Eye on Extremism: July 10

The Guardian: UK And France To Send Further Forces To Syria In Aid Of US Withdrawal

“Britain has agreed to deploy additional special forces in Syria alongside France to allow the US to withdraw its ground troops from the ongoing fight against the remaining Isis forces in the country. US officials briefed on Tuesday that Britain and France would contribute 10% to 15% more elite soldiers, although the exact numbers involved remain secret. The decision was first reported in the journal Foreign Policy, which described the development as “a major victory … for Donald Trump’s national security team” because few other countries had been willing to help out. Earlier this week, it emerged that Germany had rejected a request to deploy ground troops in Syria. Other countries have been dragging their heels, the US admitted, although Italy is considering whether to join Britain and France.”

Fox News: ISIS Still Strikes Fear In Germany Amid Reports Of Government Losing Track Of 160 Former Militants

“The Islamic State caliphate may have fallen in the Middle East, but the terrorist group still strikes fear in Germany. A newly released German government intelligence report for 2018 finds a high level of danger from ISIS returnees. Of the more than 1,000 Germans who traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight for the terrorist group, 350 are back in Germany. Others have died, or remain in Kurdish prisons, mainly in Syria, with a small number in Iraq.  Some of the returnees are in German jails, while others await trial. Some are in hiding after slipping through the European Union’s porous borders. The German government has admitted having completely lost track of more than 160 of the former ISIS militants, the DW reported. The report by Germany’s domestic security agency, Bundesamt fur Verfassungsschutz (BFV), warns that the returnees, who are glorified by domestic radical Islamic groups, may commit crimes. ”They are greeted as heroes because they fought for an Islamic state,” Deidre Berger, director of the Berlin office of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), told Fox News. The report states that in regards to the risk of returnees, “the picture is heterogeneous.” “The spectrum is assessing these persons ranges from the 'disillusioned,' whose activities significantly decline after return and/or are no longer detectable, to persons with combat experience ready to commit violence,” it says.”

The Washington Post: U.S. Slaps Sanctions On Hezbollah Officials For Aiding Iran

“The Trump administration announced new sanctions on Tuesday targeting three senior officials of Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese militia, saying the group had employed “Mafia-like behavior” in the country. Though the three men whose assets were frozen are all Lebanese, the move was as much against Iran, Hezbollah's primary backer. In announcing the sanctions, a senior administration official said the three men — two of whom are prominent politicians — had been using their positions to facilitate Hezbollah’s “malign agenda and do Iran’s bidding.” The Hezbollah officials are Amin Sherri, Muhammad Hasan Ra’d and Wafiq Safa. The administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity under White House rules, said Sherri, a member of parliament, had threatened violence against Lebanese bankers and their families to force their help in getting around U.S. sanctions on a Hezbollah financier. The official said Ra’d, also a member of parliament, is a “key Hezbollah decision-maker.” Safa is the head of Hezbollah's security apparatus, and officials said he has facilitated the entry of illegal drugs and weapons into Lebanon. Another official said the administration is taking a “gloves off” approach to Hezbollah.”

The New York Times: It’s War On Afghan Civilians, Even As Both Sides Talk Peace

“On Sunday morning, as Taliban officials in Qatar began discussing with an Afghan delegation the need to reduce civilian casualties, more than a hundred schoolchildren were wounded during a Taliban attack in eastern Afghanistan. Early Tuesday morning, Afghan commandos raided a hospital in central Afghanistan, reportedly killing four hospital employees — just after the Taliban and Afghans released a joint declaration promising to “minimize civilian casualties to zero.” The two attacks underscored a sobering reality in Afghanistan: Public pledges to spare civilians mean little as long as the combatants seek leverage by continuing attacks that endanger innocent bystanders. As negotiations inch toward a possible peace deal, those commitments will be tested daily on the ground. The unprecedented joint declaration on civilian casualties came after the Taliban met for the first time with Afghan officials, face to face in a luxury hotel ballroom. The so-called intra-Afghan dialogue was followed Tuesday by a pause in the seventh round of peace talks between the United States and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar. Officials said the talks were suspended for several days so that each side could hold discussions with its leadership.”

The Hill: Berkeley Professor Warns Deepfake Technology Being 'Weaponized' Against Women

“A professor at the University of California, Berkeley on Tuesday warned that deepfake technology is being used to target women and create nonconsensual pornography. “These aren’t abstract notions,” Hany Farid, who is also a senior advisor to the Counter Extremism Project, told Hill.TV while discussing the threats that deepfake technology poses to society as a whole. “We see how this technology more often than not is being weaponized against women and so I think we have to now start taking that more seriously,” he continued. The Berkeley professor said addressing the threats of this technology will take a multi-pronged approach, arguing that lawmakers need to start thinking about how to regulate this space. “We just have to keep putting pressure both in the public, from the press, from the advertisers and threats of legislation and penalties and the hope is we can start to corral what is the mess of the internet right now,” he told Hill.TV.”

CNS News: Anti-Extremism Groups, Lawmakers In Europe Want Apple To Ban ‘Fatwa’ App

“A French senator and a British lawmaker have joined with other campaigners to call for a ban on a mobile application linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and its perceived spiritual leader, the controversial Egyptian cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi. At a recent press conference at the Senate in Paris, Senator Nathalie Goulet, who previously led a commission investigating militant networks in Europe, and British member of parliament Ian Parsley Jr. called on Apple to ban the Euro Fatwa app. Representatives of three British associations which counter extremism said the app was dangerous, conveys hate, and has a negative impact on young Muslims in their country. After complaints, Google reportedly pulled it from its Google Play Store around mid-May. (The Saudi daily Arab News quoted a Google spokesman at the time as saying, “While we can't comment on individual apps, we'll take swift actions against any app that break our policies once we've been aware of them, including those that contain hate speech.”) The Euro Fatwa app is available on the Apple app store in English, Arabic, Spanish and Portuguese, and its stated aim is “to enable the European Muslims to adhere to the regulations and manners of Islam and to fulfil their duties as Muslim citizens.”

United States

Al Jazeera: US Wants Military Coalition To Patrol Waters Off Iran, Yemen

“The United States says it is working to form a military coalition to protect commercial shipping off the coast of Iran and Yemen amid heightened tensions in the region following attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf. Under the proposal, a coalition of nations would patrol strategic waters in the Gulf area and the sea between the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Tuesday. "We're engaging now with a number of countries to see if we can put together a coalition that would ensure freedom of navigation both in the Straits of Hormuz and the Bab al-Mandab," said Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Dunford said the Pentagon had developed a specific plan, and that he believed it would be clear within a couple of weeks which nations were willing to join the effort.”

Haaretz: U.S. Seeks A Congress-Approved Deal With Iran, Says Trump Envoy

“The United States is seeking a Congress-approved agreement with Iran to replace the 2015 nuclear deal that President Donald Trump abandoned last year, the U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook told Al-Jazeera satellite television network. The Trump administration has long argued that one of the flaws of the deal agreed under Trump's predecessor Barack Obama is that it was not formally ratified by the U.S. Congress. The United States may impose fresh sanctions on Iran, Hook also said, according to Twitter posts from Al Jazeera. He said the Gulf Arab states could be more effective in confronting Iran if they were united. The Trump administration has been locked in a heated political battle with congressional Democrats who control the U.S. House of Representatives in what many critics are calling a Constitutional crisis. Numerous current and former associates of Trump have refused to cooperate with Democratic-led congressional investigations of the Republican president and his business interests."

Syria

The Washington Post: UN envoy arrives in Syria amid violent clashes in the north

“The U.N.’s special envoy for Syria said Tuesday he is looking forward to constructive discussions with Syrian officials on the formation of a constitutional committee as a “door opener for the broader political process.” Geir Pedersen spoke with reporters in the Syrian capital Damascus shortly after arriving from neighboring Beirut. He is scheduled to hold meetings with Syrian government officials on Wednesday. “I’m looking forward to have what I believe are constructive discussions on how to move the political process forward,” Pedersen said, adding he would also discuss ways to end the fighting in northwestern Idlib province. Syria is locked in a devastating civil war pitting President Bashar Assad’s forces against rebels seeking to topple him. Fighting has raged in and around Idlib as government troops backed by Russia seek to make advances on the ground against insurgents who control the province. Pedersen’s arrival also coincided with a new rebel offensive in the mountains of the coastal Latakia province, with opposition activists saying rebels overran a series of Syrian army positions. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said clashes are underway in several locations in the Turkman Mountains. It said the fighting killed 35 people on both sides in the opening hours.”

The Telegraph: Crop Fires Are Destroying Syria's War-Ravaged Farmers - But Who Is Starting Them And Why?

“The wall of smoke from the raging crop fires was so dense that Ali Mohammad lost sight of his companions. With few trained firefighters in this part of Kurdish-held northeastern Syria, it was down to the 31-year-old teacher and others from his village to put out the flames. But while Mr Mohammad managed to stumble to safety, fire scorching the back of his head as he ran, the others succumbed to the smoke. “We’ve never seen anything like this. A fire happens here and we’ll go to put it out, and another happens somewhere else,” Ali’s cousin Fowaz Mohammad, 28, told The Daily Telegraph, perching on a plastic chair in a tent in the village of Kurayfat where his family are hosting condolences for his brother Saleh. While blazes in this dry corner of the country, known as Rojava to the Kurds, are not unusual for this time of year, their unprecedented scale and ferocity have left farmers wondering if they are being started on purpose. And if so, who would do such a thing?”

Iran

New York Times: U.S. Imposes Sanctions On Hezbollah Officials Accused Of Supporting Iran

“The Trump administration imposed sanctions on three senior Hezbollah officials in Lebanon on Tuesday, accusing them of having a “malign agenda” to support the Iranian government. The sanctions were the first to directly target members of Lebanon’s Parliament and underscored the White House’s intention to ratchet up pressure on Iran by punishing groups with ties to its government. The United States considers Hezbollah a terrorist organization even though members of the group have embedded into legitimate parts of the Lebanese government. Amin Sherri and Muhammad Hasan Ra’d, who are members of Parliament, and Wafiq Safa, a senior Hezbollah security official in Lebanon, were added to the Treasury Department’s sanctions list. “Hezbollah uses its operatives in Lebanon’s Parliament to manipulate institutions in support of the terrorist group’s financial and security interests, and to bolster Iran’s malign activities,” Sigal Mandelker, the Treasury Department’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.”

The Wall Street Journal: Getting Iran Out Of Syria Is No Easy Task

“Israel has undertaken at least 200 air raids against Iranian targets in Syria since 2017. Mossad head Yossi Cohen said at a security conference in Herzliya recently that Israel’s objective is to make Iran “reach the conclusion that it is just not worth it” to continue its project in Syria. Israel’s evident intelligence domination in Syria is impressive, as is the prowess of its pilots. But while air power is a mighty instrument, it’s applicable only to certain tasks. The Iranian project in Syria is broad, deep and multifaceted. Some of its elements are acutely vulnerable to air power—research facilities, missile sites, convoys. But others are not. Iran is engaged in a broad effort designed to merge the structures under its command with the Syrian state itself. The objective, as in Lebanon and Iraq, is to remove any identifiable borderline between the Iran-controlled element and the local power structure. Iran intends to implant a kind of “deep state,” under its control, within the existing state machinery.”

Reuters: Exclusive: Iran's Release Of Lebanese Prisoner Was Failed Overture To U.S.

“Iran’s release last month of Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese businessman with U.S. permanent residency, after four years in prison was meant as an opening for U.S.-Iranian talks, according to three Western sources familiar with the issue. The gesture, however, was not enough for Washington, which did not pursue it. “It was a missed opportunity,” one U.S. source said of Zakka’s June 11 release and the U.S. decision not to pursue talks. “We should have explored whether there was something there.” A second source — who is familiar with Iran’s thinking and spoke on condition of anonymity — said Iran freed Zakka as a signal it wanted to cool tensions that have fueled fears of a war, and described his release as “a goodwill gesture.” “This was seen as a de-escalation step from their side, which obviously they expected to be somehow reciprocated from the American side,” said the second source, adding that the United States did not take up the overture.”

The Wall Street Journal: Iran Threatens Retaliation Over British Seizure Of Its Tanker

“Iran’s military warned it would retaliate in response to the seizure of one of its tankers by British forces in Gibraltar last week, while several European foreign ministers urged Tehran to return immediately to full compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. “This move will not remain without response,” Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri, the chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA on Tuesday. Mr. Bagheri didn’t say how his country would respond, but his warning came days after another senior Iranian official tweeted that Iran should impound a British tanker if the vessel carrying Iranian oil wasn’t released immediately. The threat prompted a British-flagged BP PLC tanker to shelter near the Saudi coast on the Persian Gulf for fear of being seized, according to a person familiar with the matter. BP declined to comment. Bloomberg earlier reported BP was keeping the tanker in the Persian Gulf.”

The Jerusalem Post: Three Iranian IRGC Members Killed In Northwest Iran

“Three members of the Hamza Saiyid al-Shohada, a local force of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, were killed near Piranshahr, just kilometers from the Iraqi border in northwest Iran. This is a serious incident and although no group initially claimed responsibility focus will likely shift towards Kurdish dissident groups that operate in the Kurdish regions of northwest Iran. Last fall Iran’s IRGC fired ballistic missiles at Koya in northern Iraq, targeting Iranian Kurdish opposition groups. This led to a cessation of attacks by several Kurdish groups, including PJAK, KDPI and PDKI, all of which oppose Iran’s regime and had been alleged to be behind several attacks in the summer of 2018. Iran’s Tansim news agency said that the IRGC members were attacked at the entrance to the city by “terrorists” who Iran claimed were “affiliated with the arrogance of the world,” a generalization that likely means Iran sees US or western hands behind the attack. The names of two of the killed were released on Tuesday night. The IRGC said that it would continue its intelligence work and search for “terrorists” in the area.”

Iraq

Al Jazeera: Iraq Government Employees Face Prosecution For Working Under ISIL

“As the city fell to the occupation of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) five years ago, many doctors in Mosul's public hospital ripped off their scrubs and fled. Labeeb, a doctor himself, was unable to join his colleagues in their escape as he had just reached the hospital with his wife who was showing complications in her pregnancy. “There were lots of gunshots... The doctors even left their patients and ran away,” Labeeb, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, told Al Jazeera in an interview last month. His wife needed a caesarean section though the anaesthetist had already fled, leaving her to bear a child with a birth defect at 8pm on June 9, 2014 - the same day ISIL took over the city. “My child was about to die. It was a tough time. It forced me to stay in the hospital and witness everything,” he said. Labeeb, employed by the Iraqi government, is one of the hundreds of government employees under investigation for working under ISIL, also known as ISIS. As the group occupied the city, it began building its administration from the foundations of the existing Iraqi government workforce.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: At Least 3 Killed In ISIS Attack In N. Iraq

“At least three people were killed in northern Iraq on Tuesday in what authorities said was an attack by ISIS militants. Four people were wounded when three mortar bombs hit the town of Shirqat, police officials and hospital sources said. Police in the area said ISIS was involved in the attack and the mortars were fired from a nearby mountainous area were militants are still active. “ISIS fighters are hiding in (the) Makhoul mountains area and use it as a launchpad for their attacks,” said Shirqat police colonel Khalil Sahan, according to Reuters. ISIS has recently mounted a series of hit-and-run attacks aimed at undermining the government. Iraq declared victory over the group, which once held large swathes of the country, in December 2017. But after they were defeated and driven out of areas they controlled for years, the militants have adapted their tactics to insurgent-style attacks.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Iraqi Forces Targets ISIS Sleeper Cells

“Iraqi army units, backed by the international coalition and with the participation of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), continue to target ISIS terrorists in three governorates: Nineveh, Salaheddine, and al-Anbar on the Iraqi border with Syria. The Ministry of Defense issued a statement announcing that the military operation dubbed “Will of Victory” would continue under the supervision of the Joint Operations Command, indicating that the island’s operations command was able to destroy two terrorist sites and two explosive devices. Nineveh operations command added that the air force succeeded in killing three terrorists inside a vehicle, asserting the operation will continue until achieving all of its objectives. Meanwhile, the Popular Mobilization Forces confirmed the participation of about 13 brigades in “Will of Victory”, less than a week after Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi announced a plan to restructure the PMF within the Defense Ministry's military forces. The PMF issued a statement saying their forces and security forces developed a plan to maintain the security and stability of the region after its liberation from ISIS remnants. In Diyala, the provincial police command announced the implementation of a security operation in Balad Ruz district within operation “Will of Victory.”

Al Monitor: Iraq Seeks To Issue Identification Papers For IS Children

“More than two years have passed since Iraq was liberated from the Islamic State (IS). The Iraqi government is now working to issue identification documents for children born under IS rule. The Telegraph reported June 22 that nearly 45,000 children in Iraq do not have identification documents due to being born in IS territory. This has obstructed the issuance of identification documents following liberation. The Iraqi government has now altered its previously undeclared position — that it would not issue documents to these children — and will move to grant them Iraqi citizenship. Such a step aims to prevent thousands of children from unknown fates. Rezan al-Sheikh, the rapporteur for the Children and Women’s Affairs Committee of the former parliament, said June 26 that the government has started developing mechanisms to resolve the problem. “The government adopted fair and just mechanisms away from any personal and sectarian stances,” she said. “Hence, those children will be granted identification documents.” Article 18 of the Iraqi Constitution stipulates that children born to an Iraqi father or mother shall be granted citizenship, meaning that children born under IS rule are entitled to Iraqi citizenship.”

Turkey

Reuters: Two Turkish Soldiers Killed In Attack By Kurdish Militants: Ministry

“Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants launched an attack on a Turkish military vehicle in southeast Turkey on Tuesday, killing two soldiers and wounding another, the country’s defense ministry said.  It said the attack occurred in the Hakkari province of Turkey, which borders Iraq and Iran, and was carried out from a distance. It did not specify what form the attack took.  The PKK, which is deemed a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, launched its insurgency in 1984 and seeks autonomy in Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast.  More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict.”

The Economist: In Turkey, Demography Is A Brake On Islamisation

“TURKEY’S PRESIDENT, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, makes no secret of his desire to raise what he calls a “pious generation”. Since his Justice and Development (AK) party became Turkey’s dominant force in 2002, elevating Islam’s public role in this constitutionally secular republic has been more than a slogan; it has found expression in many government policies. During his sixteen years in power, Mr Erdogan has presided over the construction of thousands of new mosques and Islamic vocational schools, known as imam hatips. The number of students at such institutions has increased more than fivefold since 2012, to an estimated 1.4m in a country of about 80m. The budget of the religious directorate, the agency responsible for the conduct of sermons in the country’s mosques, has grown by leaps and bounds, overtaking several ministries in the process. The government has quietly cultivated relations with a number of Islamic movements and brotherhoods, helping them accumulate considerable power and wealth.”

Afghanistan

Al Jazeera: Air, Ground Attacks Kill Civilians Hours After Afghans Talk Peace

“Government forces in Afghanistan have killed several civilians in two separate attacks, hours after Afghan leaders and Taliban representatives resolved to end non-combatant casualties at a meeting in Qatar. An air raid at a village in northern Baghlan province killed a mother and her six children on Tuesday, according to provincial council member Shamsulhaq Barakzai. The attack came shortly after a two-day intra-Afghan dialogue concluded in Qatar's capital Doha, where the delegates agreed on a road map for peace in war-torn Afghanistan. In a statement, the Afghan defence ministry acknowledged that seven members of a family were killed in the air attack, which it said was carried out for “the elimination of the enemy”. The statement, which added that the ministry had assigned a team to investigate the incident, came after residents of Kotub Khiel village carried the seven dead bodies to the provincial capital of Pul-e-Kumri and blocked traffic in protest. Hikmat, a neighbour of the family, told Al Jazeera that the father, a farmer identified as Ismael, was wounded in the raid and was undergoing treatment in a local hospital. “Unfortunately, Ismael's house was hit in the air attack, which killed his wife and children on the spot,” Hikmat said.”

Yemen

Arab News: Scores Of Houthi Militants Killed In Clashes

“The Yemeni army killed 20 Houthi militants during clashes in Dhale province, south of the country, Saudi national news agency SPA reported on Wednesday. The militia were trying to infiltrate a district in Dhale when the Yemeni troops launched a counter attack, forcing them to flee. A further 23 militants were killed in clashes with army forces in Saada province on Tuesday. The army also liberated central roads in Baqam district in Saada.”

Middle East Eye: Yemen: Houthi Court Sentences 30 To Death For Spying For Saudi-Led Coalition

“A Yemeni court run by Houthi rebels sentenced 30 people to death on charges of espionage for Saudi Arabia and its allies in the international coalition fighting in Yemen, a judicial source has said. The source, cited by AFP news agency, said that 30 men, mainly academics, trade unionists and preachers, were handed death sentences on Tuesday and six others were acquitted by the criminal court in the Houthi-controlled capital city of Sanaa. The defendants have been detained for a year, the source added. He said the men were found guilty of providing the coalition with information on military targets. A Saudi-led coalition has been engaged in a military campaign in Yemen since 2015, after the Houthis overran Sanaa and ousted Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, who is backed by Riyadh. Efforts to end the fighting have failed so far, with neither side coming to a long-term agreement.”

Middle East

NDTV: In Message, Al Qaeda Chief's Threat On Kashmir, Indian Army

“Al Qaeda terrorist Ayman al-Zawahiri has, in a video released by the global terror outfit, called for "Mujahideen in Kashmir" to inflict "unrelenting blows" on the Indian Army and the government in Jammu and Kashmir. In the video message titled "Don't Forget Kashmir", the terror chief has also talked about Pakistan's involvement in fueling cross-border terrorism in Kashmir. "(I am) of the view that the Mujahideen in Kashmir - at this stage at least- should single-mindedly focus on inflicting unrelenting blows on the Indian Army and government, so as to bleed the Indian economy and make India suffer sustained losses in manpower and equipment," Zawahiri says, an assault rifle on his right and a Quran to his left. While Zawahiri does not mention Zakir Musa, the terrorist killed in May by security forces in Kashmir, his photo flashes on the screen as he speaks on Kashmir. Zakir Musa was the founder of the Indian cell of the Al Qaeda, titled "Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind". Al Qaeda has been preparing the upstart group for attacks on security forces in Kashmir.”

Voice Of America: US Sanctions 3 Hezbollah Officials, Including 2 Members Of Lebanese Parliament

“The U.S. government announced new sanctions Tuesday on three senior officials of the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah for its role in undermining Lebanon's financial system and assisting Iran's agenda in the country. The targeted Hezbollah officials are Amin Sherri, Muhammad Hasan Ra'd and Wafiq Safa. Sherri and Ra'd are members of the Lebanese parliament, while Safa is known to be a major Hezbollah facilitator. This is the first time that the U.S. Department of the Treasury has targeted members of the Lebanese parliament who are affiliated with Hezbollah, which the U.S. has designated a terrorist organization. "They have assisted the Iranian regime in its efforts to undermine Lebanese sovereignty," U.S. State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said during a press conference Tuesday. "These officials have exploited their positions to smuggle illicit goods into Lebanon, undermining Lebanese financial institutions to assist Hezbollah and to evade U.S. sanctions against Hezbollah facilitators and financiers," she added.”

Libya

The New York Times: U.S. Missiles Found In Libyan Rebel Camp Were First Sold To France

“A cache of powerful American missiles was sold to France before ending up in the hands of rebel fighters loyal to Gen. Khalifa Hifter, who is seeking to overthrow the United Nations-backed government in Tripoli. The four Javelin anti-tank missiles, which cost more than $170,000 each and are usually sold only to close American allies, were recovered last month by Libyan government forces during a raid on a rebel camp in Gheryan, a town in the mountains south of Tripoli. A French military adviser denied on Tuesday that the weapons were transferred to General Hifter, which would violate the sales agreement with the United States as well as a United Nations arms embargo. It would also put Washington at odds over Libya policy with France, a staunch NATO partner and ally in other hot spots like West Africa.”

Somalia

The Washington Post: Somalia Executes 3 Over Deadly 2017 Hotel Attack

“Somalia’s military says it executed three men convicted of carrying out a deadly attack on a hotel in the capital in 2017. A statement issued by the military said the three were shot dead by a firing squad at a police academy in Mogadishu Wednesday. The men were convicted of participating in an assault on Nasa-Hablod hotel which killed 18 people and wounded 47 others in October, 2017. The three were members of Somalia’s al-Shabab Islamic extremist rebels and were arrested during the attack on the hotel. Somalia’s homegrown extremist group, al-Shabab, is allied to al-Qaida. The rebels were pushed out of the capital, several years ago, but they continue to operate in the countryside and frequently carry out violence attacks on hotels in Mogadishu.”

Africa

Voice Of America: Tunisia's Upcoming Elections Vulnerable To Terror Threats, Experts Warn

“As an estimated 6.7 million Tunisian voters prepare to head to the polls to elect their next government later this year, a growing fear of terrorist attacks could risk undermining the democratic process in the North African country, some analysts warn. Two suicide attackers blew themselves up in two separate bombings against police in the capital Tunis on June 27, leaving at least one police officer dead and injuring eight people. A third bombing occurred on July 2 after a militant surrounded by police blew himself up. Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for all three attacks. The incidents occurred during the peak of the country's tourism season and as the country prepares to hold parliamentary elections in October and presidential elections in November. The elections are critical for Tunisians in consolidating their democratic process, which began after the ousting of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali during the Arab Spring protests in 2011, said Sarah Yerkes, an expert on Tunisia at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) in Washington. As such, the country is going through “a dangerous time” because jihadist organizations that flourish in chaos will likely increase their activities to spread fear among voters.” 

United Kingdom

The Telegraph: Britain 'Planning To Send More Troops' To Syria To Backfill US Withdrawal

“Britain is planning to send more troops to Syria to support partner forces in the fight against Isil, after pressure from the US to pick up slack as it begins its drawdown, it has been reported. The UK has never made public the number of special forces it has operating in Syria, but it is thought to be several dozen. Both the UK and France - the only other US allies on the ground - are said to be prepared to increase their commitment by 10-15 per cent each, according to US official quoted in Foreign Policy, who said they would be asking for financial assistance in return. The Ministry of Defence declined to comment. Germany on Monday rejected a similar request from Washington to increase their military contribution, saying it was only prepared to offer “non-combat assistance.”

Australia

The Sydney Morning Herald: Extremist Groups Pose More Risks Now

“Extremist jihadi groups Islamic State and al-Qaeda pose more of risk now than when the so-called “caliphate” of IS commanded vast swathes of Iraq and Syria, a leading Australian security think tank has warned. And it has questioned the effectiveness of legislation to block foreign fighters from returning home, saying that by allowing them to come back, the government can focus on their rehabilitation rather than letting them loose on “weak and fragile” countries where they can wreak harm. “Despite having no territory and having lost many of their leaders, both al-Qaeda and ISIL [another term for IS] continue to pose a threat to the maintenance of international peace and security” the Australian Strategic Policy Institute says. “In fact, one could argue that they pose more of a threat today as the structure of the groups has moved from integrated to fragmented, making command and control more tenuous.” The institute cites figures from its counterpart in the US, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, calculating that there are around 218,000 salafi-jihadis and allied fighters around the world.”

The Sydney Morning Herald: Sydney Teen Accused Of Plotting Terror Attack Was 'IS Sympathiser With Interest In Jihad,' Court Hears

“A Sydney teenager, who was arrested for plotting a terrorist attack in 2016, allegedly used a mobile phone to search the internet for Islamic State propaganda and find answers to questions such as when a person can “ask his parents' permission to go to jihad” a court has heard. The teenage boy, who was 16 when he was arrested alongside another 16-year-old boy in a small Islamic prayer hall in Bankstown, is standing trial in the NSW Supreme Court. He is charged with jointly committing an act in preparation or planning for a terrorist act, after he and the other boy visited the Bankstown Gun Shop, where four knives were purchased on two occasions between October 6 and 12 in 2016. He has pleaded not guilty to the offence. When the two boys were arrested at the Bankstown Musalla prayer hall on October 12, they were found with a backpack allegedly belonging to the now-19-year-old. Inside the backpack there were two bayonet knives, a shirt from a Sydney high school uniform, ski goggles and a handwritten note pledging allegiance to Islamic State in Arabic and English script. “I advise you of piety towards god and walking in the path of god's messenger and to pledge allegiance to the caliphate ... “ a translation of the script reads.”

Europe

The National: Moroccan Jailed In Portugal For ISIS Recruitment

“A 65-year-old Moroccan citizen was sentenced to 12 years in prison on Tuesday after being convicted by a Portuguese court of recruiting young people to fight in Syria. Abdesselam Tazi was also found guilty by the court in Lisbon of financing the recruitment using forged credit cards. Portugal's public prosecutor said Tazi was an intelligent man who recruited the people, mostly from Morocco, to travel to Portugal and then join ISIS in Syria. The court, which found him guilty of seven crimes, found no evidence that Tazi was a member of the extremist organisation. “The sentencing caught me by surprise,” Tazi's lawyer Lopes Guerreiro said. He said he planned to appeal against the court's decision. “The individual was absolved of belonging to an international terrorist organisation but he was condemned for having recruited people for an organisation he is not part of,” Mr Guerreiro said. Trials of this kind are unusual in Portugal and the Justice Minister has said the number of Portuguese citizens who joined ISIS or similar groups is “not significant”. Portugal has never had an extremist attack on its territory.”

Southeast Asia

Al Jazeera: Sri Lanka Bombings: Top Officials Accused Of Negligence Get Bail

“A Sri Lankan court has granted bail to the country's police chief and former defence secretary, a week after they were arrested over allegations that they failed to prevent the Easter Sunday bomb attacksthat killed more than 250 people. The magistrate's court in capital Colombo also rejected prosecution demands that the two officials face murder charges for the attacks, AFP news agency reported on Tuesday. The case will be next heard on July 22. Sri Lanka's Criminal Investigation Department had last week arrested Inspector General of Police, Pujith Jayasundara, and former Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, Hemasiri Fernando, while they were both receiving treatment in hospital. Attorney General Dappula de Livera had ordered their arrest for ”grave crimes against humanity”following the findings of a presidential commission of inquiry into the bombings of three churches and three hotels. Jayasundara was suspended and Fernando resigned after the April 21 attacks, claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) and allegedly carried out by a local group. Jayasundara and Fernando denied the allegations when they appeared before a parliamentary committee investigating the attacks, which took place despite repeated warnings from the Indian intelligence agencies.”

Arab News: Philippines Reviews Security Protocols After Terror Attacks

“Recent terror attacks on Mindanao island, believed to be perpetrated by foreign suicide bombers, have pushed Philippine officials to review the country’s security protocols, the spokesman for the Department of National Defense (DND) said on Tuesday. This comes in the wake of the arrests of suspected foreign terrorists, including a Kenyan who was studying to become a pilot at an aviation school in Zambales province on Luzon island.  Arsenio Andolong, director of the DND’s Public Affairs Service, told Arab News that to prevent other terror attacks, the government needs to “review and study how best it can address the problem.” He cited a need to tighten border security and immigration policy, and amend the Human Security Act. Three terror attacks have been recorded in the past year. In July 2018, a Moroccan drove up to a military checkpoint in the city of Lamitan and detonated a bomb, killing 10 people, including himself. In January this year, 23 people died and more than 100 were injured in an attack on a church in Jolo municipality, carried out by an Indonesian couple assisted by members of the Abu Sayyaf Group. On June 29, eight people died in an attack on the army’s 1st Brigade Combat Team (1BCT) in Indanan municipality.”

Technology

The Washington Post: France Moves Toward A Law Requiring Facebook To Delete Hate Speech Within 24 Hours

“France’s National Assembly on Tuesday adopted a bill designed to curtail online hate speech, giving social media platforms 24 hours to remove hateful content or risk fines of up to 4 percent of their global revenue. The bill now goes to the French Senate and could become law after Parliament’s summer recess. French President Emmanuel Macron has been a vocal advocate of the need to regulate hate speech on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter before it can provoke real-life violence. Macron began the push amid an upsurge in anti-Semitism. And after a gunman linked to online hate groups live-streamed his attack on two New Zealand mosques in March, Macron joined New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in calling for an international effort to eradicate violent and extremist content. In France, the draft legislation was proposed by Laetitia Avia, a lawmaker from the Paris area and Macron’s party. As a black woman, she has faced online harassment and threats. The premise of the bill was summed up by a campaign video in which a man wears a giant billboard with anti-Semitic and other violent slogans. Passersby are clearly disturbed. Some stop to confront him. “It shocks you in the street,” Avia wrote, introducing that video.”

The Hill: Talk Show Host Says Youtube Algorithm Isn't 'Sophisticated' Enough To Combat Extremist Content

“The host of prominent left-leaning YouTube series “ContraPoints” expressed doubt on Tuesday over whether the platform will ever be able to effectively address extremist content. Even though the platform uses a combination of people and technology to enforce its community guidelines, Natalie Wynn, whose channel boasts about 663,000 subscribers, argued that the platform's use of artificial intelligence to tackle potentially harmful content is fundamentally flawed. “The problem with having computers moderate things is computers are not very sophisticated,” she said during an interview on “Rising.” Wynn added that YouTube, which has more than 1.8 billion users, has an algorithm that filters out extremist videos, but she emphasized that many far-right users pushing hate speech and extremist content go unchecked. “The problem with that is that the people who are pushing far-right, white nationalist viewpoints don’t use swastikas, they don’t say the word ‘white pride,’” she told Hill.TV. “They say ‘heritage’, they say ‘migrants’ they say ‘identity’ and the people who are saying swastikas are talking about Hitler — those are generally the anti-fascists people.” Wynn argued that, as a result, YouTube winds up “banning a lot of the stuff that we don’t want to be banned and not banning the stuff that we may want to be banned.”

The New York Times: Twitter Backs Off Broad Limits On ‘Dehumanizing’ Speech

“Last August, Twitter’s top executives gathered at the company’s headquarters to discuss how to make the site safer for its users. Two attendees proposed banning all speech that could be considered “dehumanizing.” For an example of what they meant, they showed a sample post that featured the words President Trump used to compare certain nations to excrement. By January, Twitter had backed off from deeming that sample tweet dehumanizing. Instead, the post was included in an internal company slide show, which helps train Twitter moderators, as the kind of message that should be allowed on the platform. And on Tuesday, when Twitter rolled out its first official guidelines around what constitutes dehumanizing speech on its service, the sample post was nowhere in sight. The company had narrowed its policymaking to focus only on banning speech that is insulting and unacceptable if directed at religious groups.”