Eye on Extremism: January 6, 2020

CNN: US-Led Coalition Pauses Fight Against ISIS In Iraq

“The US-led military coalition fighting ISIS announced Sunday that it's temporarily stopping its counter-ISIS missions in order to focus on protecting Iraqi bases and coalition forces there from Iranian-backed militias. Citing the recent attacks by the Kataib Hezbollah militia, which have resulted in the deaths of a US civilian contractor and Iraqi security forces, the coalition said: “We are now fully committed to protecting the Iraqi bases that host Coalition troops.” “This has limited our capacity to conduct training with partners and to support their operations against Daesh and we have therefore paused these activities, subject to continuous review,” the coalition said in a statement, using the alternative name Daesh for ISIS. The change in priorities adds to a growing list of maneuvers by the US in response to increasing tensions in the region. The US is currently bracing for potential retaliatory actions by Iran and militias backed by the country in response to a US attack in Iraq last week that killed Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani and several others. On Sunday, the military adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader said his country's response to the killing of Soleimani will certainly be a military response “against military sites.”

The Wall Street Journal: Iraqi Parliament Decision To Expel U.S. Forces Is Hampering American-Led Operations Against Islamic State

“An Iraqi parliament decision to expel U.S. forces, driven partly by the killing of an Iranian general, is hampering American-led operations against Islamic State, potentially giving the beleaguered group time to revive. Sunday’s Iraqi vote, while nonbinding and not supported by Kurdish and Sunni legislators, puts pressure on the Baghdad government to take more decisive steps to constrain or eliminate the U.S. military presence. If carried out, an expulsion of the approximately 5,300 American troops would deprive the U.S. of bases to conduct operations against Islamic State in Iraq and make it much harder to provide logistical support to the more than 600 U.S. troops still in Syria. It would also put an end to the American training of Iraqi forces that still have difficulty controlling territory in contested areas north of Baghdad and along Iraq’s border with Syria, former U.S. military commanders and experts said. Rocket attacks in recent weeks by Iranian-backed militias against U.S. bases and concerns of retaliation for last week’s drone strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani and an Iraqi paramilitary leader near Baghdad’s airport had already impelled the U.S. to place priority on protecting troops rather than conducting operations.”

Reuters: U.S. To Designate Iran-Backed Iraqi Militia As Foreign Terrorist Organization

“The United States plans to designate an Iranian-backed Iraqi militia as a foreign terrorist organization, the State Department said on Friday, accusing the Asaib Ahl al-Haq group of being a violent proxy of Tehran. The announcement in a statement from the agency followed a U.S. air strike early on Friday in Baghdad that killed Iran’s most prominent military commander, Qassem Soleimani. The attack was a dramatic escalation of tensions between Washington and Tehran, for which Iran has promised vengeance. The State Department also said on Friday that it had designated Qais al-Khazali, leader of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, and his brother Laith al-Khazali, another leader of the group, as specially designated global terrorists. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in the statement that the militia group and its leaders “use violence and terror to further the Iranian regime’s efforts to undermine Iraqi sovereignty.” The designations freeze any U.S.-related assets of the group and the two leaders, generally prohibit Americans from doing business with them and makes it a crime to provide support or resources to Asaib Ahl al-Haq.”

United States

USA Today: Department Of Homeland Security Sends Out New Terrorism Threat Bulletin In Wake Of Soleimani Killing

“The Department of Homeland Security issued a National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin in the wake of top Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani's killing in an airstrike ordered by President Donald Trump. Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf wrote in a tweet that the new bulletin was intended to “inform & reassure the American public, state/local governments & private partners that DHS is actively monitoring & preparing for any specific, credible threat, should one arise.” The bulletin cites the killing of Soleimani as the catalyst for increased threats of retaliation from Iran, though “at this time, we have no information indicating a specific, credible threat to the Homeland. Iran and its partners, such as Hizballah, have demonstrated the intent and capability to conduct operations in the United States.” The bulletin cites Iran's cyberwarfare capabilities and other previous homeland-based plots as potential threats. The bulletins are the replacement for the Department of Homeland Security's previous color-coded terrorism threat system, which drew criticism for its lack of clarity. A bulletin indicates “current developments or general trends regarding threats of terrorism,” as opposed to an “elevated threat” or “imminent threat.”

Syria

France 24: Syria Death Toll Tops 380,000 In Almost Nine-Year War: Monitor

“Almost nine years of civil war in Syria has left more than 380,000 people dead including over 115,000 civilians, a war monitor said in a new toll Saturday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has a network of sources across the country, said they included around 22,000 children and more than 13,000 women. The conflict flared after unprecedented anti-government protests in the southern city of Daraa on March 15, 2011. Demonstrations spread across Syria and were brutally suppressed by the regime, triggering a multi-front armed conflict that has drawn in jihadists and foreign powers. The conflict has displaced or sent into exile around 13 million Syrians, causing billions of dollars-worth of destruction. The Britain-based Observatory's last casualty toll on the Syrian conflict, issued in March last year, stood at more than 370,000 dead. The latest toll included more than 128,000 Syrian and non-Syrian pro-regime fighters. More than half of those were Syrian soldiers, while 1,682 were from the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah whose members have been fighting in Syria since 2013. The war has also taken the lives of more than 69,000 opposition, Islamist, and Kurdish-led fighters.”

Xinhua: IS Attacks Syrian Troops With Explosive Devices In Eastern Desert

“The Islamic State (IS) militant group on Saturday attacked the Syrian troops with explosive devices in the desert in eastern Syria, a war monitor reported. Several explosions were heard on the road connecting the eastern province of Deir al-Zour with the ancient city of Palmyra in the remote eastern desert of the central province of Homs, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The explosive devices targeted vehicles of the Syrian troops and Iran-backed forces, wounding many and damaging at least one vehicle, the Britain-based watchdog said. The IS militants have been actively carrying out attacks against Syrian soldiers and pro-government troops in the desert in the remote eastern countryside of Deir al-Zour and the desert of Homs. A total of 309 Syrian and pro-government soldiers were killed by similar attacks in the desert between March and December of 2019, according to the Observatory. It is worth noting that the IS militants have largely been defeated in their key bastions in northern and northeastern Syria. However, thousands of the IS militants are now hiding in the sprawling desert region in the east of Homs and Deir al-Zour.”

Xinhua: 14 Civilians Killed By Unknown Gunmen In Syria's Raqqa: Watchdog

“A total of 14 civilians were killed by unknown gunmen in Syria's northern province of al-Raqqa, a war monitor reported Sunday. The bodies of the civilians were found on Sunday in the Sabkha desert area which is under the government control in the southeastern countryside of Raqqa, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Britain-based watchdog said it is still not clear about the identity of the killers, speculating that it could be sleeper cells of the Islamic State (IS) or other militants. Raqqa was the de facto capital of the IS before the Kurdish forces dislodged them in 2017.”

Iran

The New York Times: Conflict With Iran Threatens Fight Against Isis

“For the militants of the Islamic State, the American drone strike that killed the Iranian commander Qassim Suleimani was a two-for-one victory. First, the killing of General Suleimani removed the leader of one of the Islamic State’s most effective opponents, responsible for building up the alliance of Iran-backed militias that did much of the ground fighting to drive the militants out of their strongholds in Syria and Iraq. The assassination has also redirected the wrath of those militias and their many political allies inside Iraq squarely against the American presence there, raising doubts about the continued viability of the American-led campaign to eradicate what is left of the Islamic State and to prevent its revival in both Iraq and neighboring Syria. “This is precisely the sort of deus ex machina the organization needed, to give it room to operate and to allow it to break out of its current marginality,” said Sam Heller, an analyst at the International Crisis Group who studies the fight against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. “Even if the American forces are not withdrawn immediately, it is very difficult for me to imagine that they can meaningfully continue the counter ISIS fight.”

The Washington Post: How Terrorism Helps — And Hurts — Iran

“The U.S. drone strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the head of the paramilitary Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), highlighted the centrality of support for terrorist, insurgent and other substate groups in Iran’s foreign policy. The Quds Force helps arm, train and otherwise support numerous insurgent and rebel groups in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, the Palestinian territories and other areas, and its activities are part of why the United States has long labeled Iran the “world’s leading sponsor of terrorism.” Support for such groups has been an important part of Iran’s foreign policy since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Such relationships have advanced numerous Iranian interests, undermined its enemies, helped Iran deter adversaries and made the country a global player. At the same time, these ties are camouflage for Iran’s weakness. Even more important, the U.S. and regional response to Iran’s support for various militant groups has contributed to Tehran’s outcast status, decreasing the country’s economic power and diplomatic clout. Iran supports a wide variety of parastatal and nonstate groups, and terms such as “terrorism,” “insurgent” and other labels often fall short.”

CNBC: There’s A Winner From The US-Iran Crisis, And It’s ISIS

“Terrorist group ISIS will likely be the winner as tensions between Washington and Tehran mount after the U.S. killing of Iran’s most powerful military commander, experts say. Qasem Soleimani, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force, was killed in Baghdad last Friday in a U.S. airstrike directed by President Donald Trump. The crisis sent tensions between the U.S and Iran rocketing and triggered retaliation threats from Tehran. It also raised questions about the future of American troops in Iraq. “There is a winner here, and the winner is ISIS,” Dan Yergin, chairman of IHS Markit, told CNBC on Monday. The assassination was such an extreme violation of Iraqi sovereignty — done unilaterally, without Iraqi government consent — that Iraqi officials will come under tremendous political pressure to eject U.S. forces. A U.S.-led coalition has been operating in Iraq to fight the notorious terrorist group, the self-declared Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. After the death of Soleimani, the coalition announced Sunday that it would be suspending most operations against ISIS, which once controlled large swathes of Iraq and Syria before allied intervention.”

The Washington Times: Iran Proved Vital To Al Qaeda's Safe Passage, According To Bin Laden Records, 9/11 Commission

“Iran “facilitated” the movement of al Qaeda terrorists through its country, including September 11, 2001 attackers and for years was a critical channel for money and arms, according to the 9-11 commission report and internal Osama bin Laden documents. Experts say the late Qassem Soleimani surely knew of and directed the terror partnership since he has headed since 1998 Iran’s Quds Force. It is a U.S.-designated terrorist organization and an arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps which dominates Iranian society. On Jan. 3, Maj. Gen. Soleimani was killed in Baghdad by a U.S. drone missile attack on his car on orders of President Trump. “There is strong evidence that Iran facilitated the transit of al Qaeda members into and out of Afghanistan before 9/11, and that some of these were future 9/11 hijackers,” said the commission, known formally as The National Commission on Terror Attacks Upon the United States. “Qassem Soleimani was the second most powerful man in Iran after the Supreme Leader,” Mr. Rubin told The Washington Times. “He didn’t just run overseas operations and those involving Iranian relations with terror groups, he formulated and developed them. There was not a single operation of any significance which he did not approve if not oversee.”

Iraq

Reuters: Coalition Must Continue Fight Against Islamic State In Iraq: France's Le Drian

“French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Sunday that he had spoken by phone with Iraq’s prime minister, and stressed the importance of allowing the international coalition to fight against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s office had said earlier on Sunday that Mahdi told Le Drian in a phone call that officials were currently working on implementing the Iraq parliament’s resolution on expelling foreign troops.”

Radio Farda: U.S. Designates Iraqi Shi’ite Militia As Foreign Terrorist Organization

“The United States has designated Asaib Ahl Al-Haq as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), saying the Iraqi militia is a proxy for Iran. The U.S. State Department statement on January 3 said that it was also sanctioning two of the group’s leaders. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the militia and its leaders “violent proxies of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” The State Department said Asaib Ahl Al-Haq, also known as the League of the Righteous, is backed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, which has been similarly designated by the United States. The State Department said it also designated Qais al-Khazali, leader of Asaib Ahl Al-Haq, and his brother Laith al-Khazali, another leader of the group, as specially designated global terrorists. Such designations will freeze the U.S.-related assets of the group and the two leaders, generally ban Americans from doing business with them, and make it a crime to provide support or resources to the militia. The move comes hours after a U.S. drone strike killed the powerful commander of the elite Quds Force in an attack in Baghdad, igniting outrage in Iran.”

Turkey

Egypt Today: Turkey’s Interference In Region Encourages Terrorism: Dar Al-Ifta

“Turkey’s interference in the region creates a fertile environment for extremists and terrorist groups,” said the Observatory for Monitoring Takfiri Fatwas and Extremist Ideologies at Dar al-Ifta in a statement on Sunday. “The Turkish ambitions in the Arab states and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s attempts to control Syria and Libya create a fertile environment for the terrorist trends and organizations,” the statement read.  The observatory added that such ambitions increase chaos and incite violence in war-stricken countries, noting that Turkey’s intervention in Libya, which represents a blatant violation against the international laws and resolutions, will turn the country into another Syria. “The unlawful and controversial Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) between Turkey and Head of the Government of National Accord (GNA) Fayez al-Sarraj result in dire consequences in the whole region,” said the Observatory, calling upon the international community to fully support the Libyan Parliament, which stands against the signed deals.”

Afghanistan

Xinhua: 5 Killed In Clash In N. Afghan Province

“Four militants and a police officer were killed in a clash outside Kunduz city, capital of the northern Kunduz province on Sunday morning, provincial government spokesman Esmatullah Muradi said. The clash broke out after a group of Taliban insurgents stormed a security checkpoint in Angor Bagh area and police returned fire, leaving four attackers dead and forcing others to flee, Muradi said. A police officer who served as commander of the checkpoint was also killed and another wounded in the firefight, the official said. Police had launched cleanup operation to stabilize security in the area, Muradi added. Taliban militants haven't commented.”

Xinhua: Afghan Forces Capture Taliban Key Commander In Northern Faryab Province

“Afghan security forces have captured a Taliban key commander in the northern Faryab province, provincial police spokesman Mohammad Karim Yurash said Sunday. “Taliban notorious commander Qari Nizamudin was attempting to enter the provincial capital Maimana city on Saturday evening to organize terrorist attacks but fortunately was captured by police,” Yurash told Xinhua. The arrested militant was commanding Taliban fighters in Gurziwan district of Faryab over the past couple of years, the official said, adding his arrest could prove a major setback to the militants in Faryab and the neighboring Jawzjan and Balkh provinces. Taliban militants are yet to make a comment on the report.”

Lebanon

Reuters: Hezbollah Official Says Response Of 'Axis Of Resistance' To Soleimani Killing Will Be Decisive: Al Mayadeen

“A Lebanese Hezbollah official said the response of the Iran-backed “axis of resistance” to the killing of Iran’s military commander Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. air strike will be decisive, al-Mayadeen TV said on Saturday. The leader of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc in Lebanon, Mohamed Raad, was referring to a swathe of Iran-backed groups from Lebanon to Yemen which have increased Tehran’s military influence in the region. Raad said the United States “made an error” in targeting Soleimani and that they will recognize that in the coming days, the channel reported.”

Libya

France 24: Death Toll From Strike On Libya Military School Updated To 30

“At least 30 people were killed in an air strike on a military school in Libya's capital, a spokesman for the health ministry said Sunday citing a new toll. Thirty three others were wounded in Saturday's air raid on the military school of Tripoli, Amin al-Hashemi, spokesman for the health ministry of the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) said. The military school is in al-Hadba al-Khadra, a residential area in south Tripoli. Surveillance camera footage shared online showed the cadets gathered on a parade ground as the strike occurred. At the time of the strike the cadets were gathered on a parade ground before going to their dormitories, Hashemi said. Southern Tripoli has seen fierce fighting since last April, when eastern-based military strongman Khalifa Haftar began an offensive against the GNA. GNA forces shared photos of the victims and wounded on Facebook, accusing pro-Haftar forces of conducting the strike. But a spokesman for Haftar's forces, Ahmad al-Mismari, “categorically” denied that the strongman's Libyan National Army (LNA) was behind the attack.”

Nigeria

All Africa: Nigerian Army Kills Eight Boko Haram Terrorists, Rescues 455 Captives

“The Nigerian Army said on Sunday that following the misadventure of Boko Haram terrorists attempt to infiltrate the serene town of Michika in Adamawa State on 2 January 2020, in order to wreak havoc on its innocent and law-abiding residents, gallant troops inflicted a heavy defeat on the terrorists. According to the Army, “The combined troops of 217 Tank Battalion and elements of 144 Battalion swiftly rose in defence of the town as they gallantly repelled the said attack with devastating consequences on the marauding criminal insurgents. A statement by Col Aminu Iliyasu, Deputy Director, Army Public Relations said, “The criminals went to the town in Gun Trucks and motorcycles late afternoon and began sporadic shootings that caused an uproar in the peaceful community thus compelling law-abiding residents to scamper for safety. “Nevertheless, the courageous troops immediately mobilized, blocked and engaged the criminals with overwhelmingly superior firepower, forcing them to abandon their heinous intentions and retreat in disarray, albeit with a high casualty in men and equipment.”

The Defense Post: Chad Troops Leave Nigeria With Boko Haram Mission ‘Finished’

“Chad has ended a months-long mission fighting Boko Haram in neighboring Nigeria and withdrawn its 1,200-strong force across the border, an army spokesperson told AFP on Saturday. “It’s our troops who went to aid Nigerian soldiers months ago returning home. They have finished their mission,” Colonel Azem Bermandoa told AFP. “None of our soldiers remains in Nigeria,” he added, without specifying whether they might be replaced following Friday’s pullout. “Those who have come back will return to their sector at Lake Chad,” Bermandoa said. They will be “deployed in the Lake Chad region to strengthen security along the border,” a senior local official told AFP. However, Chad’s chief of general staff General Tahir Erda Tahiro said that if countries in the region which have contributed to a multinational force were in agreement, more troops will likely be sent in. “If the states around Lake Chad agree on a new mission there will surely be another contingent redeployed on the ground,” Tahiro told AFP. The Chad troops crossed the bridge back towards their capital N’djamena via the Cameroon border town of Kousseri, an AFP reporter said.”

Xinhua: Scores Of Boko Haram Fighters Killed In NE Nigeria: Military

“Scores of Boko Haram terrorists have been killed in an airstrike in the Sambisa forest in Nigeria's northeastern state of Borno, said an Air Force spokesman Saturday. The strike happened on Wednesday when an aircraft of Nigerian Air Force (NAF) spotted a Boko Haram gun truck with scores of fighters in the forest, NAF spokesman Ibikunle Daramola said in a statement. He said the forest was a hideout for the terrorists who prepared to attack nearby troops positions and some terrorists were also seen pushing another vehicle to a location in the area. Several NAF jets attacked targeted spots in turn, killing scores of the Boko Haram fighters and destroying their many structures, he said, without revealing the exact number of deaths. Daramola said the air force, in concert with surface forces, would continue to attack the rest of the terrorists in northeastern Nigeria. The northeast region has been destabilized for over a decade by Boko Haram, which most notoriously kidnapped hundreds of schoolgirls in 2014. Boko Haram is known for its agenda to maintain a virtual caliphate in the most populous African country.”

Africa

The New York Times: 14 Killed In Bomb Attack On Bus Convoy In Burkina Faso

“Fourteen people were killed and 19 wounded when a bus carrying students ran over a roadside bomb on Saturday in northern Burkina Faso, the government said. It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the blast, which hit one bus in a convoy of three that was carrying 160 passengers in all, the government said in a statement. The incident occurred in Sourou province, near the border with Burkina’s chaotic neighbor Mali, where Islamist groups with links to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State have increased attacks over the past two years despite international efforts to stamp them out. Three sources said earlier that the convoy had been ferrying pupils back from an end-of-year school break. The government statement said seven students were among the dead, without providing their ages. “The government strongly condemns this cowardly and barbaric act which aims to damage people’s morale,” the statement said. Burkina has lost its reputation as a pocket of relative calm in the Sahel region as a homegrown insurgency has been amplified by a spillover of jihadist violence and crime from Mali, rendering much of the north ungovernable.”

Associated Press: Extremists Attack Kenya Military Base, 3 Americans Killed

“Al-Shabab extremists overran a key military base used by U.S. counterterror forces in Kenya before dawn Sunday, killing three American Department of Defense personnel and destroying several U.S. aircraft and vehicles before they were repelled, U.S. and Kenyan authorities said. The attack on the Manda Bay Airfield was the al-Qaida-linked group’s first attack against U.S. forces in the East African country, and the military called the security situation “fluid” several hours after the assault. Five attackers were killed, Kenyan military spokesman Paul Njuguna said. Al-Shabab, based in neighboring Somalia, claimed responsibility for the assault. One U.S. serviceman and two contractors with the U.S. Department of Defense were killed in the fighting, according to a statement issued late Sunday by the U.S. Africa Command, or Africom. The attack on the compound “involved indirect and small arms fire. After an initial penetration of the perimeter, Kenya Defense Forces and U.S. Africa Command repelled the al-Shabaab attack,” said the AFRICOM statement. “Reports indicate that six contractor-operated civilian aircraft were damaged to some degree. Manda Bay Airfield is utilized by U.S. forces whose missions include providing training to our African partners, responding to crises, and protecting U.S. interests in this strategically important area.”

United Kingdom

The Telegraph: Foreign Terror Suspect Thought To Have Been Planning An IS-Style Attack Granted Legal Aid To Fight Extradition

“A foreign terror suspect who the security services believe was planning to carry out an Islamic State terror attack in London has been granted legal aid to claim asylum in the UK. The man, who can only be named as 03, was detained in London two years ago in a counter-terrorism operation involving MI5 and Scottland Yard. At his flat police found an Islamic State 'passport', manuals on fighting with the terror group, terrorism propaganda vowing to kill Westerners and a chilling mocked-up photograph of a terrorist holding a rifle and picture of a London Routemaster bus with the words 'Sometimes you just got to get up and go.' Officers also found a picture of the decapitated body of American journalist James Foley who was murdered by Islamic State executioner Jihadi John as well as a video featuring the now-dead leader of Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He also had pictures on his computer of the nine terrorists responsible for the Paris attack in 2015 which killed more than 100 people.”

The Independent: ‘Neo-Nazi’ Politics Student Appears In Court Accused Of Encouraging Terror Attacks

“An alleged neo-Nazi accused of encouraging people to rape police officers and commit terror attacks has appeared in court. Andrew Dymock, 22, is facing charges for promoting a neo-Nazi group online, and is said to possess far-right literature, clothes and flags. He was studying politics at Aberystwyth University at the time of the 12 alleged terror offences. Mr Dymock, the son of academics, was first arrested at Gatwick Airport by counterterror police on his way to the US in June. A hearing at the Old Bailey on Friday heard that he promoted the neo-Nazi System Resistance Network (SRN) group through Twitter and a website. One of the documents allegedly found in his possession was a poster entitled: “Rape the Cops. System whores get the f***ing rope.” Other charges relate to Twitter posts said to include the words: “Join your local Nazis.” Prosecutors alleged that he possessed literature, clothes and flags linked to the extreme Misanthropic Division, Atomwaffen Division and Sonnenkrieg Division groups. Mr Dymock stands accused of five counts of encouraging terrorism, four counts of disseminating terrorist publications, two counts of terrorist fundraising, one count of possessing material useful to a terrorist, as well as three of publishing material to stir up hatred based on race and sexual orientation.”

France

ABC News: Knife Attack Near Paris Treated As Terror-Related

“French prosecutors said a knife attack on Friday that left one man dead and two women injured in a park in the Paris area is being treated as terror-related. In a statement Saturday, they said investigations over the past few hours revealed that the assailant, who was shot dead by police, had been radicalized and had prepared the attack in Villejuif, in the southern suburbs of Paris. They said their investigations now justify a probe into “murder and attempted murder in relation to a terrorist undertaking.” Earlier Saturday, Creteil prosecutor Laure Beccuau described the assailant as a 22-year-old man with a long and serious psychiatric history. Speaking at a news conference, she said he had converted to Islam between May and July 2019 and that he shouted “Allahu akbar” — “God is great” in Arabic — several times during the attack. She added that investigators are also looking into the assailant's phone calls and computer equipment. No accomplice has been identified. Philippe Bugeaud, deputy director of the judicial police, said a letter — details of which were not revealed — and several books about Islam were found in the assailant's bag, including some about Salafism, widely considered to be a strict interpretation of Sunni Islam. Two women injured in the attack have left the hospital.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: France Warns Middle East Tensions May Encourage ISIS To Regroup

“France warned on Monday that tensions in the Middle East could encourage the ISIS terrorist organization to regroup. Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on France-Inter radio that “you must always ask who is served by and who profits from this instability. The instability in the Mideast today benefits only one organization: the ISIS group.” Le Maire added that the instability “will increase the terrorist threat over France and Europe.” And he said that “all tensions always affect global economic growth.” Tensions flared in the Middle East after the United States killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and deputy chief of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in an air strike near Baghdad on Friday. Iran has vowed revenge against Washington and the Iraqi parliament backed on Sunday a recommendation by the prime minister that all foreign troops should be ordered out. Despite decades of enmity between Tehran and Washington, Iranian-backed militias and US troops fought on the same side during Iraq’s 2014-2017 war against ISIS. Around 5,000 US troops remain in Iraq, most in an advisory capacity.”

Germany 

The Washington Post: Germany Charges Syrian Accused Of Commanding IS Unit

“German prosecutors have filed terror charges against a Syrian man accused of commanding a unit of Islamic State group fighters in his homeland. Prosecutors in Frankfurt said Monday that the 33-year-old, whose name they didn’t release, was charged with membership in a foreign terrorist group and violating weapons laws. They said that the suspect entered Germany in June 2015 and was initially granted refugee status, which was revoked in June last year. He was arrested in the central city of Kassel in November 2018 and has been in custody since then. The man was a member of IS from 2013 to 2015 and allegedly commanded a unit of at least 20 men, prosecutors said in a statement. He also is alleged to have been the commander of one or two city districts in Raqqa for at least part of the time. Prosecutors said the man is also accused of capturing two men, who were either Shiites or members of the Alawite minority, and holding them as hostages before handing them over to a high-ranking IS commander. It is not known what happened to the men.”

Latin America

Bloomberg: Brazil Is Ready To Back Fight Against Terrorism, Ministry Says

“Brazil is ready to join global efforts to fight terrorism and avoid an escalation in conflict, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement on actions by the U.S. in Iraq that killed a key Iranian military leader. “Terrorism can’t be considered a problem limited to the Middle East and to developed countries, and Brazil can’t remain indifferent to this threat, which affects even South America,” according to the statement. President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday said the U.S. airstrike that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani will have an impact on Brazil fuel prices, and if they increase too much, things will “get complicated.” That concern was reiterated in the ministry’s statement, which said the country will track developments in Iraq, “including its impact in oil prices.”

Technology

The Independent: Terrorists Who ‘Self-Radicalise’ Online Are Bigger Threat Than Attackers Sent By Isis, Counterterror Chief Says

“Terrorists who “self-radicalise” using online material are a now a greater threat to the UK than those directed by Isis, a senior police officer has said. The national coordinator for the Prevent counterextremism programme warned that young and vulnerable people, including those with mental health issues, were being exploited. Chief Superintendent Nik Adams told The Independent: “Our biggest concern is those individuals who are self-radicalising and may go on to become lone actors in the terrorism space. “That is now a far greater risk for us, in terms of the volume, than individuals who are directed and mobilised by a terrorist organisation overseas to come and attack people in the UK.” The officer said an “international explosion of propaganda” had made material inciting violence accessible from anywhere in the world. He spoke as the government continued moves to prevent Isis members from returning to the UK, including by removing their British citizenship and refusing repatriations from Syrian detention camps. Terrorists who are thought to have “self-radicalised” include the Finsbury Park attacker Darren Osborne and an autistic teenager who planned an Isis-inspired rampage in Cardiff.”