Eye on Extremism: July 2

Fox News: US Airstrike Kills Al Qaeda Fighters ‘Plotting External Attacks’ Against American Citizens: Military

“A U.S. military airstrike Sunday struck an Al Qaeda leadership and training facility in northern Syria where militants were “plotting external attacks” against American citizens, officials said. The U.S. Central Command said Monday in a statement the strike occurred near the northern province of Aleppo. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition-linked war monitor, said Monday the strike killed eight members of the Al Qaeda-linked Horas al-Din, which is Arabic for “Guardians of Religion.” The Observatory said the dead included six commanders: two Algerians, two Tunisians, an Egyptian and a Syrian. Al Qaeda-linked militants control wide swaths of northern Syria, mostly in Idlib province, the last major rebel stronghold in the war-torn country. U.S. military officials said northern Syria remains a “safe haven” for Al Qaeda leaders actively coordinating terrorist attacks.  “With our allies and partners, we will continue to target [ISIS] and Al Qaeda to prevent both groups from using Syria as a safe haven,” the statement said. It’s been more than two years since the U.S. military struck al Qaeda fighters inside Syria.”

CNN: Six Killed, 51 Schoolchildren Injured In Taliban Attack On Kabul

“At least six people were killed and 116 more were wounded during a Taliban attack in the Afghan capital of Kabul, authorities said Monday.  The Taliban targeted the Afghan Ministry of Defense logistics center at around 8:55 a.m. local time with a car bomb followed by a ground assault, Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said. Officials said 51 schoolchildren were among the injured. Five schools were damaged in the attack, an Education Ministry spokesman said.  Security forces waged an eight-hour gun battle with insurgents before the attack was neutralized. All five of the fighters who had attacked the logistics center were killed, Rahimi said. The logistics center is in an area that houses a number of government offices and a local TV station.  The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in Kabul, which took place just days after a new round of peace talks with the US got underway in Qatar.  The conflict has spanned some 18 years and three US administrations, and has cost more than 2,400 American lives and billions of US dollars.  More Afghan civilians were killed in the conflict in 2018 than at any time since the United Nations began keeping records in 2009, according to a UN report released in February. The report said 3,804 people died in 2018, including 927 children.”

Deutsche Welle: Yemen: Houthi Rebels Attack Saudi Airport With Drone

“Yemen-based Houthi rebels have launched their third attack in three weeks on Abha international airport in southern Saudi Arabia. The Saudis say they will intensify air raids on rebel positions. Nine people were reported injured on Tuesday after Houthi rebels launched a drone attack on a civilian airport in southern Saudi Arabia near the border with Yemen, Saudi officials said. According to Turki al-Maliki, a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting Houthis since 2015, all of those injured in the attack were civilians and are currently in hospital in a stable condition. Among the injured were eight Saudis and one Indian passport-holder. The attack took place at around 12:30 a.m. local time (2130 UTC/GMT). Yemen-based Houthi fighters have recently launched a string of missile and drone attacks on Saudi territory. It is the latest flare-up in an ongoing power struggle between the rebels, who are supported by Iran, and the Saudi-backed Yemeni government. The Houthis took over Yemen's capital Sanaa and other areas of the country in 2014.”

CNN: Iran Could Benefit From Terrorist Proxies In A War With US

“As tensions between Washington and Tehran continue to escalate to the point of a possible confrontation between military forces, current and former US national security officials remain focused on the potential threat posed by proxy groups affiliated with Iran should war break out between the two nations. Last month, the New York Times reported the White House had set in motion an attack on Iranian military assets in response to Tehran's downing of a US surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz, but President Donald Trump reportedly called it off. Following what appeared to be a step back from the brink of war, Trump again ratcheted up his use of heated rhetoric by indicating an Iranian attack on US interests would be met with “obliteration.” His threat came in response to a caustic remark by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who described the White House as being “inflicted by mental retardation.” On Monday, Trump continued his bellicose language, telling reporters that Tehran was “playing with fire” after reports surfaced that the Iranian regime had exceeded the amount of enriched uranium permitted under a 2015 global nuclear deal.   Shawna Pandya is a Citizen Astronaut Candidate who has spent her own time in pushing her boundaries and abilities to step in confidence to other worlds. Content by Land Rover.”

The Jerusalem Post: Hamas Member Details Long History Of Iranian Financial, Political Support

“Hamza Abu Shanab, a Gaza-based political analyst detailed Iran's long history of support for the organization in the Gaza Strip in the Hamas-run newspaper Al-Resalah on Monday. ”Since its inception, the Iranian Islamic Revolution has been building a special relationship with the parties of the Palestinian revolution,” wrote Shanab, who, according to the New York Times, is close to Hamas.  The analyst stressed that, despite a cooling off in the relations between the Islamic Republic and the Palestinians, Iran is now the only country that provides military support to the Palestinian resistance. Shanab also highlighted the Islamic Republic's support for the Islamic Jihad movement since its establishment in the early 1980s and the special relationship between Iran and the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas since its creation in the late 1980s. In the article, Shanab split Iranian support for Palestinians into categories: Political, military, financial, support for Palestinian media and social aid. Politically, Iran supports the Palestinians by not recognizing the State of Israel and by rejecting peaceful solutions, including the two-state solution, according to Shanab.”

The Guardian: It’s Not That We’ve Failed To Rein In Facebook And Google. We’ve Not Even Tried

“In a BBC interview last week, Facebook’s vice-president, Nick Clegg, surprised viewers by calling for new “rules of the road” on privacy, data collection and other company practices that have attracted heavy criticism during the past year. “It’s not for private companies … to come up with those rules,” he insisted. “It is for democratic politicians in the democratic world to do so.” Facebook’s response would be to adopt a “mature role”, not “shunning” but “advocating” the new rules. For a company that has fiercely resisted new laws, Clegg’s message aimed to persuade us that the page had turned. Yet his remarks sounded like Newspeak, as if to obscure ugly facts. A few weeks earlier Facebook’s chiefs, Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, snubbed a subpoena from the Canadian parliament to appear for questioning. Clegg then showcased Silicon Valley’s standard defence against the rule of law – warning that any restrictions resulting from “tech-lash” risked making it “almost impossible for tech to innovate properly”, and summoning the spectre of Chinese ascendance. “I can predict that … we will have tech domination from a country with wholly different sets of values.”

United States

Reuters: Trump Says He Is Worried About Terrorist Attacks If U.S. Troops Leave Afghanistan

“President Donald Trump said he wants to pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan but is concerned that without an American military presence, the country could be used as a base for terrorist attacks on the United States. In an interview on Fox News broadcast on Monday, Trump said the problem with pulling the 9,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan, the site of America’s longest war, is that the country is a “lab for terrorists.”  “I call it the Harvard of terrorists,” Trump said.  He recounted conversations he had with U.S. military officials telling them of his desire to remove troops. He said they warned him it would be better to fight terrorists in Afghanistan than at home.   “‘Sir, I’d rather attack them over there, then attack them in our land,’” Trump said a general had told him. “It’s something you always have to think about,” Trump said.  Even if the United States did remove its troops, Trump said, it would leave a “very strong intelligence” presence in Afghanistan.  The interview with Trump was taped over the weekend, prior to Monday’s truck bomb attack by Taliban Islamist fighters that killed six people and wounded 105 in Kabul.  U.S. special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad held a seventh round of peace talks on Monday with the Taliban in Qatar, aimed at bringing the 18-year-old war to an end.”

The Hill: UN Loophole On Terror Financing Is An Urgent Wake-Up Call: The World Deserves Answers

“The Wall Street Journal recently reported that blacklisted al Qaeda and Islamic State terrorists and their supporters are able to tap their bank accounts despite a U.N. asset freeze. According to the WSJ, amongst those who had banking facilities was Khalifa al-Subaiy, a Qatari financier who the U.S. says long provided financial support to senior al Qaeda leadership, including Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The WSJ said that documents it reviewed showed al-Subaiy had an account with Qatar National Bank. The WSJ attributed this to what it called “loopholes” in United Nations sanctions procedures. The revelations in the WSJ should serve as a wake-up to Europe and the rest of the civilized world. For someone to make it to the UN sanctions list is not an easy achievement. Al-Subaiy is someone well known to the authorities, including, supposedly, banks. He was associated with the most dangerous of terrorists, responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks, that changed the face of the world. As he is on the UN sanctions list, he is not the sort of person who can be given the benefit of the doubt and certainly not the sort of person who deserves leniency. Affording al-Subaiy banking facilities is a collective failure of all those involved.”


The Wall Street Journal: Iran’s Nuclear Breakout

“Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Monday that Iran is deliberately violating the 2015 nuclear Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Europe now has to decide whether to tolerate this nuclear breakout or join the U.S. in pressuring Tehran to renegotiate. The nuclear deal allowed Iran to store 300 kilograms of uranium, which it could enrich up to 3.67% concentration. Mr. Zarif said in an interview that the country now exceeds the storage limit. Tehran threatened this breakout if Europe didn’t do enough to circumvent U.S. sanctions, and now it’s daring the West to do something to stop it. This is Tehran’s latest attempt to intimidate the world since the Trump Administration withdrew from the deal 14 months ago. That withdrawal was prompted by the deal’s many flaws, including sunset clauses after which Tehran could sprint to the bomb. The agreement also failed to cover Iran’s imperialism and terror promotion in the Middle East, as well as its ballistic-missile program.”

The Wall Street Journal: How Close Is Iran To Developing Its Own Nuclear Weapons?

“Iran announced Monday it had breached one of the key limits in the 2015 nuclear agreement by stockpiling more than 300 kilograms of enriched uranium. Is this step serious? Iran’s decision is its first clear, intentional violation of the accord. But for now, it is only a small step toward having enough fuel for a nuclear weapon. Before the 2015 agreement, Iran had amassed 11,560 kilograms of low-purity uranium. The 300-kilogram cap was imposed to ensure it would take Iran many months to rebuild its stockpile to worrying levels. What would Iran need to do to grow its stockpile of uranium to a dangerous level? The 2015 deal was structured to make sure that Iran would take a year to amass enough material for a weapon if it chose to break the accord. It would need to deploy thousands of additional centrifuges to produce the highly enriched uranium used in weapons. Iran’s current stockpile of enriched uranium has a purity level of 3.67%, whereas weapons-grade material has a purity level of 90%.”

Associated Press: France Urges Iran To Reverse Breach Of Nuclear Deal

“France’s president is urging Iran to immediately reduce its stockpiles of low-enriched uranium and stick to the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Emmanuel Macron said in a statement Tuesday that he “took note with concern” of Iran’s announcement that it has surpassed the limit of 300 kilograms (661 pounds) of low-enriched uranium laid out in the accord. Macron asked Iran also abstain from any other steps that would threaten the deal, which promised to lift trade sanctions in exchange for curbing Iran’s atomic program. France strongly opposed President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the deal and impose new sanctions on Iran. Macron said France will try to make sure Iran honors its commitments, as well as receives the “economic advantages of the accord.”

The New York Times: To Evade Sanctions On Iran, Ships Vanish In Plain Sight

“A week ago, a small tanker ship approached the Persian Gulf after a 19-day voyage from China. The captain, as required by international rules, reported the ship’s position, course, speed and another key detail: It was riding high in the water, meaning it was probably empty. Then the Chinese-owned ship, the Sino Energy 1, went silent and essentially vanished from the grid. It reported in again on Sunday, near the spot where it had vanished six days earlier, only now it was heading east, away from the Strait of Hormuz near Iran. If past patterns hold, the captain will soon report that it is riding low in the water, meaning its tanks are likely full. As the Trump administration’s sanctions on Iranian oil and petrochemical products have taken hold, some of the world’s shipping fleets have defied the restrictions by “going dark” when they pick up cargo in Iranian ports, according to commercial analysts who track shipping data and intelligence from authorities in Israel, a country that backs the Trump crackdown.”

Foreign Policy: Iran-Linked Hackers Said To Be Ready For Attacks On U.S. Targets

“Amid an intensifying standoff between Washington and Tehran, hackers linked to Iran have in recent weeks stepped up their operations in cyberspace in what appear to be preparations for possible attacks on U.S. businesses, according to American security firms and government officials. The increased Iranian activity in cyberspace comes as Tehran announced on Monday that its stockpiles of low-enriched uranium have exceeded limits established in the 2015 nuclear agreement inked by Iran and world powers. The announcement sets the stage for renewed confrontation between Iran and the United States, which may well play out online as Washington and Tehran attempt to inflict pain on one another.”

The New York Times: Mossad Chief Bluntly Blames Iran For Tanker Attacks

“The head of Israel’s intelligence service said flatly on Monday that Iran was directly responsible for the repeated attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, along with other targets in Saudi Arabia and Iraq, that have raised tensions in the Middle East. “They are a single campaign initiated by a single party,” Yossi Cohen, the chief of the Mossad, said in a speech at a conference on national security at the Interdisciplinary Center, a college in Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv. He did not provide any evidence to support his claim or explain how the Israeli authorities had come to that conclusion. “I can say to you with certainty, from the best sources of Israeli and Western intelligence, that Iran is behind these attacks,” Mr. Cohen said. “They were authorized by the Iranian government leadership” and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its various branches.”


The New York Times: Iraqi Prime Minister Tries To Rein In Militias, And Their Grip On Economy

“Iraq’s prime minister issued an order on Monday to rein in armed groups known as popular mobilization forces in an effort to curtail their growing influence over some of the economy and their control of checkpoints in some provinces. Because some of the armed groups have ties to Iran, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has been under pressure to move against them from the United States and some Arab countries that fear Iranian influence in Iraq. In March 2018, Mr. Mahdi’s predecessor, Haider al-Abadi, tried to chip away at the militias’ independence by formally making them part of the country’s security forces. But they have remained largely independent. Mr. Mahdi’s decree restated Mr. al-Abadi’s order and went further by ordering the militias to leave their local military headquarters and shut down their so-called economic offices. It is uncertain how Mr. Mahdi plans to enforce the order, or even whether he can. He has set a tight deadline for the militias to comply: July 31. The decree was welcomed by many of the popular mobilization groups, including some of the largest and most powerful. The Peace Brigades, which are attached to Moktada al-Sadr, the influential Shiite cleric, said they were already putting the new rules in place.”

Iraqi News: Iraqi Intelligence Kill Two Islamic State Jihadists In Mosul

“Iraqi military intelligence forces killed on Monday two Islamic State terrorists during a military operation in Mosul city. In a press statement, the Iraqi Military Intelligence Directorate said that its troops have stormed a terrorist hotbed of the Islamic State terrorist group in al Baaj district, west of Mosul. The troops killed two IS terrorists and found two motorbikes, two firearms and an explosive belt inside the pair’s hotbed. The operation was launched based on intelligence reports, the statement read. Former Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi announced in July 2017 liberation of the second largest Iraqi city of Mosul from IS militants, who had captured it in 2014. More than 25,000 militants were killed throughout the campaign, which started in October 2016. The campaign was backed by paramilitary troops and a U.S.-led international coalition. Iraq declared the collapse of Islamic State’s territorial influence in Iraq 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.”


France 24: Taliban, Afghan Rivals To Meet Sunday In Qatar: US, Germany

“Rival Afghans including the Taliban will meet starting Sunday in Qatar in a fresh attempt to seek a political solution and end nearly two decades of US military involvement, American and German officials announced. The Taliban have refused to negotiate with President Ashraf Ghani and a previous attempt to bring together the two sides in Doha in April collapsed in a dispute over attendees. Germany, a key player in international support for the post-Taliban government, and Qatar, which maintains contacts with the militants, said that they jointly extended invitations for a dialogue in Doha on Sunday and Monday. The Afghans “will participate only in their personal capacity and on an equal footing,” Markus Potzel, Germany's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said in a statement released Monday by the United States. “Afghanistan stands at a critical moment of opportunity for progress towards peace,” he said. “An essential component of any process leading to this objective will be direct engagement between Afghans,” he said. Zalmay Khalilzad, the US negotiator who has held seven rounds of talks with the Taliban, mostly in Qatar, said that the dialogue was an essential part of a peace deal.”


Xinhua: 3 Militants Killed In Police Raid On Planned Terror Attack In E. Pakistan

“Police in Gujrat district of Pakistan's east Punjab province foiled a terror plot on Monday by gunning down three alleged militants of a proscribed organization, local reports said. The Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of police raided a compound on an intelligence tip-off regarding presence of six suspected militants who were planning a terrorist attack in the province, local Urdu TV channel ARY News reported. Three militants were killed after a tough resistance, while their three accomplices managed to flee from the site. A search operation to nab the escaped militants has been kicked off. The killed terrorists were trained by Pakistani Taliban and were involved in various terrorist activities, including attacks on Pakistan Air Force base, Police Training School, and several attacks on check posts. Police recovered arms, ammunition and maps of sensitive buildings of the province from the militants' compound. Security forces have intensified operation against militants recently across the country. More than a dozen militants have been killed and arrested during various search operations over the last two weeks.”


Al Jazeera: Yemen's Houthis Attack Saudi's Abha Airport, Injuring Civilians

“A Yemeni rebel attack on a civilian airport in southern Saudi Arabia wounded nine civilians on Tuesday, a Riyadh-led coalition said, the latest in a series of attacks on the airport. "The terrorist attack on Abha airport  ... led to the injury of nine civilians, including eight Saudi citizens and one carrying an Indian passport," the military coalition said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency. Earlier, the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels said they "launched a wide operation aimed at warplanes at Abha international airport" with drones, according to their Almasirah television channel. Abha airport has come under repeated missile and drone attacks in the past several weeks. On June 12, a rebel missile attack on Abha airport wounded 26 civilians, drawing promises of "stern action" from the Saudi-Emirati coalition. And on June 23, another rebel attack on Abha airport killed a Syrian national and wounded 21 other civilians, according to the coalition.”

Saudi Arabia

Al Arabiya: Coalition: A Houthi Terrorist Attack Targets Saudi Arabia Abha Airport

“The Arab Coalition said that the Iranian-backed Houthi terrorist militia launched an attack targeting Saudi Arabia’s Abha International Airport on Tuesday at 12:35 am local time. The Arab coalition spokesman Col. Turki al-Maliki said in a statement that nine people were injured in the attack, and that all were in stable condition. On June 23, the Houthis launched a terrorist attack on Abha Airport, killing one and injuring seven others. The Arab Coalition said on Monday that it has intercepted and destroyed a drone launched by the Houthi militia from Sanaa targeting Saudi territories.”

Arab News: Saudi Border Guards Chief Calls For Global Action Plan To Combat Maritime Terrorism

“The head of the Saudi Border Guards has called for an international agreement to combat the growing threat of maritime terrorism. Opening a new training course in Jeddah on sea security, Gen. Awad bin Eid Al-Balawi said a global action plan was required in the wake of recent attacks on oil tankers and coastal installations in the region. The director general of the Border Guards recommended that the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the UN agency responsible for regulating shipping, should develop regional codes of conduct and work toward the adoption of an international convention to counter terror crimes which posed a serious threat to maritime transport and world economies. Under the patronage of the Kingdom’s Interior Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif, Al-Balawi spoke as he inaugurated the 10th international train-the-trainers course on combating threats in the maritime field, being attended by 25 delegates from 18 countries. Hosted by the Saudi Ministry of Interior, the course was being delivered in cooperation with the IMO at Mohammed bin Naif Academy for Maritime Science and Security Studies.”


Gulf News: ‘World Deserves Answers From Qatar On Terror Financing’

“A member of France’s Senate, who led a commission investigating extremist networks in Europe and wrote a report for Nato on the financing of terrorism, has criticised Qatar for enabling terror financiers to use its banking system to carry out their transactions. Writing in The Hill, Nathalie Goulet took as example the case of Khalifa Al Subaiy, a Qatari financier who the US says long provided financial support to senior Al Qaida leadership, including 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammad. She pointed to a report in the Wall Street Journal that claimed Al Subaiy had an account with Qatar National Bank. The WSJ attributed this to what it called “loopholes” in United Nations sanctions procedures. “Affording Al Subaiy banking facilities is a collective failure of all those involved. The United Nations’ ability to enforce its own sanctions list is very much under the spot light. In addition, Qatar needs to explain to the world why it has allowed such a dangerous person to continue having banking services,” Goulet noted.”

Middle East

Foreign Affairs: How To Win Friends And Wage Jihad

“In its 2018 National Defense Strategy, the Trump administration announced that “inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism,” is the United States’ main national security challenge. The world’s oldest global jihadist group, al Qaeda, seems to have similar priorities. Although the group has not produced a strategic document on the matter, the activities of its affiliates suggest that it sees state-to-state conflict as critical to its near-term success. Al Qaeda’s focus is partly the product of circumstance. Interstate competition is increasing across the Middle East. The U.S.-Iranian conflict has heated up under U.S. President Donald Trump, as has the rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia, with both countries courting client states, engaging in proxy wars, and routinely threatening escalation. The competition between Iran and Israel perpetually risks blowing up, both figuratively and literally. Stay informed. And Iran is not the only focus of regional interstate conflict. In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, along with Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), severed relations with Qatar and placed it under a land, sea, and air blockade. The spat appears to be a product of long-simmering tensions between Qatar and the Saudi-led bloc over Doha’s sponsorship of Islamist political parties and rebel groups during and after the Arab Spring.”

The Jerusalem Post: Jewish Experience Of Genocide Helps Heal Victims Of Isis

“Israel is among the best places for victims of genocide to see how Jews have processed the trauma of the past, says Mirza Dinnayi, head of a German humanitarian organization that treats Iraqi children and terror victims. He is part of a group that came to Israel this month to support victims of the Yazidi genocide. The shuk in Jerusalem is always a bustling mosaic of people on a Friday. In late June, however, it hosted a group of Iraqis who had survived the depredations of Islamic State. It was a unique gathering, and the clanging of the shops and bustle of people helped distract the survivors from difficulties they have faced over the years.”

The National Interest: Al-Qaeda Is Back And Stronger Than Ever

“Al-Qaida has recruited an estimated 40,000 fighters since Sept. 11, 2001, when the Osama bin Laden-led extremist group attacked the United States, according to the not-for-profit Council on Foreign Relations. Despite a United States-led global “war on terror” that has cost US$5.9 trillion, killed an estimated 480,000 to 507,000 people and assassinated bin Laden, al-Qaida has grown and spread since 9/11, expanding from rural Afghanistan into North Africa, East Africa, the Sahel, the Gulf States, the Middle East and Central Asia. In those places, al-Qaida has developed new political influence – in some areas even supplanting the local government. So how does a religious extremist group with fewer than a hundred members in September 2001 become a transnational terror organization, even as the world’s biggest military has targeted it for elimination? According to my dissertation research on the resiliency of al-Qaida and the work of other scholars, the U.S. “war on terror” was the catalyst for al-Qaida’s growth. Al-Qaida was founded in Afghanistan in 1988 in response to the Soviet invasion of that country.”

9News: Locked And Loaded ISIS Ready To Pounce Again, Bleak Report Claims

“Islamic State is far from defeated and an anticipated "devastating" comeback could be worse than the bloody insurgency that launched its so-called caliphate, a new report has warned. The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War has painted a deeply disturbing picture of what may lie in store in Iraq and Syria, in sharp contrast to US President Donald Trump who claimed last December the group was defeated. According to the report, there are numerous pockets of well-armed, well-financed sleeper cells ready to launch waves of guerrilla attacks.”


ABC News: Militants Attack Post Office In Egypt's Sinai

“Egyptian officials say militants have stormed a post office in the northern Sinai Peninsula and seized around $6,000 in local currency. The officials say the attack took place Monday in al-Rouda village, where a 2017 militant assault on a mosque killed more than 300 people. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters. No group claimed responsibility for Monday's attack. Egypt has been battling Islamic militants for years, but the insurgency metastasized after the 2013 military ouster of an elected but divisive Islamist president."

Asharq Al-Awsat: Egypt Has Succeeded In Destroying Terror Infrastructure, Says Sisi

“Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said Sunday that his country has succeeded in destroying the infrastructure of terrorist organizations six years after the June 30 revolution that toppled former president Mohamed Morsi. The Muslim-Brotherhood affiliate was deposed on July 3, 2013, following widespread popular protests against his one-year rule. He died during his trial on June 17. In an address to the nation on the sixth anniversary of the June 30 revolt, Sisi said it wasn’t but a cry to express the patriotism of millions of Egyptians, which have been embraced by their country and their ancestors over the years. “The loyalty of Egyptians to their country and their rejection of any attempt to erase their national identity are facts that can’t be changed with time,” Sisi noted. He said that his people are loyal, and their belonging to their nation and identity marks a priority. “Masses of Egyptians in the June 30 Revolution marked a path for us to walk through,” Sisi said, noting that their priority is to protect and preserve the country and then improve it in order for Egypt to become a developed nation that provides next generations decent opportunities and a life that is compatible with the 21st century.”


Voice Of America: Libya Tensions Escalate After Tripoli Takes Key Strategic Town

“The day after the battle for the Libyan town of Gharyan, burnt-out cars were flipped on the side of the highway and only a few shop owners opened their doors to see if they could do business. Local farmers picked through bombs dropped from drones the night before. “This is the third bomb that dropped last night,” said Ossama, pointing to a broken shell outside a suburban compound Friday. “People are still afraid.” Last week's battle could be a turning point in the war surrounding the Libyan capital, Tripoli, which has largely been a bloody stalemate, according to soldiers fighting for Tripoli's western forces. Supply lines for the eastern forces that first attacked three months ago have now been cut, they say. Eastern forces have vowed to continue the fight, threatening both Tripoli forces and their international allies. On Monday, eastern forces threatened further airstrikes, including Tripoli's airport. For both sides, this not a just a battle for one city, it is a fight for the heart and future of Libya. If western forces win, Libya can remain divided and return to slowly making efforts to reunite through diplomacy and elections. If eastern forces win, it could usher in a new era for Libyan strongmen.”

Irish Examiner: Irish Fighters 'Travel To North Africa': Foreign Terrorist Fighters Go From Ireland To Libya Say EU Police Agency

“Foreign terrorist fighters have travelled from Ireland to North Africa, the EU police agency says. In its terrorism report for 2019, Europol said Ireland is one of three EU countries where authorities have identified people leaving to fight in the region, including in war-torn Libya. The agency said the number of European foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) travelling, or attempting to travel to Syria or Iraq in 2018 is very low, linked to the military defeat of IS there. But it said that jihadists unable to reach those countries may have been directed to IS branches or affiliates in other countries. While the numbers are small, it said people have travelled to places such as the Ukraine and the Philippines. Some countries have documented travel elsewhere. Ireland, Italy and the UK observed that a number of FTFs travelled to Libya/North Africa. The Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and branches of IS are strong in Libya, as well as neighbouring countries of Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt. The Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2019 said there is also a “high risk” that aspirant travellers, unable to join IS become frustrated and turn their focus to conducting attacks in their home countries. The threat level in Ireland remains at moderate, meaning that while an attack is possible, it is not considered likely.”


Premium Times: Analysis: 353 Killed, 60 Kidnapped In Violent Attacks Across Nigeria In June

“No fewer than 353 persons were killed in violent attacks across Nigeria in June, as insecurity continued to grip the nation. About 60 other persons were kidnapped for ransom across the country. Among the victims were at least 57 soldiers killed in attacks by the Boko Haram insurgents in Borno State. This analysis reviews PREMIUM TIMES‘ weekly tracking of the security challenges in Nigeria. All of the reported attacks were either confirmed by security operatives or relations of the victims. Borno State again recorded the highest number of victims of violent crimes in June. According to a PREMIUM TIMES analysis of reported attacks, at least 116 persons were killed in the state last month. Zamfara State followed closely with 94 deaths and 20 kidnap victims. Bandits also attacked Niger State, killing at least 70 people; while 25 persons were killed in Sokoto State. In Taraba, 13 persons were reported killed and one person kidnapped. In Oyo State, two persons, including the son of former Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole; were abducted. The minister’s son was released after a night with his kidnappers. No information was released on whether or not ransom was paid to free the former minister’s son.”


All Africa: Somalia: Troops Retake New Area From Al-Shabaab

“Somali government forces were reported to have retaken a key area in the country's Middle Shabelle region following a military operation against the militants-held positions. A senior military officer told Radio Shabelle by phone that the SNA troops backed by African Union peacekeepers rolled into Madah-Isse village, located in the outskirts of Jowhar, the region's administrative capital on Sunday. Al-Shabaab said its fighters retreated from the location after a brief confrontation with government soldiers moved from military bases in Qalimow town and Ceelka Geelow, all situated in the same region. In a separate incident, the militants attacked Bariire area, about 65 Kilometers southwest of Mogadishu, and engaged in a heavy gunfight with the Somali troops, according to local residents. There was no immediate confirmation of the casualties as a result of the attack and the prior takeover of the fresh village.”


The Independent: Morocco’s Forgotten Terror Attack

“Their screams must have carried for miles in the thin air of the Atlas Mountains, anguished sounds of a terrorist attack that no one was there to hear, see or stop. Maren Ueland, 28, and Louisa Jespersen, 24, Scandinavian students who revered the outdoors, were descending North Africa’s highest peak in December when they encountered four men searching for westerners to kill. The men waited until after nightfall, then approached the women’s tent with knives and misplaced hopes of becoming Islamist heroes. They attacked Ueland, a Norwegian, and her Danish friend, Jespersen, in their sleeping bags, stabbed them until their bodies went limp and severed their heads in a ghastly sequence recorded on a cellphone. The December 2018 attack, like so many in this age of mass killings and social media, was an act of senseless and performative violence. The killers, poor and uneducated, became absorbed in a violent Islamist universe they saw on the screens of their cellphones, then sought their own place in it. Their overriding aim was to impress the Isis, earn the status of soldiers in its apocalyptic struggle and see their own recording distributed across the group’s propaganda platforms. Reality didn’t follow that script."

All Africa: Tunisia: Terrorism In Tunisia - More Than Just Foreign Connections

“At 10:50 on Thursday 27 June, a suicide bomber attacked a police patrol in downtown Tunis. One officer was killed, while another officer and a bystander were injured. Less than 30 minutes later, 1.5 km away, another bomber attacked a counter-terrorism unit leaving their barracks to investigate the first blast. The explosion injured six officers, two critically. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for both attacks. The bombings, coming a day after the fourth anniversary of the terrorist attack on foreign tourists in Sousse where 38 died, underscore the ongoing complexity of Tunisia's security challenges. The state needs to avoid the temptation of doubling down and focusing on technical policing alone to combat terrorism. Instead, the whole of government should be mobilised to improve social, economic, governance and ideological conditions that drive radicalisation and threaten Tunisia's stability. Tunisia faces two distinct security challenges. The first involves small cells of individuals who staged recurrent low-level attacks in urban areas over the past few years, including a suicide bombing in Tunis last October and poisoned letters earlier this year.”


NPR: A German Politician's Assassination Prompts New Fears About Far-Right Violence

“The assassination last month in Germany of a popular pro-migrant politician has raised alarm about a growing threat of right-wing terrorism. It was the first political assassination in more than half a century, and it has shaken the country. Walter Lübcke, a 65-year-old member of the Christian Democratic Union and a staunch defender of Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door refugee policy, was shot in the head late at night on June 2 as he sat smoking on his terrace, according to German investigators. The confessed killer is an avowed neo-Nazi with a 20-plus-year history of violence against immigrants. But experts on extremism and some mainstream political leaders suggest the far-right, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany political party shares at least some of the blame. In recent German history, right-wing attacks have mostly targeted immigrants. The assassination of a prominent German politician is unprecedented, says Hajo Funke, a professor at the Free University of Berlin who studies right-wing extremism. “So coldblooded, so prepared, so decisive,” he says. “That kind of killing is a new step, and that is what, for me, is right-wing terror.”


The Sydney Morning Herald: 'Sworn Allegiance To ISIS': Sydney Men Arrested Over Foiled Terror Plot

“Two Sydney-based Islamic State members had reached out to contacts overseas to obtain weapons and explosives as part of a plot to carry out attacks on city churches, courts, police stations and defence locations, police allege. Counter terrorism police raided six homes in Sydney on Tuesday morning arresting 20-year-old Isaak el Matari and Radwan Dakkak, 23 over their connection to alleged plans for a terror attack. A third man, Ahmed Tebya, 30, was also arrested in Tuesday's raids. Police began their investigation into the men 12 months ago and allege they made threats about central Sydney locations on social media including messaging services WhatsApp and Telegram. Mr el Matari, who was arrested at his Greenacre home, had been under police surveillance since returning to Sydney from Lebanon 12 months ago. “We will allege in court that the man was in early-stage preparations and was someone who had expressed intentions to carry out a terrorist attack in Australia,” Australian Federal Police's national manager of counter terrorism Ian McCartney said . “Police station, defence establishments, embassies and consulates, courts and churches” were all potential targets,  he said. “This man had not moved to finalise his plans to finalise a terror attack.”


Deutsche Welle: Netherlands Probes 'Terrorist Motive' In Utrecht Shooting

“Dutch prosecutors on Monday said they are investigating a “terrorist motive” in a deadly tram shooting in Utrecht. The main suspect, Gokmen T., confessed to the shooting on Monday, saying: “I am not a suspect, I pleaded guilty to the crime.” Gokmen is suspected of boarding a tram and opening fire on passengers in March, killing four people and wounding two others. He was arrested shortly after the shooting. Prosecutors said they discovered a handwritten letter in an alleged getaway vehicle near the scene of the crime. “I'm doing this for my religion, you kill Muslims and you want to take our religion away from us, but you won't succeed. God is great,” the Dutch-language letter said. Authorities have been on high alert since a series of terrorist attacks targeted European capitals across the EU, including Paris, Brussels and Berlin. Several of them were claimed by the “Islamic State” militant group. Dutch prosecutors said that while the main suspect was a “difficult person” given his criminal past, they had yet to uncover clues to indicate he had previously considered a “terrible deed such as the one he is now suspected of.” Gokmen is due back in court later this month in a separate case stemming from rape charges. The Utrecht shooting trial is scheduled to start next year.”

Southeast Asia

The Sydney Morning Herald: Indonesia Arrests Suspected Leader Of Terror Group Jemaah Islamiyah

“Indonesian police have arrested a man believed to be the leader of the al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah network who has eluded capture since 2003, authorities say. National Police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said Para Wijayanto was arrested Saturday by counterterrorism police with his wife at a hotel in the Jakarta satellite city of Bekasi. Prasetyo said Wijayanto is suspected of being involved in the making of bombs used in a series of attacks, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people and a 2004 attack on the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia's capital, that killed nine. He said Wijayanto, a civil engineer who received military training at a jihadi camp in the southern Philippines in 2000, was also involved in the sectarian conflict in Poso, known as a hotbed of Islamic militancy on Indonesia's Sulawesi island. Since 2013, Wijayanto also has recruited and trained members of Jemaah Islamiyah's military wing, sending some to Syria to fight with extremist groups, according to Prasetyo. “He was appointed as amir [leader] of Jemaah Islamiyah because of his capability and track record as an Islamic fighter,” he said.”

Xinhua: Philippine Defense Chief Voices Concern Over Suicide Bombings In Philippines

“Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana voiced concern on Monday over the frequency of suicide bomb attacks in the Philippines. Lorenzana said the twin bombing attacks, committed in broad daylight at an army camp in Indanan, a town in Sulu province in the southern Philippines Friday last week, was “obviously a suicide bombing” and has raised the level of extremism in the Philippines.The twin attacks, carried out by two motorcycle riding suicide bombers, left seven killed, including three soldiers, and 22 others injured. Lorenzana said the incident was the third suicide attack in the Philippines. “This is the third one so it's becoming an occurrence and we are very much concerned about this,” he said. The first suicide bomb attack was recorded on July 31, 2018 when a powerful bomb exploded in a van the troops were inspecting at a military checkpoint in Lamitan, a city in the island province of Basilan. A soldier, five militiamen, four villagers and the driver of the van were killed in that incident. Lorenzana said at the time that the bomb-laden van driven by the lone Moroccan terror suspect was intended for a planned “feeding program” in the city's plaza that will be participated in by 4,000 children.”

Reuters: Indonesian Police Arrest Leader Of Network With Al-Qaeda Ties

“Indonesian police have arrested the leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah militant network linked to al-Qaeda, authorities said on Tuesday, on suspicion of recruiting members and sending them to Syria to train with extremist groups. Counter-terrorism police also arrested at least four other suspects linked to Para Wijayanto, who experts say was a student of Abu Bakar Bashir, the alleged mastermind of the 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people. Wijayanto, who had been on the run since 2003 and had trained with militants in the southern Philippines, was arrested with his wife on Saturday on the outskirts of Jakarta, the capital. Police said Wijayanto owned palm oil plantations on Sumatra and Borneo islands, which he used to pay some JI members up to 15 million rupiah ($1,061) a month. “That money was also used to recruit and send people to Syria,” national police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo told Reuters.”


The Washington Post: Man Charged With Online Threat To Lynch Muslim Candidate

“A North Carolina man has been charged with posting an anonymous threat on social media to lynch a Muslim-American candidate for a state Senate seat in Virginia. A warrant for the arrest of Joseph Cecil Vandevere, 52, of Black Mountain, was issued after his June 20 indictment, federal court records show. Federal authorities hadn’t yet arrested Vandevere as of Monday afternoon, according to Lia Bantavani, spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office for the western district of North Carolina. The indictment identifies the victim only by the initials “Q.R.,” but Virginia state Senate candidate Qasim Rashid posted a screenshot of the threatening tweet in March 2018 and flagged it for Twitter. Rashid also said he reported the threat to the FBI. Rashid, an attorney who works on immigrant rights cases and won a Democratic primary last month, told The Associated Press on Monday that he is pleased law enforcement officials are treating the tweet as an act of “extremism.” “I think this is how you protect free speech and a genuine exchange of ideas,” he said. The charge against Vandevere — interstate communication of a threat to injure a person — carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.”

BBC News: Facebook May Be 'Pivoting' To Something Worse

“Over the past few months, Mark Zuckerberg has spoken at length about his grand plan for fixing Facebook. In short, it involves “pivoting” - as they say - to a more private social network. One which focuses on closed spaces, like groups or messaging, rather than the public News Feed. He unveiled this plan in March, a year after the Cambridge Analytica scandal hit. At the time, I noted that critics were concerned that the shift would mean Facebook was abdicating some of its responsibilities. Making Facebook more private would arguably not remove the problems of abuse - though it would make it harder for outsiders to find instances of Facebook’s failures. Recent stories have demonstrated that concern was perhaps justified. On Monday, ProPublica revealed the existence of a private Facebook group which contained disturbing jokes allegedly posted by US Border Patrol agents.”