other victims offer evidence that might help bring Islamic State members to justice in the West. European and U.S. authorities have struggled to successfully prosecute returning Islamic State members, largely because of the difficulties in collecting evidence of crimes that happened in Iraq and Syria. But the Yazidi who survived carry detailed accounts of one of the militia’s worst crimes: The attempt to wipe out the religious minority and the mass enslavement of its women and female children. Islamic State interprets Islamic scriptures literally, using them to justify the murder and enslavement of Yazidis, who are adherents of an ancient religion that is neither Muslim, Christian nor Jewish and therefore perceived as subhuman by ideologues of the terror group. Now lawyers, activists and the United Nations are compiling these accounts to build cases against captured militants from the self-styled caliphate.”

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Strikes Shiite Militia Targets In Iraq And Syria

“The U.S. carried out airstrikes against an Iranian-backed Shiite militia group in Iraq and Syria, in the Trump administration’s most forceful response to Tehran’s assertive posture in the region. The Pentagon said Sunday’s attack targeted three of the Kataib Hezbollah militia’s locations in Iraq and two in Syria, including weapons-storage and command facilities. Officials said the strikes came in response to an attack on Friday in which more than 30 rockets were fired at an Iraqi military base near Kirkuk, killing a U.S. contractor and wounding four U.S. troops. A media official for Kataib Hezbollah said 25 of the group’s members had been killed and at least 20 wounded in the strikes along the Iraq-Syria border. An Iraqi Interior Ministry official put the death toll at 15 and added that a weapons-storage facility was set on fire. Among the dead was a commander known as Abu Ali al-Khazaali, the officials said. U.S. officials said Kataib Hezbollah is armed by Iran and has strong links to Tehran’s paramilitary Quds Force. The Pentagon described the action by F-15E fighters as defensive and intended to deter future attacks by Shiite groups against U.S. troops, who have been sent to the region to train Iraqi forces and assist in the military campaign against Islamic State militants.”

Turkey

Fox News: Turkey Rounds Up At Least 124 Suspected Of Links To ISIS Ahead Of New Year's Eve Celebrations

“Over 100 people suspected of having links to the Islamic State terror group were rounded up in raids across Turkey on Monday, in an apparent attempt to prevent any attacks on New Year's Eve. Of the 124 people who were detained, 33 were foreign nationals arrested in the capital Ankara in a joint operation conducted by anti-terrorism police and the national intelligence agency, the state-run news agency Anadolu reported. In the country's biggest city of Istanbul, 24 suspects were detained by officials, including four foreign nationals. Dawn raids were also conducted in the cities of Adana, Kayseri, Samsun and Bursa, while an operation in Batman led to the seizures of weapons and ammunition, along with 22 people taken into custody, according to Anadolu. Authorities have conducted raids of suspected terrorists in the month of December over the past couple of years, following the 2017 attack at an upscale nightclub in the early hours of New Year's Day, according to Sky News. The attack, which involved an assailant dressed in a Santa Claus costume, left 39 dead and 70 wounded, most of them foreigners. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, saying at the time it targeted the place where “Christians were celebrating their pagan feast.”

Afghanistan

The New York Times: Afghan Official Says Taliban Abducted 26 Peace Activists

“The Taliban ambushed a peace convoy in western Afghanistan and abducted 26 activists who are members of a peace movement, a police spokesman said on Wednesday. The insurgents staged the ambush in the district of Bala Buluk in Farah province on Tuesday. The Taliban forced the six-vehicle convoy to a halt, then got into the cars and drove them and the activists to an unknown location, said Mohibullah Mohib, the provincial police spokesman. According to Mr. Mohib, a police operation is underway to locate and free the activists whose convoy was going from village to village to rally for peace. Bismillah Watandost of the People’s Peace Movement of Afghanistan, to which the activists belong, said that 27 of its members were abducted by the Taliban in the Farah assault. The different figures could not immediately be reconciled. The Taliban, who have been active in Farah, have not claimed responsibility for the abductions. However, Mr. Watandost also said that tribal elders in the province immediately launched an effort to negotiate with the Taliban to release the abducted activists. He added that phone lines were down in the region, making communicating and getting information from the area difficult.”

The Wall Street Journal: Taliban Backs Weeklong Cease-Fire In Afghanistan

“The Taliban’s leadership council has agreed to a weeklong cease-fire, a step that could pave the way for an agreement with the U.S. as early as next month to draw down U.S. troops and start Afghan-to-Afghan talks on a comprehensive settlement of the 18-year Afghan war. The council gave the go-ahead for the temporary truce during a meeting on Wednesday in the Pakistani city of Quetta, where it is based, according to a person briefed by a senior Taliban official who was present at the gathering. The Taliban’s supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, attended the assembly and approved the cease-fire, the person said. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the move would spur progress toward an accord with the U.S. that would include a drawdown of the 13,000 American forces currently deployed in Afghanistan. Zalmay Khalilzad, the chief U.S. envoy to the Afghan peace process, had demanded a ten-day Taliban cease-fire before the signing of any deal, U.S. and Afghan officials said. The State Department declined to comment on the development. The agreement by top Taliban officials to a temporary truce represents a compromise by the insurgents and a partial victory for Mr. Khalilzad.”

The Washington Post: Taliban Target Afghan Army In Country’s South, Kill 10

“The Taliban staged a complex attack that killed at least 10 Afghan soldiers in the southern Helmand province, an Afghan official said Saturday. A powerful explosion first hit an army checkpoint late Friday, followed by an hourslong gunbattle, said Omar Zwak, a spokesman for the provincial governor. The attack also wounded four soldiers, he said. Taliban spokesman Qari Yusouf Ahmadi claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the insurgents also seized weapons and ammunition. The insurgents have a strong presence in Helmand province, especially in Sangin district where the attack took place. The Taliban have increased their attacks in recent days against Afghan army bases and checkpoints across different provinces. A similar attack killed six Afghan soldiers on Thursday, when a suicide bomber detonated his car laden with explosives outside an army compound in the northern Balkh province. Militants then stormed the compound. The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the attack. On Tuesday, another attack on a checkpoint in Balk province killed at least seven Afghan soldiers. At the time, the Taliban said they also captured four Afghan troops and seized weapons and ammunition. On Monday, an American soldier was killed in combat in northern Kunduz province.”

Voice Of America: Dozens Of Afghan Forces Killed In New Taliban Attacks

“Officials in Afghanistan said Wednesday Taliban insurgents have killed at least 28 pro-government forces in overnight attacks in the country’s north. Despite harsh weather conditions, the Taliban has staged almost daily battlefield attacks in Afghanistan's northern and northeastern provinces over the past week, killing some 100 Afghan forces and injuring many more. An Afghan official requesting anonymity told VOA that a security outpost in Dasht-e-Archi district of northern Kunduz province came under a major insurgent attack that left 13 pro-government forces dead. A provincial member council, Fawzai Eftali, while speaking to VOA, confirmed the casualties inflicted on Afghan forces, saying the attack also left several personnel injured. Another 15 security personnel were killed in the neighboring Balkh and Takhar provinces, said police commanders and government spokesmen there. Chief Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, in statements sent to reporters, claimed a total of 50 government forces were killed in the overnight attacks across the three provinces, though the insurgents often exaggerate their claims.”

Pakistan

Reuters: Pakistan Seizes Five Suspected Al Qaeda Militants

“Pakistan has arrested five suspected al Qaeda militants planning an attack on security personnel, authorities in the eastern state of Punjab said on Friday. The raid in Gujranwala city hit an important media cell and financing network for the jihadists, Punjab’s counter-terrorism department said. Laptops with encrypted data, cell phones, a printing press, explosives, five Kalashnikov rifles, ammunition and cash were found. For years militants have held sway in remote northwestern regions on the Afghan border but some have also established networks in Punjab, Pakistan’s richest and most populous province. “They were planning attack on law enforcement officials in Gujranwala,” the police statement added, without giving more details on the plot. The Gujranwala group recently relocated from Karachi and was running al Qaeda’s media operations for the Indian subcontinent and sending funds to central leadership in Afghanistan, it added. The Pakistan government says the number of militants in the country has decreased due to an army crackdown. Al Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden was killed in a U.S. operation in 2011 in Pakistan.”

Xinhua: Pakistan Sees 31-Pct Reduction In Terror-Related Fatalities In 2019: Report

“Pakistan has witnessed a nearly 31 percent reduction in terror and counter-terror related fatalities in 2019, a research center said in its annual report on Monday. The data released by the Islamabad-based think tank Center for Research and Security Studies said only two militant outfits Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan splinter groups and the Islamic State, claimed responsibility for 12 and one attacks respectively. A 30.71-percent drop in fatalities was observed in 2019 (from 980 in 2018 to 679 in 2019), according to the report. Although southwestern Balochistan province remains the most affected of militancy and insurgency, the largest drop of 44.2 percent in fatalities was observed in the province, the report said. This is followed by the tribal districts with 39 percent, southern Sindh province 19 percent and eastern Punjab province 11.8 percent and northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province 5.13 percent. According to the report, suicide-attacks also declined significantly this year, dropping from 26 in 2018 to nine this year. These attacks also resulted in the loss of life of 295 individuals in 2018, but dropped to 56 persons in 2019.”

Yemen

BBC News: Yemen: Houthis Blamed For Attack On Military Parade

“A missile strike that targeted a military parade in southern Yemen has killed at least five people. The attack came at the end of a graduation ceremony for recruits to the Security Belt forces - a powerful organisation backed by the United Arab Emirates - in the town of al-Dhalea. Security Belt are part of the coalition that has fought with Yemen's government against the Houthi rebels. Officials have blamed the Houthis for the attack on the parade. The rebels have not yet commented on the reports but they were behind a very similar attack on a Security Belt forces graduation parade last August, which killed more than thirty people. Nine others were injured in the latest blast when the missile hit a viewing stand during the march. Yemen has been devastated by a conflict that escalated in March 2015, when Houthi rebels seized control of much of the west of the country and forced President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to flee abroad. Alarmed by the rise of a group they believed to be backed militarily by regional Shia Muslim power Iran, Saudi Arabia and eight other mostly Sunni Muslim Arab states began an air campaign aimed at restoring Mr Hadi's government.”

Voice Of America: Rocket Attack On Southern Yemen Separatists Kills 10, Hurts Dozens

“A rocket attack on a southern Yemeni separatist militia graduation ceremony has left around 10 people dead and more than several dozen wounded. A spokesman for the militia, which is aligned with the Saudi-led coalition, is claiming that Yemen's Iranian-backed Houthis were behind the attack. Survivors helped victims of the rocket attack as rescue workers evacuated the wounded to ambulances, taking them to hospitals in the southern Yemeni capital of Aden. Amateur video showed a crater where rockets struck near a viewing stand at the ceremony for cadets of the southern separatist “Security Belt” forces. A similar attack in August by Yemen's Houthi militia forces killed the group's top commander Gen. Munir Mahmoud al-Mashali. Majed al-Shouaiby, a spokesman for the “Security Belt” forces, told Arab media that the Houthis fired rockets at the military parade from a position north of the town of Dhalea, where the attack took place. The Houthis have not claimed responsibility for the attack, as yet. The southern separatist “Security Belt” forces, which are trained by the United Arab Emirates, control the strategically important town of Dhalea, 140 kilometers north of Aden, along the main highway from Aden to the Houthi-controlled capital of Sanaa.”

Saudi Arabia

Gulf News: UAE Condemns Terrorist Car Bomb Attack In Saudi Arabia

“The UAE yesterday (Sunday) condemned a terrorist car bomb attack that was foiled by Saudi security forces in Dammam in Saudi Arabia. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation praised Saudi security services for their vigilance and efficiency in encountering such terrorist acts. In a statement on Sunday, the ministry reiterated its principled and unequivocal position as well as its solidarity with the Kingdom and its right to encounter these terrorist operations. It also affirms its support for all measures taken by the kingdom to protect its security and stability.”

Libya

Egypt Today: 300 Militants Move From Syria To Libya: SOHR

“The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Sunday that 300 militants affiliated to Turkey have been relocated to the Libyan capital from Syria and that 900-1,000 militants moved to Turkish camps to receive training. Sources told the observatory that each militant is offered $2,000 - 2,500 for a 3-6-month contract to fight alongside Tripoli militias, and that the longer the duration gets, the higher the salary becomes. The human rights organization added on its Arabic website that a large number of militants who moved to Libya belong to Hazm terrorist group, which was disbanded a few years ago. The observatory acquired voice recordings of a militant working for Turkey speaking to a number of other militants, whereas he was asking them if they wanted to leave Efrein to Tripoli the following day. “We will move at 10 a.m. from Efrein...We aren’t dollar slaves but our conditions and debts mandate that we do that,” the militant said.  “If we compare the images that appear on Google Maps, we will find those militants gathering in Salah El-Din district, which is considered the southern entrance to the Libyan capital. The district is mostly a top-notch area as some castles appear.”

Nigeria

The New York Times: ISIS Affiliate In Nigeria Releases A Video Showing 11 Executions

“An affiliate of the Islamic State in Nigeria has claimed responsibility for the execution of 11 people, saying the killings were in retaliation for the death of the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Syria in October. A video released on Thursday showed members of the Nigerian affiliate slashing the throats of 10 people and shooting an additional person. A voice-over says the killings are a “message for Christians” and that all of those killed were Christian, although Nigerian experts said some of them were probably Muslims, based on previous episodes involving the group. The Islamic State, or ISIS, has lost all of the territory it once held in Iraq and Syria, but it remains a threat even after Mr. al-Baghdadi was killed in an American raid on his hide-out in northwestern Syria. In addition to the affiliate in Nigeria, which is known as the Islamic State West Africa Province, groups in the Philippines, Afghanistan, Sinai and the Sahel, a 3,000-mile stretch of land south of the Sahara, also claim allegiance to ISIS. The members of the Islamic State West Africa Province, which is known by the acronym ISWAP, left the Islamic militant group Boko Haram in 2016. According to the International Crisis Group, it has between 3,500 and 5,000 fighters.”

Fox News: More Than 1,000 Christians Killed By Islamic Militants In Nigeria In 2019: Report

“More than 1,000 Christians have been murdered by Islamic militants this year in Nigeria, according to a report circulated by Christian news outlets earlier this month. A militia of Islamic Fulani herdsmen murdered Christians as part of an aggressive and strategic land-grabbing strategy across the Plateau, Benue, Taraba, Southern Kaduna and parts of Bauchi state, the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART), a British non-profit run by a member of the British House of Lords, Baroness Cox, reported. “They attack rural villages, force villagers off their lands and settle in their place — a strategy that is epitomized by the phrase: 'Your land or your blood,'“ the report said. “In every village, the message from local people is the same: 'Please, please help us! The Fulani are coming. We are not safe in our own homes.'“ The report, published Nov. 18 but circulated this month, is titled “Your Land or Your Body.” It also estimates about 6,000 Christians have been killed by members of the Fulani ethnic group since 2015 and another 12,000 displaced, according to a copy obtained by The Christian Post. Nomadic Fulani herdsmen “seek to replace diversity and difference with an Islamist ideology which is imposed with violence on those who refuse to comply.”

Premium Times Nigeria: Boko Haram Attacks Another Borno Village; Burns School, Church

“Mandaragirau, a village in Biu Local Government Area of Borno State, was attacked Sunday night by suspected Boko Haram insurgents. The attackers also burnt down the community’s church and a school. They also abducted a man on their way out. The attack which occurred during the night was not repelled, residents told PREMIUM TIMES. Residents who had retired into their homes due to the chilly harmattan weather were forced to flee into the bushes as the gunmen stormed the agrarian village, shooting sporadically. According to a resident who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES from Biu, the gunmen set fire on the town’s church and a primary school and waited until it burnt down before they left. “They have burnt down a church, a school and some shops in the town,” said the source who asked not to be named. “They have also taken away one man whom they caught while trying to escape.” The source said the fleeing villagers spent the night out in the cold till this morning. “They have all returned to the town this morning,” he said, suggesting no one was killed in the attack.”

Somalia

The New York Times: Somali Terror Group Al Shabab Remains Resilient Despite Setbacks

“The terror group Al Shabab, suspected in the weekend attack that killed 79 people in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, has proved resilient in recent years even as it lost territory, suffered high-level defections and faced increasing airstrikes by the United States. Almost a decade since African peacekeeping forces kicked the Al Qaeda-linked group out of Mogadishu, it has become deft in handling its operations, versatile in using guerrilla tactics and prolific in manufacturing bombs. Over the past few years, the Shabab killed hundreds of people in attacks at home and on neighboring Kenya, assaulted an American military base outside Mogadishu and overran military bases of the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia. To finance itself, the militants have set up an extensive racketeering system that levies fees on sales of agricultural produce in southern and central Somalia — areas that are the stronghold of the group. They also tax imports into the Mogadishu port, according to the United Nations. The Shabab have also been able to infiltrate federal institutions — they claimed to have recruited a government employee to kill Mogadishu’s mayor, Abdirahman Omar Osman, in July.”

Associated Press: Somalia Bombing Kills Dozens; Airstrikes Target Militants

“A truck bomb exploded at a busy security checkpoint in Somalia’s capital Saturday morning, killing at least 78 people including many students, authorities said. It was the worst attack in Mogadishu since the devastating 2017 bombing that killed hundreds. The explosion ripped through rush hour as Somalia returned to work after its weekend. At least 125 people were wounded, Aamin Ambulance service director Abdiqadir Abdulrahman said, and hundreds of Mogadishu residents donated blood in response to desperate appeals. President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed condemned the attack as a “heinous act of terror” and blamed the local al-Shabab extremist group, which is linked to al-Qaida and whose reach has extended to deadly attacks on luxury malls and schools in neighboring Kenya. On Sunday, U.S. military officials said three airstrikes conducted against al-Shabaab militants in Somalia had killed four militants. The airstrikes came in coordination with the Somali government and, according to a U.S. military statement, targeted al-Shabaab militants responsible for “terrorist acts against innocent Somali citizens.” U.S. Africa Command said an initial assessment concluded that two airstrikes killed two militants and destroyed two vehicles in Qunyo Barrow, and that one airstrike killed two militants in Caliyoow Barrow.”

Voice Of America: Al-Shabab Extremist Attack On Somali Base Kills 3 Soldiers

“Officials in Somalia say al-Shabab extremists killed three soldiers during an attack on a military base in the southwest on Monday. The assault on the Gofgadud base in the Bay region by the al-Qaida-affiliated extremist group marks the latest setback for Somalia's army, which is expected to take over responsibility for the country's security from an African Union force next year. Col. Ahmed Yusuf, a Somali military officer, told The Associated Press that Somali troops made a brief tactical withdrawal amid heavy artillery shelling before regaining control of the base. He said six al-Shabab fighters were killed in the army's counter-attack that forced the extremists to withdraw. Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack, asserting that it killed or wounded more than 30 soldiers. Years of conflict and al-Shabab attacks, along with famine, shattered Somalia, which is home to more than 12 million people. The Horn of Africa nation has been trying to rebuild since establishing its first functioning transitional government in 2012. Al-Shabab was pushed out of the capital, Mogadishu, and other major cities several years ago but still carries out suicide attacks across Somalia.”

Foreign Policy: Somalia Reels From Deadly Bombing

“A truck bomb killed at least 79 people on Saturday in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia—the country’s deadliest terror attack in more than two years. The bombing struck a busy security checkpoint during rush hour and targeted a tax collection center. While no one has claimed responsibility, the attack has been blamed on al-Shabab, the local Islamist group that targets the U.N.-backed government. The group is assumed to have carried out a double truck bombing that killed nearly 600 people in Mogadishu in 2017. On Sunday, 10 people badly wounded by the blast were evacuated to Turkey, which has been a leader in aid to Somalia since 2011. At least two Turkish nationals were killed in the attack. The U.S. military conducted three airstrikes on Sunday against al-Shabab militants in Somalia in coordination with the government, killing four people. The group has been increasingly targeted by U.S. airstrikes in recent years. Still a threat. Despite the U.S. airstrikes and losses in territory, al-Shabab has remained a threat in Somalia through racketeering and infiltrating state institutions, the New York Times reports. The weekend attack shows that the weak government is still struggling to build a strong security apparatus, even with support and training from the African Union, the United Nations, the United States, and Turkey.”

Xinhua: Somali Army Kills 20 Al-Shabab Militants In Southern Region

“The Somali Special Forces (Danab Brigade) killed 20 al-Shabab extremists in the country's southern region of Lower Shabelle on Tuesday, a military officer said Wednesday. Ismail Abdi Malik, commander of the 16th Unit of Somali Special Forces, told journalists that “our forces have taken control of many villages during the operation, such as Mordinle, Bula Maskin, Faqayle, Bula Bashir and we inflicted heavy casualties on the militants, killing 20 of them during the offensive.” He added that the army will maintain operations until it drives the militants out of the whole region. Residents said there was an intense confrontation between the government army and al-Shabab militants. Al-Shabab is an Islamist militant group allied to al-Qaida. Based in Somalia, it seeks to establish an Islamic state in the country and reached its peak in 2011 when it controlled parts of the capital city of Mogadishu. The Somali army, with support of the African Union forces, drove all al-Shabab militants out of Mogadishu in August 2011. Since then, the army has been fighting with the militant group in the country's southern and central regions. In retaliation, al-Shabab has launched a series of deadly terrorist attacks across the Eastern African country.”

Africa

Reuters: Thirty-Five Civilians Killed In Burkina Faso After Army Repels Militant Attack

“Burkina Faso insurgents killed 35 mostly female civilians on Tuesday after attacking a military outpost in northern Soum Province, and about 87 militants and local security forces were killed in the clash, authorities said. President Roch Marc Kabore declared two days of national mourning in the west African country in response to the attack. The incident followed an attack on a mining convoy in November killed nearly 40 people - victims of an Islamist insurgency that has ignited ethnic tensions and rendered large parts of the country ungovernable this year. Militants attacked a military detachment in Soum province on Tuesday morning. After several hours, troops repelled them and seized a large number of weapons and motorbikes, the army said in a statement. “As they fled, in a cowardly way the terrorists killed 35 civilians of whom 31 were women,” the government said in separate statement. It said 80 militants and seven members of the security forces were killed in the earlier fighting. Burkina was once a pocket of relative calm in the Sahel region, but its homegrown insurgency has been amplified by a spillover of jihadist violence and criminality from its chaotic northern neighbor Mali.”

Reuters: Islamist Militants Kill 18 In Attack In Eastern Congo

“Islamist militants have killed 18 people in an attack on a village in eastern Congo, a regional official and a local human rights group said on Monday, the latest in a 60-day counter-offensive that has killed nearly 200 civilians. The attack occurred in Apetina, in a remote forested area a few miles from the Ugandan border where attacks by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan Islamist group, have increased since Oct. 30, when the army launched a campaign to root them out. Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi has said the campaign has dismantled nearly all of the ADF’s sanctuaries, but attacks continue unabated. Earlier this month, 22 were killed in ambushes on two villages in the same region. “There was a raid by ADF rebels in...​​Apetina on Sunday night. These rebels killed 18 people and burned down eight houses,” said Donat Kibwana, the administrator of Beni territory. He said that the army was alerted to the attack but arrived after the killings had occurred. CEPADHO, a human rights group, also said that 18 had been killed. The Congolese government has blamed the ADF for attacks going back years, including dozens of night-time massacres since 2014 that have killed hundreds of civilians.”

Associated Press: Africa Starts 2020 Battling Extremism, Ebola And Hunger

“A tragic airline crash with far-reaching consequences, cataclysmic cyclones that may be a harbinger of the future, the death of an African icon and a new leader who won the Nobel Peace Prize. These African stories captured the world’s attention in 2019 — and look to influence events on the continent in 2020. The battles against extremist violence and Ebola will also continue to be major campaigns in Africa in the coming year. The crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa in March killed all 157 passengers and crew. The disaster, which claimed the lives of a large number of U.N. officials, involved a Boeing 737 Max jet and came just five months after a similar crash in Indonesia of the same aircraft. Boeing was inundated with questions about the safety of its plane. After initially claiming that it was safe, the company was forced to ground the plane after many countries refused to let it fly in their airspace. In December Boeing announced that it would suspend production of the jet. The air crash was a trial for Ethiopia’s reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who later in the year won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for achieving peace with neighboring Eritrea.”

United Kingdom

The Guardian: Counter-Terror Police Arrest Five Men At Sites Across England

“Counter-terrorism police have arrested five men over concerns about a potential Islamist attack plot. The arrests followed a joint investigation by MI5 and police, who conducted raids on Monday morning at residential addresses in London, Manchester and Peterborough. The police side of the investigation is being led by Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command, with officers conducting searches of addresses in all three cities. Investigators are understood to have been monitoring the men, aged 19 to 23, before their arrest. Police said one man, 19, was arrested in Peterborough on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism. A 21-year-old man in Manchester and two men in north London, aged 22 and 23, were also arrested on suspicion of the same offence. Another man, 19, was arrested in Peterborough on suspicion of encouraging terrorism. A number of separate operations targeting suspected jihadist plots in Britain have failed to lead to charges being laid, and there have been claims of flawed intelligence. The green light for the authorities to make the arrests on Monday came after a meeting of a committee of senior police and MI5 officials called an executive liaison group.”

France

NBC News: Victims Of Paris Terror Attack Tell Of Invisible Wounds That Never Heal

“It has been four years since Helen Wilson’s friend died in her arms after gunmen stormed Paris’ Bataclan theater as part of coordinated terror attacks that killed 131 people across the city. While her own bullet wounds have healed, her mental scars are still raw — part of a long healing process many terror victims say society often does not understand or sufficiently help with. “I literally do not trust most of the people that I meet. I think that they’re all out to get me now. It’s a paranoia and it’s constant and it’s very difficult to just breathe,” Wilson told NBC News at a summit on victims of terrorism in Nice, France, in November. “I’ve had panic attacks in the grocery store because somebody brushed past me or bumped me and I had to leave everything and literally run out of the store.” Most of the 400 victims of terror attacks who attended the summit, organized by the French Association for Victims of Terrorism, were from developed countries and lucky enough to have good medical care and at least some counseling — in contrast to countless victims of atrocities in Afghanistan, Syria and elsewhere.”

Russia

The New York Times: Putin Thanks Trump For Helping Russia Thwart Terrorist Attack

“President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia called President Trump on Sunday to thank him for a tip from American intelligence agencies that helped prevent a terrorist attack in Russia, the Kremlin said in a statement. The announcement offered no details about what information the United States had passed along. But the Federal Security Service, the main successor agency to the K.G.B., told Russian media it had detained two suspects preparing an attack on a crowded location in the northern city of St. Petersburg on New Year’s Eve. The two countries’ spy agencies typically view one another as adversaries, for example backing opposing sides in wars in Ukraine and, until earlier this year, in Syria. But when it comes to counterterrorism, they cooperate. Two years ago, Mr. Putin thanked Mr. Trump for information about another planned attack, also in St. Petersburg. And on Sunday, the Kremlin statement said Mr. Putin had again thanked Mr. Trump for “information transmitted through the channels of U.S. special services.” It said the two leaders had also discussed other “issues of mutual interest,” but did not spell them out. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.”

Europe

The Daily Beast: War And Corruption Made Ukraine A Terrorist Twilight Zone

“Ukraine arrested one of the world’s most dangerous international terrorists last month in a special operation conducted by local, Georgian and American special services. Al-Bara Shishani, the former commander of the so-called Islamic State and deputy head of its intelligence operations, was detained on the outskirts of Kyiv. Shishani had been presumed dead for more than a year, but was hiding here and plotting international terrorist attacks, according to Ukrainian authorities. In fact, this country torn by a Russian-backed separatist war has become a kind of Twilight Zone for terrorists of many stripes who have found ways to cross its borders and take advantage of a deeply divided society where law and order have been undermined by official corruption and public confusion. The terrorist’s real name is Cezar Tokhosashvili, from the Pankisi Gorge region of the Republic of Georgia. The largely impoverished population of those rough mountains includes many Muslims of Chechen extraction who have embraced radical Salafi teachings and, in several cases, became enthusiastic recruits for violent jihadist organizations. Al-Bar Shishani reportedly was a deputy for the former “minister of war” of the so-called Islamic State, Abu Omar al-Shishani, real name Tarkhan Batirashvili, reported killed by an American airstrike in Syria in 2016.”

The National: Denmark Blocks Return Of ISIS Fighters' Children Stranded In Syria

“Denmark will not allow the return of about 30 children whose parents travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight for ISIS, the country’s prime minister said. Mette Frederiksen, the leader of the left-wing coalition government, said allowing children into Denmark would open the door to their parents. The UN estimates there are about 30,000 children of foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq. Two thirds of them are Iraqi children in Syria. “The challenge is that we cannot separate the children from their mothers,” Ms Frederiksen told the Danish news agency Ritzau. There were no known cases where children of Danish foreign fighters had been allowed to return to the country. Ms Frederiksen said she had been repeatedly urged to take only the children back. “No, I can’t, because then their mothers come along and they don’t have a place in our society,” she said. The Danish government said 36 extremists were known to have travelled from Denmark to combat zones while about 30 of their children were believed to be in the region. Ms Frederiksen became prime minister of a minority government in June with a promise to impose strict controls on refugees and asylum seekers. Her promise undercut the vote for the anti-migrant Danish People’s Party, support for which was slashed.” 

The National: Belgian ISIS Prisoner ‘Confesses’ To Taking Part In Burning Of Jordanian Fighter Pilot

“A suspected ISIS terrorist confessed to his role in the murder of a Jordanian fighter pilot who was locked in a cage and burnt to death. Osama Krayem, a Swedish citizen of Syrian origin, is being held in jail in Belgium on suspicion of being an important player in the 2015 Paris attacks and 2016 Brussels bombings which killed dozens of people. The murder of Lt Moaz Al Kassasbeh, 26, attracted worldwide attention after ISIS released a video of his horrific torture and death. Belgian newspaper De Standaard reported that Krayem had admitted he was one of the masked terrorists seen in the footage but that he was not the one who set him on fire. “I was there,”he was reported as saying. Al Kassasbeh was captured on December 24 in 2014 after his F-16 jet crashed near Raqqa while on a mission over northern Syria, as part of the US-led coalition campaign against ISIS. The extremists claimed to have shot down his plane, but Jordan and the United States said it crashed in an accident. The group released a video of his death in February 2015 and the footage was one of the terror group’s most brutal executions of a foreign hostage. At the time Jordanian authorities said Al Kassasbeh had been killed on January 3, before ISIS offered to free a Japanese journalist in return for the release of an Iraqi would-be suicide bomber held in Jordan.”

Southeast Asia

Asia Times: ISIS Terror Risk To Rise In South Philippines

“Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to lift martial law in 2020 on the southern island of Mindanao was met with a bang on December 22, when Islamic State (ISIS)-aligned militants launched a brazen grenade attack near a Catholic church. Two motorcycle-riding assailants, later identified as members of the ISIS-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), lobbed the bomb at security forces near the church, injuring nine in the low-grade blast. Moments later, two explosions rocked the nearby townships of Libungan and Upi, hurting 12 civilians. The explosions came on the eve of Duterte’s scheduled visit to the city, the de facto capital of the new autonomous Bangsamoro region created as part of peace deal reached between the government and the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). They also came just days before martial law is set to be lifted across Mindanao, a move some analysts and observers fear could revive dormant ISIS-allied terror groups known to be active on the island. The security establishment recently advised Duterte against extending martial law beyond 2019, on the grounds that the peace and security situation in Mindanao had substantially improved.”

Technology

The New York Times: White Extremism Faces A Subversive Foe Online: Google Ads

“The top 20 search terms used by those in the United States seeking white supremacist material online last year started with “RaHoWa,” short for Racial Holy War and the name of a white power band. Then came “Ku Klux Klan phone number.” Phrases like “how to kill blacks” or “swastika tattoo” fill most of the list. Amid an upsurge in violent hate attacks, federal law enforcement agencies and other groups have been scrutinizing online activity like internet searches to counteract radicalization. Now a private start-up company has developed an unusual solution based on ordinary online marketing tools. It sends those who plug extremist search terms into Google to videos that promote anti-extremist views. Known as the Redirect Method, it was first used against potential recruits for the Islamic State, but recently it has been repurposed against white supremacy in the United States. The London-based start-up, Moonshot CVE, has worked with the Anti-Defamation League and Gen Next Foundation, a philanthropic organization, to develop a pilot program tailored for the United States. It ran for several months last summer, and senior counterterrorism officials have endorsed the method.”