Eye on Extremism: July 16

BBC: Italy Seizes 'Combat-Ready' Missile In Raids On Far Right

“Anti-terrorism police in northern Italy have seized an air-to-air missile and other sophisticated weapons during raids on far-right extremist groups. Three people were arrested, two of them near Forli airport. Neo-Nazi propaganda was also seized. The raids were part of an investigation into Italian far-right involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the Turin police said. The missile originated from the Qatari armed forces, the police said. The Turin special police force, called Digos, led the operations, assisted by police in Milan, Varese, Forli and Novara. Italian media named those arrested as Fabio Del Bergiolo, 50, an Italian ex-customs officer and far-right Forza Nuova party activist; Alessandro Monti, 42, a Swiss national; and Fabio Bernardi, 51, also Italian. Initially, on 15 July, the police said the arrests were part of an investigation, started about a year ago, into far-right groups "who have fought in Ukraine's Donbass region against the separatists.”

Iraqi News: Twin Suicide Blasts Kill Two People, Wound 20 In Baghdad

“At least two Iraqi people were killed and 20 others injured in a suicide bombing near a Shiite mosque in southwestern Baghdad, a security source said Monday. Speaking to the Arabic-language Baghdad Today news website, the source said that two suicide bombers blew themselves up near Abul Fadhel al-Abbas mosque in al-Malef district in southwestern Baghdad, leaving at least two people dead and 20 others injured. The death toll is expected to rise, the source added. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Islamic State (IS) militant group, in most cases, is responsible for attacks targeting crowded areas, including markets, cafes and mosques across Iraq. Violence in the country has surged further with the emergence of Islamic State extremist militants who proclaimed an “Islamic Caliphate” in Iraq and Syria in 2014. The surge in violence between armed groups and government forces has resulted in over five million internally displaced persons across Iraq and left more than 11 million in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.”

CBS News: Man Gets Life Plus 419 Years In Deadly Charlottesville Car Attack

“An avowed white supremacist was sentenced to life plus 419 years on federal hate crime charges Monday for deliberately driving his car into anti-racism protesters during a white nationalist rally in Virginia. James Alex Fields Jr., 22, received the sentence for killing one person and injuring dozens during the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, 2017. Fields was sentenced last month to life in prison on 29 federal hate crime charges.  Judge Richard Moore followed a state jury's recommendation in handing down the sentence. Under state law, he was allowed to go lower than the recommendation, but not higher. The state sentence is mainly symbolic given his previous sentence on the federal charges. “For his purposes, he has one life to give, so this is a largely academic exercise,” noted Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University. Fields, an avowed white supremacist who kept a photo of Adolf Hitler on his bedside table, drove from his home in Maumee, Ohio, to attend the rally, which drew hundreds of white nationalists to Charlottesville to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The event also drew counterprotesters who demonstrated against the white nationalists.”

The Independent: Driverless Car Bomb Plot Shows The Threat From ISIS Supporters Who Are Unable To Fight Abroad

“An Isis supporter who attempted to create a driverless car bomb is the latest terrorist to plot an attack on the UK after failing to join Isis abroad. British security services have been heavily criticised for allowing at least 900 men, women and children to leave for Syria and Iraq since 2014. The flow of jihadis has dried up since the UK and international partners increased efforts to intercept anyone attempting the journey and prosecute them for terror offences.”

Foreign Policy: Afghanistan’s Forests Are Turning A Profit For The Islamic State

“With his hands tight on his machine gun at a remote checkpoint in Afghanistan’s small eastern province of Kunar, the police officer Matiullah Safi kept watch. “Daesh is just over there,” the uniformed 22-year-old said, pointing to a tree-covered hill less than a mile away, using the Arabic name for the Islamic State. Small numbers of fighters for the Islamic State of Khorasan Province, the Afghan branch of the militant group, have been in Kunar since 2015. But the group’s new stronghold is in Kunar’s deep forests, inheriting a booming wood industry previously controlled by the Taliban that is now generating a growing income for Islamic State militants. Safi’s government outpost in Chawkay district is along one of the front lines for the war on the Islamic State. But it’s also a key entry point for smugglers bringing wood from the forests to other parts of Afghanistan or neighboring Pakistan, using mules maneuvering through mountainous terrain or hiding the logs in secret compartments of trucks that cross the official border. The provincial government banned the sale of wood in 2016, fearing increasing deforestation and desertification, as an average of 10 hectares of forest are being cut down annually, according to Enamullah Safi, the director of the Kunar Agricultural Directorate.”

Fortune: Anti-Defamation League Head Blasts Facebook Ceo Mark Zuckerberg Over Online Extremism

“The head of a leading anti-hate group says Facebook's CEO failed a critical test in removing toxic speech from its service.  Mark Zuckerberg's recent justification for not removing a doctored video depicting the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi amounted to an ethical failure, said Jonathan Greenblat, who leads the Anti-Defamation League. ”He refused to offer the kind of answer responsible people would expect ... It's ugly and it's got to change,” Greenblatt said at Fortune's Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colo. on Monday. Zuckerberg defended the decision against removing the video, which falsely depicted Pelosi slurring her speech, by saying Facebook shouldn't censor everything that is false. However, he added that the company should have done more to stop the video going viral. Joining a growing list of critics, Greenblatt also blasted Facebook, along with Google and Twitter, for failing to confront a rising tide of white supremacy, which he described as a “scourge” sustained by social media. While extremism and hate are age-old problems, Greenblatt says social media has given rise to new and dangerous strains by allowing disturbed individuals to find each other in online communities like 4Chan.”

United States

Associated Press: Judge Recommends $14M Award To Neo-Nazi Trolling Victim

“The publisher of a neo-Nazi website should have to pay the victim of an internet trolling campaign over $14 million and remove all posts that encouraged his readers to contact the Montana real estate agent, a magistrate judge recommended on Monday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah Lynch called The Daily Stormer publisher Andrew Anglin’s behavior reprehensible and atrocious in telling his internet followers to unleash a “troll storm” on Tanya Gersh, her husband and her 12-year-old son in 2016. The magistrate judge doesn’t have the final word in the case. His findings and recommendations must be approved by U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen to take effect. Gersh, whom Anglin accused of trying to run white nationalist Richard Spencer’s mother out of the mountain resort community of Whitefish, said her family received hundreds of threatening, harassing and anti-Semitic messages. She sued Anglin, who argued unsuccessfully through his attorneys that his writings were protected by the First Amendment.”

Asia Times: Terror Leader Hambali Finally To Face US Justice

“Legal teams are interviewing witnesses across the region in preparation for the long-awaited trial of Indonesian terrorist leader Riduan Isanuddin, who has been incarcerated at the United States-run Guantanamo Bay detention facility for 13 years. Isanuddin, 55, better known as Hambali, was captured by American and Thai intelligence agents in Thailand’s ancient riverside capital of Ayutthaya in August 2003, 10 months after the devastating Bali bombing which he stands accused of funding. Ironically, the alleged mastermind of the attack will apparently finally go on trial more than a decade after Indonesia and its often criticized judicial system prosecuted the last of the Bali bomb perpetrators, along with 250 other militants linked with the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah regional terror network.”

Syria

ABC News: Workers Recover Hundreds Of Bodies From Syrian Mass Grave

“In an open field on the outskirts of the Syrian city of Raqqa, workers in black uniforms, surgical masks and red hardhats toil under a scorching sun to dig up bodies from a large mass grave discovered last month. They have so far unearthed 313 bodies from the grave since it was discovered last month, the official said. All of the dead are men, women and children believed to have been killed or died during the Islamic State group's rule over the northern city, once the de facto capital of the extremist group's so-called Islamic caliphate and the site of atrocities committed by the group against residents who opposed its extremist ideology. The group at the time commanded large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq that it administered based on its own radical version of Islamic rule. U.S.-backed Syrian forces retook Raqqa from IS in 2017 after a lengthy campaign that left the city in ruins. Since then, an organization known as the Civil Council of Raqqa has been working to uncover mass graves in and around the city, amid concerns about the preservation of bodies and evidence for possible war crimes trials. International human rights groups say they are concerned that local groups are not getting the support they need in terms of forensic expertise and human resources. Yasser al-Khamees, who leads a team of first responders, said workers have unearthed 4,760 bodies from a series of mass graves starting from January 2018.”

Iran

Radio Farda: Pompeo Says Sanctions Have Worked And Regional Countries United Against Iran

“U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says Washington’s sanctions have had a strong impact on Iran, and Iran’s behavior has united unlikely allies in the Middle East against Iranian hegemony. In a radio interview with Sean Hannity on June 15, Pompeo agreed with his host about the impact of U.S. sanctions on the Iranian economy and added that critics who predicted sanctions would not work without European participation came out to be wrong. Pompeo also commented that he hopes the sanctions will make Iran’s leaders realize they should change their regional policies. “And so we do hope that the Islamic Republic of Iran leadership will come to know what I think their people know. I think their people think their leadership is on the wrong end of the stick. I think the Iranian people understand that underwriting Hezbollah in Lebanon and in Syria and in providing money in Yemen —”, Pompeo said. Besides the impact of sanctions, Pompeo also argued that Iran’s behavior has brought together former adversaries in the region. To defend themselves against Iranian influence, many Arab countries and Israel now cooperate. “The framework that had set the Middle East for so many years was the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, and now the major destabilizing force in the Middle East is the Islamic Republic of Iran”, the Secretary said, adding that the U.S. helped foster that trend.”

The Washington Post: The Latest: Iran’s Leader Vows Response To British ‘Piracy’

“The Latest on tensions in the Persian Gulf amid a crisis between the United States and Iran (all times local): China has called the Iran nuclear deal “irreplaceable” and the sole way to resolve the concerns over Tehran’s nuclear program. Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Tuesday that “the complete and effective implementation of the agreement is the only viable and effective way to settle the Iranian nuclear issue and ease tensions.” He said that Iran’s commitment to the agreement should be dealt with by the joint commission that oversees it. Geng also blamed the United States for causing the current tensions — last year, the Trump administration pulled out of the deal and re-imposed economic sanctions on Tehran. Geng said the U.S. should stop exerting pressure on Iran and create the conditions for a political and diplomatic settlement of the issue.”

Reuters: Iran Judiciary Spokesman Confirms Arrest Of French-Iranian Scholar, Declines To Give Details - TV

“Iran confirmed on Tuesday it had detained French-Iranian scholar Fariba Adelkhah but declined to give any more details, a day after Paris demanded information on her case. French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday he was worried by the arrest of the 60-year-old anthropologist, an incident that has complicated French efforts to defuse tensions in the region. “This person was detained recently ... but due to the nature of the case, this is not the proper time to give any information about it,” Iranian judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said in a live broadcast on the judiciary’s website. “More transparent information will be provided as the case progresses,” Esmaili said. Adelkhah, a senior research fellow at Sciences Po university in Paris, was arrested in June by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, news website IranWire reported on Sunday, citing unnamed sources.”

Politico: EU’s Mogherini: Iran Breaches Not ‘Significant’ Enough To Escalate

“The EU's foreign policy chief played down Tehran’s breaches of the Iran nuclear deal on Monday, but admitted the pact was facing its most difficult moment since it was signed in 2015. Iran has ratcheted up pressure in recent weeks with calibrated violations of the deal — known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — breaching limits on uranium stockpiling and enrichment. But the EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said that currently, none of the other parties to the agreement feel the breaches are "significant" enough to trigger the pact's dispute resolution mechanism. "The dispute resolution mechanism is the mechanism foreseen in case of significant non-compliance. For the time being, none of the parties to the agreement has signaled their intention to invoke this article," Mogherini told reporters at the end of a daylong meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels. "Conditions are very complicated, more complicated and difficult than ever, it is probably the most difficult moment since [2015]," Mogherini added.”

Iraq

Iraqi News: Iraqi Security Forces Kill Eight Terrorists In Salahuddin

“An Iraqi joint force killed on Monday eight terrorists during a security operation in Salahuddin province, a police chief said. Speaking to the privately-owned Alghad Press website, Salahuddin Police Chief Maj. Gen. Kandil al-Jabouri said that a joint force, backed by the U.S.-led international coalition warplanes, carried out a security operation in the Siniya island, west of Salahuddin province. “The troops managed to kill eight terrorists and destroyed an armored vehicle during the operation,” al-Jabouri said. He added that the security operation is still going on to pursue other terrorists. Iraq declared the collapse of Islamic State’s territorial influence in November 2017 with the recapture of Rawa, a city on Anbar’s western borders with Syria, which was the group’s last bastion in Iraq. IS declared a self-styled “caliphate” in a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria in 2014. A government campaign, backed by a U.S.-led international coalition and paramilitary forces, was launched in 2016 to retake IS-held regions, managing to retake all havens, most notably the city of Mosul, the group’s previously proclaimed capital.”

Kurdistan 24: Iraq Deported 473 Foreign ‘ISIS Children’: Ministry Spokesperson

“The Iraqi Foreign Ministry on Monday said it is ready to deport foreign-born children of the Islamic State back to their countries, of which 473 have already been deported.  “The Foreign Ministry through the Legal Department works with the competent authorities, namely the Supreme Judicial Council, the Ministry of Justice and the security services, to resolve the deportation of Dae’sh children to their countries,” Iraqi Foreign Ministry official spokesman, Dr. Ahmad Al-Sahaf, said using the pejorative Arabic acronym for the jihadist group.  On July 10 alone, Iraq deported 33 Russian children. The Foreign Ministry has also reportedly participated in the process to deport 473 children of various nationalities, including “Russian, Tajik, Azerbaijani, German, French, Georgian, Belarusian, Finnish, Ukrainian, and Turkish,” all having been born to members of the Islamic State.  The Iraqi Foreign Ministry has directed its missions abroad to invite all states with nationals who joined the group, including “women, children and juvenile offenders” who were caught in Iraq or Syria, to “coordinate with Iraq through diplomatic channels in order to receive them.” Indeed, Iraq’s judiciary is handling the fate of more than a thousand children whose parents of various nationalities had joined the Islamic State.”

Afghanistan

Al Jazeera: Afghanistan: Roadside Bomb Kills 11 Pilgrims In Kandahar

“A roadside bomb in Afghanistan has killed at least 11 pilgrims riding a truck in the southern province of Kandahar, provincial officials said.  At least 35 others were also wounded after their truck set off a landmine in the Khakrez district of the province on Monday afternoon, said Ahmad Sadeq Essa, an army spokesperson for the southern region. Those wounded were transferred to a nearby military base and some critically injured in the incident were being transported to hospitals in the provincial capital, Essa added.  “The army only has a mobile clinic in Khakrez, and right now they are trying to transfer the wounded people to the regional hospital in Kandahar city for further treatment,” he said.  A senior health official said 22 children and eight women were among those critically wounded. The victims were going on a pilgrimage to a shrine that houses the tomb of Sufi Shah Agha, a companion and relative of the Prophet Mohammad. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, but Yousof Younosi, a provincial council member in Kandahar, blamed the Taliban group, which often uses roadside bombs to target Afghan security forces in the province. Kandahar is considered the Taliban's birthplace and the group still controls some parts of the province.”

Yahoo News: Afghanistan: 2 Children Killed In Bomb Explosion

“At least two children died on Monday in an explosion in Chahar Block district in the Northern province of Balkh. The bomb was planted by militants, reported Tolo News, citing the 209 Shaheen Corps spokesman Mohammad Haneef Rezaee. However, no militant group has taken the responsibility of the attack. Further details are awaited.”

Yemen

Al Monitor: Yemenis Go Hungry As UN-Rebel Tiff Disrupts Aid

“As the United Nations' partial suspension of aid to Yemen’s capital Sanaa enters its fourth week — with no hope of resumption — Um Ahmed, 60, sees little hope of feeding her two sons and providing them with the medical treatment they need. The aid suspension across Sanaa has left parents like Um Ahmed destitute and perplexed as they watch their children waste away. “I have two sons suffering from health problems. One has cancer and the other suffers from a mental illness,” Um Ahmed told Al-Monitor as she drove on a minibus June 28 in the Shoob district. All passengers on the bus blamed both the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Houthi government for doubling their suffering. Um Ahmed received a bag and half of flour per month along with peas or lentils before the WFP aid was suspended. She would sell either the half or the whole bag to buy cancer medication for her son. Following WFP accusations that Houthis were selling food aid on the black market right in front of schools where the organization would distribute the food, people stopped selling them.”

Saudi Arabia

Xinhuanet: Saudi-Led Coalition Says Intercepts 2 Houthi Drones

“The Saudi-led coalition involved in a war in Yemen announced on Sunday that two drones heading toward the kingdom were intercepted. Turki Al Maliki, spokesman of the coalition, said in a statement released by Saudi Press Agency that the two destroyed drones were launched by Houthis to target civilian sites in the Saudi city of Khamis Mushait. Some parts of the destroyed drones fell and damaged several buildings and vehicles but no injuries were reported, he said. He accused Houthis of committing war crimes by targeting civilians, saying Saudi Arabia is determined to deter the militias from such aggressive attacks.”

Middle East

The Washington Examiner: Senior Hamas Official Urges Palestinians Worldwide To Kill 'Every Jew On The Globe'

“Fathi Hammad, a senior Hamas official, called upon Palestinians worldwide to begin the “slaughter and killing” of Jews around the world.  “Our patience has run out. We are on the verge of exploding. If this siege is not undone, we will explode in the face of our enemies, with God’s permission and glory. The explosion is not only going to be in Gaza but also in the [West] Bank and abroad, if God wills,” Hammad said Friday. “But our brothers [in the diaspora] are still preparing. They are trying to prepare. They are warming up. A long time has passed with them warming up. All of you 7 million Palestinians abroad, enough of the warming up. You have Jews everywhere and we must attack every Jew on the globe by way of slaughter and killing, if God permits. Enough of the warming up,” he added. A spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted a response to the comments Sunday.  “We use his statements to rally support for us and to reveal Hamas's true face. Thank you Fathi!” Ofir Gendelman, Netanyahu's Arabic-language spokesman, said. Gendelman added that Hammad's comments were revealing about Hamas.”

Associated Press: Concern Grows Over UAE-Based Oil Tanker In Strait Of Hormuz

“Tracking data shows an oil tanker based in the United Arab Emirates traveling through the Strait of Hormuz drifted off into Iranian waters and stopped transmitting its location over two days ago, raising concerns Tuesday about its status amid heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. It isn’t clear what happened to the Panamanian-flagged oil tanker Riah late on Saturday night. However, its last position showed it pointing toward Iran. Oil tankers have previously been targeted as the Persian Gulf region took center stage in a crisis over Iran’s unraveling nuclear deal with world powers. The concern about the Riah comes as Iran continues its own high-pressure campaign over its nuclear program after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord over a year ago. Recently, Iran has inched its uranium production and enrichment over the limits of its 2015 nuclear deal, trying to put more pressure on Europe to offer it better terms and allow it to sell its crude oil abroad.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Bahrain Slams Latest Qatari Conspiracy Against It

“Bahrain slammed on Tuesday the latest conspiracy by Qatar against it in wake of the airing of a television program by the Qatar-owned Al Jazeera channel. The "What is hidden is more immense" program aired on Sunday in what a Bahrain Defense Forces (BDF) spokesman said was the latest chapter of its conspiracy against the Kingdom as part of Qatar’s attempt to undermine and estrange the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states. He denounced the “fabrication” made by Yasser Athbi Al Jalahma during the program. The BDF clarified that the security brigade he had worked for in 2011 was an auxiliary force at the Interior Ministry assigned to secure the Salmaniya Hospital. This brigade was never tasked with any task in the process of entering the roundabout, therefore, Jalahma’s claims about the number of the unit, the status of its armament and the photos purportedly taken by the Interior Minister, are utterly baseless.”

Egypt

Reuters: Kuwait Hands Muslim Brotherhood-Linked Militants To Egypt: KUNA

“Kuwait has handed over to Egypt eight Egyptians who it said had admitted to carrying out terrorist operations in their home country, and had fled to Kuwait after being convicted in Egypt, the state news agency KUNA reported. Kuwait’s interior ministry had said on Friday that the men had belonged to a militant cell linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, and had fled to Kuwait after being sentenced at home to up to 15 years in jail. Kuwait has not specified the circumstances of their sentencing, and there has been no official comment from Egyptian authorities. ”After conducting preliminary investigations, they admitted to carrying out terrorist operations ... inside Egyptian territory,” said Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister Anas Khalid al-Saleh, according to KUNA. The men were returned under the terms of bilateral agreements, KUNA quoted a senior foreign ministry official as saying late on Sunday. The interior ministry said investigations were continuing to find other members of the cell. Egypt banned the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013 after the late Mohamed Mursi of the Brotherhood, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, was toppled by the military following widespread unrest. Since then, Egyptian authorities have arrested tens of thousands of political opponents, many of them Islamists, according to human rights organizations.”

Nigeria

The Premium Times: Borno Emir Returns Home 5 Years After Displacement By Boko Haram

“The Emir of Gwoza in Borno State, Mohammed Shehu-Timta, has returned home following relative peace and security five years after displacement from the kingdom by Boko Haram insurgents. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that mammoth crowd gathered at Pulka and major streets in Gwoza metropolis on Monday to give the first class traditional ruler a rousing welcome. Mr Shehu-Timta who was accompanied by the Deputy Governor of the state, Usman Kadafur, Ali Ndume, the senator for Borno South, members of the state House of Assembly and village heads, among others, was received in a colourful celebration showcased with a martial display of Gwoza culture at the emir’s palace. Addressing the people, Governor Babagana Umara said the return of the monarch signified the return of civic authority in the local institution. Represented by Mr Kadafur, the governor said his administration accord high respect and commitment to the traditional institution, describing it as a “symbol and pride of every society’’. “I felicitate with the Emir and people of Gwoza over the official relocation and return of our Emir back to his palace after years in Maiduguri. “This administration will not afford to toy with the people of Gwoza and the traditional institution.”

Somalia

All Africa: Somalia: Somali Army Retakes Fresh Areas From Al-Shabaab After Offensive

“Somali National Army has taken new areas from al-Shabaab in Lower Shabelle region on Sunday. The troops seized Yaaqbari Weyne, MadaxMarodi and Lego villages during operation. Colonel, Mohamed Abdullahi Arale who was leading contingents from the 35th brigade of the 60th division confirmed the news to state media. Col. Arale said his troops killed 15 fighters during the operation while destroying several vehicles used by the militants. According to sources, the operation was backed by US force air support since no confirmation from AFRICOM. The new grounds retaken by Somali troops were held by al-Shabaab fighters since 2015 when AMISOM contingents from Burundi retreated following an attack. Somali National Army backed By AU peacekeeping troops in support from US drone strikes intensified operations against armed group al-Shabaab in recent months. The offensive by SNA has led to the recapture of key towns such as Sabiid, Barire, Canole in Lower Shabelle region.”

PRI: After Most Recent Attack, Should US Negotiate With Al-Shabab?

“At least 26 people were killed Friday when armed gunmen stormed a hotel and a car bomb exploded in the port city of Kismayo, Somalia, this weekend. Al-Shabab, the al-Qaeda-linked militant group, claimed credit for the attack.  The dead included a presidential candidate for August's Jubbaland regional elections, Jubbaland state president Ahmed Mohamed Madobe said.  Kismayo is the commercial capital of Jubbaland, a region still partly controlled by al-Shabab, whose fighters frequently carry out bombings in Somalia and neighboring Kenya. Kenyan troops remain active in Somalia as part of an African Union peacekeeping force. Jubbaland is scheduled to have parliamentary elections this month and presidential elections in August. Al-Shabab was forced out of the capital Mogadishu in 2011 and has since lost most of its other strongholds. It was driven out of Kismayo the following year by Kenyan forces. The city's port had been a major source of revenue for al-Shabab from taxes, charcoal exports and levies on arms and other illegal imports. The US has been battling extremists in Somalia for nearly three decades with various missions from United States Africa Command, or AFRICOM. According to AFRICOM, the US has conducted 110 airstrikes in Somalia since June 2017.”

Africa

Xinhua: Kenyan Police Kill 3 Al-Shabab Suspects In Coastal Region

“Kenyan security forces on Monday killed three suspected al-Shabab militants shortly after an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated, injuring two police officers in Kiunga, Lamu town, near Kenya-Somalia border. David Lusava, Lamu East deputy commissioner confirmed the incident in the coastal town of Lamu, saying the IED believed to have been planted by the militants was targeting security units on patrol in the area. “I have received information of the IED attack somewhere in Kiunga towards the Somalia border but I don't have the details. So I can't even say how many have been injured or killed and whether they are terrorists or security officers,” Lusava said. “The area is under the multi-agency security operation Linda Boni, they are better placed with the details,” he added. A police officer in Kiunga confirmed that three militants were killed during the incident. “My unit was among the first responders to the scene shortly after the RBPU (Rapid Border Patrol Unit) had been ambushed. We counted three bodies belonging to al-Shabab militants. They were dressed in jungle green military regalia and had around their necks, flags similar to those used by the militia group,” said the officer who declined to be named.”

United Kingdom

The Guardian: Pair Charged With Terror Offences After Car Stopped In Luton

“A man and a woman arrested after their car was stopped in Luton have been charged with terror offences. The pair were arrested on 3 July as part of an investigation by the Metropolitan police’s counter-terrorism command. The 28-year-old man, who police have not named, has been charged with one count of preparing acts of terrorism, one count of possessing a document likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism and one count of disseminating terrorist publications. The 25-year-old woman, who has also not been named, faces two charges of failing to disclose information relating to acts of terrorism. A Scotland Yard statement said: “The man has tonight, Monday 15 July, been charged with one count of section 5 (1) (A) of the Terrorism Act 2006; one count of section 58 (1) (B) of the Terrorism Act 2000 and one count of section 2 (1) of the Terrorism Act 2006. “The woman has been charged with two counts of section 38B (2) of the Terrorism Act 2000.” Both will appear in custody at Westminster magistrates court on Tuesday.”

The Independent: Driverless Car Bomb Plot Shows The Threat From ISIS Supporters Who Are Unable To Fight Abroad

“An Isis supporter who attempted to create a driverless car bomb is the latest terrorist to plot an attack on the UK after failing to join Isis abroad. British security services have been heavily criticised for allowing at least 900 men, women and children to leave for Syria and Iraq since 2014. The flow of jihadis has dried up since the UK and international partners increased efforts to intercept anyone attempting the journey and prosecute them for terror offences. But Farhad Salah’s case is the latest plot illustrating a dangerous trend of would-be foreign fighters seeking to launch attacks in the UK instead. Prosecutors said the 24-year-old Iraqi national had wanted to fight in Syria and became “frustrated” at being unable to leave the UK, because a decision had not been made on his asylum claim. Salah had collected “disturbing” Isis propaganda videos showing torture and executions, as well as guides enabling him to build and test homemade explosives. “My only attempt is to find a way to carry out a martyrdom operation with cars without drivers – everything is perfect only the programme is left with the almighty Allah’s will,” he wrote shortly before being arrested in December 2017. During Salah’s trial, which saw him convicted of preparing an act of terrorism on Friday, prosecutor Anne Whyte QC said he “was getting increasingly desperate to do something in the cause of Isis.”

France

The Jerusalem Post: French Gov't Supports Youth Project With Ties To Palestinian Terror Group

“The French government, along with local municipalities in France, has donated almost €400,000 to a new youth program in east Jerusalem in coordination with a a socio-cultural center run by a convicted member of the terror organization Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), NGO Monitor reported. On July 10, 2019, at the Jerusalem French Institute a new youth program for east Jerusalem was launched in the presence of UN employees in coordination with the Al Bustan center. The project, “Towards the Youth of East Jerusalem” was initiated by the RCDP, a French association that supports ties between local French and Palestinian authorities. The project is funded by various local French government bodies, including the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, who donated €204,000, the municipality of Rennes, €34,286, the municipality of Ivry-Sur-Seine (€21,429), and other French municipalities. The Al Bustan center is described as a socio-cultural center, and listed as one of their founders, treasurer and contact point for the new project is Daoud Ghoul. In 2015, Ghoul was convicted in Israel for his membership in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), for which Ghoul served an 18 month sentence.  The PFLP is a secular Marxist-Leninist revolutionary organization affiliated with the Palestinian Liberation Organization.”

Germany

The Guardian: Former German Spy Chief Causes Alarm By Sharing Far-Right Tweets

“When he was in charge of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, Hans-Georg Maaßen warned of how easy it was for people to be led astray by “disinformation” and “clumsy fake reports” on the internet. But since his dismissal from office last September, the former spy chief’s behaviour on social media has raised questions over his own ability to distinguish conspiracy theories from truthful reporting, and sparked a debate about the neutrality of the powerful intelligence agency during a period in which a resurgent far right marched over several days in the city of Chemnitz. On Sunday Maaßen shared on Twitter an article from a rightwing extremist blog claiming that the rescue of a group of people adrift off the Libyan coast by the rescue boat Sea Watch 3, and the subsequent arrest of its German captain, Carola Rackete, was in fact a “piece of propaganda” orchestrated by the German public broadcaster ARD. The article likens a documentary about Sea-Watch 3 by ARD’s programme Panorama to the Nazi propaganda ministry embedding film crews on ”Strength Through Joy”cruise ships, and suggests the film crew could have dragged the rescued refugees out to sea in the first place.”

Europe

Reuters: Bosnia Indicts Islamic Fighter For Terrorism

“Bosnia’s state prosecutor on Monday indicted for terrorism a Bosnian Muslim who fought for Islamic State (IS) in Syria, after he was brought back to the country in April.  Ibro Cufurovic, who is from the northwestern town of Velika Kladusa, has been in custody since his extradition from Syria, following a detention by the Kurdish militia more than a year ago. The 25-year-old has been indicted for organising a terrorist group, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.  It said Cufurovic, using the name Abu Kasim Albosni, spent almost five years in Syria, where he participated alongside other Bosnians in terrorist activities and fought on the side of IS. Bosnia’s state court has tried and convicted 46 people who have returned from Syria or Iraq in the past few years.  According to Bosnian intelligence, 241 adults and 80 children left Bosnia or Bosnian diaspora from 2012-2016 for Syria and Iraq, where 150 more children were born. About 100 adults, including 49 women, remained there while at least 88 have been killed or died. Several women with children, including Cufurovic’s wife, have pleaded with Bosnian authorities to be allowed to return home but there is still no clear policy on how to deal with them because the children do not hold Bosnian citizenship.”

The New York Times: Italy Police Seize Missile From Neo-Nazi Sympathizers

“The police in Italy seized a large arsenal of weapons, including an air-to-air missile, in raids on Monday on neo-Nazi sympathizers. Elite police forces searched properties across northern Italy following an investigation into Italians who had fought alongside Russian-backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, a police statement said. Three men were arrested, including a customs officer who had previously stood for Parliament for an extreme right party, the neo-fascist Forza Nuova. During their raids, police discovered a French-made Matra air-to-air missile that appeared to have once belonged to the Qatar armed forces. Subsequent checks showed the weapon was in working condition but lacked an explosive charge. Police said the suspects had tried to sell the missile in conservations with contacts on the WhatsApp messaging network.”

Xinhua: War Weapons Seized, Far-Right Militants Held In Counter-Terrorism Operation In Italy

“Three people were arrested and war weapons seized in a counter-terrorism operation launched against far-right activists here, Italian authorities said on Monday. The operation was coordinated by prosecutors in the city of Turin in northwest Italy after a one-year investigation, and raids were carried out in four northern provinces, including Varese and Pavia, police said in statement. An air-to-air missile, nine assault rifles, one machine gun and seven pistols were among the firearms seized, it said. The three people arrested -- two Italians aged 50 and 51, and a 42-year-old Swiss national -- were charged with illegal possession of war weapons. Police explained that the investigation focused on “some people linked to far-right political groups, who fought in the Ukrainian region of Donbas against secessionist forces.” They specified that “coats of arms and clearly Nazi-inspired placards” were found in the house of one of the two Italians arrested. “The materials seized deserve utmost attention,” the Turin-based La Stampa newspaper quoted local police chief Giuseppe De Matteis as saying at a press conference. “We are talking about 20 assault rifles plus spare parts ... and, in addition to the missile, we found other war equipment.”

Southeast Asia

The Jakarta Post: How Do Terrorists Fund Their Activities? Some Do It Legally

“Indonesians were surprised when Para Wijayanto, leader of the Jema'ah Islamiyah (JI) terrorist network, was arrested earlier this month. The Southeast Asia terrorist network, responsible for the 2002 Bali bombings, is still alive and kicking. JI was thought to be decimated after leaders such as Abu Bakar Ba'asyir and Umar Patek were arrested, and Noordin Top and Azahari killed. The latest arrest revealed JI was using a palm oil plantation business to fund its terrorist activities. Previously, JI’s came mainly from illegal activities, such as through robbery and cybercrime. Is using legal businesses as a front to fund terrorism part of a new trend? I study the dynamics of terrorist organisation funding. Terrorism networks employ both legal and illegal ways to fund their activities – whether these are terror attacks, propaganda, recruitment or military training. According to the Indonesian anti-terrorist financing law, terrorist financing refers to assets that are recognised, or reasonably alleged, to be used directly or indirectly for terrorism-related activity, organisations or individuals. There are three stages of terrorist financing: fund-raising, fund-moving and fund-using. They can use banks or other means to move the money.”

The Straits Times: Philippines, US To Step Up War On Terror Amid Suicide Attacks

“The Philippines and the United States have agreed to step up efforts to fight violent extremism in the South-east Asian nation following the first suicide attack carried out by a Filipino militant in June. “We know danger still exists in parts of the country. This is why counter-terrorism has been such a key element of our bilateral cooperation,” US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim told reporters shortly after two days of bilateral talks between Manila and Washington ended on Tuesday (July 16). His counterpart, Mr Jose Manuel Romualdez, said in the same news briefing that the talks were “clearly very productive in the sense that we were able to discuss how we can cooperate even more, especially with what happened with the recent bombing in Jolo”. Security officials confirmed last week the first-ever case of a suicide attack carried out by a Filipino, in what they said marked an escalation in the deadly tactics used by militants linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Norman Lasuca, 23, who ran away from home four years ago because of the beatings he received from his father and later joined the Abu Sayyaf extremist group, set off on June 28 one of two bombs that exploded inside a temporary camp of a special army counter-terrorism unit in Indanan town, on Jolo island, 1,000km south of the capital Manila.”

Technology

CNBC: Mnuchin: US Has ‘Very Serious Concerns’ That Facebook’s Libra Could Be Misused By Terrorists

“Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has concerns about Facebook’s proposed cryptocurrency and its potential illicit use. In a press conference Monday, Mnuchin said Facebook’s planned digital currency “could be misused by money launderers and terrorist financiers” and that it was a “national security issue.” “Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin have been exploited to support billions of dollars of illicit activity like cyber crime, tax evasion, extortion, ransomware, illicit drugs and human trafficking,” Mnuchin said, adding that he is “not comfortable today” with Facebook’s launch. “They have a lot of work to do,” he said. The press conference comes days after President Donald Trump said in a tweet that he was “not a fan” of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. He also suggested Facebook, which plans on launching the global cryptocurrency next year, would need a bank charter to do so. Bitcoin dropped sharply on Monday following the president’s criticism on Twitter. The world’s first and most valuable digital currency fell roughly 10% to a low of $9,872 to start the week. “The president does have concerns as it relates to bitcoin and cryptocurrencies — those are legitimate concerns that we have been working on for a long period of time,” Mnuchin said.”