Eye on Extremism: July 31

Associated Press: Bus Hit By Roadside Bomb In Afghanistan, 32 Killed

“A roadside bomb tore through a bus in western Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing at least 32 people, including children, a provincial official said. Mohibullah Mohib, spokesman for the police chief in Farah province, said 15 others were wounded with most in critical condition, indicating the death toll could rise. The bus was traveling on a main highway between the western city of Herat and the southern city of Kandahar. No one immediately claimed responsibility, but Taliban insurgents operate in the region and frequently use roadside bombs to target government officials and security forces. The Taliban have kept up a steady tempo of attacks even as they have held several rounds of peace talks with the United States aimed at ending the 18-year war. The attack came a day after the U.N. mission in Afghanistan released a report saying that most civilian deaths in the first half of the year were caused by Afghan forces and their international allies. The report apparently referred to civilians killed during Afghan and U.S. military operations against insurgents. The U.N. report said 403 civilians were killed by Afghan forces in the first six months of the year and another 314 by international forces, a total of 717. That’s compared to 531 killed by the Taliban, an Islamic State affiliate and other militants during the same period. It said 300 of those killed by militants were directly targeted.”

The New York Times: Two-Thirds Of U.N. Security Council Ask U.N. Chief For Syria Hospital Attacks Inquiry

“Two-thirds of the United Nations Security Council - including the United States, Britain and France - asked Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday to investigate attacks on U.N.-supported medical facilities in northwest Syria, diplomats said. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces, backed by Russia, began an offensive on the last major insurgent stronghold three months ago that the United Nations says has killed at least 450 civilians and displaced more than 440,000 people. The Security Council has been deadlocked on Syria with Russia and China - two of the body's five veto powers along with Britain, France and the United States - shielding Assad's government from any action during eight years of war. Britain, France, the United States, Germany, Belgium, Peru, Poland, Kuwait, Dominican Republic and Indonesia delivered a demarche - a formal diplomatic petition - to Guterres over the lack of an inquiry into attacks on U.N.-supported facilities. "At least fourteen U.N.-supported facilities on the list of deconflicted facilities have been damaged or destroyed in northwest Syria since the end of April," they told Guterres, according to the agreed request seen by Reuters. "We therefore respectfully request that you consider launching an internal U.N. investigation into attacks that have damaged or destroyed U.N.-supported facilities in northwest Syria and report back promptly," they said.”

The Wall Street Journal: Secret Military Cemetery Conceals Toll Of Islamist Insurgency In Nigeria

“At the northern edge of this city’s sprawling military base, a vast field of churned soil conceals the hidden toll of a deadly offensive by the allies of Islamic State. After dark, the bodies of soldiers are covertly transported from a mortuary that at times gets so crowded the corpses are delivered by truck, according to Nigerian soldiers, diplomats and a senior government official. The bodies are laid by flashlight into trenches dug by infantrymen or local villagers paid a few dollars per shift. “Several of my comrades were buried in unmarked graves at night,” said a soldier from the Maimalari barracks, where over 1,000 soldiers are based. “They are dying and being deleted from history.” The secret graveyard at Maimalari isn’t the only one in Nigeria’s troubled northeast, the senior government official said. The burials convey a picture at odds with a war Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, a former general, has repeatedly claimed his army has won. The reality is that Africa’s largest land force—a U.S. counterterrorism ally—is struggling against an insurgency that first flared a decade ago and is now rejuvenated by Islamic State and the return of fighters from Libya, Syria and Iraq.”

Nine.com.au: ISIS Plan Complex Attacks In Unexpected Locations, UN Dossier Warns

“Secret Islamic State terror cells are primed to carry out "complex" attacks in unexpected locations around the world before the end of the year, a UN intelligence report has warned. A hefty $430m Islamic State (IS) war chest was funnelling arms and cash to incubated cells, fighters and affiliate groups across the Middle East, Africa and the Philippines, the report said. A lull in major IS attacks since Sri Lanka's Easter Sunday bombings which killed 259 people this year was predicted to end soon. "IS still aspires to have global relevance and expects to achieve this by continuing to carry out international attacks," the report said. "The current abatement of such attacks, therefore, may not last long, possibly not even until the end of 2019. Meanwhile, more IS-inspired attacks will occur, possibly in unexpected locations." Intelligence sources currently rated IS a larger threat to global security than al-Qaeda, because of the offshoot group's robust finances, carefully crafted media profile and hardened combat experience. The extremist group's fugitive leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his inner circle are hiding in Iraq, and have evaded being captured or killed despite being hunted by US-led Coalition forces and a $25m bounty on his head.”

The Detroit News: Dearborn Man's Jihad Journey To Syria Chronicled In Federal Court

“A Dearborn man captured overseas and charged with supporting the Islamic State fought in two countries, fired on Syrian forces and trained in religious and military camps, federal prosecutors said. Prosecutors provided new details about Ibraheem Musaibli's journey to jihad and the nearly three years he spent in Yemen, Iraq and Syria before he was captured by Syrian Democratic Forces in July 2018. The government revealed the new details Monday while trying to convince U.S. District Judge David Lawson to prevent Musaibli and his lawyer from seeing classified evidence that, if disclosed, could harm national security. Musaibli's case presents one of the first times the Trump administration is using federal courts to prosecute a returning foreign fighter. Musaibli was brought back to Metro Detroit last year and charged with conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization. Prosecutors want the judge to review the information privately and decide whether it is necessary for Musaibli, 29, to have while defending against charges that could send him to prison for at least 40 years and up to life.”

The Sun: Major Zuck-Up Facebook Risks Hindering Child Abuse And Terrorism Investigations By Hiding Online Messages, Warns Priti Patel

“Priti Patel told the tech giant that increasing users’ privacy by making their chats secret will hinder detectives as they try to track down paedophiles and extremists. The new development - known as end-to-end encryption - will help criminals and put victims at risk, it is feared. She is demanding that Facebook, along with Twitter and Google, allow access to hidden messages by intelligence agencies. The Silicon Valley firms were given the stark warning by ministers from the “Five Eyes” intelligence allies – the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – during a two-day meeting in London on emerging threats. Ms Patel said: “The use of end-to-end encryption in this way has the potential to have serious consequences for the vital work which companies already undertake to identify and remove child abuse and terrorist content. “It will also hamper our own law enforcement agencies, and those of our allies, in their ability to identify and stop criminals abusing children, trafficking drugs, weapons and people, or terrorists plotting attacks.”

United States

The New York Times: Hamid Hayat’s 2006 Terrorism Conviction Is Overturned

“A federal judge on Tuesday overturned the 2006 conviction of a California man accused of training in a Pakistani terrorist camp and lying to the F.B.I. about it, undoing a case once heralded by federal prosecutors after the Sept. 11 attacks as a proactive victory against terrorism. The man, Hamid Hayat, 35, was sentenced in 2007 to 24 years in prison. He had served more than 14 years before Tuesday’s decision. In overturning Mr. Hayat’s conviction and sentence, Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr., of United States District Court in Sacramento, said that Mr. Hayat had not been adequately represented during his trial. His lawyer did not use testimony from several witnesses who could have provided a credible alibi for Mr. Hayat, the judge wrote in his order.  “We are really in shock, the whole family, we really are,” Mr. Hayat’s sister Raheela Hayat, 24, said in a phone interview. Dennis Riordan, a lawyer for Mr. Hayat, said he was now seeking Mr. Hayat’s immediate release from prison in Phoenix. He said Mr. Hayat’s release could be delayed if prosecutors appeal the case. “Hopefully he comes out tomorrow or the next day,” Ms. Hayat said. “We’re all going to get together and cry, hug him.”

The Washington Free Beacon: ISIS Warns Of Terror Strikes In San Francisco, New York, London

“The ISIS terrorist organization is threatening to launch new attacks in San Francisco, New York, and London, according to new warning messages posted on the group's social media channels. The messages, carried across the internet via the Telegram networking website, feature the three cities and call for adherents of the terror group's radical ideology to “kill them all,” according to copies of the warnings obtained by the Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI, a group that monitors jihadi networks. “The pro-Islamic State (ISIS) Ash-Shaff Media Foundation shared five posters on Telegram which threaten and encourage terror attacks in the West,” according to information compiled by MEMRI. “The posters are captioned in poor English and feature background images of San Francisco, New York City, and London. The Ash-Shaff media group is believed to be based in Indonesia and/or operated by Indonesians.” “Go and answer the call,” one of the posters states. “Don't spare none [sic]. Kill them all. It is now time to rise. Slit their throats. Watch them die.” Another poster featuring a man in a suicide bomb vest standing in what appears to be downtown Manhattan urges ISIS followers to “slaughter them all.”

The Hill: Investigators Find White Supremacy, Radical Islam Materials In Gilroy Shooter's Home

“Investigators in Nevada have found evidence indicating an intent to carry out a large-scale attack as well as white supremacist literature in the home of a man suspected of committing a deadly Sunday shooting at a festival in California. The San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday that a search of 19-year-old suspect Santino William Legan's home in Walker Lake, Nev., turned up empty ammunition boxes, a gas mask, a knife, reading materials about radical Islam and white supremacy, and a camouflage backpack. Also found at the home was an empty bottle of Valium, according to the Chronicle. Authorities are now searching computers and other electronic devices at the home for more evidence of Legan's online activities and possible further connections to white supremacist movements. “We continue to try to understand who the shooter was, what motivated him, and whether he was aligned with any particular ideology,” FBI Special Agent Craig Fair said at a press conference Tuesday, according to the Chronicle. “Reviewing digital media, historically, has been very revealing in terms of somebody’s mind-set, ideological beliefs, intentions,” Fair continued. “We’ve got to get into the computers, the towers, the thumb drive, the phone, to get a holistic picture of him and who he was in touch with, what sentiments and thoughts he shared with others, what he cataloged for his own consumption.”


Asharq Al-Awsat: Pentagon: Isis Defeated, Its Threat Remains

“The ISIS organization had been defeated but remains a threat, Pentagon quoted the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford, who asserted that the alliance between the US and coalition forces must continue to prevent the return of the terrorist group. Dunford confirmed that the strategy to drive ISIS from its “so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq” has succeeded, but that doesn't mean the struggle against the ideology is over. A Pentagon report published along with Dunford’s statements indicated that the US forces and allies came into the region to help those forces become more effective in combat. However, many critics said the only way to defeat the terror group was “via vast numbers of Western troops – by Western, they meant American. Some believed the United States had to launch another military surge into Iraq.” It added that some political and military leaders believed there was a better strategy through train, advise, and enable. Then, a small number of US and partner-nation forces instructed Iraqi and Syrian security forces, advising them in combat and providing enabling capabilities to ensure ISIS defeat. “The strategy has proven successful, and in March, the physical caliphate was eliminated,” noted the report.”

DW: Opinion: Syrian Hospitals Have Become Death Traps

"We do not need to tell you that the systematic targeting of hospitals is a war crime. We do not need tears, sympathy, or even prayers." These were words my colleagues in Aleppo wrote to US President Barack Obama in 2016, pleading for help. That same year, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2286, which called for the protection of medical personnel and their patients in armed conflict. In spite of the resolution, by the end of 2016 Syrian hospitals had been targeted nearly every day — the most dangerous places in Syria. More than half of all attacks on hospitals and health workers in conflict areas worldwide have taken place in Syria since fighting began there eight years ago. Local communities have suffered enormously as health workers were killed in the line of duty, hospitals destroyed, supplies and medication depleted. More than 890 health workers have been killed and 573 healthcare facilities targeted. "It was such a hard moment," said Dr. Hamza, a surgeon who worked in several hospitals in eastern Ghouta when they came under attack between 2013 and 2018. "This place that's supposed to be a place of healing became a place of injury and danger."


Reuters: Iran To Reduce Nuclear Deal Commitments More Unless Europe Protects It - Zarif

“Iran is set to further cut its commitments to its international nuclear deal unless its European partners move to protect it from U.S. sanctions by ensuring it can sell oil and receive income, its foreign minister told state television on Wednesday.  “Under current circumstances and if no action is taken (by the Europeans) we will take the next step (in cutting commitments),” Mohammad Javad Zarif said, adding that its European partners should guarantee Iran could sell its oil and collect the revenue.  Iran has said it will reduce its commitment to the nuclear accord in stages and may even withdrew from the pact unless the Europeans find ways to shield its economy from the U.S. sanctions.”

Radio Farda: Singapore Detained Two Ships Carrying Iranian LPG In Violation Of US Sanctions

“Two vessels carrying Iranian LPG or liquid gas involved in Iran-China deliveries were detained in Singapore on July 22 and 24, a ship-tracking source has told Radio Farda. The ships belong to Kunlun Shipping, a private Hong Kong company with a fleet of LPG vessels carrying Iranian-sourced cargoes. The detention of the vessels is related to U.S. sanctions banning export of Iranian oil and gas and a direct result of a court order. However, Radio Farda has learned that the ships are no longer listed in the “vessels under Sheriff's arrest” section on the website of the Singapore Supreme Court. The ship-tracking firm Kpler informs that one of the ships, Sea Dragon seems to have been released, as satellite images show it has left Singapore and is sailing back toward the Persian Gulf, carrying its load. The other vessel Gas Infinity is still in port. Kpler also reports that the arrests seem to have been targeting vessels owned only by Kunlun Shipping as other ships involved in Iranian trade crossed the Singapore strait around the same dates without incident.”


The Washington Post: Yazidi Women Raped As ISIS Slaves Face Brutal Homecoming Choice: Give Up Their Child Or Stay Away

“Hiyam never expected to love her daughter. The father was an Islamic State fighter, who bought Hiyam as a slave after the militants swept through the homeland of Iraq’s Yazidi minority. News of the pregnancy filled her with dread. She told doctors she didn’t want the baby. She tried to induce a miscarriage, straining to carry the heaviest objects she could find. A gas canister, a carpet. At night, she cried herself to sleep. But when a midwife placed the baby in her arms — the tiny girl scrunching her face up and yawning — Hiyam knew that she had to protect her. ”I could feel it. She was a piece of my soul,” she said. ”I loved her from that first moment.” Now 21, the young mother is among thousands of women who made it back to the Yazidi community. But for many of those survivors, homecoming has been marred by difficult questions about what it means to belong again. The Islamic State had tried to wipe out the Yazidis, whose faith mixes elements of Islam with pre-Islamic beliefs. Four years on, the genocidal campaign against the already isolated religious minority casts a long shadow, challenging the faith’s long-standing tenets and piling pressure on the religious establishment to navigate the needs of survivors.”

Iraqi News: Iraqi Military Intelligence Destroy Islamic State Tunnel In Mosul

“A secret tunnel used by the Islamic State militant group was destroyed Tuesday in Mosul city, the Iraqi Military Intelligence Directorate said. In a press release carried by the privately-owned Alghad Press website, the directorate said that “the tunnel was used by Islamic State militants for hiding out and escaping from security forces after the liberation of Mosul from terrorism.” The seizure of the tunnel came during a military operation launched by intelligence forces in al Qayyarah district in Mosul. The troops managed to destroy the tunnel completely, added the statement. 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."


VOA: Turkish Security Council Mulls Syrian Operation, Despite Washington's Warnings

“Turkey's National Security Council met Tuesday to decide whether to launch a military offensive into Syria against the YPG Kurdish militia. With Washington backing the YPG and warning against any unilateral action, the two NATO allies could be on a collision course. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan chaired the meeting, which brought together his military and intelligence chiefs. In a statement released after the six-hour session, the national security council claimed terrorist groups were exploiting a power vacuum in the Syrian territory bordering Turkey, posing an increasing security threat. The council agreed to create a  "peace corridor" to protect Turkey. Criticism was also expressed over unnamed countries "illegally" arming terrorist groups — a reference widely interpreted to be aimed at Washington for its support of the YPG. Erdogan ahead of the meeting warned that his patience has run out. "We are determined to shatter the terror corridor east of the Euphrates [in Syria], no matter how the negotiations with the U.S. to establish a safe zone along the Syrian borders concludes," he said Friday in a televised speech. Ankara accuses the YPG of being affiliated with the Kurdish rebel group the PKK, which is waging a decades-long insurgency. With the YPG based along Turkey's Syrian border east of the Euphrates River, the militia is considered by Turkey to be a security threat.”


Al Jazeera: At Least 32 Killed As Afghan Bus Hits 'Taliban' Bomb

“Dozens of civilians, mainly women and children, were killed in western Afghanistan on Wednesday when the bus they were travelling on hit an improvised explosive device. The passenger bus travelling on the Kandahar-Herat highway struck a “Taliban roadside bomb” and at least 32 people were killed and 17 wounded, said Muhibullah Muhib, the spokesman for Farah province. “The bomb was freshly planted by the Taliban insurgents to target Afghan and foreign security forces,” he said, adding all victims were civilians, mostly women and children. Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for the Afghan presidency, put the death toll slightly higher at 34, also blaming it on the Taliban. No immediate confirmation from the group was given that it was behind the blast. Taliban fighters operate in the region and frequently use roadside bombs to target government officials and security forces. Security has been deteriorating across Afghanistan with the Taliban and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant fighters mounting near-daily attacks on Afghan forces, government employees, and civilians. The Taliban, who effectively control half the country, have been meeting with US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad since late last year.”

Bloomberg: Dreaming Of Graduation, Afghan Girls Look To U.S.-Taliban Talks

“Khaleda Sediqqi risks her life every time she goes to work. She tells her neighbors she’s teaching at a nearby primary school, and instead travels to Jalalabad city along a stretch of highway that often comes under militant attack. The head trainer for the charity Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, Sediqqi provides tuition for young female primary teachers. They then take that knowledge back to schools in their villages -- all under the shadow of the Taliban and Islamic State. “I have put my life at risk to come here and educate the young ladies whose dreams are just to graduate from high school,” said Sediqqi, 31, who has a degree in chemistry from Nangarhar University. Speaking at the training center in an old, two-room house in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province in the country’s east, she said: “The goal is to empower them through education so they can fight back and defend other girls’ educational rights.” Most districts of Nangarhar, including Sediqqi’s home town, are on the front line of the country’s battle with the Taliban and its efforts to prevent the militant group IS from gaining a deeper foothold outside Kabul. Surrounded by the sweeping Hindu Kush mountain range, Nangarhar was the staging ground for the Islamic State’s first appearance in Afghanistan.”

Long War Journal: UN: Islamic State Replaced Leader In Afghanistan After Visit From Central Leadership

“The Islamic State’s central leadership replaced their top man in Afghanistan after a meeting earlier this year, according to a recent report submitted to the United Nations Security Council. The report was authored by the monitoring team responsible for tracking al Qaeda, the Islamic State and affiliated groups. Mawlawi Zia ul-Haq, also known as Abu Omar al-Khorasani, led the Islamic State’s Khorasan province until April. He was then “dismissed and replaced by Mawlawi Abdullah, also known as Mawlawi Aslam Farooqi,” who “was previously in charge of operations in the Khyber Agency. “The UN monitoring team found that ul-Haq was demoted “due to poor performance in the context” of the group’s “setbacks in Nangarhar in the second half of 2018.”  The report includes this intriguing detail: Mawlawi Abdullah’s “nomination was made during a visit by an ISIL [Islamic State] core delegation, underscoring the direct relationship between ISIL-K [Islamic State – Khorasan] and the ISIL core in Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic.” The report doesn’t explain how this detail was learned. If accurate, then it does indeed illustrate how the Islamic State’s senior managers continue to exercise their influence far from Iraq and Syria even after losing their territorial caliphate.”

Xinhua: Afghan Forces Kill 56 Militants In Northern Baghlan Province

“Up to 56 militants including seven commanders have been confirmed dead and more than 30 others sustained injuries as the government forces targeted Taliban hideouts in Qurgan Tepa area outside Pul-e-Khumri the capital of northern Baghlan province on Tuesday, army spokesman Mohammad Hanif Rezai said. The crackdown was launched after the militants attacked security checkpoints in Qurgan Tepa area in the wee hours of Tuesday, the official said, adding that 56 armed insurgents have been killed and more than 30 others injured. Seven Taliban group commanders including Qari Abdul Rahim and Mawlawi Mabariz are among those killed in the raids, Rezai said. Provincial police spokesman Jawed Basharat also confirmed the operations, saying more than 50 Taliban fighters have been killed in Qurgan Tepa and adjoining areas since early morning. Taliban militants who are in control of parts of Baghlan province have not commented yet.”


Radio Free Europe: Bomb Targeting Police Kills Four In Southwestern Pakistan

“A blast near a police car in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta on July 30 killed four people and wounded more than two dozen, officials said. Local police official Bakhat Achakzai said the attack targeted the vehicle parked in the middle of the volatile city, where security forces and the members of the minority Shi'ite Muslim community often come under attack. It was not immediately known what kind of explosive device had caused the blast, Achakzai added. “We are still investigating if it was a suicide bombing or a device that has gone off,” said another police official, Muhammad Tahir. Four bodies -- including two children and one woman -- were taken to the city's main hospital, medical officials said. Another 25 people were being treated in hospital and some of them were in a critical condition. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Balochistan is Pakistan's largest but most volatile province, which has borders with both Afghanistan and Iran and which is being targeted by Islamist militants and sectarian groups.”


The National: Yemen Government Says UN Silence Led To Houthi Attack On Saada

“The Yemeni government said on Tuesday that the UN’s lack of condemnation of Houthi crimes led the rebels to carry out a rocket attack on a market in the northern province of Saada, which killed 10 civilians and wounded 20. “The UN or the UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths unfortunately is not condemning this crime,” Hamza Al Kamaly, Yemen’s deputy youth minister, told The National. “They are ignoring the terrorist acts carried out by the Houthis.” The four-year war begun by the Iran-aligned rebels has killed tens of thousands of people and left millions on the brink of famine, the UN says. Since the uprising began in 2014, the rebels have killed thousands of innocent Yemenis, Mr Al Kamaly said. “The UN is allowing the Houthis to kill civilians without commenting on their heinous acts,” he said. This is not the first time the international community ignored the Houthi atrocities, said Majed Fadhil, Yemen’s deputy human rights minister. “The disregard by the UN and the international community for the continuous massacres committed by the rebels against children, women and men were also seen in the provinces of Hajour and Hajjah,” Mr Fadhil said.”

Middle East

The Washington Examiner: ISIS Urges Followers To Carry Out Attacks In Major Western Cities

“The terror group ISIS is calling upon its adherents to carry out terrorist attacks in the major Western cities of San Francisco, New York, and London, according to several social media posts monitored by an ISIS watchdog site. An ISIS media wing posted the terror advertisements on the Telegram networking website, telling followers to "answer the call" and warning ISIS opponents that attacks would happen "immediately" in their countries, the Middle East Media Research Institute reported. "The pro-Islamic State (ISIS) Ash-Shaff Media Foundation shared five posters on Telegram which threaten and encourage terror attacks in the West," according to posts gathered by MEMRI. "The posters are captioned in poor English and feature background images of San Francisco, New York City, and London. The Ash-Shaff media group is believed to be based in Indonesia and/or operated by Indonesians." One poster featuring what appears to be New York tells adherents to "go and answer the call."

The Economic Times: Al-Qaeda Remains Resilient, Continues To Cooperate Closely With LeT: UN

“Al-Qaeda "remains resilient" and continues to cooperate closely with Pakistan-based terror outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Haqqani Network, but the health of its leader Aiman Muhammed al-Zawahiri and how the succession will work are in doubt, according to a UN report. This was revealed in the 24th report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team that was submitted to the UN Security Council Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee here this month. The sanctions monitoring team submits independent reports every six months to the Security Council on the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities. “Al-Qaeda remains resilient, although the health and longevity of its leader, Aiman Muhammed Rabi al-Zawahiri, and how the succession will work are in doubt,” it said. Al-Qaeda considers Afghanistan a continuing safe haven for its leadership, relying on its long-standing and strong relationship with the Taliban, it said. Under Taliban patronage, Al-Qaeda is keen to strengthen its presence in Badakhshan Province, in particular in the Shighnan area bordering Tajikistan, as well as in Barmal, in Paktika Province, it added."


Egypt Today: Egypt Has Come A Long Way In Fighting Terrorism, Money Laundering: Madbouli

“Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli said that Egypt has come a long way in fighting money laundering and terrorism financing via enacting laws and introducing supervisory and regulatory rules.  He added Egypt has set up measures to identify customers in the various financial institutions in line with international standards related to money laundering and terrorism financing that are defined by international organizations, topped by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. Speaking at an annual workshop, hosted by the Egyptian Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Combating Unit (EMLCU), on capacity building in the Middle East and Africa region, Madbouli said that money laundering and terrorism financing are the most serious threats to the stability of the global financial and economic systems. He stressed the necessity of complying with international and domestic regulatory systems that constitute a powerful deterrent to any criminal elements and persons engaging in terrorist activities.  He further underlined the need to foster cooperation among all countries and stakeholders and competent national authorities in a way that helps strengthen Arab and African economies.”


All Africa: Libya: Doctors Killed As Rebels Attack Libya Schools, Hospitals

“Four doctors and a paramedic have been killed following an attack on a school and hospital in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. Eight medical personnel were wounded after the violence blamed on militants. Since the beginning of the conflict in April, a total of 37 attacks have been registered on health personnel and facilities, resulting in a total of 11 deaths, 33 injuries and 19 ambulances directly or indirectly impacted. The education of nearly 120 000 students has been affected and 27 schools are now used as shelters for families who fled their homes. Bérangère Böell-Yousfi, the Humanitarian Coordinator in Libya, condemned the attack on Al-Alamain school and Az Zawiyah Field Hospital. She called on all the parties to the conflict to respect their obligations under the international humanitarian law and stop attacks of hospitals, schools and other civilian infrastructure and personnel. The envoy said the provision of basic services must be provided to civilians in desperate need. “Thousands of lives are at stake. Parties to conflict must allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of impartial humanitarian relief, including medical missions,” Böell-Yousfi. Rival parties are contending for the control Tripoli.”


Premium Times: Nigeria Police To Prosecute Banned Shiite Group Members Under Terrorism Law

“The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has said henceforth any protester arrested in connection with the proscribed Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) will be prosecuted under the “Terrorism Act.’’ Mr Adamu stated this on Tuesday in Abuja at a conference organised by the Force Headquarters for senior police officers. The Federal Government on Friday obtained a court order proscribing the IMN after it branded it as a terrorist organisation. The IGP said the conference was organised to review the activities of the banned organisation and other security challenges in order to emplace appropriate measures to address them. Mr Adamu stressed that increasing engagement of terror tactics, violent and subversive activities of IMN contravened the Terrorism Prevention Act 2013, as amended. According to him, with the judicial pronouncement of the Federal High Court in Abuja, the Federal Government has classified them as a terrorist group and accordingly proscribed the El-Zakzaky-led IMN. “In consequence, henceforth, any person engaged or associating, in any manner that could advance the activities of the proscribed Islamic Movement in Nigeria, shall be treated as a terrorist. “Such person will be treated as an enemy of the State, and a subversive element and shall be brought to justice within the context of the Terrorism Act.”


The East African: Kenya's Plea To UN To Classify Al-Shabaab A Terrorist Group

“Kenya plans to formally ask the United Nations (UN) to classify Somali militant group al-Shabaab as a terrorist group. The move is aimed at ensuring more attention is focused on combating the extremists. Foreign Affairs PS Macharia Kamau said Kenya will submit a proposal to have the UN Security Council list the Shabaab as a terrorist organisation under an expanded bid to annihilate extremist groups in the world. “We will formally be submitting a request, seeking UAE’s support in listing al-Shabaab under UN Resolution 1267. This is important to bring the global efforts in tackling the group,” he said in Nairobi, after meeting a delegation of United Arab Emirates officials where they signed a series of bilateral agreements and agreed to finalise a security agreement soon. “It has caused serious havoc, not just on Kenya but the region and the world in general. It is important that all global efforts now come together to combat this,” added Kamau. Under Resolution 1267 of 1999, or subsequent and related decisions, the UN Security Council targeted terror or militant groups like the Talibans, Al-Qaeda and ISIS and their leaders such as Osama bin Laden, sanctioning the groups and those associated with them.”

North Korea

Associated Press: Seoul: North Korea Launches 2 Short-Range Ballistic Missiles

“South Korea’s military said North Korea conducted its second weapons test in less than a week Wednesday, firing two short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast in a move observers said could be aimed at boosting pressure on the United States as the rivals struggle to set up fresh nuclear talks. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the missiles were launched from Wonsan, a city the North pushes as a vacation destination but that it also uses as a regular launch site. It said both missiles were believed to have flown about 250 kilometers (155 miles) at a maximum altitude of 30 kilometers (19 miles), and that the South Korean and U.S. militaries were trying to gather more details. The test, which would be yet another North Korean violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, comes as the country’s negotiations with the U.S. over its nuclear weapons program are at a stalemate and as Pyongyang has expressed anger over planned U.S.-South Korean military drills.”

United Kingdom

BBC News: Islamic State 'Beatles' El Shafee Elsheikh And Alexanda Kotey Could Be Tried In UK

“British investigators have enough evidence to prosecute two of the so-called Islamic State “Beatles” in the UK, the Supreme Court has been told.  El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey are accused of belonging to an IS cell which is thought to have kidnapped and murdered Western hostages in Syria.  They are currently being held in northern Syria.  The US wants to use evidence amassed by British investigators to put both men on trial there. However, Washington is refusing to give the UK a standard assurance that neither man would be executed if convicted. Mr Elsheikh's mother, Maha Elgizouli, is trying to block the government from handing Islamic State 'Beatles' could be prosecuted in UK over the information - after it decided to help the US. It has emerged that she also wants to take the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to court for failing to put her son on trial in the UK. The pair, who are from London, are accused of being members of an IS cell - dubbed “The Beatles” because of their British accents - which also included Mohammed Emwazi, known as Jihadi John, who was killed in a US air strike in 2015, and Aine Davis, who has been jailed in Turkey.”

Al Jazeera: UK ISIL Hearing: Legal Challenge Over Information Sharing

“The mother of an alleged Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) member is challenging the United Kingdom's decision to share information with the United States without guaranteeing that her son will not face the death penalty. Elshafee Elsheikh is an alleged ISIL member, part of the “Beatles cell”. A UK court says the home secretary has no legal duty to protect the alleged terrorist. Al Jazeera speaks to Clive Baldwin, a senior legal adviser for the legal and policy office at Human Rights Watch.”

Yahoo News: UK Warship Commander Says Iran Trying 'To Test' Britain In Gulf

“The commander of a British warship accompanying UK-flagged ships through the Strait of Hormuz amid heightened tensions with Iran said Wednesday that Tehran appeared to be testing the Royal Navy's resolve. William King, commander of HMS Montrose, said during 27 days patrolling the flashpoint entrance to the Gulf he had had 85 "interactions with Iranian forces", which had often led to "an exchange of warnings" over radio. "That gives you some idea of the intensity... (it) is perhaps more than we've seen of recent times," he told BBC Radio in a phone interview from aboard the frigate. "The Iranians seem to be keen to test our resolve, test our reactions most of the time," King added. "They'll claim that perhaps our presence is illegitimate, even though we're completely lawfully in international waters. "They may also run boats in at speed towards us, to test what warning levels we get to." Montrose, on a three-year deployment in the region since April based at a British naval hub opened in Bahrain last year, began the escorts through the world's busiest oil shipping lane earlier this month.”


The Atlantic: Prosecuting Syrian War-Crimes Suspects From Berlin

“Among the Syrians living here in the German capital, Anwar Raslan had long been notorious. Soon he may be known farther afield—not just as the first senior Syrian official to be held accountable for acts carried out during that country’s conflict, but perhaps more importantly as the defendant in a case that changed the way the world prosecutes war crimes. In Damascus, Raslan had been a colonel in Syria’s military-intelligence agency, overseeing investigations at an outpost known as Branch 251. In the same building, some 600 people were crammed into cells built for a third as many. Those who were held there were starved, tortured, sexually assaulted, and offered no medical care, rights groups say; most days, six or seven people died as a result. Then Raslan defected from Bashar al-Assad’s regime, joining an early wave of Syrian migrants in 2012 who were fleeing what would turn into an all-out civil war. He eventually made his way to Germany—alone at first, but joined later by his family—and applied for asylum. Here, he lived in some measure of freedom, alongside others who had themselves been held in Branch 251. That all changed this year. Raslan was arrested in February—German prosecutors said at the time he was “strongly suspected” of complicity in crimes against humanity—and is currently being held in prison. When he eventually takes the stand, most likely early next year, he will be the first high-ranking Syrian official to be tried over the Syrian war.”

Southeast Asia

The Jakarta Post: Indonesian Military Forms ‘Super Elite Unit’ To Crack Down On Terrorism

“The Indonesian Military (TNI) is expected to play a bigger role in the country's war on terror with the establishment of a “super elite unit” for deploying in national security emergencies, including terror attacks. The newly established Special Operations Command (Koopssus) comprises 400 personnel from the crème de la crème of the military's special forces: the 81 Special Detachment (Gultor) of the Army’s Special Forces (Kopassus), the Jalamangkara Detachment (Denjaka) of the Navy’s Marine Corps, and the Bravo 90 Detachment (Denbravo) of the Air Force’s Special Forces Corps (Korpaskhas). The Koopssus is under the command of Brig. Gen. Rochadi, who was appointed to the new role from his previous position as the director of the TNI’s Strategic Intelligence Agency (BAIS).”


Quartz: The Far Right Is Really Good At Tricking You Into Giving It Free Advertising

“In the months since the Christchurch terrorist live-streamed the murder of 51 Muslim worshippers, we’ve seen a flurry of discussions around the globe about how we can prevent online radicalization. Social media companies like Facebook and Instagram have created bans on content supporting white nationalism and separatism, while governments have pledged to crack down on companies that enable extremist content to take root and thrive on the web. But online radicalization doesn’t only happen when a person intentionally consumes extremists’ posts. It takes place in more banal and even accidental ways when people encounter extremist content in places they might not expect—such as shopping for a t-shirt. Over the past year, we’ve collected and analyzed screenshots of more than 1,400 t-shirts from 10 high-quality, mainstream-style brands that market to the far right in six countries. You may note that we deliberately do not name brands, or offer links to any of the websites here. Our goal is to shed light on an insidious and harmful phenomenon while avoiding inadvertently creating marketing for them.”

The Wall Street Journal: For Facebook And Alphabet, Big-Ticket Fines Cause Limited Pain

“Facebook Inc. and Google parent Alphabet Inc. have been hit with some hefty fines, but a closer look shows that for these tech giants, the penalties aren’t as huge as they seem. The Federal Trade Commission recently fined Facebook $5 billion to settle allegations that the company violated a 2012 order from the agency by deceiving users about the privacy of their data. The penalty is equivalent to about 16% of the company’s 2018 operating expenses, the day-to-day cost of running the business. Put another way, it amounts to 59 days of ordinary expenses such as research and development spending, marketing and administrative costs for the social-media giant. Facebook reported holding about $13.9 billion in cash and equivalents at the end of June, plus $34.7 billion in marketable securities. Other recent fines imposed on Facebook were smaller. The $100 million Facebook agreed to pay to settle allegations by the Securities and Exchange Commission that the company had inadequately warned investors about misuse of user data, works out to just over a single day’s operating expenses. A fine over privacy violations, imposed by the U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office in October—valued then at $645,000—amounts to about 11 minutes of operating expenses.”

Forbes: The EU Just Threatened Facebook's Biggest (And Least-Known) Advantage

“Most tech companies know about you when you visit their websites or use their apps. Some however, like Facebook, know about you on virtually every important site on the planet ... and the majority of top apps as well. But the European Union just threatened that massive data source. Facebook has an invisible web of data connectors reaching to more than 8.4 million websites and thousands, if not millions of apps. If you visit WhiteHouse.gov, for instance, Facebook knows. If you use Walgreen's mobile app, Facebook has its technology embedded there too. This invisible web is critical to Facebook. It tells Facebook what interests you. What you like. Where you go online, and what apps you use. It tells Facebook a lot about what products you might be interested in, and sometimes details about what you might purchase. This is all critical information for a company that makes its money selling ads. These invisible data connectors are the Facebook Like button — which more than 8.4 million websites use — and Facebook SDKs (software development kits) that are embedded into 67% of the top iOS apps and 66% of the top Android apps. Including, by the way, Tinder.”