Eye on Extremism: July 29

The New York Times: Suspected Boko Haram Attack On Funeral In Nigeria Leaves At Least 65 Dead

“An attack on villagers leaving a funeral in Nigeria over the weekend left at least 65 people dead, the local news media reported, as an official blamed the violence on the militant group Boko Haram. The official, Muhammad Bulama, said on Sunday that the attack had occurred around midday Saturday and that 10 people were being treated for injuries, the Nigerian television station TVC News reported. Mr. Bulama, the council chairman of the Nganzai local government area in the northeastern state of Borno, said the attack was in reprisal for a clash in early July, in which local villagers and civilian self-defense forces killed 11 fighters while battling off a Boko Haram ambush. President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria condemned the attack and directed the military to hunt down the perpetrators, The Associated Press reported on Sunday. The A.P. also quoted the secretary of a local self-defense group as saying that the attackers had opened fire on the mourners after roaring up on motorbikes.”

Associated Press: Death Toll In Attack At Afghan Political Office Rises To 20

“The death toll from an attack against the Kabul office of the Afghan president’s running mate and former chief of the intelligence service climbed to at least 20 people on Monday, an official said. Around 50 other people were wounded in Sunday’s attack against the Green Trend party headquarters, which lasted hours and included a gunbattle between security forces and the attackers, who were holed up inside the building, according to Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi. Several gunmen were killed by the security forces, Rahimi said. The attackers’ potential target, vice presidential candidate and former intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh, was “evacuated from the building and moved to a safe location,” Rahimi said. Some 85 other civilians were also rescued from inside.”

The Independent: With ISIS Plotting A Comeback, Iraq’s Famed ‘Golden Division’ Prepares For The Long Fight

“In the summer of 2014, Iraq was staring into the abyss. Isis controlled a third of the country and the army had collapsed. There was only one fighting force capable of leading the fightback. Iraq’s elite Counter Terror Service (CTS), known as the Golden Division, spearheaded an offensive to recapture villages, towns and cities until it finally took control of the last Isis stronghold of Mosul.  That victory came at a terrible cost. By doing the job of regular infantry, instead of the specialised raids they were trained for, the division lost around half of its fighters due to injury or death during the battle for Mosul.  Today, the caliphate may have been defeated, but Isis is already rebuilding. So too is the Golden Division, and its efforts over the next few years will be crucial in determining whether Isis can rise again to threaten the world.  The person in charge of making sure that doesn’t happen is a man named General Talib Shaghati al-Kinani, the commander of the Golden Division. A veteran of the Iran-Iraq War and the Gulf War, the general became a well-known face during the campaign against Isis as he regularly appeared on television to give updates on the battle. There are perhaps few institutions that can claim to have had a bigger role in the terror group’s demise, and in preventing its comeback.”

The Washington Post: Syria Keeps Up Deadly Bombardment Of Rebel-Held Town

“Syrian government airstrikes on a town in the country’s northwest killed five people, two of whom were from the same family, opposition activists said Sunday. The airstrikes on the town of Ariha came as the government continued its deadly air campaign against the last rebel-held region in Syria. Another 21 people were wounded in the airstrikes. The causality figures were provided by both the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, and the opposition-affiliated first responders known as the White Helmets. The town has been particularly targeted over the past week, as the government looks to regain momentum in its stalled offensive against Idlib province, which began in late April. A day earlier, activists had said an airstrike in Ariha killed 11 people when it hit a busy market there. It is one of the main towns in Idlib province, which along with the surrounding rural areas of Hama province, are home to 3 million people.”

Bloomberg: Famine Spreads In Central Mali Amid Ongoing Islamist Violence

“At least 10 people died of hunger last week in food-starved central Mali, where dozens of villages are blocked off from the outside world because Islamist militants have planted landmines near major roads. The presence of Islamist militant groups and militias in Mali’s center is preventing farmers from growing crops, and cattle herders have moved elsewhere because of theft and the inaccessibility of grazing land. That’s led to severe malnutrition, with an estimated 550,000 people in urgent need of food aid, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said July 25. Mali’s government said Friday it’s trying to find a way to send trucks with cereals to the central city of Sevare, so that villages in the region can be supplied with food. That includes Mondoro, where at least 10 people died of starvation last week, according to the mayor, who asked his name be withheld for fear of reprisals. Mondoro is close to the border with Burkina Faso. A recent surge of violence in central Mali has forced more than 147,000 people to flee their homes, the highest number in five years, according to the UN.”

The Wall Street Journal: ‘Deepfakes’ Trigger A Race To Fight Manipulated Photos And Videos

“Deepfakes are becoming more difficult to detect as the technology used to create them advances, said Hany Farid, a computer science professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who has a financial stake in Truepic and whose research on media forensics has been funded by Darpa. Mr. Farid said it is worrying that social-media companies aren’t doing more to combat deepfakes, particularly in the wake of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, which Moscow has denied. “These platforms have been weaponized, and these aren’t hypothetical threats,” he said.”

United States

USA Today: US Man Allegedly Wanted To Kill American Soldiers, Arrested While Trying To Join Taliban

“A 33-year-old American man living in New York City's Bronx borough faces terror charges after his arrest at a New York airport while allegedly en route to join the Taliban in Afghanistan to kill U.S. soldiers, according to federal court documents. Delowar Mohammad Hossain, who is originally from Bangladesh and later became a U.S. citizen, was arraigned Friday in federal court in New York City. He was arrested Friday at John F. Kennedy International Airport as he was about to board a flight to Thailand on the first leg of his journey to Afghanistan, prosecutors said.  Hossain is accused of allegedly trying to provide “material support” for the Taliban, a U.S.-designated terrorist group, by joining their ranks. According to prosecutors, Hossain had been under surveillance since at least September 2018. He was allegedly recorded telling an FBI informant that “attacking the U.S. Army, attacking stuff like that is legitimate because the world is against the American government, not its people.” At one point, according to court documents, he told the informant: “I just want to take a frickin' machine gun and just shoot everybody and kill 'em all.” More than 2,400 U.S. service personnel have died in Afghanistan since the U.S.-led coalition invaded the country after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.”

CNN: Iowa Man Accused Of Threatening To Slaughter 'Filthy F**King Jews'

“An Iowa man has been arrested by federal agents after he threatened to kill Jews in hate-filled phone calls and emails, according to court documents. Garrett Kelsey, 31, admitted in a voluntary interview to calling and emailing a Jewish organization with messages full of anti-Semitic and racist language, the documents said. He was arraigned on Tuesday in a federal court in Iowa on charges of making interstate threats. Kelsey was apparently upset about a video regarding Nordic neo-Nazis that the group had posted, the affidavit said. "My people have f***ing slaughtered your f***ing people before and we will do it again. And right now, you are giving us incentive to do that. ... Filthy f***ing Jews," Kelsey said in a message to a Jewish organization based in New York, according to court documents.”

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: Foiling Terrorism Here At Home

“Almost 18 years after 9/11, it's been a while since we've heard of any successful Islamist terrorism attacks. That doesn't mean no attempts are being made, however. If you live in New York City, you probably recall Akayed Ullah's 2017 bombing of the subway tunnel near Times Square. Fortunately, successful attacks are few and far between of late. But that's not for lack of trying. So far in 2019, the U.S. has foiled seven Islamist terror plots targeting the American homeland. Here's a quick snapshot of a few of them: January: Hasher Taheb plotted to attack the White House and attempted to acquire rifles, explosives and rocket launchers. The seller was actually an undercover FBI agent, who along with other undercover agents and informants, had been investigating and communicating with Taheb about his radical ideology and violent plans. March: Rondell Henry, inspired by terrorist attacks around the world using vehicles, stole a U-Haul truck and drove it around Dulles Airport and the National Harbor in the D.C. area, looking for a prime opportunity to run over pedestrians. He found security at the airport was too tight and the crowds too small on a Wednesday night so he delayed his plans for a day, which gave police time to find him and the stolen truck.”


The Washington Post: Syrian Rebel Town Pounded, 11 Killed In Market Airstrike

“A Syrian government airstrike hit a busy open-air market in the country’s northwest on Saturday, killing at least 11 people, most of them children, according to activists. The town of Ariha has been particularly targeted over the last week as the government escalates its offensive against the country’s last rebel stronghold. The airstrike in Ariha left an 18-month-old girl with an amputated leg, according to Dr. Mohamad Abrash, a surgeon and chief of Idlib’s central hospital. He said the girl’s father and brother died in the bombing, while her mother is in the ICU in the bed opposite her with a chest injury and internal bleeding in the head. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war, and another activist collective, called Ariha Today, said most of those killed were children. Ariha Today named six children under the age of 14 who it said were killed in the airstrike. Ariha has been repeatedly targeted over the past week as Syria’s government looks to regain momentum in its stalled offensive, which began in late April. It is one of the main towns in Idlib province, which along with the surrounding rural areas of Hama province, are home to 3 million people. Separately, local doctors said two medics and an ambulance driver were killed when an airstrike targeted their vehicle in Kfar Zita, a town on the frontline in Hama province, at the edge of the rebel stronghold.”

The Telegraph: British Revolutionaries In Syria Say They Will Defy Home Office's New Terrorism Laws

“A group of self-styled British revolutionaries who travelled to Syria to help build a democratic society in the Kurdish north say they will defy new Government legislation which would see them prosecuted on terrorism charges. The Home Office revealed in May that it planned to designate northern Syria a “no-go area” and that British citizens would have 28 days to leave or face a 10-year prison sentence if they attempt to return to the UK. It said the law was aimed at tackling terrorism, but the volunteers accuse the Government of failing to distinguish between Britons in the jihadist enclave of Idlib, in Syria’s northwest, and those working in the northeast alongside Kurdish groups that helped defeat Islamic State (Isil). The law would mean just travelling to or remaining in the northeast would be considered a terrorist act, despite the UK partnering with the Kurds in the coalition against the jihadist group. Dozens of Britons have been drawn to the autonomous region, known as Rojava: some to fight with the People’s Protection Units (YPG and YPJ) against Isil, while others were attracted by their Marxist-inspired democratic, feminist, anti-capitalist project.”


The New York Times: Iran Links British Seizure Of Oil Tanker To Ailing Nuclear Deal

“Iran for the first time tied the British seizure of an Iranian oil tanker to the ailing nuclear deal on Sunday, calling it illegal and a violation of the agreement. By making that link, Iran appeared to be trying to press the Europeans to make good on the promised financial benefits of the 2015 agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or J.C.P.O.A. “Since Iran is entitled to export its oil according to the J.C.P.O.A., any impediment in the way of Iran’s export of oil is actually against the J.C.P.O.A.,” Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, said after emergency talks in Vienna with other parties to the nuclear deal. The United States withdrew from the nuclear deal last year but Iran and Europe are in talks to try to salvage it. British forces impounded the Iranian tanker in early July near Gibraltar, accusing it of violating European Union sanctions on Syria, an act Britain said had nothing to do with the nuclear deal. On July 19, Iranian commandos seized a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most important waterway for oil shipments, arguing that it had committed violations but formally denying that it was a tit-for-tat response. Since then, Iran has blown hot and cold over suggestions that both sides release the tankers and Tehran promises not to send the oil to Syria, in part because London insists that the decision on what to do with the Iranian tanker must go through the courts.”

The Wall Street Journal: Iran Rebuffs European Efforts To Defuse Gulf Tensions

“Iran rebuffed European efforts to defuse tensions in the Persian Gulf, calling military escorts to secure shipping a provocation and rejecting U.K. terms for resolving a crisis over seized tankers. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had hinted last week that a tanker exchange would lower the pressure with the U.K. after Iran seized the Swedish-owned, British-flagged Stena Impero tanker earlier this month in the Persian Gulf. The move was widely viewed as retaliation for the detention of Iranian tanker Grace 1 in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar. But on Sunday, an Iranian government spokesman said Tehran isn’t willing to first release the Stena Impero in return for the Grace 1. Iran also rebuffed a key demand from Britain for releasing the Grace 1: That its 2 million barrels of oil not go to Syria. U.K. officials have said they seized the tanker to enforce a European Union embargo on oil sales to Syria. “Our position is clear regarding the stolen Iranian ship: They should end the robbery,” Ali Rabie, Iran’s government spokesman, said of the authorities in the U.K. and Gibraltar, according to the state-run IRNA news agency. Then Iran “will decide based on goodwill” whether to release the Stena Impero, he added.”

The Hill: World Powers, Iran To Meet In Attempt To Save Nuclear Deal

“Representatives of five world powers met with Iranian diplomats Sunday in an effort to save the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal the U.S. withdrew from in 2018, according to the Associated Press. Iranian representatives were joined by officials from Germany, France, Britain, China, Russia and the European Union in Vienna to discuss the matter, according to the news service. “I cannot say that we resolved everything,” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi told reporters following the meeting. But he added that all parties involved remain “determined to save this deal,” and that “the atmosphere was constructive, and the discussions were good.” The meeting concluded with a general agreement to set up another meeting involving higher-level foreign ministers, but no date has been set, according to Araghchi and Fu Cong, the head of Chinese delegation.”


Iraqi News: Iraqi Warplanes Kill Four Islamic State Terrorists In Anbar

“Four members of the Islamic State terrorist group were killed Sunday in an air raid on a terrorist hotbed in Anbar province, a tribal militia commander said. “Iraqi warplanes have targeted a secret tunnel of the Islamic State militant group in al-Madham district, 90 km south of Ain Assad airbase in western Anbar,” Qatari al Obeidi told Alsumaria News TV channel. “The airstrike left four Islamic State terrorists killed,” Obeidi said, adding that the bombardment destroyed a large cache of IS ammunition and weapons inside the tunnel. Earlier in the day, the Iraqi army launched a military operation to purge the desert areas in Ar Rutbah, west of Anbar, from Islamic State cells. 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. IS declared a self-styled “caliphate” in a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria in 2014. A government campaign, backed by a U.S.-led international coalition and paramilitary forces, was launched in 2016 to retake IS-held regions, managing to retake all havens, most notably the city of Mosul, the group’s previously proclaimed capital.”

Iraqi News: Iraqi Security Apprehend Six Islamic State Militants In Mosul

“Iraqi security forces arrested on Sunday six members of the Islamic State terrorist group in Nineveh province, the Interior Ministry said. “Based on judicial arrest warrants, six Islamic State terrorists were busted by the 12th emergency troops of the Nineveh Operations Command in Mosul city,” Alsumaria News TV channel quoted the ministry as saying in a press statement. The arrestees, according to the statement, were fighting for the Islamic State when the city of Mosul fell under the control of the militant group in 2014. The police also found three bazooka missiles at a land plot owned by an IS militant in the western side of Mosul, the statement read. The Islamic State group appeared on the international scene in 2014 when it seized large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, declaring the establishment of an Islamic “caliphate” from Mosul city. Later on, the group has become notorious for its brutality, including mass killings, abductions and beheadings, prompting the U.S. to lead an international coalition to destroy it.”

Voice Of America: Iraqi Musician Plays Ney In Mosul Ruins Two Years After IS

“Amid the bombed-out wreckage of a site that once hosted dozens of Mosul’s traditional maqam players, Iraqi musician Saad Rajab Bacha plays his ney flute to remember the city’s glorious days before it came under the control of Islamic State (IS). Bacha, 65, fled Mosul in June 2014 after IS fighters overran the city and established a hard-line rule that deemed all musical instruments, including his ney, a violation of Islamic law. When he returned home two years later, he found that much of his beloved city had been reduced to rubble in the Iraqi fight against IS. The sad melodies that emerge from his ney come as Iraq this month celebrates the second anniversary of recapturing the city from IS. Bacha says that despite the initial optimism for a new life after the jihadists’ defeat, much of the city still lies in ruins and its artists, among thousands of residents, are unable to return because of lack of essential services. “I feel like art has been slayed,” Bacha told VOA, adding that Mosul’s artists were either killed or had to flee because of charges of blasphemy by IS. “The effort of artists in Mosul has been lost due to those extremists who hate life, music and art,” he added. Bacha now resides in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region’s capital, Irbil, but frequently visits his hometown, Mosul, to help arrange musical events in the city.”

Kurdistan 24: Iraqi Forces Repel Third ISIS Attack In 2019 On Oilfields In Salahuddin

“Iraqi security forces announced late Sunday evening that they had foiled an attack carried out by the Islamic State on oilfields in Salahuddin. It was the latest attack by the jihadist group’s remnants targeting the strategic oilfield of Olas, located some 195 kilometers north of Iraq’s capital. The militants launched two separate attacks on the same site in May, which were also repulsed by security forces. The jihadists tried to approach the oilfield on Sunday evening, but security forces managed to “strongly respond to them,” the General-Directorate of the Energy Police said in a statement. The Directorate offered no further details nor whether the clashes had resulted in any casualties. A local security source from the area told Kurdistan 24 the attack targeted the “police regiment” stationed at the oilfields.”


The New York Times: ‘Her Eyes Were Full Of Fear.’ Turkey Repatriates Children Of ISIS Followers.

“Sitting on a chair swinging her legs, 9-year-old Nisa flashes a rare smile at the memory of her mother kissing her the last time they saw each other. Barely a month back from a prison camp in Iraq, where her mother remains incarcerated on a life sentence for aiding terrorism, her short life has been one of untold trauma and upheaval. She lived for five years in the Islamic State’s caliphate after her father took the family from Turkey to join the terrorist group. And she lost her baby brother and father to the war. She then spent more than a year in an Iraqi jail with dozens of other Turkish families affiliated with the Islamic State. Now, she is one of more than 200 Turkish children the government has repatriated from Iraq. She was handed over to her maternal grandparents in Istanbul, who know only snippets of what she has been through. “She was really skinny. Her eyes were full of fear,” said her grandmother Bedia, who, like the relatives of other children, asked that the family’s last name not be used to protect its privacy. “In the last month, she got herself together because we took care of her.” Turkey, like many Western countries, has been slow to take back citizens who ran off to join the Islamic State as it extended its violent rule across Syria and Iraq starting in 2014.”

The Military Times: Turkey Determined To Destroy ‘Terror Corridor’ In Syria Despite Talks With US To Establish A Safe Zone

“Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday his country is determined to destroy what he called a “terror corridor” in northern Syria — regardless of whether or not Turkey and the United States agree on the establishment of a so-called “safe zone” there. U.S. and Turkish officials have been holding talks on creating a safe zone east of the Euphrates River to address Turkey’s security concerns stemming from the presence of Syrian Kurdish fighters in the region. Turkey views the Kurdish fighters — who have battled the Islamic State group alongside U.S. forces — as terrorists, allied with a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey.  Ankara wants a zone along the border with Syria cleared of the Kurdish fighters and claims such a zone would be safe for Syrians and allow some of the country’s refugees to return.  Turkey on Wednesday slammed a new U.S. proposal for a so-called “safe zone” in northern Syria, saying it was “not satisfactory” and warning that Ankara may launch a new offensive to secure its border if an agreement isn’t reached soon. Turkey has warned of a possible new offensive into Syria if an agreement on a safe zone is not reached, and has recently been sending reinforcements to its border area.”


The New York Times: Amid Rising Violence And Taliban Peace Talks, Afghan Campaign Begins

“As Afghanistan’s presidential election campaign began on Sunday, the country’s leader was facing a series of daunting concerns, from unrelenting violence to fears that his government could be derailed by a peace deal with the Taliban. Now there are the voters: Weary of waves of terrorism — like an attack on one candidate Sunday — they are skeptical of risking life and limb to cast ballots, especially given the widespread fraud in recent elections. “Why should I vote?” asked Fatima Hussaini, a resident of Kabul, the capital, expressing a widespread view among the electorate. “The government hasn’t done anything for us, and we’re not stupid enough to vote again,” declared Ms. Hussaini, who said her 2014 vote had been wasted. Mohammad Ashraf, 41, a shopkeeper, said he, too, would not vote because he does not believe it would improve security. “I don’t want to take the risk,” he said. Their fears were not without cause. In Afghanistan, running elections and going to the polls can be life-or-death decisions. On Sunday, the political party office of Amrullah Saleh, an Afghan vice presidential candidate and President Ashraf Ghani’s running mate, was stormed by gunmen and bombed. Mr. Saleh survived the attack, the president reported, and the Interior Ministry said he was not injured.”

The New York Times: Confusion Over Afghan-Taliban Talks Further Complicates Peace Process

“The Afghan government on Saturday announced that it was preparing for direct negotiations with the Taliban in the next two weeks, a major step in efforts to end a war so long that it has left record casualties in its wake. But the Taliban quickly rejected it. The militant group’s spokesman said the Taliban was steadfast in its refusal to directly negotiate with the Afghan side until the United States announces a schedule for withdrawing the remainder of its 14,000 troops in the country. Analysts questioned the point of the government’s announcement when the Taliban’s position on the withdrawal of U.S. troops was clear all along. The episode was the latest bit of confusion in a prolonged peace process. The insurgents and the Americans are nearing a deal after seven rounds of protracted negotiations in the Qatari capital of Doha — talks that have excluded the Afghan government. As part of that agreement, expected to be completed soon, the United States and the Taliban would settle on a timeline for the withdrawal of American troops — one believed to be under two years with conditions attached. But American diplomats, recently aided by Germany and Norway, have struggled to advance the process to its next step, in which the Taliban would negotiate with the Afghan government over the political future of the country after the American-led NATO mission ends its military presence.”

Xinhua: Taliban Militants Dynamite Bridge In N. Afghan Province

“Taliban militants dynamited a bridge in northern Afghanistan's Takhar province on Saturday, cutting the link between the Eshkamish district headquarters to several villages, district governor Abdul Qayum Qani said. A group of militants, by using explosive devices, destroyed a major bridge in the Eshkamish district Saturday morning, cutting off the link between eight villages to the district headquarters, the official said. Attack on the bridge took place amid Taliban militants' attempt to overrun the Eshkamish district, Qani added. Fighting aircraft, according to the official, have been attacking the militants' hideouts in the besieged district over the past couple of days and have killed nine armed militants since Friday. Taliban militants who have been attempting to capture the Eshkamish district, are yet to make comments.”

Xinhua: Intra-Afghan Talks Only After U.S. Agrees To Withdraw Troops: Taliban

“The Taliban said on Sunday they will not hold direct talks with the Afghan government and rejected a statement from a senior minister about plans to hold such a meeting in the next two weeks, a senior Taliban official said.  State Minister for Peace Affairs Abdul Salam Rahimi said on Saturday it was hoped that direct talks with the Taliban would be held in the next two weeks in an unidentified European country. The government would be represented by a 15-member delegation, he said.  But Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, denied that, saying talks with the Afghan government would only come after a deal had been struck with the United States on the departure of its forces.  “Intra-Afghan talks will start only after a foreign force withdrawal is announced,” Shaheen said.  The U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said after Rahimi had made his announcement that talks between the Taliban and Afghans would happen after the United States “concludes its own agreement” with the Taliban.  Khalilzad has held several rounds of direct talks with Taliban officials in Qatar since late last year with the focus on a Taliban demand for the withdrawal of U.S. and other foreign forces and a U.S. demand the Taliban guarantee that Afghanistan will not be used as a base for terrorism.”

The Wall Street Journal: Deadly Bombing In Kabul Targets Afghan President’s Running Mate

“Official campaigning for presidential elections got off to an ominous start on Sunday as suspected Taliban fighters attacked the Kabul political offices of President Ashraf Ghani’s running mate, leaving at least 20 people dead and dozens more wounded, according to the interior ministry. Just hours after Mr. Ghani kicked off his campaign for another five-year term in office with the declaration to war-weary Afghans that “peace is coming,” a car bomb exploded outside the fortified office compound of Amrullah Saleh, former head of Afghanistan’s intelligence agency and one of two vice presidents on Mr. Ghani’s ticket for the twice-postponed presidential election, now scheduled for Sept. 28. In the ensuing gunfight between militants and government security forces, Mr. Saleh was “evacuated from the building and moved to a safe location,” along with dozens of other bystanders trapped inside the offices, said Nasrat Rahimi, the interior ministry spokesman.”


CNN: Ten Pakistani Soldiers Gunned Down, Military Says

“Ten soldiers have been killed in two separate incidents across Pakistan, a military spokesperson said on Saturday. In the first incident, a military statement said the attackers were “terrorists from across the Afghan border” who opened fire on a border patrolling party in North Waziristan, a mountainous region located in Pakistan's northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which is close to the Afghan border.  Six soldiers were killed in the first attack, according to the military statement.  The second incident took place in the country's southwestern province of Balochistan, where a military operation left four soldiers dead. That attack was also attributed to “terrorists” by the military.  Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on Saturday claimed responsibility for an attack in South Waziristan, in which they called Pakistani military “America's slaves.” However, the group did not claim an attack in North Waziristan, where the military said it occurred. Writing on Twitter on Saturday, the Pakistan military's spokesman Maj. General Asif Ghafoor expressed his condolences to the victims and their families, and said: “We shall ensure defense & security of motherland at the cost of our sweat & blood.”


Reuters: Yemen's Houthis Target With Drones Saudi Arabia's Abha Airport: Houthis' Al Masirah TV

“Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group said it launched on Sunday a drone attack on Saudi Arabia’s Abha airport, Houthis’ Al- Masirah TV reported citing the group’s military spokesman. There was no immediate confirmation from Saudi authorities.”

Xinhua: 1 Killed, 4 Injured In Houthis' Shelling In Yemen's Hodeidah

“The Houthi rebels' shelling in Yemen's war-torn port city of Hodeidah on Sunday killed a man and injured four children, a government security source and a medic said. The shelling targeted a dairy factory and government military positions in the area of Kilo 16, as well as residential quarters in Jiraybah area, they said. The killed man, identified as Mohammed Wanis, was a worker of the dairy factory in Kilo 16, while the four children were wounded by the shelling in Jiraybah area. Both areas are on the southern outskirts of the port city. There was no comment from the rebels. The Iran-allied Houthi rebels control much of Hodeidah while the Saudi-backed government troops have advanced to the southeastern districts. Hodeidah is the lifeline entry point for Yemen's most food imports and humanitarian aid. The more than four-year civil war has pushed over 20 million people to the verge of starvation.”


The Jerusalem Post: Qatar’s New Tactic Is To Control The World Of Academia

“The Qatari regime, long known for its robust sponsorship of terrorism and devaluation of human rights, has employed a new tactic to exert foreign influence and evade international condemnation: controlling the world of academia. For years, Qatar’s lavish spending on foreign lobbyists – particularly in the United States, where lobbying plays an integral role in the legislative process – has constituted the bulk of the country’s attempts to wield influence in the world’s most powerful market. The small Gulf nation with not 315,000 citizens regularly doles out tens of millions on Beltway-insider lobbying firms intended to polish Qatar’s image in the eyes of lawmakers and the American populace. In 2017, Qatar spent $16.3 million on Washington lobbyists.”

Middle East

The New York Times: Bahrain Executes 3 Men, Including 2 Shiite Activists On ‘Terrorism Crimes’

“Bahrain executed three men on Saturday, including two Shiite activists for what officials called “terrorism crimes,” in what was described as attacks orchestrated by Iran-based ringleaders. A London-based Bahraini activist rights group said the executions made Saturday “one of Bahrain’s darkest days.” The men were convicted in two separate cases, one involving the killing of a police officer in 2017 and the other the killing of an imam in 2018, the public prosecutor said in a statement. The Shiite activists, Ali al-Arab and Ahmed al-Malali, were sentenced to death last year as part of a mass trial on “terrorism crimes.” Nineteen men were jailed for life, and 37 others for terms of up to 15 years, on the accusation that they had belonged to a terrorist cell trained to use heavy weapons and explosives. Mr. al-Arab and Mr. al-Malali were convicted of crimes including using an assault rifle to kill the police officer, according to the prosecutor. Bahrain, a strategic island where the United States Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based, has a Shiite Muslim majority population but is governed by a Sunni royal family. It accuses mainly Shiite Iran of stoking militancy in the kingdom, which Tehran denies.”


USA Today: Extremist Attack Kills More Than 60 People In Nigeria, Boko Haram Suspected

“Suspected Boko Haram extremists killed more than 60 people in an attack on villagers leaving a funeral in northeastern Nigeria, a local official said Sunday. It was the deadliest extremist attack against civilians in the region this year. Muhammad Bulama, council chairman of the Nganzai local government area, told reporters that 11 other people were wounded during the attack at midday Saturday. He called it a reprisal after villagers and civilian self-defense forces fought off a Boko Haram ambush in the area two weeks ago, killing 11 extremists. Nigerians last week marked the grim 10-year anniversary of the Boko Haram insurgency, which has killed tens of thousands of people, displaced millions and created one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises. The extremists are known for mass abductions of schoolgirls and putting young women and men into suicide vests for attacks on markets, mosques and other high-traffic areas. The extremists, who seek to impose a strict Islamic state in the region, have defied the claims of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration over the years that the insurgency has been crushed. The violence also has spilled into neighboring Chad, Niger and Cameroon.”

Al Jazeera: Nigeria To Label Shia Group A 'Terrorist Organisation'

“A Nigerian court has granted the government permission to label a local Shia group as a “terrorist” organisation. Dayo Apata, Nigeria's solicitor general, confirmed on Saturday that a federal court allowed the government to proscribe the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) as such, a move offering the authorities the chance to clamp down harder on the group. IMN members have been marching in the capital Abuja calling for the release of their leader, Ibrahim el-Zakzaky, who has been in detention since 2015 despite a court order to release him. Zakzaky's office said plans to ban the movement had been considered since 2015 and it was not surprised by the move. The protests have often turned violent. The Shia organisation said at least 20 of its members were killed this week during a series of protests in Abuja. No official death toll has been released by police. Security was stepped up across the country in the face of the ongoing protests, which police say are violent and unruly. Zakzaky has been held in detention since December 2015 when the army killed almost 350 of his followers at his compound and a nearby mosque and burial ground in northern Kaduna state. He faces charges of murder, culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, disruption of public peace, and other offences following the 2015 violence.”


Xinhua: U.S. Military Kills ISIS Terrorist In Northern Somalia

“The United States military said Sunday it conducted an airstrike against ISIS terrorist in northern Somalia on Sunday, killing one militant. The U.S. Africa Command (Africom) which oversees American troops on the African continent said the latest strike was conducted on Saturday in cooperation with the Somali government targeting terrorists in the Golis Mountains. The U.S. army said the terrorist killed in the latest strike played a key role in facilitation for the group. “Airstrikes like these remain an effective tool in the counter-terrorist campaign against ISIS and al-Shabab,” William West, Africom deputy director of operations, said in a statement. “The Federal Government of Somalia and the U.S. will continue to disrupt terror organization operations and degrade their capabilities whenever possible,” said West. According to Africom, the Golis Mountains are a known area for terrorist activity, noting that strikes such as these support Somali security forces efforts to protect the Somali people from terrorism and support long-term security in the region. “Currently, we assess no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike. Our process and procedures allow for additional information to inform post-strike analysis,” it said.”

Anadolu: 6 African Peacekeeping Soldiers Killed In Somalia

“Atleast six soldiers from East African country of Burundi, were killed in an attack near Somali capital Mogadishu, an official said. The soldiers were part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). "Elements of the al-Shabaab terrorist group have attacked Burundian soldiers of the Somalia Peacekeeping Mission (AMISOM) in Balad district, located about 30 kilometers northeast from the capital city of Mogadishu," Colonel Floribert Biyereke, spokesman of the Burundian army said late Sunday. "Six soldiers were killed on the spot. Three others sustained serious injuries. Two soldiers are missing," he added. Attack came just few days after six people including two district commissioners were killed, in a suicide bomb attack on a government building in the country's capital. Somali-based al-Qaeda affiliated group al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the deadly suicide attack.”


Financial Times: Rise In Extremist Violence Puts Germans On Edge

“Ever since the attack on his car last year, Ferat Kocak has been noting down vehicle number plates he sees on the streets. He has frequently moved house and sleeps badly. “I wake at the slightest sound,” he said. “The fear is ever present.”  Mr Kocak, an official of the leftwing German party Die Linke, said his life changed one night in February 2018 when unknown assailants set fire to his car. The flames spread to the house where he and his parents were sleeping. If he had not woken up in time, he said, his family could have been killed. Two men from the hard-right scene in Berlin’s working-class district of Neukölln were detained over the attack but released due to lack of evidence. In June, Germans were shocked by the killing of Walter Lübcke, a local official in the central region of Hesse and the first German politician in the country’s postwar history to be assassinated by a rightwing extremist. Such attacks are rare. But they are the product of a changing political culture that has become increasingly brutish in recent years. The appearance of a wooden gallows marked “reserved for Angela ‘Mummy’ Merkel”, the German chancellor, at a far-right demonstration in Dresden four years ago, drew widespread condemnation at the time.”

Latin America

The Jerusalem Post: Ted Cruz: Growth Of Hezbollah In Latin America Remains Unchecked

“US Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) urged Latin America to acknowledge Hezbollah’s significant presence in their home countries and the terror that the organization perpetuates within their borders.”AMIA bombing was not the first or the last terrorist attack carried out by Hezbollah in Latin America or around the world, and yet over two decades after the bombing, Hezbollah is still very much alive and active in the tri-border area that encompasses the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay,” warned Cruz, at an event on Thursday commemorating the 1994 AMIA bombing in Argentina in which 85 Jews were murdered and 330 injured. “The growth of Hezbollah in Latin America remains unchecked. “Hezbollah continues to radicalize people in Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil through mosques and schools that preach the group’s extremist agenda,” said Cruz. “It’s time for Latin America to reckon with the significant and the dangerous presence of Hezbollah in the region, and it’s also time for the larger international community to combat Iranian proxies wherever we find them – in Latin America and the Middle East.”


The New York Times: Facebook Connected Her To A Tattooed Soldier In Iraq. Or So She Thought

“On a Monday afternoon in June 2017, Renee Holland was draped in an American flag at Philadelphia International Airport, waiting for a soldier she had befriended on Facebook. The married 56-year-old had driven two hours from Delaware to pick him up. Their blossoming online friendship had prompted her to send him a care package and thousands of dollars in gift cards. She also wired him $5,000 for plane tickets to return home. Now she was looking for a buff, tattooed man in uniform, just like in his Facebook photos. But his flight was not on the airport arrivals board. Then a ticket agent told her the flight didn’t exist. From there, Ms. Holland said, it was a daze. She walked to her car, with “Welcome Home” written on the windows, and sobbed. She had spent much of her family’s savings on the phantom soldier. “There’s no way I can go home and tell my husband,” she remembered telling herself. She drove to a strip mall, bought sleeping pills and vodka, and downed them.”

NPR: Did Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Intend To Deceive?

“Facebook has a long track record in deception: telling people one thing, while doing another. That's according to federal regulators, at least one of whom says the government missed its chance to find out why the company has repeatedly misled its users. This past week, the Federal Trade Commission decided to enter into a settlement with Mark Zuckerberg without interviewing him first. The FTC secured a $5 billion penalty from Facebook but, FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra says, the agency sacrificed discovering the truth about the CEO in the process. "It's still really a mystery to me as to what role [Zuckerberg] played," says Chopra, who opposed the settlement. The FTC complaint against Facebook highlights a prominent moment when Zuckerberg said one thing while his company did another.”