Eye on Extremism: July 17

Reuters: Syrian Air Strike On Village Market Kill At Least 12: Rescuers

“At least 12 people were killed and scores wounded on Tuesday in aerial strikes believed to have been carried out by the Syrian air force on a popular market in a village in opposition-held northwestern Syria, rescuers and residents said.  Residents and rescuers said bombs dropped on Maar Shoreen village in southern Idlib province by planes which monitors said were Syrian army jets left a trail of death and destruction and wounded scores in a main street of the village’s market.  Videos released on social media by activists purportedly showed footage of charred bodies lying on the streets alongside badly burnt people being carried by rescuers. Reuters was unable immediately to independently verify the footage. Hundreds of civilians have been killed since a Russian-led assault on the last rebel bastion in northwestern Syria began nearly two months ago, rights groups and rescuers said. The Russian defense ministry denies it targets civilians and Syrian state media said the army on Tuesday launched strikes on al Qaeda militants in the vicinity of Maar Shoreen, destroying their bases and killing scores of “terrorists.”

The Independent: Isis Flag Raised At Syrian Camp Holding Jihadi Families

“The black flag of Isis has been hoisted in a Syrian camp holding tens of thousands of the terror group’s family members, nearly four months after the caliphate was officially declared defeated. In a video posted online, women and children can be seen cheering while the homemade flag flutters from a pole. The crowd are heard shouting “baqiya” – the Arabic word for “remaining” – a reference to the Isis slogan ”remaining and expanding”. The video first appeared on Monday, according to Jihadoscope, a monitoring group focused on the spread of terror propaganda across the web and social media, but it is not the first such incident at the sprawling al-Hol camp in northeast Syria. It comes amid warnings of growing radicalisation at the facility.  Earlier this month, a video purportedly filmed at the camp showed women re-pledging their allegiance to Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and calling on him to “liberate” them. Several guards have been attacked by residents.  Despite rising tensions at camps like al-Hol, the international community is still at odds over what to do with the inhabitants, including more than a dozen British women and their children, including Shamima Begum.”

The Wall Street Journal: The Taliban Smell Blood

“Even when the Taliban talk peace, they make war. Discussions in Doha, Qatar, have not stopped their attacks in Afghanistan. One killed a U.S. serviceman Saturday. A July 7 car bomb killed at least 14 people and wounded more than 180, including scores of children. This talk-and-shoot approach reflects the Taliban’s belief that the talks concern only the orderly withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. That won’t do. The U.S. should now suspend talks with the Taliban to drive home the point that peace, not simply withdrawal, is America’s goal. The two sides seem to have been working at cross-purposes since the negotiations began last October. Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special envoy for Afghan reconciliation, described the goal of his first meeting with Taliban representatives as exploring the prospect of “a peaceful Afghanistan where all Afghans see themselves included.” The Taliban insisted in their statement that the talks were about “the end of occupation and a peaceful resolution for the Afghan issue.” After eight rounds of direct talks, and several side meetings aimed at facilitating dialogue among Afghan political factions, the Taliban’s stance on the scope of discussions remains the same. The head of the Taliban delegation to Doha, Abbas Stanikzai, explained last week that “there is no word of reducing violence.”

The Jerusalem Post: Israel's Military To Increase Protection Of Strategic Sites From Hezbollah Missiles

“Israel’s military will provide anti-missile protection to 20 strategic sites across the country as well as build additional hardened aircraft hangers to protect against the threat posed by Hezbollah’s missile arsenal. According to a report in Jane’s Defence Weekly, the Israeli Air Force is looking to build an unspecified number of strengthened aircraft hangars at a cost of $10 million in an area of about 4,000 sq.m. The work will see the construction of about 1.5 km. of taxiways, 3.3 km. of service roads, 2,150 sq.m. of auxiliary facilities, 450 sq.m. of administrative buildings, 1,900 sq.m. of utilities tunnels and 5,600 sq.m. of general storage buildings, the report said, quoting a notice published on the USU Federal Business Opportunities (FBO) website. In addition, according to a report in Haaretz, the IDF’s Home Front Command will strengthen the protection of several key sites across the country with walls of reinforced concrete, stronger ceilings, blast-proof doors and anti-shrapnel protection.”

The National: Qatari Missile Found With Italian Neo-Nazi Slipped Through The Net

“An air-to-air missile bearing the stamp of the State of Qatar has ended up with Italian neo-Nazis, leaving a trail of speculation among experts over how such a powerful weapon could fall into the hands of a fringe group. The intended use of the missile, and the machine guns and rocket launchers also found in the haul, remains unclear amid questions about potential links to far-right groups fighting in the Ukraine conflict. “It does look confusing. I think it probably ended on the black market where the group managed to get hold of it. It might have been that Qatar got rid of them when doing an upgrade and that's how they ended on the market,” says Dr Hassan Elbahtimy of Kings College London. The arms control expert said it was extremely unlikely Qatar would have directly sold the missile to the Italian whose was home the weapons were found at, but it still appeared there was inadequate proliferation control.”

The Washington Post: Pakistan Arrests Top Militant Figure Ahead Of Prime Minister Visit To United States

“Pakistani Counter Terrorism authorities on Wednesday arrested Hafiz Saeed, head of the group that carried out the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack, and sent him to jail, a spokesman said.  He was on way to an eastern city Gujranwala from Lahore when stopped by counter terrorism officials and taken into custody, according to officials cited by the private ARY news channel. Saeed was arrested on charges of financing terrorist organizations and using charitable donations as his own personal assets. He had been headed to an anti-terrorism court to seek pre-arrest bail on another set of charges when he was detained. Saeed was leader of the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group that carried out the four day attack on Mumbai in India in 2008 that killed at least 160 people. Saeed later said he left the group and founded the Jammat-ud-Dawa charity, which has been described as a front for militant activities. In 2014, the United States named it a terrorist group and offered $10 million for evidence leading to Saeed’s arrest. Analysts see Saeed’s detention as a major move ahead of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s scheduled visit to the United States and also as part of his promised campaign to move against banned militant organizations.” 


The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Sanctions Top Myanmar Military Officials Over Ethnic Violence

“Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday that the U.S. has sanctioned four top military officials in Myanmar for gross human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings of members of the Rohingya minority as part of ethnic cleansing actions. It marked the first time any government has taken such an action involving the most senior leadership of the Myanmar military, a State Department official said, and means the officials and their immediate families are ineligible to enter the U.S. “We designated these individuals based on credible information of these commanders’ involvement in gross violations of human rights,” Mr. Pompeo said in a statement, referring to the country as Burma, its previous name. State Department officials who briefed reporters said that the action was also intended to strengthen the hand of the civilian government and “delegitimize” Burma’s current military leadership.”

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. To Withhold F-35 Fighters From Turkey, Trump Says

“President Trump said the U.S. would withhold sales of advanced F-35 stealth jet fighters to Turkey after Ankara received a new air-defense system from Russia, putting new strains on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The decision to cancel the F-35 shipment was expected, but until Mr. Trump’s remarks on Tuesday, the administration had held off on responding to Turkey’s decision to accept delivery of the Russian S-400 system. Turkey’s action and the U.S. response inject tension and uncertainty into the 67-year security pact between Turkey and other NATO members. The latest moves come amid differences between Ankara and Washington over Syria and a sharp disagreement over the role of Kurdish fighters, who U.S. officials say have played a major role in battling Islamic State militants but who Turkey sees as a terrorist force. Some U.S. officials and analysts have said the Russian-Turkish deal could jeopardize the future of U.S.-Turkish relations, and raises questions about Turkey’s long-term role in NATO as Russia attempts to expand its own influence in the country in a broader bid to weaken the alliance.”

Arab News: Could Foreign Daesh Suspects Be Tried In Northeast Syria?

“Months after the territorial defeat of Daesh, Syria’s Kurds are pushing for an international tribunal to try alleged militants detained in their region. The Kurds run an autonomous administration in the northeast of Syria, but it is not recognized by Damascus or the international community. This brings complications for the legal footing of any justice mechanism on the Kurds’ territory, and the international cooperation required to establish one. With Western nations largely reluctant to repatriate their nationals or judge them at home, could foreign Daesh suspects be put on trial in northeast Syria? After years of fighting Daesh, Syria’s Kurds hold around 1,000 foreign men in jail, as well as some 12,000 non-Syrian women and children in overcrowded camps. Almost four months after Kurdish-led forces backed by the US-led coalition seized Daesh’s last scrap of land in eastern Syria, few have been repatriated. The Kurdish authorities say they are seriously exploring how to set up an international tribunal, and invited foreign experts to discuss the idea at a conference it hosted early this month. “We will work to set up this tribunal here,” the region’s top foreign affairs official Abdelkarim Omar told AFP afterwards.”


The New York Times: Iran Rejects Pompeo’s Suggestion It Is Willing To Negotiate Over Missile Program

“Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that Iran appeared willing to negotiate over its missile program “for the first time,” in what he and President Trump presented as evidence that sanctions and military pressure were working, less than a month after the president halted a planned military strike against Iran. But within hours of the statement to reporters, delivered before a cabinet meeting at the White House, the idea was shot down by Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who was in New York for a meeting at the United Nations. His spokesman said that the two men had misinterpreted Mr. Zarif’s public statements, in which he repeated past demands that if the United States “wants to talk about missiles, it should stop selling weapons, including missiles, to regional states.” It was a clear reference to American weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Iran’s other Arab adversaries. The odd exchange, and the apparent misconstruing of Mr. Zarif’s comments, seemed to underscore the eagerness of the White House to turn weeks of confrontation with Iran into some kind of negotiating opportunity — and a reminder of how hard that will be to accomplish. Iranian officials have repeatedly said they would engage with Mr. Trump only after he rejoined the 2015 nuclear accord, which he withdrew from last year.”

The New York Times: Iran’s Top Leader Strikes Defiant Tone As Trump Says ‘We’re Not Looking For Regime Change’

“Iran’s top leader struck a belligerent tone Tuesday in an escalating confrontation with the West, promising further Iranian violations of the fraying nuclear agreement and retaliation for what he called the piracy of an Iranian tanker by “the vicious British.” The defiance expressed by the top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, contrasted with what seemed like a less confrontational stance taken at the White House. President Trump told reporters that “we’re not looking for regime change” in Iran and that Iranian leaders had communicated a desire for negotiations with the United States despite their hostile remarks in public. “They’d like to talk, and we’ll see what happens,” Mr. Trump said. Mike Pompeo, Mr. Trump’s secretary of state, asserted that Iran was willing to negotiate over its missile program, an area of Western concern that was not covered in the 2015 nuclear agreement.”

The New York Times: Iran Says It Aided Foreign Tanker, Amid Reports Of Missing U.A.E. Ship

“The Iranian Foreign Ministry has said that security forces recently came to the aid of a foreign oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, hours after reports that Iran might have seized a tanker from the United Arab Emirates in the area. Abbas Mousavi, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said that Iranian forces had rushed to the aid of an unidentified tanker that had sent a distress call after a “technical glitch,” according to reports Tuesday night from the semiofficial Iranian news agency Press TV. He said that tugboats had towed it toward Iranian waters for repairs. Mr. Mousavi did not say what nation the ship was from, who owned it or what its current status was. He said more information would come later. The comments came after reports that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of Iran may have seized a United Arab Emirates tanker in the Persian Gulf over the weekend. Such a move would be the latest in a series of confrontations in the region that have raised fears of an armed conflict.”


Iraqi News: U.S. Airstrike Kills Two Terrorists Inside Nineveh Tunnel

“Two terrorists were killed Tuesday in an airstrike on a tunnel in the northern Iraqi province of Nineveh, a security media cell said. “Acting on information from the Nineveh Operations Command, the U.S.-led international coalition waged an air raid targeting a tunnel in Sukhairiat area in Nineveh,” Alghad Press website quoted the cell as saying in a press statement. The airstrike left two terrorists dead inside the tunnel, the statement read. 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. Despite the group’s crushing defeat at its main havens across Iraq, Islamic State continues to launch sporadic attacks against troops with security reports warning that the militant group still poses a threat against stability in the country.”

The Washington Examiner: Iraq Deports 33 ISIS Children To Russia, Bringing Its Total To 473 Worldwide

“Iraq deported 33 children of former ISIS members to Russia in a single day, bringing the total number of children it has deported to 473 globally.  The children were born to Russian mothers who are being held by Iraqi police on suspected ties to the terrorist group. Their fathers are believed to have been killed in action.  The hundreds of children already deported and hundreds still in Iraq come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, including Russian, Tajik, Azerbaijani, German, French, Georgian, Belarusian, Finnish, Ukrainian, and Turkish, according to Iraqi officials.  Iraq's foreign ministry has told its overseas missions to encourage all countries with nationals who joined ISIS and were caught in Iraq or Syria, including “women, children, and juvenile offenders,” to “coordinate with Iraq through diplomatic channels in order to receive them,” foreign ministry spokesman Ahmad al-Sahaf said Monday.  The children were sent to Russia as part of a multi-ministry commission under Russia's children's rights commissioner, Anna Kuznetsova. A majority of the Russian children are from Chechnya and Dagestan, both Russian republics in the predominantly Muslim North Caucasus. The commission believes as many as 700 other children of Russian citizens may have been taken to ISIS territories.”


Reuters: Taliban Force Swedish Charity To Close Dozens Of Afghan Health Centers

“Taliban militants have forced a Swedish charity to close dozens of health centers in a central Afghan province, accusing it of failing to provide safety to civilians, the organization said on Wednesday. Four people were killed at a Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA) center in Wardak province, west of Kabul, during a night raid by Afghan forces last week, SCA and Afghan government officials said. The attack was condemned by the SCA, but the Taliban accused it failing to provide adequate security. ”We expect the SCA to shut down their services in Wardak province as they are unable to guarantee the safety of their Afghan employees,” Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said. The SCA confirmed that the Taliban had forced it to close 42 of 77 health centers in Wardak. More than 5,700 patients were affected, it said. The SCA has more than 6,000 Afghan employees operating in 14 Afghan provinces. It was founded in 1980 in response to the Soviet invasion, with the Swedish agency for development cooperation its largest international donor. ”Forcing SCA to close health facilities, hence denying people to receive medical treatment and health services, is an obvious violation of human rights and international humanitarian law,” said Sonny Mansson, SCA country director.”

The Washington Free Beacon: ISIS Claims Responsibility For Attack On U.S. Base In Afghanistan

“The ISIS terror group is claiming responsibility for a missile attack at a U.S. base in Afghanistan, according to a statement released on its social media networks. The attack is reported to have occurred on July 14 in the Achin district in Afghanistan's southern Nangarhar Province. “The Caliphate's soldiers managed the day before yesterday to target a base belonging to the Crusader American army in Achin area in Nangarhar with a Katyusha rocket, causing serious casualties,” ISIS claimed in an Arabic statement posted on the Telegram networking site. The statement was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI, which tracks terror organizations. “Providing evidence for its claim, ISIS published two photos: The first shows a militant with a blurred face holding the group's black flag and standing next to a Katyusha rocket launcher; the second shows a rocket in flight,” according to MEMRI. “In a separate post, the group's A'maq News Agency claimed that the July 14 Katyusha rocket attack targeted a military base of the ‘international alliance' in the Mamand area in Nangarhar's Achin district,” MEMRI reports.”

The Washington Examiner: Islamic State Making Territorial Gains In Afghanistan, Pentagon Reports

“The Islamic State-Khorasan Province has gained control of territory in Afghanistan over the last six months, according to the latest Pentagon report to Congress.  While the group's power in Afghanistan remains limited compared with organizations such as the Taliban and al Qaeda, it has continued to challenge Afghan, United States, and coalition forces.  “During this reporting period, ISIS-K made territorial gains in eastern Afghanistan,” according to the Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan report for June 2019. “Regionally, the group continues to evade, counter, and resist sustained CT [counter-terrorism] pressure.” ISIS-K wants to pose a threat to not only Afghanistan but the U.S., “which it continuously seeks to target for terrorist activity.” Similar to other terror groups like the Haqqani network, al Qaeda, and Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, ISIS-K has sanctuaries on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, making it particularly difficult to counter. Like the Taliban, ISIS-K seeks to stage high-profile terrorist attacks, according to the report. One such attack occurred on April 20, when ISIS-K operatives attacked Afghanistan's ministry of communications in the capital of Kabul, killing 16 civilians and six Afghan security forces members.”

Military Times: Pentagon: ‘Robust’ Counter-Terrorism Efforts In Afghanistan Must Continue — Even If Peace Deal Is Reached

“The Pentagon is warning that a “robust” counter-terrorism capability must remain in Afghanistan against groups including al-Qaida, even if a peace deal with the Taliban is secured. According to a Pentagon report released Friday, the Afghan government, the U.S. and coalition partners will continue to face risks from al-Qaida, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria-Khorasan Province, as well as from some in the Taliban. “Even if a successful political settlement with the Taliban emerges from ongoing talks, AQ, ISIS-K, and some unknown number of Taliban hardliners will constitute a substantial threat to the Afghan government and its citizens, as well as to the United States and its coalition partners,” the report says. “This enduring terrorist threat will require the United States, the international community, and the [Afghan National Defense and Security Forces] ANDSF to maintain a robust [counter-terrorism] CT capability for the foreseeable future,” the report says. The Pentagon’s assessment coincides with recent comments made by U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad, who touted recent progress made during peace negotiations this month in Doha, Qatar.”

Xinhua: Civilian, 22 Militants Killed In E. Afghan Counter-Terrorism Operation

“One child and 22 militants were killed following a counter-terrorism operation in Afghanistan's eastern Logar province overnight, Afghan Ministry of Interior Affairs confirmed on Tuesday. “Special Operation Forces of Afghan National Police launched a counter-terrorism operation in Kamalkhil village, Mohammad Agha district, Logar province last night, killing 22 Taliban insurgents,” the ministry said in a statement. Airstrikes were also conducted against the Taliban positions during the raid, the statement said. The ministry also confirmed that a child was killed and a woman was injured after a Taliban heavy weapon shelling struck a house in the village. Meantime, local villagers claimed that five civilians were killed and 11 other non-combatants were wounded following an airstrike in Kamalkhil village Monday night. Afghan observers had in the past stressed civilian casualties during military operations undermine the war against Taliban and other terrorist groups.”

Saudi Arabia

Reuters: Saudi-Led Coalition Intercepts Houthi Drones Targeting Abha And Jizan Airports

“The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen intercepted and downed three drones launched by the Iran-aligned Houthi movement towards the southwestern Saudi cities of Jizan and Abha, state TV reported on Tuesday. Earlier the Houthis’ Al Masirah TV quoted a Houthi military spokesman as saying the group had carried out drone attacks targeting the King Khalid air base near the southwestern Saudi city of Khamis Mushait and drone hangars at Jizan airport. “The Houthi militias continue targeting civilians and civilian airports in Abha, Jizan and Najran and continue to threaten regional and international security,” the coalition spokesman, Colonel Turki al-Malki, said in a statement. The coalition had said earlier it also downed two drones in Yemeni airspace that had been launched towards Jizan.”


Asharq Al-Awsat: Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood Is Source Of World’s Extremist Organizations

“Egypt said all takfiri groups stem from the same extremist ideological source established by the Muslim Brotherhood organization, stressing the need to continue efforts to address terrorism in all its forms. Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez made this stance at a meeting of the liaison strategy group of the Global Coalition against ISIS in Washington. He said victories over ISIS should not be considered a final goal, adding that the only way to eliminate terrorism lies in adopting a unified international approach on an all-out confrontation of terrorist groups, their ideology and activities. Hafez cited the initiative launched by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to renew religious discourse, praising the role played by the al-Azhar and Dar al-Iftaa to counter terrorism. He stressed that Egypt will continue to support the liaison strategy group based on its experience in combating terrorism, highlighting the role played by its religious institutions in correcting misconceptions about religion and promoting moderate Islam. An international study by Center on Religion and Geopolitics in Britain noted that 50 percent of extremists have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood or related organizations.”


Al Jazeera: 'No Military Solution': World Powers Urge Libya De-Escalation

“France, Britain, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the United States and Italy have called for an immediate end of hostilities around the Libyan capital, Tripoli, and warned that “terrorist groups” are attempting to exploit the country's security vacuum. In a rare joint statement issued on Tuesday, the six countries urged Libya's warring parties to return to a United Nations-mediated political process aimed at restoring peace in the sprawling North African state. “There can be no military solution in Libya,” the statement said. “Persistent violence has claimed nearly 1,100 lives, displaced more than 100,000, and fueled a growing humanitarian emergency,” it added. Renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar's Libya National Army (LNA) has been battling rival militias since April in a bid to wrestle control of Tripoli from Libya's internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA). The LNA's push on the capital has not advanced beyond Tripoli's southern suburbs but has nonetheless further destabilised oil-rich Libya, which has been mired in chaos since the NATO-backed toppling of longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, and split into rival eastern and western administrations since 2014.”


All Africa: Somalia: Anger Over Al-Shabaab Attack

“There is shock and outrage at the recent terrorist attack that claimed the lives of at least 26 people, including a United Nations (UN) aid worker, in Somalia. In addition to those killed, an estimated 40 people were injured in the siege on a hotel in the port city of Kismayo, where a high-level political meeting was held to discuss pending regional elections. Al-Shabab, the Islamist group has claimed the attack, described as its worst in Kismayo since the group was forced out in 2012. The assault on the hotel lasted for about 14 hours. It started when a suicide bomber rammed a car containing explosives into the hotel compound. Gunmen then stormed the building. Abdifatah Mohamed, an aid worker with UN's International Organisation for Migration (IOM), was among those killed. Prominent local journalist, Hodan Nalayeh, and her husband Farid, together with local politicians, Kenyans, Tanzanians, Americans a Briton and a Canadian were also killed in the attack. “Our deepest sympathies go to them,” IOM director-general António Vitorino, said. Al-Shabaab has carried out multiple attacks in Somalia since its formation in 2006.”

Allafrica: Somalia: Roadside Bomb Hits Ethiopian Military Convoy In Somalia

“A bomb has ripped through a military convoy carrying Ethiopian troops serving under African Union Mission in Somalia [AMISOM] in Hiran province, killing and wounding at least 20 people. In a statement, the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it targeted Ethiopian army convoy at Halgan village, located on the outskirts of Beledweyne city. The explosion which resulted from a landmine comes amid increased military operations against Al-Shabab in parts of Somalia as the Federal Government is trying to regain full control of the country. Despite losing large swathes of territory, Al-Shabab continues to attack government-controlled areas, mainly Mogadishu, the Somali capital, where car bombings and assassinations have been on the rise for the past few months.”


Reuters: Two Leaders Of Malian Al Qaeda Affiliate Put On U.S. Terrorism List

“The United States added two leaders of al Qaeda’s affiliate in Mali to its global terrorism list on Tuesday, accusing them of engaging in destabilizing attacks across the West African country, the U.S. Treasury said.  Ali Maychou and Bah Ag Moussa, both leaders of Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin, were designated by the U.S. Treasury as global terrorists and placed on a list of people whose assets in the United States can be blocked, the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control said. ”Treasury is targeting the leadership of JNIM, al Qaeda’s branch in Mali, for its destabilizing role conducting terrorist attacks across the country,” Treasury Undersecretary Sigal Mandelker said in a statement. “As a leader within JNIM, Bah Ag Moussa directly contributes to the violence and instability fueled by al Qaeda’s terrorism.” The Treasury said it added Moussa to its sanctions list because he had acted on behalf of JNIM and its leader, Iyad ag Ghali. Both JNIM and Ghali were added to the sanctions list previously. Moussa, a former Malian army colonel, led an operation in March against the Malian Armed Forces base in Dioura that killed at least 21 Malian soldiers.”

All Africa: Somalia: Kenya Says 3 Militants Killed, 2 Officers Wounded In Attack

“Kenya police say three suspected extremists were killed by border police whose vehicle was blown up by an improvised bomb. A senior police official detailed the attack to The Associated Press but insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with media. He said the Monday evening explosion injured two officers in the southern Kiunga area near the Somali border, and the explosives are believed to have been planted by al-Shabab extremists from Somalia who were targeting security units. He also said the militants hid in the bushes around the area where the bomb went off and then ambushed the Toyota Land Cruiser. Al-Shabab has vowed retribution on Kenya for fighting the militants who are attempting to topple Somalia's weak U.N.-backed government.”

The Defense Post: Seven Niger Tuareg Leaders Killed By Islamic State Since April

“Islamic State insurgents have killed seven leaders of the Tuareg ethnic group in southwestern Niger in less than three months, as part of a strategy to create a political void in the region, officials said on Tuesday, July 16. Three traditional Tuareg chiefs and four senior Tuareg officials have been killed since late April by Islamic State in the Greater Sahara in the volatile region of Niger on the Mali border, they said. Arrisal Amdagh, a Tuareg chief in the rural district of Inates, was shot dead at his home in late April, and his son Almoubacher Ag Alamjadi, who succeeded him, was killed on Monday, a Niger security source said. Their deaths were confirmed to AFP by Defence Minister Kalla Moutari on Tuesday. Four senior members of the tribe were killed by a roadside bomb as they were heading to the father’s funeral, their relatives said last month. In a separate incident in June, a traditional Tuareg leader in Bankilare district was kidnapped and killed, a local source said. “The ISGS strategy is to kill traditional chiefs in the border areas,” a security source told AFP. “It’s a way of voiding the area of aneffective state presence, enabling you to move in and impose your law.” One of the world’s poorest countries, Niger lies in the heart of the fragile Sahel region.”

North Korea

The New York Times: North Korea Hints At More Nuclear Tests Unless U.S. Ends Troop Drills With South

“Only 16 days after President Trump set foot in North Korea to try to restart nuclear talks with its leader, North Korea on Tuesday escalated its pressure on the United States to cancel a planned joint military drill with South Korea, warning that it could scuttle efforts to resume dialogue with Washington and even prompt the North to resume nuclear and long-range missile tests. The vaguely worded threats were contained in two separate statements from the North Korean Foreign Ministry on Tuesday that complained about the military drill, called 19-2 Dong Maeng. The North said the planned exercise undermined a mood for dialogue created when its leader, Kim Jong-un, met with Mr. Trump at Panmunjom, a village on the inter-Korean border, on June 30. In the hurriedly arranged meeting, the two leaders agreed to restart working-level talks on the terms of denuclearizing North Korea.”

United Kingdom

The Guardian: London Bridge Attack: Police Lawfully Killed Terrorists, Inquest Finds

“The three terrorists whose rampage left eight people dead at London Bridge were lawfully shot dead by armed police officers after they ignored clear warning shouts, an inquest jury has found. During the June 2017 attack the men first ran over pedestrians on London Bridge, then stabbed Saturday night revellers in 10 minutes of carnage. It ended only after armed officers who rushed to the scene confronted them in Borough Market, only for the three attackers to charge at them clutching 12-inch knives. Dramatic video shows armed officers firing, in one case from only 60 centimetres away. They shot the ringleader, Khuram Butt, and his accomplices, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba, all of whom lived in east London. Firing continued after the attackers had been shot because they were wearing what appeared to be explosive belts, and officers feared their movement showed they were still trying to detonate them. In all, police fired 46 shots at the terrorists to end the UK’s first “marauding” attack, where perpetrators run through a crowded area. The explosive belts turned out to be fakes, made up of plastic canisters. At least six bullets struck both Butt, 27, and Redouane, 30. Zaghba, 22, was hit by at least two bullets.”

The Daily Mail: Ex-Uber Driver, 28, Is Accused Of Planning ISIS-Inspired Firearms Attack On UK

“A former Uber driver and his sister have appeared in court accused of plotting a terror attack and failing to disclose information. Mohiussunnath Chowdhury, 28, is accused of accused of preparing acts of terrorism and his sister Sneha Chowdhury, 25, is accused of failing to disclose information. The pair were arrested following a vehicle stop in Luton on July 3 as part of an investigation by the Scotland Yard's Counter-Terrorism Command. It is alleged that between January 12 and July 3 this year, Mohiussunnath booked a firearms training course, requested and selected a firearm and researched potential attack targets and asked another person to do the same. It is also alleged that he undertook weight and fitness training, martial arts training and purchased and trained with wooden training swords called bokkens. Mohiussunnath, a university drop out and former Amazon delivery driver and Uber driver, is charged under the Terrorism Act 2006. He also allegedly disseminated a terrorist video called 'The Establishment of the Islamic State Pt 6' on March 19 this year, also contrary to the Terrorism Act 2006. A third charge accuses him of possession of an ISIS instructional manual called 'Guidelines for doing just terror operations' on July 3 this year.”


France 24: Norway Arrests Iraqi Preacher Convicted In Italy For 'Terrorism'

“Norway has arrested controversial Iraqi Kurdish fundamentalist preacher Mullah Krekar after he was convicted in Italy of “terrorist” conspiracy, the PST intelligence service said Tuesday. A refugee in Norway since 1991, 63-year-old Krekar -- whose real name is Najumuddin Ahmad Faraj -- is accused by Italy of leading the Rawti Shax, a network with alleged links to the Islamic State group and which is suspected of planning attacks in the West. In his absence, a court in Bolzano in northern Italy sentenced him Monday to 12 years' imprisonment on a charge of “terrorist conspiracy”. It also sentenced five co-accused. “The PST, with the assistance of Oslo police, arrested Mullah Krekar on Monday evening under an international search warrant and an Italian arrest warrant,” the agency said on Twitter. Krekar must appear in court on Wednesday to be placed in provisional detention. “He has no connection with IS,” his Norwegian lawyer Brynjar Meling told AFP after the court ruling. “His only goal is to come back to Kurdistan in Iraq and be able to (be a) politician there, set up a political party he wants to establish in Iraq as a free man”. Considered a threat to national security and featuring on UN and US terror lists, Krekar has been at risk of deportation since 2003.” 


CNBC: Facebook Tells Congress It Shouldn’t Be Broken Up Because Instagram And Whatsapp Have Thrived

“Instagram and WhatsApp have had a greater chance to thrive as part of Facebook than they would have on their own, a company representative plans to tell lawmakers at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on online platforms’ market power Tuesday. Representatives from Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple will testify before lawmakers at 3 p.m. ET about the impact of large online platforms on American innovation. The hearing comes as U.S. antitrust regulators have reportedly been eyeing the four tech giants, dividing oversight power between the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission. In his prepared remarks released prior to Tuesday’s hearing, Facebook director of public policy Matt Perault plans to testify that its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp have benefited both companies and their users. “Instagram and WhatsApp have had more opportunity to innovate as part of Facebook than they would have on their own — enhancing users’ experience and resulting in more choice for more people overall, not less,” Perault said in his prepared statement.”

The Hill: Senators Unload On Facebook Cryptocurrency At Hearing

“Facebook on Tuesday sought to defend its plans for a new global cryptocurrency at a contentious hearing as lawmakers aggressively blasted the project and questioned whether the embattled company should be in charge of launching such an ambitious venture. David Marcus, head of Calibra — the new Facebook subsidiary that will be partially responsible for launching the cryptocurrency — assured lawmakers that the Libra coin will not launch until financial regulators are satisfied. But Marcus’s testimony did little to quell concerns from bipartisan lawmakers on the Senate Banking Committee, many of whom delivered blistering condemnations of the company’s plans.”

The New York Times: ‘I Don’t Trust You Guys’: Lawmakers Unite To Take Aim At Big Tech

“Lawmakers leveled stinging criticism and sharp questions at Big Tech executives on Tuesday, attacking Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google for their market power, their perceived bias as gatekeepers of communication and Facebook’s ambitions to reshape the financial industry. The criticisms came at three hearings on Capitol Hill that showcased Washington’s widening range of concerns with Silicon Valley. Lawmakers from both parties, including Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas who oversees a subcommittee on the Constitution, and Representative David N. Cicilline, Democrat of Rhode Island who leads a subcommittee on antitrust law, took aim at the businesses. The executives acknowledged that technology had changed, and sometimes hurt, companies in industries like retailing, advertising, music and movies. But their companies, they said, have opened new opportunities to millions of entrepreneurs and small businesses. They insisted they faced competitors at every turn — entrenched big companies, ascendant start-ups and each other.”