Eye on Extremism: Jun 29, 2020

NBC News: DOJ Appeals Court's Decision To Release Hezbollah Money Man Early

“The Justice Department is appealing a federal judge’s decision to grant an early release to a Lebanese man labeled by U.S. authorities as a Hezbollah financier, arguing he does not qualify to be freed on “compassionate grounds” due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to court documents. Kassim Tajideen, 65, had pleaded guilty to money-laundering charges, forfeited $50 million and was sentenced in 2019 to five years in prison. But U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton last month ordered his release and reduced his sentence to time served after Tajideen’s lawyers argued their client was “extremely vulnerable” to contracting COVID-19 due to his age and health. With Tajideen due to fly back to Lebanon next month, the Justice Department on Thursday filed an appeal of the release order in the U.S. Court of Appeals…Josh Lipowsky, a senior research analyst at the Counter Extremism Project, a non-profit group that tracks extremism, said releasing Tajideen could set a precedent with unknown consequences. “This release risks setting a precedent for the early release of designated terrorists. And we have to fully consider the risks that such early releases pose and be concerned what happens to these people after their release,” Lipowsky said.”

Al Monitor: Intel: Congress Pushes European Union To Fully Designate Hezbollah As Terrorist Group

“A bipartisan group of 30 US lawmakers sent a blanket letter to all European Union member states Thursday asking them to designate the entirety of Lebanon’s militia-cum-political party Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. “Unfortunately, Hezbollah has increasingly used Europe as a launching pad for its criminal and terrorist activities, including money laundering, drug smuggling, recruitment and training,” the lawmakers wrote. “In particular, Hezbollah’s fundraising and illicit business activities have generated additional annual revenue which the organization uses to support its global terrorism, including a 2012 Hezbollah terror attack in Bulgaria that killed five Israeli tourists and one Bulgarian citizen.” The letter, signed by prominent pro-Israel lawmakers in both chambers, was spearheaded by Sens. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Jackie Rosen, D-Nev., as well as House Middle East panel Chairman Ted Deutch, D-Fla., and Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y. Why it matters: Although the European Union distinguishes between Hezbollah’s political and military wings, some of its member states have moved closer to the US position in recent months, which makes no such delineation.”

The Wall Street Journal: Fratricidal Clash In West Africa Pits Al Qaeda Against Islamic State

“Islamic State fighters, after a year killing soldiers and villagers along the desert frontier between Mali and Burkina Faso, recently detonated a truck bomb aimed at a new target: al Qaeda. The strike was part of a May attack that left several al Qaeda fighters dead and prompted a series of al Qaeda reprisals against Islamic State positions, say U.S. and West African security officials. Clerics from each group broadcast sermons denouncing the others as “apostates” and threatening more attacks. The border clashes in West Africa mark a new hot war between the world’s most-deadly jihadist groups. The fighting has left hundreds of militants dead as they battle for supremacy across the Sahel, the semiarid belt running east-west along the southern edge of the Sahara. The violence ends a yearlong truce between local militant franchises in a 3,000-mile expanse touching Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Chad. The parent groups of Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, or ISGS, and the al Qaeda coalition, Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimin, or JNIM, were rivals or even bitter enemies on battlefields elsewhere in the world. But in West Africa they even swapped liaisons to de-conflict operations and settle on joint targets, according to a United Nations report.”

United States

The Guardian: Violence By Far-Right Is Among US’s Most Dangerous Terrorist Threats, Study Finds

“Violence by far-right groups and individuals has emerged as one of the most dangerous terrorist threats faced by US law enforcement and triggered a wave of warnings and arrests of people associated with those extremist movements. The most recent in-depth analysis of far-right terrorism comes from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). In a report released last week, the Escalating Terrorism Problem in the United States, CSIS analyzes 25 years of domestic terrorism incidents and finds that the majority of attacks and plots have come from the far right. The report says “the majority of all terrorist incidents in the United States since 1994, and the total number of rightwing attacks and plots has grown significantly during the past six years”, with the far right launching two-thirds of attacks and plots in 2019, and 90% of those in 2020. The report adds: “Far-right terrorism has significantly outpaced terrorism from other types of perpetrators.” The second most significant source of attacks and plots in the US has been “religious extremists”, almost all “Salafi jihadists inspired by the Islamic State and al-Qaida”. The report shows the far left has been an increasingly negligible source of attacks since the mid 2000s.”

Reuters: Attorney General Barr Forms Panel On 'Anti-Government Extremism'

“Attorney General William Barr on Friday ordered the establishment of a task force to counter what he called “anti-government extremists” committing violence as protests against police brutality convulse the United States. In a memo to law enforcement and prosecutors released by the Department of Justice, Barr said alleged extremists had “engaged in indefensible acts of violence designed to undermine public order,” including attacking police officers, damaging property and threatening innocent people. Protests have spread nationwide over George Floyd's death in police custody last month and the deaths of other African Americans at the hands of police. Although largely peaceful, some demonstrators have turned violent, which President Donald Trump and his allies have blamed on left-wing extremists among the protesters. Barr said the extremists “profess a variety of ideologies.” “Some pretend to profess a message of freedom and progress, but they are in fact forces of anarchy, destruction, and coercion,” Barr said. Barr named the militant anti-government movement known as the “boogaloo,” as well as the left-wing antifa as among those posing “continuing threats of lawlessness.” Antifa is an amorphous movement whose adherents use confrontational tactics to oppose people or groups they consider authoritarian or racist.”

Syria

The Washington Post: In Syrian Camp For Women And Children Who Left ISIS Caliphate, A Struggle Even To Register Names

“The operation began without warning: Aid groups were barred from the Syrian displacement camp, Internet signal disappeared, and soldiers fanned out along the chain-linked fences as a scorching sun rose high in the sky. Inside, the women grew distressed. Some cried, some shouted abuse, and all were wary. They had once lived inside the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate. Now they were guarded by the force that defeated it, and tensions between the two were running high. The operation this month to count and register the inhabitants of the al-Hol camp annex was described by aid workers, officials, researchers and families in touch with the women affected. On June 10, the U.S.-backed Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria said that it had begun registering the foreign inhabitants of what it called “the most dangerous camp in the world,” almost a year and a half after they first arrived. The Islamic State’s once-vast territory in Iraq and Syria is no more. But the question of what will happen to tens of thousands of foreigners who left for the caliphate and never returned home still lingers, with no clear answers. Abandoned by their governments and under the care of a Kurdish-led force that does not want them, the women and children inside the al-Hol camp annex are among nearly 14,000 foreigners from more than 60 countries being held in northeastern Syria due to suspected Islamic State links.”

Voice Of America: Powerful Islamist Group Intensifies Crackdown On Jihadists In Syria's Idlib

“A powerful Islamist militant group in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib has launched a military campaign against rival jihadist groups, local news reports and rights groups said Sunday. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the dominant force in Idlib, the last major rebel stronghold in Syria, on Sunday began targeting villages in the western part of Idlib where jihadists have significant presence, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Syrian Observatory, which monitors war developments in the country, said HTS fighters raided the village of Arab Saeed in Idlib, arresting several jihadist militants, including a leader with the Hurras al-Din group. Hurras al-Din is one of several jihadist factions that have been operating in northwestern Syria. The group is al-Qaida’s main affiliate in the war-torn country. Before formally severing ties with the global jihadist group in 2016, HTS was regarded as the Syrian branch of al-Qaida. At the time, it was known as the al-Nusra Front. The crackdown comes nearly two weeks after several jihadist groups, including Hurras al-Din, announced the formation of a joint operations room to coordinate efforts in the fight against Syrian government troops and allied forces.”

Iraq

The New York Times: Iraq Raids Iranian-Backed Militia Accused Of Attacking U.S. Forces

“Iraqi forces raided an Iranian-backed militia suspected of carrying out a spate of rocket attacks against American forces, making good on the new prime minister’s promise to crack down on armed groups that have strained relations with the United States. The raid overnight Thursday on a brigade headquarters of the militia, Khataib Hezbollah, was intended to “to send a message that there is no red line and no one is above the law and everyone must be subject to it,” Gen. Yahya Rasool, the military spokesman for Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, said Friday. There have been at least four attacks on Iraqi military bases and on Baghdad’s Green Zone in the past two weeks. The attacks were thought to be aimed at American forces on the bases and the American Embassy, which is in the fortified Green Zone. The United States blamed the militia for a rocket attack in December that killed an American civilian contractor, and one in March that killed three service members, including two Americans and a Briton. Khataib Hezbollah denied responsibility for both attacks. The United States carried out airstrikes against the group each time.”

The National: Iraqi Prime Minister 'Closely Following' Arrest Of Kataib Hezbollah Militia Members

“Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi is “closely following” the situation after security forces raided the base of a powerful Iranian-backed militia and arrested several members, an Iraqi official said. The Counter Terrorism Services raid on the Kataib Hezbollah group late on Thursday was the most brazen action by Iraqi forces against a major Iran-backed militia in years. “The detainees have been taken to prison and will be subjected to a legal investigation. Rumours of their release are false,” an Iraqi official close to Mr Al Kadhimi told The National on Friday. US officials have accused Kataib Hezbollah, also known as Brigade 45 of Iraq's paramilitary umbrella grouping, the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), of rocket attacks on bases hosting American troops and other facilities in Iraq. “The security forces raided a unit used by Brigade 45, they seized several rockets launchers and arrested at least 13 fighters – including one foreigner – known as the 'Katyusha gang',” said the official, who asked not be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media. The CTS media office said 14 men were arrested in the raid and they would remain in custody until the investigation was completed.”

Turkey

Daily Sabah: Turkey Arrests 42 Over Links To Terror Group PKK, Including Former HDP Mayors

“Forty-two people, including former mayors of the pro-PKK Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), were detained for their suspected links to the PKK, a designated terrorist group that has waged a decadeslong insurgency against Turkey. The arrests were made following security forces' raids in the provinces of Diyarbakır, Istanbul, Izmir, Batman and Şanlıurfa after judicial authorities issued arrest warrants for 64 suspects. The warrants were issued in line with an investigation launched by prosecutors in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır based on names listed in organizational documents of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), a group linked to the PKK terrorist organization. Among those arrested are Mehmet Demir and Naside Toprak, suspended HDP mayors and other HDP provincial and district officials. The HDP has also been accused by Turkey's governments of having links to the PKK. Security forces are seeking the remaining suspects. The HDP has drawn much ire from the public for transferring taxpayer money and funds to the PKK. HDP mayors and local officials have been found to have misused funds in support of the PKK terrorist group and to provide jobs to PKK sympathizers.”

Afghanistan

The New York Times: Afghan Deaths Pile Up In Uncertainty Over U.S. Deal With Taliban

“Two employees of Afghanistan’s human rights commission were killed in Kabul on Saturday as a bomb attached to their vehicle exploded, the latest in a rising number of targeted killings in the Afghan capital. From assassinations of religious scholars and assaults against cultural figures to widespread Taliban attacks across the country, the rise in violence is sapping the brief optimism from an American agreement with the Taliban. Under that deal, the United States would withdraw its troops, paving the way for direct negotiations between the Afghan sides to end the war in a hoped-for political settlement. The peace deal has hit a wall over a prisoner exchange that was supposed to enable direct talks. Instead, the violence has intensified. In a statement, Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights commission said one of its vehicles was struck by a magnetic bomb on Saturday morning, killing two employees who were on their way to work. The victims were identified as Fatima Natasha Khalil, 24, a donor coordinator for the commission who had recently completed a degree from the American University of Central Asia in Kyrgyzstan, and Jawid Folad, a longtime driver at the commission. “So far no group has claimed responsibility, and the perpetrators of this brutal attack are not clear,” the statement said.”

The Wall Street Journal: Russian Spy Unit Paid Taliban To Attack Americans, U.S. Intelligence Says

“A Russian spy unit paid members of Afghanistan’s Taliban movement to conduct lethal attacks on U.S. troops in that country, according to a classified American intelligence assessment, people familiar with the report said. The assessment of the role played by Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, in fostering attacks on American soldiers, comes as President Trump is pushing the Pentagon to withdraw a significant portion of U.S. forces from Afghanistan and as U.S. diplomats try to forge a peace accord involving the Taliban and the U.S.-backed Afghan government. The intelligence assessment regarding Russia’s actions in Afghanistan was delivered to the White House earlier this spring, and until recently had been known only to a handful of officials, a person familiar with it said. Its contents were reported earlier Friday by the New York Times. It couldn’t be determined whether Russian bounties paid to Taliban fighters resulted in any American combat deaths in Afghanistan. The White House, without confirming the existence of the U.S. intelligence assessment, said President Trump has never been briefed on the Russian bounty payments, responding to Democratic and Republican critics who charged that Mr. Trump knew of the activity and should have halted it.”

BBC News: Afghanistan War: Russia Denies Paying Militants To Kill US Troops

“Russia has denied reports that it offered Taliban-linked militants bounties to kill US troops in Afghanistan. Citing US officials, The New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal reported that a Russian military intelligence unit offered the alleged bounties last year. The same unit has been linked to assassination attempts in Europe. The Russian embassy in the US said the claims had led to threats to diplomats. The Taliban also denied doing any deal with Russian intelligence. The reports come as the US attempts to negotiate a peace deal to end the 19-year war in Afghanistan. The unnamed officials cited by the New York Times said US intelligence agencies had concluded months ago that a unit of Russia's GRU military intelligence agency had sought to destabilise its adversaries by covertly offering bounties for successful attacks on coalition forces. Islamist militants, or armed criminal elements closely associated with them, were believed to have collected some money, the newspaper said. According to the Times, President Donald Trump was briefed on the reports in March. Mr Trump denied having been briefed, writing on Twitter on Sunday that neither he nor the vice president had been told “about the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians.”

Pakistan

The New York Times: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Suggests Osama Bin Laden Was A Martyr

“Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan was criticized by opposition lawmakers after making a speech to Parliament in which he said Osama bin Laden had been “martyred” by the United States when it killed the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks in 2011. Mr. Khan was rebuked for his remarks, which included jibes at the United States, and for the reverence he showed Bin Laden by  suggesting that he was a martyr, a term of veneration in Islam used to describe those killed defending the faith. “We sided with the U.S. in the war on terror but they came here and killed him, martyred him,” Mr. Khan said in the speech on Thursday. The prime minister at first said Bin Laden was merely “killed” by the Americans, but quickly corrected himself to say the leader of Al Qaeda was “martyred.” The Americans, he added, “used abusive language against us” and further insulted Pakistan by not informing the country that they intended to enter the country to kill Bin Laden. Pakistan, an antipathetic but important ally of the United States, has insisted that it did not know Bin Laden was hiding out in the northern city of Abbottabad, but American officials have long accused the country’s powerful military of providing a safe haven for militants.”

The National: Seven Dead In Attack On Pakistan Stock Exchange In Karachi

“At least seven people including four attackers are dead after gunmen attacked Karachi's stock exchange building on Monday morning. Police said four militants stormed the building in Pakistan's financial centre and were killed after paramilitary rangers responded. Two guards and a policeman were killed in the attack, which was later claimed by the Baluchistan Liberation Army, a separatist militant group from a neighbouring province. The attackers launched a grenade attack at the main gate before running into the building and firing indiscriminately. A police officer and a security guard were among the wounded, local channels said. The building is in a high-security zone and also houses the head offices of many private banks. Rizwan Ahmend, a police official at the scene, told AP that after the attack was over, food supplies were found on the bodies of the gunmen, indicating they may have planned a long siege, but were thwarted by police. Pakistani politicians praised the security forces and guards at the building who appeared to have prevented what could have been a far more deadly incident. The Balochistan Liberation Army released a photograph of the four militants from its Majeed suicide brigade.”

Voice Of America: Pakistan Sentences 5 Men For Al-Qaida Links

“A court in Pakistan Friday convicted and sentenced five men for being members of al-Qaida and supporting terrorism. A statement by the counter terrorism department of Punjab province said the court in Gujranwala city found the men guilty of terrorism financing, possessing explosives, membership in a proscribed organization, and possessing literature of a proscribed organization. Each of the men has been sentenced to 16 years imprisonment along with financial penalties. Their personal property has also been confiscated according to the statement issued by CTD Punjab. The men, Abdullah Umair, Ahmadur Rehman, Asim Akbar Saeed, Muhammad Yaqoob, and Muhammad Yousaf, were arrested in Gujranwala, around 75 km north of Lahore, in December of 2019. At the time the statement said they were preparing to carry out a terrorist attack. According to Pakistan’s English daily Dawn newspaper, the men were running a media cell of al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent, the local chapter of al-Qaida. While the conviction rate in terrorism linked cases in Pakistan has increased since 2016, Muhammad Amir Rana, a security analyst and director of the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies, an Islamabad based think tank, said the addition of terrorism financing charges in the case may have been due to pressure from the Financial Action Task Force, an international body that monitors terrorism funding.”

Egypt

Arab News: Egypt Executes Libyan Militant For Deadly Police Attack

“Egypt executed on Saturday Libyan militant Abdel Rahim Al-Mismari, who was convicted for an attack south of Cairo in October 2017 that killed 16 policemen, the defense ministry said. The lethal attack took place in Al-Wahat, about 200 kilometers south of the capital in the Western Desert, when a raid on a militant hideout was ambushed and a firefight ensued. Mismari was captured soon after. A military court found he had masterminded the attack and sentenced him to death in 2019, while 32 co-defendants received life sentences. “He deliberately killed in a pre-meditated manner 16 police personnel,” the defense ministry said in a video outlining the charges against him. The seven-minute clip, edited with a dramatic score, listed 11 charges against him. Mismari was also charged with kidnapping Mohamed Alaa Al-Hayes, a policeman, who was later freed by Egypt’s counter-terrorism forces. In a 2017 interview with prominent talk show host Emad Adib, some of which was used in Saturday’s defense ministry statement, a bearded Mismari appeared defiant and admitted to killing those he deemed “infidels.” He was accused of forming and joining a “terrorist” group in Libya, targeting security personnel, murder and carrying out hostile operations against vital facilities, according to the defense ministry.”

Nigeria

Associated Press: In Nigeria, An Islamic State-Linked Group Steps Up Attacks

“An Islamic State-linked group appears to be regaining strength in northeastern Nigeria and is now warning it will target civilians who help the military or even humanitarian organizations. The Islamic State in West Africa Province, which broke away from Boko Haram in 2016, had appeared weakened earlier this year by internal feuding, said Nnamdi Obasi, the senior adviser for Nigeria at the International Crisis Group. But earlier this month it killed more than 120 people in a single week, including 40 in Monguno, a town housing an estimated 150,000 displaced people and a U.N. humanitarian base that was only able to repel the jihadists after hours of fighting. “The new attack now suggests that there is a new flare to their violence,” Obasi said. The Islamic State in West Africa Province broke away from Boko Haram following a dispute over leadership and the strategy of attacking civilian targets such as mosques and marketplaces. The splinter faction is now believed to have as many as 5,000 fighters, according to a International Crisis Group report last year. Boko Haram has focused on attacking military units, targeting soldiers on guard or patrol operations. The extremist group also has attacked civilians through suicide bombings often carried out by young girls.”

Bloomberg: Nigerian Military Says ‘Scores’ Of Militants Killed In Air Raids

“Nigerian forces attacked Boko Haram bases in the Tongule and Bukar Meram communities in the northeastern Borno State and killed “scores of their fighters,” the West African nation’s military said. The air strikes went ahead on June 25 after about 35 militants were spotted at a settlement shielding the Islamist insurgency in Tongule, John Enenche, a military spokesman, said in emailed statement on Saturday. Others were spotted at Bukar Meram, where “several” insurgents were killed, he said. Boko Haram has waged a violent campaign since 2009 to impose its version of Islamic law in Africa’s most populous country. Nigeria is almost evenly split between a mainly Muslim north and a predominantly Christian south.”

Africa

Reuters: Insurgents Stage 'Very Violent' Attack Close To Gas Projects In Mozambique

“Suspected Islamist insurgents attacked a town in the north of Mozambique near billion-dollar gas projects managed by Total and Exxon Mobil early on Saturday morning, a police and a security source told Reuters. The police source said the attack, the latest on the strategically important town of Mocimboa da Praia, 60 km (40 miles) south of the gas projects, was “very violent” and the country’s defence and security forces (DSF) had suffered a number of casualties. “The DSF are fighting a fierce fight because they were met with hefty firepower,” the source said, adding that communications were now down. Spokespeople for the defence ministry and police did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment. Mozambique’s northern-most province of Cabo Delgado is home to the gas developments worth some $60 billion. Since 2017, it has also seen an Islamist insurgency with links to Islamic State that has gathered pace over the past year. A separate security source confirmed the attack on Saturday and said helicopters operated by private security firm Dyck Advisory Group, which has been acting alongside government forces since earlier this year, also responded after initially being delayed by weather conditions and poor visibility.”

United Kingdom

Reuters: Counter-Terrorism Police Charge Man With Three Murders After Knife Attack In English Town

“A suspect has been charged with three counts of murder over a knife attack in the English town of Reading described by police as a terrorist incident, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said on Saturday. A man wielding a five-inch knife attacked people out enjoying the sun at Forbury Gardens, a Reading park, on the evening of June 20, killing three people and injuring three others. “The Crown Prosecution Service has today authorised Counter Terrorism Policing South East to charge Khairi Saadallah, 25, with three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder,” the CPS said. A security source had previously told Reuters that the suspect, a resident of Reading, was a Libyan national. Police named the victims as Britons James Furlong, 36, and David Wails, 49, and U.S. national Joseph Ritchie-Bennett, 39. Ritchie-Bennett’s family said in a statement on Saturday: “We LOVED Joe so much and we are in such deep sorrow. We need all the prayers for Joe and the Ritchie and Bennett families.” Local authorities in Reading held a memorial on Saturday evening at which civic and religious leaders and a police chief paid tribute to the victims and to members of the public who tried to help, some by tearing their shirts to make bandages.”

Sky News: Schools, Offices And Hospitals Told To Rehearse Terrorism Response

“Schools, offices, hospitals and other public places should rehearse their response to terrorist attacks, the government says. After last week's stabbings in Reading, which killed three people, the Home Office has republished earlier advice on preparing for “marauding terror attacks”. An advice booklet published by the national counter-terrorism security office on the Gov.uk website says the attacks are “fast-moving and violent” with attackers moving through a location aiming to kill or injure as many people as possible before police can reach the scene. It adds: “Defending your organisation against a marauding terrorist attack is undoubtedly a challenging task... However, with well-developed procedures, security systems, training and rehearsal, lives can be saved.” The booklet was first drafted in 2017 and 2018 but was republished after Home Secretary Priti Patel warned last week that the threat from 'lone-wolf' terrorists was increasing. It contains advice such as avoiding the word “firearm” in public announcements as it could be misheard as “fire alarm”. It recommends text messaging and smartphone apps to raise the alarm and says warnings of a “security incident” can be ineffective. “Rehearsing the response to a marauding terrorist attack is the only way to ensure that the procedures and technical systems function as expected and to highlight areas for improvement,” the advice says.”

Arab News: UK-Counter Terror Police Probe Activist Over Qassem Soleimani Eulogy

“Police in the UK are investigating whether the head  of a campaign group broke terrorism laws when he gave a speech praising Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), delivered his eulogy at a candlelit vigil held outside a London Islamic center in January to mourn Soleimani’s death. The commander of Iran’s Quds force, who was blacklisted for his terrorism links, was killed by a US drone strike at Baghdad airport earlier that day. Shadjareh, an outspoken supporter of the Iranian regime, told crowds at the event that “we aspire to be like him” in reference to Soleimani. The Islamic Centre of England (ICE) was reprimanded this month for hosting the commemoration and a second event honoring Soleimani. The Charity Commission, the charity regulator for England and Wales, denounced ICE’s trustees for failing to prevent one speaker from “praising and calling for support for Major General Soleimani.” The incident, the Commission said, “exposed the charity to the risk of being associated with the speaker, who may have committed an offence under section 1 of the Terrorism Act 2006, for glorification of terrorism.” London’s Metropolitan police confirmed Sunday they are assessing whether any terrorism offences took place.”

France

The National: Trial Of ISIS Fighter Linked To Paris Attackers Begins In France

“The trial of a French ISIS fighter accused of overseeing executions in Syria and leading a squadron of foreign fighters whose members went on to commit the 2015 terror attacks in Paris has begun in the French capital. Tyler Vilus, who has become known as one of the most senior French Islamist extremists for the role he played in Syria from 2013 to 2015, is accused of associating with terrorists, leading a terror organisation and of committing organised murder. His trial is the first in France of a former ISIS fighter over crimes committed in Syria. French authorities suspect the 30-year-old man of being a member of the notorious ISIS morality police in Syria, for which he oversaw executions, as well as directing the Katiba Al Mouhajirine, a foreign brigade of French and Belgian fighters. The group, which comprised roughly 40 men, included in its ranks three members of the ISIS cell that carried out the November 13 terror attacks in Paris in 2015: Abdelhamid Abaaoud, Samy Amimour and Ismail Mostefai. The Mouhajirine group is accused of torturing and executing members of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s army as well as members of the Free Syrian Army. Mr Vilus has admitted to being in touch with Abaaoud who masterminded the 2015 attacks.”

Germany

Asharq Al-Awsat: ISIS Militant Lands In UK Jail For Inciting Violence In Germany

“An ISIS militant who encouraged mass murder in Germany has been sentenced to at least nine years in prison in Britain. Fatah Abdullah, 35, had been charged under Britain’s terrorism laws with encouraging another person to plow a car into crowds, attack people with a meat cleaver and detonate bombs, “with the aim of killing and/or causing serious injury.” The incitement took place between April 9 and Dec. 11, 2018, The Associated Press reported. Abdullah, who was born in Iran but was living in the northern English city of Newcastle after receiving asylum, was arrested after a joint investigation by British and German police. He pleaded guilty in March to inciting terrorism overseas and engaging in conduct in preparation to assist others to commit terrorist acts.”

Europe

Al Monitor: Netherlands Isn’t Required To Repatriate Islamic State Families In Syria, Court Rules

“The Supreme Court in the Netherlands ruled Friday that the state is not legally obliged to repatriate Dutch women and children of Islamic State (IS) fighters held in Syria. The legal team representing the 23 women who left their home country to join the terrorist group had asked the court to require the state repatriate the women and their 56 children. In November 2019, an appeals court judge in The Hague overturned a previous ruling that said the Netherlands must make “all possible efforts” to repatriate the children, most of whom are under 6 years old. In its ruling Friday, the country’s Supreme Court maintained that because the women and children are outside Dutch territory, they can’t invoke human rights treaties of which the Netherlands is a signatory. The court also noted that the women traveled voluntarily to the conflict zone and that they could present a national security risk should they return. When IS lost its last shred of territory in the Syrian town of Baghouz in March 2019, thousands of IS fighters and their families were transferred to Kurdish-run detention centers and camps. Today, an estimated 68,000 suspected fighters and their relatives remain in the custody of the US-allied Syrian Democratic Forces.”

The Brussels Times: Belgium Strips Islamic State Returnee Of Belgian Nationality

“An Antwerp court has stripped an Islamic State supporter of her Belgian nationality and sentenced her to five years in prison. The 32-year-old woman, identified as Rahma B., was also fined €8,000 as part of her conviction for participating in the activities of a terrorist organisation. In the aftermath of Turkey’s military incursion into northern Syria in November, Rahma B. fled to Turkey where authorities handed her over to Belgium after she turned herself in. She arrived in Zaventem airport in November 2019 and was immediately transferred to a prison in Bruges. During her time in Syria, she reportedly lost two husbands and three children in attacks and now has to use crutches to move around, La Libre reports. The 32-year-old had already been sentenced in absentia in June 2019 but appealed her conviction upon her arrival to Belgium, arguing she now rejected the terror group’s radical ideologies. “I realise that what I went through is my fault,” she told the court during her trial. “This radical ideology, which caused nothing but problems, is now no longer in me.” Her appeal was nevertheless rejected by the court, which ordered her immediate arrest after public prosecutors described her profile as “worrying.”

Southeast Asia

The Straits Times: Four ISIS Militants Killed Near Philippine Capital

“Philippine security officials killed four suspected Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)-linked militants on Friday (June 26) in a city just south of Manila. They were killed during a raid at around midnight on a house where they were staying inside a gated community in Don Bosco district in Paranaque city, just an hour's drive from the capital. One of the men fired at the policemen and tried to lob a grenade that went off prematurely. An officer was injured when his legs were hit by shrapnel. Police reports identified those killed as Bensaudi Sali, 37, Ramin Hussin, Jamal Kalimming, and a woman in her 40s, Merhama Abdul Sawari.