Eye on Extremism: July 22

CBS News: American Citizen Accused Of Becoming ISIS Sniper And Weapons Trainer

“An American citizen was arrested in Syria after becoming a sniper and weapons trainer for the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS), federal authorities in New York said Friday. Ruslan Maratovich Asainov, 42, was transferred to FBI custody Wednesday and brought to the United States after his detention overseas by the Syrian Democratic Forces. Asainov, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Kazakhstan, appeared in federal court in Brooklyn on Friday. According to investigators, in December 2013, Asainov traveled to Istanbul, a common transit point to gain entry into Syria. After entering Syria, he joined the ISIS terrorist organization, became a sniper and rose to the rank of "emir" in charge of training other ISIS members in the use of weapons. From 1998 to 2013, Asainov lived in Brooklyn.”

The Washington Post: Hundreds Of Islamic State Militants Are Slipping Back Into Iraq. Their Fight Isn’t Over

“Islamic State militants who escaped the defeat of their self-declared caliphate in Syria earlier this year have been slipping across the border into Iraq, bolstering a low-level insurgency the group is now waging across the central and northern part of the country, according to security officials. About 1,000 fighters have crossed into Iraq over the past eight months, most of them in the aftermath of the caliphate’s collapse in March, said Hisham al-Hashimi, a security analyst who advises Iraq’s government and foreign aid agencies. These fighters, mostly Iraqis who followed the Islamic State into Syria, are returning home to join militant cells that have been digging into rugged rural areas, sustained by intimate knowledge of the terrain, including concealed tunnels and other hiding places. The militants move under the cover of darkness to carry out sniper attacks and rudimentary roadside bombings several times a week. Their attacks, occurring outside major cities, are often opportunistic and primarily target community leaders and security forces involved in efforts to root them out. An explosion earlier this month in the northern city of Kirkuk killed two motorcyclists. A separate attack in Diyala, in eastern Iraq, targeted militiamen assigned with hunting down militants.”

Arab News: Russian Air Strike Kills 16 Civilians In Northwest Syria

“A Russian air strike on a market in northwest Syria killed 16 civilians on Monday, a monitor said, in the latest violence to plague the country’s last major opposition bastion. At least 35 other people were wounded in the raid that hit “a wholesale vegetable market in the town of Maaret Al-Numan,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.”

BBC: Iran 'Seizes British-Flagged Oil Tanker'

“There will be "serious consequences" if Iran does not release a British-flagged tanker seized in the Gulf, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said. The Stena Impero's owners say they have been unable to contact their vessel, which had 23 personnel on board and was "heading north towards Iran". It was surrounded by four vessels and a helicopter, Mr Hunt said. A second British-owned Liberian-flagged tanker was boarded by armed guards but is now free to continue its journey. The Mesdar's Glasgow-based operator Norbulk Shipping UK said communication had been re-established with the vessel after it was boarded by armed guards at around 17:30 BST on Friday and its crew was "safe and well". There were 25 personnel on board the Mesdar when it was surrounded by 10 speedboats, Mr Hunt said.”

The New York Times: Taliban Attack Security Checkpoint And Hospital In Pakistan

“At least nine people were killed and at least 30 others wounded on Sunday in Taliban attacks on a security checkpoint and a hospital in northwestern Pakistan, breaking a lull in militant violence in the country, officials said. A spokesman for the Taliban said the attacks — by gunmen on motorbikes and a suicide bomber — had been carried out to avenge the killing of one of its militants last month in the district of Dera Ismail Khan. A senior police official said the suicide attacker had been female, but the Taliban later released a photograph of a longhaired man whom the group identified as the bomber. The two-pronged attack on Sunday took place in the same district, Dera Ismail Khan, which is in the province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. In the first attack, two police officers at a security checkpoint in the town of Kotla Saidan were shot dead. The assailants escaped after the shooting, and the security forces cordoned off the area to search for them. Shortly after the bodies of the two officers were taken to the hospital, an explosion ripped through the emergency and trauma center there, killing four other police officers and three civilians. The suicide bomber detonated about seven kilograms of explosives near an entrance to the hospital, according to a preliminary police investigation.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Exclusive - Turkey, Qatar And The Return Of ISIS To Libya

“Are Turkey and Qatar openly backing terrorists in Libya? And if so, why has the international community remained silent over the issue? Why hasn’t it taken serious action to address the situation and resolve the Libyan crisis once and for all? As it stands, the Libyan National Army (LNA) is trying to rid the country of terrorism and terrorists. Simultaneously, intense efforts are underway to bring in ISIS members, who have fled Syria and Iraq, into Libyan regions that are controlled by militias. International intelligence agencies have the evidence to prove this. It is no secret that Turkey and Qatar are behind the developments in Libya. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who failed in spreading his Islamist agenda during the so-called Arab Spring, is now attempting to make up for his losses by meddling in Libya. It represents his last hope to revive his illusions. He believes that if extremists succeed in Libya, then their influence may spread to neighboring Tunisia in the west and Egypt in the east. Egypt, he believes, spoiled his plans in recent years when the people revolted in June 2013. Developments in Libya have exposed Ankara’s supplying of weapons to militias in flagrant violation of the arms embargo imposed on the country since 2011.”

United States

The Washington Post: Two Senators Want Antifa Activists To Be Labeled ‘Domestic Terrorists.’ Here’s What That Means.

“Two Republican senators have introduced a nonbinding resolution that would label antifascists — known as antifa — as “domestic terrorists,” doubling down against radical activists who have drawn criticism from conservatives and President Trump. “Antifa are terrorists, violent masked bullies who ‘fight fascism’ with actual fascism, protected by Liberal privilege,” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said in a statement. “Bullies get their way until someone says no. Elected officials must have courage, not cowardice, to prevent terror.” Hina Shamsi, director of the national security project at the American Civil Liberties Union, told The Washington Post that she opposes labeling groups as domestic terrorists. “It is dangerous and overly broad to use labels that are disconnected [from] actual individual conduct,” she said. “And as we’ve seen how ‘terrorism’ has been used already in this country, any such scheme raises significant due process, equal protection and First Amendment constitutional concerns.” The resolution, which also is sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), would not change U.S. law. It cites antifa activists occupying the road outside an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office and “doxing” ICE officials by posting their personal information online.”

Extra.IE: This Is The Us-Born Jihadi Believed To Have Radicalised ISIS Bride Lisa Smith

“This is the man who is believed to have radicalised Dundalk Isis bride Lisa Smith in the months before she travelled to Isis terror capital Raqqa. John Georgelas, 35, a Greek/American convert to Islam, climbed the Isis ranks to become one of the most high-profile foreign Isis members and is described by some as ‘the Isis Goebbels’. Georgelas produced English-language propaganda for Isis on the terror organisation’s English language publications Dabiq and Rumiyah and organised material for Isis’s radio station. Known by his kunya — or Arabic name — ‘Yaya Abu Hassan’, Ms Smith spoke to the American convert via Facebook before travelling to the Islamic State in autumn 2015. From Ayn Issa refugee camp in northern Syria — where this reporter travelled on assignment with RTE — Ms Smith admitted knowing the US jihadi well and said FBI agents had travelled to the camp to quiz her on the most high-profile American in Isis.”

Associated Press: US Citizen Charged With Training Islamic State Group Members

“A U.S. citizen from Kazakhstan facing terrorism charges after he became a sniper and weapons trainer for the Islamic State group once boasted that he supports “the worst terrorist organization in the world,” authorities said as they announced his arrest Friday. Ruslan Maratovich Asainov, 42, was transferred to FBI custody Wednesday and brought to the United States after his detention overseas by the Syrian Democratic Forces, federal authorities said in a release. “Asainov traveled overseas, joined ISIS, and became a fighter and a sniper for the terrorist organization,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers. “He was ultimately detained overseas, turned over to the FBI, and will now face justice in an American courtroom.” Asainov was detained without bail following an appearance Friday in Brooklyn federal court. Outside court, defense attorney Susan Kellman said her client was “very pleasant, very forthcoming” but was reluctant to speak up when a judge asked him if he understood his rights. “He answers to a higher authority,” the lawyer said. “He says his ruler is Allah.”

Voice Of America: More White Extremist Propaganda Appearing At US Colleges

“Signs, fliers and other notices with racist language are increasingly being found at colleges and universities in the United States, a new report finds. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported recently that examples of white supremacist propaganda on U.S. college campuses rose during the most recent school year. The ADL watches hate groups, including those who believe that white people are better than members of other races. The group says its aim is to secure justice and fair treatment for all people. It adds that white supremacist propaganda on campuses has increased in each of the past two years. The report noted a sharp increase in documented cases in the 2017-2018 school year. Examples included white supremacist fliers, stickers and other material. More extremist propaganda was found during the spring term of 2019 than any term in the past, the ADL said. There were 161 incidents on 122 different college and university campuses across 33 states, and in Washington, D.C. The report documented 313 cases of white supremacist propaganda on U.S. campuses between September 2018 and the end of May 2019. The cases were tied to organizations linked to what has become known as the alternative right, or “alt-right,” movement.”

The New York Post: Brooklyn ‘ISIS Sniper’ Came To US From Kazakhstan Through Diversity Lottery: Official

“The Kazakhstan-born Brooklyn man who the feds say betrayed America — by becoming a top ISIS sniper in Syria —  had come to the US  through the diversity lottery, the head of US Citizenship and Immigration Services revealed in an angry tweet. Ruslan Maratovich Asainov “was born in Kazakhstan on June 28, 1976,” tweeted USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli. “He entered the U.S. on a DIVERSITY LOTTERY VISA (!!!) on February 27, 1999, and he became a naturalized U.S. Citizen on September 1, 2006.” Cuccinelli called the lottery “very dangerous,” and said that both he and President Trump want to see it ended. “Time for a more merit-focused immigration system w/o dangerous holes like the diversity lottery,” he tweeted.”

Syria

The Jerusalem Post: Air Strikes Kill 18 In Syria's Idlib

“Air strikes killed at least 18 people, including seven children, in rebel-held Idlib region in northwestern Syria on Sunday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. The northwest is the last major foothold of the rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad, who has vowed to recover the whole country but has made little or no gains in more than two months of military operations in the area.State media also said that a train carrying phosphate in central Syria was derailed by a bomb blast east of Palmyra, causing injuries among the crew. It did not identify the perpetrators. Islamic State is still active in that area. In the northwest, the Observatory said Syrian government air strikes killed 12 people, including five children, in the village of Urum al-Jawz in western Idlib province. Four more people, including two children, were killed in strikes on Kfarouma in the south of the province.”

Iran

The National: Iran-Backed Terror Cells Could Be Used In UK Attacks If Situation Worsens

“Iran-backed terrorist cells could be used to launch attacks in the UK if the crisis between the two countries worsens, intelligence sources warn. MI5 and MI6 officials consider Iran to be the third greatest threat to Britain’s security. They believe Tehran has organised and funded sleeper cells across Europe, including the UK, and could allow them to attack in response to conflict in the Gulf. The cells are linked to Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group, intelligence sources told The Telegraph.  “Iran has Hezbollah operatives in position to carry out a terrorist attack in the event of a conflict,” a source said. “That is the nature of the domestic threat Iran poses to the UK.” Tehran has been publicly blamed for several cyber attacks in the UK, including one on MPs in 2017 and another on post office, local government and private sector emails at the end of last year. Tension has risen between the two countries after oil tankers have been seized by both London and Tehran. On Friday, the Steno Impero vessel was seized in Omani waters before it was re-routed by Revolutionary Guard special forces to be detained in Iran. The British Government described the incident, a response to the seizure Iran vessel Grace I by the British navy in Gibraltar, as illegal.”

The Wall Street Journal: Iran Pairs Diplomacy With Military Pushback As Gulf Tensions Soar

“Ships plying the Strait of Hormuz are getting caught in the middle as Iran pushes back against U.S. sanctions and maneuvers around a more muscular American regional presence, raising the risk of direct military confrontation. A British-flagged oil tanker Iran seized on Friday became the latest casualty of an Iranian response to perceived aggression that stops short of full conflict. Iran initially said it impounded the British vessel after it collided with a fishing boat. But the move was widely seen as retaliation for British forces this month seizing an Iranian tanker off the coast of Gibraltar that was allegedly transporting oil to Syria. The Iranian seizure came a day after the U.S. Navy said it had shot down an Iranian drone over the Persian Gulf—which Iran denied—and involved Revolutionary Guard forces rappelling onto the deck from a helicopter.”

The New York Times: Iran Claims To Have Arrested And Executed U.S. Spies

“Iran said on Monday that it had arrested 17 Iranian citizens on charges of spying for the United States and had already executed some of them, Iranian and Western news media reported. At a news conference in Tehran, an official who identified himself as a director of counterespionage in the Intelligence Ministry described the arrests of people he said had been trained by the C.I.A., but he did not name them and gave few details of their alleged spying. The official declined to give his name, The Associated Press reported, and did not say how many of those arrested had been killed. Iran has previously claimed, without elaboration or supporting evidence, to have broken up American spy rings. It made similar announcements in April and again in June this year. The latest claim comes at a moment of rising tensions between Iran and the West.”

The Times Of Israel: There Would Be No Al-Qaeda Without Iranian Support

“Rami Dabbas was Interviewed with The Greater Middle East which is a bipartisan, policy research organization Based in Baku, Azerbaijan. “There is a serious suspicion that Iran cooperates, supports, and funds a large number of terrorist organizations all over the Middle East. Perhaps, one of the most dangerous and oldest organizations between them is Al-Qaeda. Although Iran positions itself as a protector of Shias, it doesn’t prevent Iran from maintaining relations with Al-Qaeda. We asked Rami Dabbas, Jordanian Writer, and Political Analyst, to comment on this matter.”

Haaretz: Iran Working To Arm Syria And Hezbollah By Sea

“Tehran prefers sea route due to recent attacks aimed at preventing it from entrenching in Syria and transferring equipment to Lebanon, Israeli officials say.”

Forbes: Warning As Iran 'Ready To Strike' In The West Using Sleeper Terror Cells: Report

“Last month, news emerged that a devastating cache of explosives had been discovered in London by security agencies back in 2015. The three tons of ammonium nitrate was "more than was used in the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people," the Daily Telegraph reported. The lethal stockpile was linked to Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shi'a group that has been designated as a terrorist organization—in whole or part—by much of the West. Hezbollah is sponsored by Iran, and back in 2015, the U.K. had just signed on to the Iranian nuclear deal. Nothing was made public. Fast forward to 2019. Tensions continue to escalate in the Gulf between the U.S., its allies and Iran. The Iranians have seized a British oil tanker in a move designed to test London's patience and restraint. The primary response to the incident has played out in the media. And, as I've written before, the media plays its part beyond just reporting events.”

Forbes: Warning As Iranian State Hackers Target LinkedIn Users With Dangerous New Malware

“As I reported over the weekend, the multidimensional cyber warfare playing out in the Middle East has taken a shape we have not seen at this scale before—a mix of military offensive and defensive capabilities with state-sponsored attacks on civilian targets. With cyber warfare becoming "an interchangeable battlefield tool," an attack in one domain can lead to retaliation in another. And the catalyst has been the continuing escalation of tensions between the U.S. (and its allies) and Iran. Iran understands that retaliation against the U.S. military in the cyber domain "might be akin to throwing rocks at a tank," but it can hit the vast and under-protected U.S. corporate sector at will. Two weeks after U.S. Cyber Command hit Iran's command and control structure in the aftermath of the downing of a U.S. surveillance drone, came a warning that an Iranian-led hack was targeting the millions of unpatched Microsoft Outlook systems.”

The New York Times: As Conflict With U.S. Grows, Some Iran Hard-Liners Suggest Talking To Trump

“Iran’s most revered Revolutionary Guards commander says talking with President Trump would be admitting defeat. The country’s supreme leader has ruled out any dealings with Washington. But now, in a surprising split among Iranian hard-liners, some are expressing a different opinion: It’s time to sit down and resolve 40 years of animosity with the United States, by talking directly to Mr. Trump. And the most striking voice in that contrarian group is former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, largely known in the West for his anti-American bombast, Holocaust denial, and suspiciously lopsided victory in a disputed vote a decade ago that set off Iran’s worst political convulsions since the Islamic revolution. “Mr. Trump is a man of action,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said in a lengthy telephone interview with The New York Times. “He is a businessman and therefore he is capable of calculating cost-benefits and making a decision. We say to him, let’s calculate the long-term cost-benefit of our two nations and not be shortsighted.”

The New York Times: Iran Claims To Have Arrested And Executed U.S. Spies

“Iran said on Monday that it had arrested 17 Iranian citizens on charges of spying for the United States and had already executed some of them, Iranian and Western news media reported. At a news conference in Tehran, an official who identified himself as a director of counterespionage in the Intelligence Ministry described the arrests of people he said had been trained by the C.I.A., but he did not name them and gave few details of their alleged spying. The official declined to give his name, The Associated Press reported, and did not say how many of those arrested had been killed. Iran has previously claimed, without elaboration or supporting evidence, to have broken up American spy rings. It made similar announcements in April and again in June this year. The latest claim comes at a moment of rising tensions between Iran and the West.”

Iraq

The Washington Post: Iraqi Forces Launch Anti-IS Operation North Of Baghdad

“Iraq’s military said Saturday its troops in partnership with security agencies and paramilitary forces launched the second phase of an operation aimed at clearing remnants of the Islamic State group from north of Baghdad and surrounding areas. This is the second phase of the operation dubbed “Will to Victory,” which started two weeks earlier and targeted the area along the border with Syria. The military said the new target area is north of Baghdad and in the Diyala, Salahuddin and Anbar provinces. Although Iraq declared victory against IS in July 2017, the extremists have turned into an insurgency and continue to carry out deadly attacks in the country. The military said Iraqi troops, Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces, the federal police and others are taking part in the operation supported by the Iraqis and the U.S-led international coalition. On Saturday, Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi visited the operation room alongside the deputy head of the PMF, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. Earlier this month, the Iraqi government moved to place the Iranian-backed militias under the command of the armed forces. The move was believed to be an attempt to curb the powerful militias, particularly amid rising tension between Iran and the U.S., the power brokers in Iraq.”

Iraqi News: Iraqi Army Kills Seven Islamic State Terrorists In Nineveh

“Seven Islamic State terrorists were killed Sunday in a military operation in Nineveh province, the Security Media Cell said in a press statement. The operation was carried out by a joint force of the Nineveh Operations Command and Tribal Mobilization Forces, the statement read. The troops also destroyed 23 terrorist hotbeds of Islamic State and four explosive charges, it added. The Iraqi army launched on Saturday the second phase of a military operation to pursue Islamic State (IS) militants in northern the country. The “Will of Victory” operation aims to attain security and stability in the desert area between Nineveh, Salahuddin and Anbar provinces on the Iraqi-Syrian border, in addition to preventing IS remains from sneaking into that region or even using it as a stronghold for their terrorist acts.” 

Iraqi News: Iraqi Security Arrest Three Islamic State Members In Mosul

“The Iraqi Interior Ministry announced on Saturday that its troops arrested three Islamic State terrorists in Mosul city. The three militants worked for the Islamic State religious police (al-Hisbah) during the terrorist group’s capture of Mosul, Spokesman for the Interior Ministry Maj. Gen. Saad Maan told the Arabic-language Alghad Press website. According to the spokesman, the trio confessed that they took part in fighting against security forces in the eastern and western sides of Mosul. 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.”

The National: Kurdish Officials Vow Region Will Not Turn Into Terror Hub Following Erbil Shooting

“The Kurdistan Region of Iraq will not become a hub for terrorism, Kurdish officials said on Sunday, after authorities arrested the man suspected of shooting dead a Turkish diplomat last week. The Turkish official was one of three people shot dead last Wednesday when a gunman opened fire in a restaurant in the Iraqi Kurdish regional capital, Erbil. The suspect in the assassination of the diplomat is the brother of a female member of the Turkish parliament, according to reports.  A statement from a Iraqi Kurdish security force, the Counter Terrorism Department, gave the suspect's name as Mazlum Dag. Turkey's pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) later confirmed that the man who had been arrested was the brother of one of its lawmakers, Dersim Dag. “Kurdistan will never become the headquarters of terrorism…criminals will never be able to hide,” Masoud Barzani, the former president of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, said in a statement. “I commend the security and anti-terror forces of the Kurdistan Region for arresting the suspects,” the official said, calling for all parties to not bring their disputes to the northern region of Iraq. The Kurdistan region will remain a “safe haven,” vowed Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, son of former president Masoud.”

Afghanistan

NBC News: The U.S. Is Eager To End Its Longest War. In Interview, Taliban Gives Little Sign It's Ready To Change.

“After years in which efforts at resolving America’s longest war ambled slowly forward, if at all, they now appear to be galloping toward the finish line. American and Taliban negotiators are thought to be close to a deal that would see the 14,000 American troops remaining in Afghanistan return home, after they lost more than 2,400 of their ranks and had thousands more maimed. But the Trump administration’s rush to withdraw will leave Afghanistan at the mercy of an extremely ascetic Islamist movement that has done little to change its ways since the U.S. invaded nearly 18 years ago. “I think that at the beginning they were arrogant,” said Sohail Shaheen, a senior Taliban spokesman, referring to the American-led armies that toppled the Taliban after the militants sheltered the author of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Osama bin Laden. “I think now they understand, you know, the ground realities … that it is a meaningless war.” Shaheen spoke to NBC News in Doha, the capital of the glittering Gulf Arab kingdom of Qatar, where U.S. and Taliban negotiators are deep into the seventh round of talks. On two crucial issues — respect for women’s rights and recognition of Afghanistan’s U.S.-backed government in Kabul — Shaheen either hewed to Taliban policies dating back decades before the U.S. invasion or deferred to further negotiations or future decisions by Islamic courts.”

Xinhua: Airstrike Kills 28 Militants In N. Afghanistan

“At least 28 Taliban militants have been killed following an airstrike in Afghanistan's northern Faryab province, a military source said on Sunday. “Based on a confirmed tip-off, an Afghan Air Force A-29 aircraft targeted a Taliban hideout in Bilchiragh district, Faryab province on Saturday evening, leaving 28 armed Taliban killed,” Hanif Rezai, spokesman of army Corps 209 Shaheen based in the region, told Xinhua. The targeted militants were meeting for planning attacks against security forces. Violence has escalated in the previously peaceful northern region over a past few years as Afghan security forces push against the militants in the south and east regions. The Taliban militant group has not responded to the report so far.”

The Times: Isis Takes On Taliban As US Looks For Afghan Exit

“The first wedding guests had just begun to arrive when the father of the groom noticed a stranger. Malik Toor Jan was immediately suspicious of the teenage boy who appeared alone, wearing a waistcoat and scarf despite the heat of the summer morning. As an influential local militia commander who had spent much of the past three years fighting Islamic State in the mountains above his village in eastern Afghanistan, Toor Jan had learnt to spot the signs of threat fast. Guests watched as he approached the boy and asked him who he was. “Then suddenly he realised that we had a suicide bomber in our midst,” Mohammed Qayum, 18, one of Toor Jan’s nephews, said.”

The New York Times: Suicide Bombing At University Kills 10 As Violence Surges In Afghanistan

“As law students waited outside Kabul University to take fourth-year exams shortly after daybreak on Friday, a suicide bomber drove up and detonated an explosive device, killing 10 people and wounding 33. The bombing was the latest in an aggressive series of attacks by insurgents in the 10 days since American and Taliban negotiators suspended peace talks in Doha, Qatar, that were aimed at reaching a political settlement and a cease-fire in the 18-year-old war. The Interior Ministry blamed the Taliban for Friday’s attack, which killed students and a traffic officer. A Taliban spokesman denied that the group was involved in the bombing, although it has claimed responsibility for many recent attacks. In a burst of violence noteworthy even by Afghan standards, the Taliban have launched a number of sophisticated attacks aimed at government security forces and compounds, in some cases killing and maiming civilians.”

Pakistan

Associated Press: Pakistani Hospital Hit By Female Suicide Bomber, 9 Killed

“A female suicide bomber struck outside a hospital in Pakistan on Sunday as the wounded were being brought in from an earlier shooting against police, in a complex assault claimed by the Pakistani Taliban that killed a total of nine people and wounded another 30. Salim Riaz Khan, a senior police officer in Dera Ismail Khan, said gunmen on motorcycles opened fire on police in a residential area, killing two. He says the bomber then struck at the entrance to the hospital, killing another four police and three civilians who were visiting their relatives. He said eight police were among the wounded, and that many of the wounded were in critical condition. Inayat Ullah, a local forensics expert, said the female attacker set off 7 kilograms (15 pounds) of explosives packed with nails and ball-bearings.”

Reuters: U.S. To Press Pakistan PM On Afghan Peace, Terrorism Crackdown

“U.S. President Donald Trump is likely to press Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan for help on ending the war in Afghanistan and fighting militants when the two leaders meet at the White House on Monday amid their countries’ strained relations.  Last year, Trump cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in security assistance to Pakistan, accusing Islamabad of offering “nothing but lies and deceit” while giving safe haven to terrorists, a charge angrily rejected by Islamabad.  Khan, who arrived in Washington on Saturday, is expected to try to mend fences and attract much-needed U.S. investment, hoping the arrest last week of a militant leader with a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head will lead to a warmer reception.  “The purpose of the visit is to press for concrete cooperation from Pakistan to advance the Afghanistan peace process and to encourage Pakistan to deepen and sustain its recent effort to crackdown on militants and terrorists within its territory,” a senior U.S. administration official said.  The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the United States wants to make clear to Pakistan that it is open to repairing relations if Pakistan changes how it handles “terrorists and militants.” 

Voice Of America: Pakistan Holds Historic Vote In Former 'Epicenter' Of Terror

“Pakistan organized its first ever provincial elections Saturday in a northwestern region along the mountainous border with Afghanistan that until a few years ago was condemned as the “epicenter” of international terrorism. Pakistani officials said the elections in the seven districts of what were formerly known as the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) are central to steps the government has taken to supplement regional and global efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan and counter violent extremism. Pakistani election officials said some 2.8 million registered voters were to choose from 285 candidates for 16 seats in the legislative assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province. The contestants, including two women, represented major mainstream political parties. The election was held under tight security and no incidents of violence were reported. The historic vote came on a day when Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan left for the United States for his first meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House on Monday, where the two leaders will discuss counterterrorism measures among a range of other issues.”

Yemen

The National: Yemen's Houthi Rebels Raise Nearly $300,000 For Hezbollah

“Houthi rebels in Yemen have announced that they have raised nearly $300,000 in the latest stage of their campaign for Hezbollah. In a video published late on Saturday, the director general of Houthi radio station Sam FM posed with wads of cash as the team celebrated raising 74,010,00 Yemeni riyals (Dh1.1 million, or $296,000) for the Lebanese militants. “From Yemen the faith to Lebanon’s resistance, salute to the well-being of Yemen,” they yell. “Death to America, death to Israel, curse the Jews.” Yemeni Houthi Radio Sam FM publishes video at end of 3rd phase of fundraising campaign for Lebanese Hezbollah. They shout: “From Yemen’s faith to Lebanon’s Resistance! God is great! Death to America! Death to Israel”  The funds would “support, aid and assist the resistance in Lebanon”, said a statement published by Sam FM alongside the video. The donations for Hezbollah from the third stage of the “Live for the good of Yemen” campaign add to some $200,000 raised this year and in 2018 for the Houthis’ general military spending in Yemen, according to documents seen by The National. If the Houthis’ self-reported figures are accurate, it means more than half of the fundraising by the Iran-backed rebels has gone to Tehran’s Lebanese proxy."

Saudi Arabia

Voice Of America: Saudi Coalition Says It Destroyed Houthi Ballistic Missiles Around Yemeni Capital

“Saudi-coalition spokesman Col. Turki al Maliki says that coalition fighter jets took out at least five Houthi air defense sites around the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, early Saturday. Amateur video showed a number of explosions rocking Sanaa, overnight. Amateur video broadcast by Arab media showed a series of explosions around the Yemeni capital Sana'a, early Saturday, followed by loud percussive explosions. Saudi-owned media, quoting coalition spokesman Turki al Maliki, indicated that at least five Houthi air defense sites were bombed by Saudi warplanes. Maliki claimed that a number of Houthi ballistic missiles were destroyed in the air attacks. The Saudi-owned Asharqalawsat newspaper quoted Maliki as saying the "operation [overnight] targeted the Houthis air defense capabilities, as well as their ability to launch aggressive attacks." Maliki went on to say the coalition raids "conformed with international human rights law.”

Lebanon

The Arab Weekly: In Siding With Iran, Hezbollah Could Put Lebanon’s Future At Serious Risk

“While Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu have been quick to use the Gulf’s escalating tensions to rattle sabres, analysts downplayed the likelihood that the exchange of threats would develop into full-scale conflict in the immediate future. That the situation across the Gulf is tense cannot be denied. Iran claimed to have seized the British oil tanker Stena Impero as it navigated the Strait of Hormuz on July 19, an apparent retaliation against the British impounding of the Iranian vessel Grace 1 in early July. It was the second possible seizure of a foreign vessel by Iranian forces after the UAE-registered Riah was intercepted July 14 in the Gulf. Adding to an already febrile mix was the downing of an Iranian drone by a US vessel in the strait the day before  the Stena Imperio’s interception, an incident denied by Tehran. Ratcheting tensions up further has been the deployment of a third British warship to the region, ostensibly to replace the frigate HMS Montrose but unlikely to be viewed in Tehran as anything but Western provocation. Nasrallah, speaking July 12 on Al-Manar TV, said: “Are we going to sit back and watch? Iran won’t be alone in the war, that is clear.”

Egypt

The National: Egyptian Air Force Kills 20 Militants After Deadly Suicide Blast

“Egyptian officials say that at least 20 militants have been killed in an air strike in the restive northern Sinai Peninsula. The air force hit more than 100 mountainous hideouts used by the militants near the city of El Arish and the small town of Bir Al Abd late of Friday. The strikes came after a suicide bombing killed a soldier and a civilian on Thursday in the Sinai town of Sheikh Zuweid. ISIS said a militant named Abu Omar El Seedy had detonated his explosive-laden vest near a military checkpoint at dawn on Thursday. Egyptian security officials had said the bomber targeted an armoured vehicle near the local market of Sheikh Zuweid. They added that as well as the soldier and a civilian, three other soldiers were wounded. A day earlier, militants beheaded four people and kidnapped a fifth in Bir Al Abd after accusing them of co-operating with the security services. A group tied to ISIS claimed responsibility for both attacks. The military has been battling a bloody insurgency in the remote desert peninsular for several years but in 2018, the government announced a massive offensive aimed at destroying the extremists. The move has degraded the ability of the tribal and extremist groups to launch attacks into the rest of the country, but they still pose a deadly threat.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Egypt Minister Of Endowments Warns Of ‘Muslim Brotherhood Terrorism’

“Egyptian Minister of Endowments Mohammed Mokhtar Jomaa warned of the threat of the Muslim Brotherhood, officially classified as a terrorist group since November 2014. Egypt accuses the group of stoking chaos and violence in the country following the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, but the group usually denies the accusation. The minister reiterated his rejection of the Brotherhood and its rhetoric, pointing out in a statement that the group’s slogan is “either to rule or kill and destroy.” Morsi ruled the country for a year before his ouster, after which he was imprisoned. He died while standing trial in June this year. Jomaa said members of the Brotherhood claim they are “God's chosen group”, noting that since its establishment, the terrorist organization has been threatening Egypt. It is driven by its treasonous collaboration with enemies of the Arab world and its belief that its authority can only be built on the ruins of its nations.”

Nigeria

Premium Times: 72 Hours After Kidnap, Aid Workers Still With Boko Haram

“The abductors of the six humanitarian workers who went missing after their convoy was attacked in northern Borno State are yet to make any demand, 72 hours after the incident, sources within the UN and security agencies have said.  The aid workers are employees of the Action Against Hunger, otherwise known as Action Contre La Faim (ACF) On Thursday seven personnel of the ACF came under Boko Haram attack while on their way from Maiduguri to a remote local government area.  The driver of one of the attacked vehicles was killed instantly while the insurgents reportedly forced away six others.  A source in the Nigeria military had in a report published by PRNigeria claimed knowledge of where the six abductees are being held. “The special force was able to detect the location of the humanitarian aid workers after some arrests were made, “ PRNigeria quoted an undisclosed military source as saying. The source did not, however, say if any action has been taken towards rescuing the abductees.  The ACF programme advocacy manager, Lucy Chizo, also confirmed reading the claim. She declined comments on whether the abductors have made any contact or demands.  “As far as we at the ACF are concerned, we have no information other than what we put out on Friday, “ she said.”

United Kingdom

The Independent: Neo-Nazi ‘Impatient For War On Jews’ Jailed Over Far-Right Terror Group Links

“A self-described fanatic ”impatient for a war on Jews” has been jailed for three years over links to the far-right terrorist group National Action. Daniel Ward, 28, was sentenced on Friday at Birmingham Crown Court, where the prosecutor described him as being “so full on that even Nazi extremists took a step back”. National Action became the first organisation to be banned by the government since World War Two in December 2016, following the murder of MP Jo Cox. Police discovered a cache of air rifles, ammunition and neo-Nazi propaganda during a raid on Ward’s home in September. The court heard that he told fellow members he was “100 per cent committed” to fighting a war and had searched the internet for methods of building tear gas grenades and obtaining semi-automatic weapons. Prosecutor Barnaby Jameson QC read aloud Ward’s initial email to National Action, which read: ”We are at war and it’s time for me to fight for my children’s future and the future of our people. “... All I have to offer is my thirst for gratuitous violence!” Further email correspondence revealed Ward was “impressed with National Action’s military channels”. ‘You seem almost militarised in your actions and sabotage,” he wrote.”

The Wall Street Journal: Boris Johnson’s Iran Test

“Boris Johnson is expected to become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom this week with a mandate to deliver Brexit. But before he can even say Brussels, the new leader will confront an international crisis started by Iran. This is an opportunity for Mr. Johnson to display independence and strength while nudging Europe toward a new approach to the Islamic Republic. On Friday Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized a British-flagged oil tanker and its 23 crew members in the Strait of Hormuz. The Iranians claimed to board the ship for “security reasons” but this was clearly retaliation. The British recently impounded an Iranian tanker off the coast of Gibraltar because the ship was suspected of bringing oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions. The Brits have offered to release the ship as long as it won’t go to Syria, but Iran refuses anything but an unconditional release.”

Germany

BBC News: Merkel Marks Hitler Assassination Attempt With Anti-Extremism Appeal

“German Chancellor Angela Markel has used the 75th anniversary of the most famous plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler to call on citizens to counter rising right-wing extremism.  Ms Merkel thanked the German officer, Claus von Stauffenberg, and other plotters who tried in 1944 to kill the Nazi dictator with a briefcase bomb. Stauffenberg and some 200 co-conspirators were caught and executed. Mrs Merkel urged people to join programmes for strengthening democracy. “This day is a reminder to us, not only of those who acted on July 20, but also of everyone who stood up against Nazi rule,” she said in her weekly video podcast. “We are likewise obliged today to oppose all tendencies that seek to destroy democracy. That includes right-wing extremism.” The right-wing party Alternative for Germany in May became the country's largest opposition party in parliament with an anti-immigrant and nationalist agenda. In recent years there has been a rise in far-right attacks, including the murder of a German politician, whose death prosecutors believe was politically motivated and carried out by assassins with neo-Nazi extremist links.  According to government figures, there are 24,000 right-wing extremists in Germany. Nearly 13,000 are believed to have a tendency to violence.”

Deutsche Welle: German Military Rejects Dozens Of Candidates Over Extremist Links

Germany's armed forces, the Bundeswehr, have rejected 63 candidates over the past two years due to their apparent links to extremism, the Funke Media Group reported on Sunday. Funke's newspapers cited a response from the Defense Ministry to a parliamentary inquiry from left-wing parties. It revealed that the applicants included 21 neo-Nazis and so-called Reichsbürger (Reich citizens), 12 Islamists, two left-wing extremists and several people convicted in the past of violent offenses. Reichsbürger members reject the authority of the German state and refuse to pay taxes, fines and social security contributions. Additional scrutiny was put on two other applicants over their membership of the Identitarian Movement — also classified as a right-wing extremist group. The report revealed that 43,775 new recruits were checked by the Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD) between July 2017 and June 2019. The applications of 1,173 men and women were subsequently looked at more closely. The increased security measures followed what authorities believe was a neo-Nazi terrorist plot within the Bundeswehr to assassinate senior government figures and lay the blame for the murders on asylum seekers.”

Australia

The Daily Mail: Security Fears As 40 Jihadis Who Fled Australia To Join Islamic State Return Home

“Forty jihadis who fled Australia to join Islamic State have since returned home. The men pose a 'significant' security concern, government officials told The Sunday Telegraph. Up to 230 Australians joined extremist groups to fight in Syria and Iraq since 2012. Among those who have returned from the Middle East are Sydney man Belal Betka, 25, who has pleaded guilty to foreign incursion. Also returned is Isaak el Matari, 20, who spent nine months in jail in Lebanon for trying to join ISIS. He was charged earlier this month for allegedly planning terror attacks around Sydney landmarks in the city's CBD.  It comes as Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton prepares to push a controversial bill that will ban high security risk individuals from coming back home for up to two years. If passed, the tough new Counter Terrorism Bill will allow government to delay proceedings of bringing radicalised jihadists back into Australia so officials can fully investigate their security risk. If allowed to be brought back into the country, certain conditions may be placed, meaning authorities will be aware of their whereabouts, employment and associations.  While the bill strives to keep Australians safe, there are concerns it may be applied to innocent people.”

Europe

Algemeiner: Mourning Families Call On Bulgaria To Designate Hezbollah A Terrorist Group Seven Years After Bus Bombing

“Seven years after a bus bombing in at the Burgas airport in Bulgaria killed five Israelis and wounded 32 others, those affected by the tragedy are calling on Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia, to designate Hezbollah, which is believed to have been behind the attack, a terrorist group. “Three years ago … four years after the attack, the criminal trial opened. … In the indictment … only two attackers [were charged],” said Kobi Price, one of the affected relatives. “We, the mourning families, ask the government of Bulgaria to rise above narrow political considerations and to add the terrorist organization Hezbollah to the indictment without delay.” He continued, “Without Hezbollah, there is no morality in the trial. Without Hezbollah, the trial is ineffective. Without Hezbollah, there is no justice for the murdered victims.” “Bulgarian state prosecution had decided not to charge Hezbollah as an organization with involvement in the 2012 bombing at the Burgas airport,” according to The Jerusalem Post.”

Southeast Asia

The Japan Times: Philippines Adopts Strategy Against Violent Extremism

“The Philippines has officially adopted a strategy to prevent and counter violent extremism as officials seek to avoid a repeat of one of the country’s most prominent acts of terrorism in recent history, the May 2017 siege of Marawi City by pro-Islamic State fighters. Philippine National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said Wednesday that the government’s Anti Terrorism Council has approved the National Action Plan on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (NAP PCVE), with the Department of the Interior and Local Government tasked to lead its implementation. “We have to take care of our population, especially in some areas, so that there will no longer be terrorists in the future,” Esperon said in a forum organized by the government in the lead-up to President Rodrigo Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address on Monday. “The PCVE will take care of potential terrorists” by addressing sectors in society where they are likely to breed, including certain communities, schools or learning institutions, jails and social media, he added. Other groups to be focused on are Filipinos working overseas especially those who go to certain countries where they can become radicalized, and religious leaders who have a big influence on ordinary people, Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano said.”

Technology

Gizmodo: How A Horrific Murder Exposes The Great Failure Of Facebook's AI Moderation

“Though nonprofits like the Counter Extremism Project say it’s not as many cases as they’d like you to think. But then there’s the mounting list of seemingly obvious failures: The terrorist videos Theresa May excoriated Facebook for in the aftermath of the 2017 London Bridge attack. The Christchurch shooting videos, which were allowed onto Facebook 20 percent of the time—making for hundreds of thousands of posts—when users shared them on the platform, according to the company.”

Al Jazeera: Why Is The Violent Far Right Still Able To Organise Online?

“Shoot. Pause. Shoot. Pause. I remember thinking it had to be one shooter," says Ole Martin Juul Slyngstadli. The then 17 year old had been hiding beneath a cliff with a girl who he had seen get shot four times. He had wrapped his T-shirt around her chest and placed rocks on the wound to stop the bleeding. "I remember the shooter saying 'I'm the police, come out, you're safe'. One boy walked out and he shot him," says Slyngstadli, who survived the Norway massacre. Eight years ago, on July 22, 2011 - a day known as 22/7 - Anders Breivik set off a car bomb at the main office complex of the Norwegian government, leaving eight people dead and several seriously injured. Less than two hours later, he arrived at the Labour Party's youth summer camp on the Norwegian island of Utoeya.”