Eye on Extremism: July 9

The New York Times: Stressing War’s Toll, Taliban And Afghan Representatives Agree To Peace Road Map

“Taliban and Afghan representatives, including some government officials, agreed on Tuesday to a basic road map for negotiating the country’s political future, a major step that could help propel peace efforts to end the long war, now in its 18th year. In a joint declaration after two days of unprecedented and often emotional discussions in the Qatari capital, Doha, the two sides emphasized a need to work for reducing “civilian casualties to zero” and assuring women their fundamental rights in “political, social, economic, educational, cultural affairs.” The declaration is not binding, and at best is a starting point for when the two sides meet later for negotiations that could lead to fixed terms. But even if the declaration might not immediately de-escalate the violence in Afghanistan, it does help push forward a peace process between American diplomats and the Taliban that has been making strides in negotiations, but which has been struggling to overcome the Taliban’s refusal to meet with Afghan government officials.”

Stars And Stripes: Lecturer At US-Aided Afghan University Arrested, Accused Of Recruiting For ISIS

“A lecturer at a partially U.S.-funded university in Afghanistan’s capital was arrested on suspicion of recruiting students to join Islamic State, the country’s top intelligence agency said Monday. Three of his suspected recruits, who were accused by authorities of organizing several deadly ISIS attacks in Kabul, also were arrested, the National Directorate of Security said in a statement. Two of the suspected recruits were students at the university. The third was related to one of the students. U.S. and Afghan forces have been unable to eliminate ISIS’s local affiliate, known as Islamic State-Khorasan Province, which first emerged in 2014 and says it aspires to carry out attacks on U.S. soil. Known as ISIS-K, the militant group has recruited fighters actively from among Afghan university students, for whom obtaining visas to travel abroad is thought to be easier.”

CBS Dallas: Texas Man Accused Of Trying To Aid Islamic State Group Pleads Guilty

“A Texas man who planned to travel overseas and shared information on making bombs and using machetes has pleaded guilty to trying to join the Islamic State group. Prosecutors say 20-year-old Kaan Sercan Damlarkaya, who was 18 the time of his crime, pleaded guilty Monday to attempting to provide material support to the Salafi jihadist militant group. Damlarkaya, who is a U.S. citizen, was arrested in December 2017 following an undercover FBI investigation. He remains in custody pending sentencing in Houston and faces up to 20 years in federal prison. Investigators say Damlarkaya shared information on making and using weapons with people he thought also supported IS. Authorities found a machete near Damlarkaya’s bed.”

Reuters: Germany Rejects Trump's Call For Ground Troops In Syria

“Germany on Monday rejected demands by the United States to deploy ground troops in Syria, a stance likely to anger President Donald Trump who wants Chancellor Angela Merkel to commit to a bigger military role in the Middle East. “When I say the government envisages sticking to the current measures in the anti-Islamic State (military) coalition, this includes no ground troops, as is well known,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert told a regular news conference.”

TRT World: Assad Regime Bombing Campaign Fails To Dislodge Syria Opposition Fighters

“Fighters loyal to the regime of Bashar al Assad are struggling to make significant gains in their campaign to retake territory from opposition forces in northern Syria. Months after the start of the offensive in late April this year, the Assad regime has failed to capture any major urban centres despite intense bombardment of territory controlled by Turkish-backed FSA soldiers and other opposition groups. Mustafa Sejari, a commander and spokesman for the National Liberation Army, told TRT World that his forces had killed “hundreds” of Assad loyalists. “They thought the battle for Idlib would be like Aleppo and Ghouta and end in a matter of weeks but after two months they’re stuck in a deadlock where their bombing is making no gains or advances on the ground,” he said. Part of the reason why they have not succeeded, according to Sejari, is a lack of coordination between the aerial campaign dominated by Russia and Assad regime militias on the ground, which are Iranian trained and backed.”

Arab News: Steven Anderson: Serial Abuser Of Free Speech

“Pastor Steven Anderson uses his pulpit as his hate platform and justifies his extremist views in the name of religion. Banned from half a dozen countries across the globe, the US-born hate preacher has lauded the 2016 Orlando massacre, publicly prayed for the death of former US President Barack Obama and denied the Holocaust. Such preachers of hate justify their actions by saying they are fighting the enemies of God, said Josh Lipowsky, a research analyst at the Counter Extremism Project. “Calling Anderson a hate preacher is an appropriate term as he promotes an extreme version of religion,” Lipowsky told Arab News. “While he doesn’t specifically encourage violence, he praises it and justifies his ideology by using his religious beliefs to disprove others. In Anderson’s YouTube videos, you can see a physical pulpit, but social media also allows him a digital pulpit that allows him to reach much further.”

Syria

Asharq Al-Awsat: International Coalition Against ISIS Recruits Fighters In Tanf Base

“The International Coalition against ISIS has opened the doors for fighters to join its ranks on the Syrian-Iraqi-Jordanian borders. This comes as tension increases in Syria’s eastern Euphrates amid news that coalition forces have been conducting military maneuvers at the Tanf base, with the participation of Syrian opposition fighters. According to opposition media sources, several types of rockets, rocket launchers, artillery and mortars were used in the maneuvers in preparation for possible confrontations with ISIS in the Syrian desert. The US-led coalition's Tanf base has started receiving new members in its ranks to train them in their camps in Jordan, the sources told Asharq Al-Awsat. Euphrates Post website quoted sources as saying that the anti-ISIS coalition has opened this door in an attempt to bolster its military capabilities in the desert. The Revolutionary Commando Army, for its part, published pictures on its official Twitter account on Friday, showing it was conducting successful exercises alongside coalition forces. It said no one was hurt during the exercises that aimed at enhancing its members’ skills to defeat ISIS and ensuring they do not return to Tanf’s borders. The Tanf base is located in the vicinity of Tanf crossing the border with Jordan and Iraq in the heart of al-Hammad desert southeast Homs province, about 240 km from the city of Palmyra and not far from the borders with Jordan.”

The Jerusalem Post: Six Victims Of Isis In 'Execution Suits' Found In Syria Mass Grave

“A mass grave in Syria has been uncovered, and at least six bodies in orange “execution suits” transferred for forensic analysis, according to reports.  The mass grave is one of more than a dozen that have been found since ISIS was pushed out of Raqqa in 2017. This grave, just south of the Euphrates river across from the city, contains up to 800 bodies. Jenan Moussa of Al-Aan TV tweeted images of the bodies being found and uncovered. “Search team here found bodies of five men wearing orange ‘execution suits’ in ISIS mass grave. Identities unknown. Team leader tells me: Might be missing journalists, activists,” she tweeted on July 3. A sixth body clothed in the same way was later found. Moussa wrote that all of the bodies were dressed in the orange suits that became infamous in videos from 2014, when ISIS executed journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley that fall. The bodies found are all men and they had handcuffs on. All were shot in the back of the head. This precludes them being among those who were beheaded by ISIS. Yasser al-Khamees, who leads a team that has been uncovering the mass graves, said that this grave was first found in June. The men “were believed to have been killed more than two years ago,” he told a group of reporters.”

Iran

Arab News: Pence Says US Action Has Cut Off Iran's Ability To Support Terrorism

“The United States will not waver from its course of maximum pressure against Iran, Vice President Mike Pence said Monday, as tensions rise and the US-brokered nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers appears to be unraveling with the Trump administration’s pullout. Pence’s assertion to a pro-Israel Christian organization that the US “will never allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon” came on the same day that Iran began enriching uranium to 4.5 percent , breaking the limit set in the 2015 agreement sealed under President Barack Obama. The speech, amplified in later remarks to the group by the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton, also comes as the other partners in the agreement must decide how to respond to Iran’s announcement. President Donald Trump discussed the issue by phone Monday with French President Emmanuel Macron. Echoing comments made repeatedly by Trump, Pence said the international accord simply delayed Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon by “roughly a decade” and gave away billions in economic relief that Iran could then use to wage terrorist attacks. Since Trump withdrew from that deal more than a year ago, his administration has reimposed crippling sanctions on Tehran and designated its Revolutionary Guard a foreign terrorist group.”

The Wall Street Journal: Iran Threatens To Extend Nuclear Breaches

“Iran warned it will take further steps to breach the 2015 nuclear accord in early September if it doesn’t receive long-sought relief from U.S. economic sanctions, as it began enriching uranium above limits set out in the deal. Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Monday that Iran is prepared to take harder and more steadfast measures than the modest steps it has recently taken to expand its nuclear program, setting in motion what is likely to become months of escalating tension with Washington. President Trump said on Sunday that Iran “better be careful,” while senior U.S. officials signaled that Washington had every intention of continuing its economic-pressure campaign. Iran began enriching uranium to 4.5% following its earlier decision to breach a cap on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium, Iranian officials told local media on Monday. The United Nations’ atomic agency confirmed it had enriched above the nuclear deal’s 3.67% cap. Weapons-grade uranium is 90% enriched.”

The New York Times: The Iran Crisis: How The Nuclear Deal Started To Unravel, And What’s Next

“The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed Monday that Iran had resumed enriching uranium to higher levels than permitted under a 2015 accord with the United States and other world powers. The step inches Tehran closer to having the capacity to build a nuclear bomb. President Trump’s administration has vowed to prevent Iran from developing such weapons. The escalating tensions have rattled the region and the oil market, and last month brought the United States to the brink of a military strike on Iran before a last-minute reversal by Mr. Trump. Following is a look at how Iran and the United States reached this point of confrontation — and what’s likely to happen next. How did this all start? Like Mr. Trump, President Barack Obama doubted the assertions of Iranian officials that they would never seek a nuclear bomb. Both administrations made it a priority to stop Iran from getting one.”

Bloomberg: U.K. Seizure Of Tanker ‘Won’t Go Unanswered’: Iran Armed Forces

“Iran’s military vowed to retaliate against the seizure by British Royal Marines of an oil tanker loaded with the Islamic Republic’s crude off the coast of Gibraltar last week. “It will be reciprocated, at a suitable time and in a suitable place,” Mohammad Bagheri, the chief of staff for Iran’s armed forces, was quoted as saying by the official Islamic Republic News Agency. The warning highlights mounting risks to shipping in a region that exports about a third of all seaborne petroleum. BP Plc is keeping an oil carrier empty inside the Persian Gulf, close to Saudi Arabia, rather than risk its seizure by Iran, a person familiar with the matter said Monday. Six tankers have been attacked since early May, with the U.S. blaming Iran for the incidents, a charge Tehran denies. The tanker seized by Gibraltar with the help of Royal Marines -- the Grace 1 -- was arrested on the grounds it was taking crude to a sanctioned Syrian company, according to the British overseas territory on Spain’s southern tip. Iran said the tanker was in international waters, not headed to Syria, and described the U.K.’s actions as piracy.”

Iraq

Iraqi News: 3 Iraqis, Including Policemen, Wounded In Bomb Attack, Armed Clashes In Diyala

“Three Iraqis, including two policemen, were wounded Sunday in a car bomb attack and subsequent armed clashes in Diyala province, a security source said. Speaking to the Arabic-language Alghad Press, the source said that an explosive charge targeted a vehicle driven by a civilian on the Jalawla-Kalar highway in northeastern Diyala, leaving the driver wounded. “While moving the wounded civilian into hospital, security forces came under attack by undefined gunmen, leaving two policemen wounded,” the source said. He added that the security situation is now under control. Violence in the country has surged further with the emergence of Islamic State extremist militants who proclaimed an “Islamic Caliphate” in Iraq and Syria in 2014. The surge in violence between armed groups and government forces has resulted in over five million internally displaced persons across Iraq and left more than 11 million in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.”

Iraqi News: Iraqi Warplanes Kill Three Islamic State Terrorists In Nineveh

“Iraqi warplanes killed on Monday three members of the Islamic State terrorist group during a military operation in Nineveh province, the Security Media Cell announced. In a statement carried by the privately-owned Algahd Press website, the Security Media Cell said that the three IS militants were in a car when an airstrike by the Iraqi Air Force targeted them in Nineveh province. Meanwhile, the paramilitary Popular Mobilization Forces seized a vehicle that was used by the Islamic State militants near a valley in Nineveh, the statement read. In al-Jazeera region, the Security Media Cell said that its forces managed to destroy two Islamic State terrorist hotbeds and two explosive charges. The Joint Operations Command had launched the “Victory Will” operation on Sunday morning to pursue Islamic State remnants, who are still at large on the country’s vast border with Syria, mainly in Nineveh, Salahuddin and Anbar provinces. Iraq declared the collapse of Islamic State’s territorial influence in November 2017 with the recapture of Rawa, a city on Anbar’s western borders with Syria, which was the group’s last bastion in Iraq. IS declared a self-styled “caliphate” in a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria in 2014.”

The Jerusalem Post: Iraq Launches Another Offensive Against Isis, Why? - Analysis

“Almost two years after Iraqi forces were able to retake Mosul from ISIS and largely defeated the organization on the ground, Iraq is launching yet another offensive to root out ISIS remnants. The operation is being called “Will of Victory” and was announced Sunday by the Security Media information cell of the government. According to Rudaw, a Kurdish media outlet, the operation is being led by different Iraqi army units, backed by the Popular Mobilization Forces, or Hashd al-Shaabi. The latter are a group of mostly Shi’ite militias that are now official paramilitaries within the security forces. Sunni tribal forces are also participating. The concept is to throw a large net around ISIS sleeper cells in Iraq. The army and its paramilitary supporters will try to root out ISIS remnants in a vast triangle of open desert between Mosul city in Nineveh, Anbar province on the border with Syria and Saladin province in central Iraq. This is an area that has been restive since the US invasion of 2003 and where various Sunni insurgents, jihadists and other extremist groups like ISIS have operated.”

The Defense Post: Iraq Launches ‘Will Of Victory’ Operation Against ISIS Sleeper Cells Near Syrian Border

“Iraq’s military announced a new operation in an attempt to secure the vast western desert leading to the Syrian border, amid fears Islamic State sleeper cells were using the area to regroup. The operation, dubbed “Will of Victory,” began early Sunday, July 7, and would push to clear the remote territory between the provinces of Salahaddin, Nineveh and Anbar, a statement by the military said. Iraqi armed forces, paramilitary units of the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units), tribal groups and U.S.-led Coalition warplanes were all taking part, according to the statement. “There are pockets of Daesh fighters in the northwestern, western, and southwestern parts of Salahaddin province,” a media official from the province’s military command told AFP, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS. “Daesh is still present in these areas, and the operations will continue until they are cleared.” Iraq formally declared victory against ISIS in late 2017, a few months after ousting the jihadist group from its seat of power in Mosul, the capital of Nineveh province. The group lost its last sliver of territory in Syria – Baghuz, a small desert hamlet near the Iraqi border – in March. But ISIS sleeper cells have kept up hit-and-run attacks in isolated parts of Iraq, targeting government checkpoints, public infrastructure and local officials.”

Afghanistan

Voice Of America: Afghan University Teacher, Students Among IS Operatives Arrested In Kabul

“Afghan authorities say they have arrested four Islamic State (IS) operatives, including a university teacher, during a counterterrorism raid in Kabul. The arrests come amid recent reports the Middle Eastern terrorist group has grown into a major security challenge for U.S.-backed Afghan forces struggling to contain the Taliban insurgency. Afghanistan's spy agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS), while announcing the arrests, said in a statement the suspects were involved in recruiting fighters for IS and organizing terrorist attacks in and around the capital city. It identified one of the detainees as a Kabul University lecturer, Mubashir Muslimyar, while the rest as graduates of the same institution. The men are said to have told investigators they were working closely with IS operatives in eastern Nangarhar province and many educated young Afghans were joining their ranks. This is not the first time that the NDS has arrested suspected IS operatives from Kabul University. Weeks back, another lecturer was also taken into custody on the same charges. IS has not commented on the arrests. The Afghan branch of IS operates under the name of Khorasan Province (ISKP).  It is estimated to have about 2,000 fighters in the country.”

Deutsche Welle: Taliban And Afghan Government Agree To Reduce Violence

“The Taliban on Monday agreed to reduce the number of civilian casualties in its offensive against Afghanistan's central government, according to a joint statement by representatives of the warring factions. During talks in Doha, the militant group agreed to stop attacks on “religious centers, schools, hospitals, educational centers, bazaars, water dams and work places,” according to a statement seen by DW. The encounter ended with a joint “appeal and promise to reduce violence in Afghanistan,” said Markus Potzel, Germany's Afghanistan envoy, who co-hosted the talks with Qatar. The statement also gives assurances on “women's rights in political, social, economic, educational and cultural affairs in the contexts of Islamic values,” according to DW's Pashto service. Though the group refuses to recognize Afghanistan's central government in Kabul, calling it a “US puppet,” Taliban representatives had agreed to meet with officials in Doha in a “personal capacity.” “The differences are almost so narrow,” said Mutlaq al-Qahtani, Qatar's counterterrorism special envoy. “We are quite frankly surprised how serious both sides are,” he added, “and they are so committed to putting an end to this conflict.”

Pakistan

Long War Journal: New Head Of Al Qaeda Group In Kashmir Calls For Independent Jihadist Council

“The new emir of Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind (AGH), Abdul Hameed Lelhari, has released his first audio address. In the message, titled “Solid Structure,” he accuses the Pakistani state of trying to rein in the jihad in Kashmir and calls for an independent shura council to decide which operations to conduct. Lelhari (also known as Haroon Abbas) was named the leader of AGH in early June after his predecessor, Zakir Musa, was killed in a shootout with Indian forces. AGH is an al Qaeda group and its messaging closely tracks Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent’s (AQIS) statements. Both AQIS and AGH have criticized Pakistani-backed jihadist groups in Kashmir for supposedly pursuing nationalist goals at the expense of seeking to implement sharia, or Islamic law, throughout the region.  Lelhari continues with this theme in his first address as AGH’s emir. The audio message was released by the group’s Al Hurr Media on July 6. Al Hurr features a photo of Lelhari throughout much of his speech, which is spliced together with images of Pakistani and Indian officials. AGH media supporters also provided a rough translation of his remarks, from which the quotes below are drawn. After Zakir Musa’s “martyrdom,” Lelhari alleges, “an agency from Pakistan reached out to us.”

Yemen

Gulf News: Al Houthis Maintain ‘Strong’ Links With Al Qaida, Daesh

“Yemen’s Iran-allied Al Houthi militants maintain “strong” links with the terrorist Al Qaida and Daesh groups, an Arab alliance official said late Monday. “This relation has been there since Al Houthis’ coup against legitimacy,” spokesman for the alliance Colonel Turki Al Maliki said in Riyadh, according to the official Saudi news agency SPA. In late 2014, Al Houthis unseated Yemen’s internationally recognised government and overran parts of the country, including the capital Sana’a, triggering a devastating conflict in the impoverished country. Last month, the alliance captured the Daesh emir in Yemen, Abu Osama Al Muhajer, and other members of the terrorist group that has claimed several attacks in the country in recent years. “The coalition troops continue to eliminate Daesh and other terrorist organization whoever they are,” Al Turki said at a press conference. He accused Iran-supported Al Houthis of violating the international law by targeting civilians and civil facilities in Saudi Arabia and inside Yemen with explosive drones. “The Iranian weapons and support to the terrorist Al Houthi militia threaten regional and international security,” Al Turki said. In 2015, an Arab alliance led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, intervened in Yemen in response to a request from the Hadi government after Al Houthis advanced on the southern city of Adan, the country’s provisional capital.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Leader Of ISIS Affiliate In Yemen Fought For Group In Syria

“The Saudi-led Arab coalition to restore legitimacy in Yemen revealed on Monday that the leader of the ISIS affiliate in Yemen had previously fought in the terrorist group’s ranks in Syria. Coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki added that the ISIS “emir”, who was captured by Saudi Special Forces last month, hailed from Yemen and operated under several aliases, such as Abu Osama Al-Muhajir, Abu Musab, Abu Suleiman al-Adeni and Nashwan al-Adeni. He was tasked with leading the extremist group’s affiliate in Yemen, Maliki told a press briefing in Riyadh. He was born in 1988 and did not complete his mechanical engineering degree. His terrorist track record dates back to 2010 when he became a leading member of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. He left the organization in 2015 and joined ISIS where he joined the group in fighting in Syria. In 2017 he was appointed as the leader of the ISIS “emirate” in Yemen. Soon after, the United States imposed sanctions against him. The Arab coalition had previously stated that the practices of the Iran-backed Houthi militias have encouraged terrorist activity in Yemen. Terrorist affairs researcher Hammoud al-Ziyadi explained that one of ISIS’ primary goals was to establish “states” beyond its then strongholds in Syria and Iraq.”

Reuters: Yemen's Houthis Say They Attacked Saudi Airport, Power Station

“Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement said on Monday that it carried out drone attacks on Saudi Arabia’s Abha airport and Tihama power station, the group’s Al-Masirah TV reported. There was no Saudi confirmation of the attacks.”

Qatar

Fox News: Jim Hanson: President Trump, Don’t Let Qatar Buy Its Way Out Of The Problems It Is Causing

“President Trump will be meeting with the Emir of Qatar at the White House on Tuesday, July 9. The U.S. relationship with Qatar has been strained by their continued support for terrorism and ties with the mullahs of Iran. There is also still the ongoing blockade and diplomatic conflict between Qatar and the other Gulf states. Qatari involvement with Turkey has been problematic as well. The Emir is likely bringing promises of significant investments in the U.S. but we cannot let them simply buy their way out of the problems they are causing. President Trump wants to see an end to the Gulf states disagreement and also move Qatar further away from Iran. There is a possibility those two things can work together, but that requires actual changes and substantive actions from the Qataris.”

Nigeria

News 24: 13 Nigeria Civilians Killed In Air Raid Targeting Jihadists - Sources

“At least 13 civilians were killed in an air raid as the military repulsed a jihadist assault in northeast Borno state, residents and a security source said on Sunday.  Multiple inhabitants of Gajiganna village, 50km from state capital Maiduguri, told AFP a military jet on Tuesday targeted jihadists from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) after they attacked a nearby military base. The Nigerian air force, however, said it had no reports of civilian casualties. Fleeing residents were caught up in the bombing, residents said on condition of anonymity over fears for their personal safety. Videographic presenting the Boko Haram islamist insurgents in northern Nigeria. Thirty people were killed late Sunday in a triple suicide bombing in northeast Nigeria, emergency services reported, in an attack bearing the hallmarks of the Boko Har... “We lost 13 people in the bombardment as many people tried to escape the fighting between the insurgents and troops,” a resident said. “Many people were injured in the attack,” he said. The military jet was deployed around 19:30 (18:30 GMT) to support troops in the base who were trying to fight off the militants, residents said.  “Many residents were too scared to remain in their homes and ran out to escape from the village as the fighting raged between the troops and the insurgents,” a second resident said.”

All Africa: Nigeria: Boko Haram Commanders Arrested In Hotels

“Nigerian police have arrested three suspected Boko Haram commanders at some hotels north of the country. The suspects were arrested in the city of Kano while they were allegedly regrouping in an attempt to travel to the northeastern state of Borno to perpetrate attacks. Ahmad Iliyasu, the regional police commissioner, said the trio was among more than 80 culprits recently arrested in connection with violent crimes afflicting the West African country. They have been arrested during the so-called Operation Puff Adder. Suspects were nabbed for other crimes such as armed robbery, kidnapping, vehicle theft and banditry. An assortment of weapons, illegal drugs, electronic equipment and vehicles were confiscated. Iliyasu said the suspects would soon be arraigned in court. “The operation of Puff-Adder will be sustained throughout the state until all criminal-minded persons repent or leave the area,” he said. Nigeria, Africa's most populous country of more than 190 million people is experiencing a surge in violent crime. Some 134 000 people have this year been forced from their homes across the states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe because of the conflict perpetrated by the Boko Haram.”

Somalia

Xinhuanet.Com: Three Killed As Somali Police Foil Attack In Mogadishu

“At least three people including a police man were killed and five others injured after a vehicle loaded with explosives went off at a security checkpoint in Mogadishu on Monday. A security officer who confirmed the incident said the two al-Shabab militants and the policeman were killed during confrontation when a vehicle borne improvised explosive device attempted to forcibly pass through a security checkpoint but was thwarted. "The vehicle loaded with explosives exploded after security officers manning the checkpoint intercepted it in an area close to Erdogan hospital in Hodan district," said a police officer who declined to be named. The officer said the suicide bomber blew him up after being prevented to pass through the checkpoint, damaging some of the nearby buildings. The Somali National Army backed by African Union Mission in Somalia drove al-Shabab out of Mogadishu, but the group is still capable of conducting attacks, targeting government installations, hotels, restaurants and public places.”

Africa

Voice Of America: Al-Shabab Kills 18 In Surge Of Executions

“Somali militant group al-Shabab has executed 18 people since Wednesday, an unprecedented rate of executions for the group, which is under pressure from U.S. airstrikes. Militants put to death four people in the southern town of Jamame on Sunday, immediately after the judge in an al-Shabab court declared them guilty. Firing squads shot and killed two men accused of being Somali government soldiers and a woman accused of being a spy for Kenya.  The militants identified the woman as 20-year-old Iqra Abdi Aden. Afterward, an 18-year-old man, Nur Bakar Jirow, was publicly stoned to death for allegedly raping a 16-year-old girl.  The man argued the sex was consensual, but the judge said he deserved the death penalty because he was married at the time. On Saturday, al-Shabab firing squads killed three men accused of being Somali government soldiers in the town of Kurtunwarey in the Lower Shabelle region. In Buale town of the neighboring Middle Jubba region, the militants executed a man accused of practicing sorcery. On July 3 and 4, al-Shabab shot and killed 10 men in two separate executions in Hagar and Salagle towns in southern Somalia.  The group accused the men of spying for the Somali government, Kenya and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.” 

United Kingdom

The Telegraph: Alleged Terrrorist Launched Attack On Parliament After Sending Cryptic Email To Jeremy Corbyn, Court Hears

“An alleged terrorist launched an attack outside Parliament after sending a cryptic complaint to Jeremy Corbyn via email, a court has heard. Salih Khater, 30, is on trial accused of driving at pedestrians, cyclists and police officers outside the Palace of Westminster in a bid “to cause maximum death and injury”.  Jurors were shown CCTV his Ford Fiesta allegedly swerving towards members of the public and narrowly missing two officers before hitting a security barrier on August 14 last year.  Prosecutor Alison Morgan QC told the Old Bailey that “miraculously and contrary to his intentions”, no-one was killed by his deliberate efforts.  However, despite carrying out what she described as a “premeditated and deliberate attack” in Parliament Square, Khater’s alleged motive was said to be unclear.  The Sudanese refugee, who arrived in Britain in 2010 and was granted leave to remain, had shown some signs of “paranoia” in the months before the attack, the court heard.  He failed an accountancy course at the University of Coventry and was struggling to find work as a security guard when he sent a strange email to the office of the Labour leader last May, jurors were told.  It said: “Dear leader, recently I have been subject to many event, which made really confused and very worried about who to talk to.”

France

Newsweek: Isis Terrorist Involved In Paris Attacks That Killed Over 130 Awarded Compensation

“The man thought to be the sole survivor of the group that carried out the Paris terror attacks was awarded 500 euros ($560) in compensation because the level of surveillance he was under in jail was deemed illegal, it has been reported. Belgian-born Salah Abdeslam, 29, had links to Isis which claimed responsibility for the co-ordinated attacks that killed 130 people and left around 360 people injured in the French capital. The attackers' targets included the Bataclan theater during a rock concert and the exterior of the Stade de France sports arena on November 13, 2015. After one of the biggest manhunts in European history, Abdeslam was convicted of providing logistical assistance to the group involved in the attacks which led to a three-month state of emergency. Convicted in April 2018, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges linked to a police shootout while he was being apprehended. He has been in the Fleury-Mérogis prison since April 2016 where he faced 24-hour CCTV surveillance, following an order by the then French justice minister Jean-Jaques Urvois. However in March 2017, judges deemed that level of surveillance to be illegal and he was awarded the compensation, according to a new book titled The Journal of Frank Berton, about Abdeslam's lawyer, written by the L'Obs journalist Elsa Vigouroux.”

PRI: France Combats Extremism With Secularism — And A Hotline

“When the first shots rang out at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, Aurélia Gilbert knew exactly what they were. ”I know some others said that it sounded like firecrackers. For me, immediately, I thought that something terrible happened — like shots fired,” said Gilbert, 46.  In November 2015, heavily armed gunmen stormed the Bataclan during a live concert and killed 90 people. The gunmen were part of coordinated attacks throughout Paris that took the lives of 130 people and injured 494 others. ISIS later claimed responsibility for the attacks. Although Europe has not seen such a large-scale attack since then, terrorist attacks have persisted in the region, and the problem is especially troubling in France. For the last few years, French authorities have decided to double down on deradicalization efforts with strict assimilation methods, a watchlist, and a “terrorism hotline” to report suspicious behavior.  Of the 511 people arrested in the European Union for religiously inspired or jihadist terrorism in 2018, 273 were in France, according to Europol, the EU agency responsible for law enforcement cooperation.  In January 2015, an attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo left 12 people dead and 11 others injured.”

Europe

Reuters: Alleged Islamic State Fighter On Trial In Netherlands For War Crimes

“A Dutch-born alleged Islamic State militant went on trial in the Netherlands on Monday for war crimes committed in Iraq and Syria, after posing with a crucified body and sharing images of dead victims online.  It is the first trial in the Netherlands dealing with war crimes committed by an alleged Islamic State militant.  There is no international tribunal to prosecute the widespread atrocities committed during Syria’s civil war, which began in 2011, but several European countries have put citizens who joined militant groups in the Middle East on trial. According to the European police agency Europol, some 5,000 Europeans went to fight in Syria and Iraq, of whom some 1,500 have returned. Roughly 300 Dutch men and women joined the war in Iraq and Syria, prosecutors said.  Oussama Achraf Akhlafa, 24, is charged with joining IS militants in Mosul in Iraq, and Raqqa in Syria, between 2014 and 2016.  He is being tried under so-called universal jurisdiction, which enables war crimes to be prosecuted regardless of where they were committed.  Akhlafa is charged with violating the personal dignity of war victims, which is protected under the 1949 Geneva Conventions, as well as membership of a terrorist organization. Prosecutors demanded a prison sentence of seven years, eight months.”

South Korea

The South China Morning Post: South Korean Man Investigated Over Bid To Join ISIS, Theft Of Detonating Devices

“A 23-year-old South Korean man is under investigation for allegedly seeking to join the Islamic State (ISIS) militant group and stealing detonating devices for explosives while he was serving in the military, a defence ministry spokesman said Tuesday. If convicted, he would become the first South Korean to be punished under the country’s anti-terrorist law that went into effect in 2016, the Yonhap news agency said. “He has been under investigation by civilian prosecution authorities,” the spokesman told the South China Morning Post, adding that the suspect had completed his obligatory military service and was discharged from the army last week. All able bodied men in South Korea are required to serve about two years in the military. The man – identified only by his surname, Park – allegedly stole the detonating devices in 2017 when he was training as an army explosive specialist, Yonhap said. Investigators seized his mobile phone, on which the suspect had reportedly downloaded an an app used by ISIS and video clips on making home-made ammunition. They also confiscated a wide-bladed knife at his home that bore a resemblance to those used by ISIS recruits. Bottom of FormPark allegedly propagated ISIS terrorist activities by collecting videos and materials of the group’s acts and uploading them on the internet from 2016 until recently.”

Southeast Asia

The New York Times: ‘Our Duty To Fight’: The Rise Of Militant Buddhism

“The Buddhist abbot was sitting cross-legged in his monastery, fulminating against the evils of Islam, when the petrol bomb exploded within earshot. But the abbot, the Venerable Ambalangoda Sumedhananda Thero, barely registered the blast. Waving away the mosquitoes swarming the night air in the southern Sri Lankan town of Gintota, he continued his tirade: Muslims were violent, he said, Muslims were rapacious. “The aim of Muslims is to take over all our land and everything we value,” he said. “Think of what used to be Buddhist lands: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir, Indonesia. They have all been destroyed by Islam.” Minutes later, a monastic aide rushed in and confirmed that someone had thrown a Molotov cocktail at a nearby mosque. The abbot flicked his fingers in the air and shrugged. His responsibility was to his flock, the Buddhist majority of Sri Lanka. Muslims, who make up less than 10 percent of Sri Lanka’s population, were not his concern. Incited by a politically powerful network of charismatic monks like Sumedhananda Thero, Buddhists have entered the era of militant tribalism, casting themselves as spiritual warriors who must defend their faith against an outside force.”

Technology

The Verge: The Ugly Side Of Facebook’s Pivot To Privacy Is Starting To Show

“It’s been four months now since Facebook announced its intention to invest more heavily in private groups and messaging, and recently that effort has gotten a major marketing push. Walk through the Montgomery BART station in San Francisco and you’ll see ads for Facebook Groups plastering every wall, each emblazoned with the anodyne slogan “more together.” In years past, such a launch might have been greeted with a collective shrug from the press. (The launch of Facebook Live in 2016 also involved a takeover of Montgomery Station, and passed with little fanfare — at least until a rash of violent live streams drew their attention.) But the increased focus on groups this year has come with energetic scrutiny from journalists — a sign of how even seemingly mundane Facebook launches now meet with deep skepticism around the world.”