Eye on Extremism: June 14

The New York Times: U.S. Special Forces Battle Against ISIS Turns To Containment, And Worry

“Two years ago, Pentagon officials said that American forces in the remote reaches of Afghanistan could defeat the Islamic State’s offshoot here by the end of 2017. This month, American Special Forces in eastern Afghanistan were still fighting, with no end in sight. During a visit by a New York Times reporter to their dusty army outpost, in the eastern province of Nangarhar, the Americans pointed out the ridges and valleys at the foot of the snow-capped Spin Ghar mountains: There, they noted, was the start of the Islamic State’s territory, in some of the most forbidding terrain in Afghanistan. The extremist group is growing, able to out-recruit its casualties so far, according to military officials. It is well funded by illicit smuggling and other revenue streams. And in the eastern part of the country, Islamic State fighters are waging a war of terrain that the United States military can — for now — only contain, those officials said. Interviews with six current and former American officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, indicated that the group is poised to expand its influence if the United States and the Taliban reach a peace settlement.”

Associated Press: US Blames Iran For Attacks On 2 Tankers Near Persian Gulf

“Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that the United States government blames Iran for attacks on two oil tankers near the Persian Gulf, casting it as the latest in a series of “provocative actions” that have sharply raised tensions in the region. A U.S. assessment of Iran’s responsibility for the attacks, which forced the evacuation of the crews in international waters, was based in part on intelligence as well as on the expertise needed to carry out the operation, Pompeo told reporters in Washington. It was also based on a recent series of incidents in the region that the U.S. blames on Iran, including a similar attack on tankers in the area in May and the bombing of an oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia by Iranian-backed fighters, he said. “Taken as a whole these unprovoked attacks present a clear threat to international peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation and an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension by Iran,” Pompeo said.”

The New York Times: Europol Report Details Islamic State Propaganda For Women

“Islamic State's recruitment and use of women to support its extremist cause could pave the way for more front-line roles for women in jihadi groups in the future, the European Union's police agency said in a report published Friday. In the 34-page report entitled "Women in Islamic State Propaganda," Europol said "female jihadis are as ideologically motivated as their male counterparts and their sense of empowerment lies in contributing to the building of an Islamic state." It concludes that "numerous examples" of women, who either carried out extremist attacks or were arrested preventively, "prove that women are willing to use violence if the ideology allows them to do so. For now, it is not yet their role, but this balance may easily shift according to the organization's strategic needs and developments on the ground." The report comes amid concerns about the risk posed by foreign fighters, including women, returning to their homes in Europe after the fall of the self-styled Islamic State caliphate in Syria and Iraq.”

The Washington Post: Suspected New Zealand Mosque Gunman Pleads Not Guilty

“The suspected gunman in the New Zealand mosque massacres, Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28, pleaded not guilty to all charges when he appeared in the Christchurch High Court on Friday.  Previously charged with 50 counts of murder and 39 of attempted murder, Tarrant faced an amended charge of murder Friday following the death of Turkish national Zekeriya Tuyan, 46, on May 2, two additional charges of attempted murder and a charge of engaging in a terrorist act under the Terrorism Suppression Act of 2002, developed in the global fallout after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He is the first person to be charged under the country’s anti-terrorism legislation. Tarrant appeared by video link from Auckland’s Paremoremo Prison, New Zealand’s only maximum-security prison, where he is being held in isolation. Tarrant, in a gray sweatshirt with short cropped hair, was in a small cell flanked by three prison officers in body armor vests — who left as the proceeding began. He appeared to smirk as counsel entered not-guilty pleas on his behalf. Justice Cameron Mander said mental-health assessments by the prosecutors and defense showed Tarrant to be fit to stand trial. His trial will begin May 4, 2020.”

The Dayton Daily News: Dayton Man Convicted Of Trying To Join ISIS Sentenced To 15 Years

“The man convicted in the first terrorism-related trial in the Southern District of Ohio was sentenced to 15 years in prison, a judge ruled Thursday. Laith W. Alebbini, 28, was found guilty last year by U.S. District Court Judge Walter Rice, who held a bench trial in Dayton’s U.S. District Court. Alebbini had been indicted for conspiracy and knowingly attempting “to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization in the form of personnel to work under ISIS’s direction and control.” Alebbini was sentenced to 15 years on both counts, but Rice ordered them to be served concurrently. The judge said Alebbini earned about 26 months of jail-time credit and will be on supervised release for 25 years, but he expects Alebbini to be deported after his sentence. Rice said that despite not having any criminal record, this case may be one where general deterrence works: “He is more of a danger than meets the eye.” Alebbini, who moved to Dayton in March 2016, was arrested in April 2017 at Cincinnati’s airport with airline tickets to the Middle East with a plan of getting to Syria to fight against the Bashar al-Assad regime. Alebbini has been in custody since April 26, 2017, when he turned from the ticketing counter and tried to get to his gate — the action that Rice said removed any doubt of the defendant’s intent.”

The New York Times: When Rohingya Refugees Fled To India, Hate On Facebook Followed

“Mohammad Salim, a Rohingya Muslim refugee, thought he had left genocidal violence and Facebook vitriol behind when he fled his native country, Myanmar, in 2013. But lately, his new home, India’s West Bengal state, has not felt much safer. And once again, Facebook is a big part of the problem. During India’s recent national elections, Mr. Salim said, he saw Facebook posts that falsely accused Rohingya Muslims of cannibalism go viral, along with posts that threatened to burn their homes if they did not leave India. Some Hindu nationalists called the Rohingya terrorists and shared videos on the social network in which the leader of India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party vowed to expel the minority group and other Muslim “termites.” A week ago, new posts popped up falsely accusing the Rohingya of killing B.J.P. workers in West Bengal.”

United States

The Washington Post: Second Benghazi Militant Convicted In U.S. Court In 2012 Attacks That Killed Ambassador

“A federal jury on Thursday convicted a second Libyan militant of conspiracy in the deadly 2012 attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. The jury in Washington delivered a partial verdict, finding Mustafa al-Imam, 47, guilty on one count each of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and maliciously destroying government property but deadlocking on 15 of 17 other counts, including the most serious charges of murder and attempted murder in the overnight attacks that began Sept. 11, 2012, on a U.S. diplomatic mission and nearby CIA post. U.S. District Judge Christopher R. “Casey” Cooper directed jurors to continue deliberating when they return Monday, said a spokesman for Jessie K. Liu, the U.S. attorney for the District.”

Defense News: White House Releases Update On Global Counterterrorism Efforts

“Libya has been excluded from a list of locations where U.S. military personnel are deployed and equipped for combat as part of counterterrorism operations. The exclusion, from a letter to the speaker of the House from President Donald Trump, is a change from the same report sent six months ago. The report is required by the War Powers Resolution. The Republican president and Democrats in the House are currently at odds over military support in Yemen, where “a small number” of U.S. military personnel are deployed, according to the June 11 letter. The latest letter also reveals that the number of U.S. military personnel in Lebanon has declined by 50 percent since the last report, to 60. The letter cites the territorial defeat of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, but says that “operations against the continuing terrorist threats emanating from Iraq and Syria remain ongoing.” The U.S. is coordinating its activity in Iraq with the Kurdistan Regional Government, an autonomous entity in the country — something not included in the previous letter. Personnel numbers in Jordan have increased from 2,795 military personnel to 2,910, since the last update — the latest in a number of consecutive increases.”


The Washington Post: The Kidnapped Yazidi Children Who Don’t Want To Be Rescued From ISIS

“Early last month, an informant offered a tip to one of the Yazidi leaders engaged in tracking down members of the minority faith who are still missing after being abducted by the Islamic State five years ago.   Two Yazidi girls, 14 and 11, were said to be living in a tent with a woman loyal to the Islamic State in the al-Hol camp in eastern Syria, where tens of thousands of Islamic State family members are being detained, said Mahmoud Rasho, the Yazidi leader. A few days later, he headed to al-Hol, gathered a group of Kurdish security guards and went to the tent to rescue the girls. They didn’t want to be rescued. The girls sobbed and screamed and clung to the woman, insisting she was their mother. The woman sobbed, too, wailing that the girls were her daughters and hugging them in her arms. The Kurdish security forces physically separated them and put them into a van for the first leg of their journey back to their real families, in the Sinjar region of Iraq. Accounts of the wrenching scene, given by both Rasho and the girls, point to a new challenge confronting members of the Yazidi community as they try to trace nearly 3,000 Yazidis who remain unaccounted for after the territorial defeat of the militants.”

The National Interest: Defeating The Islamic State Of Idlib

“President Donald Trump demanded in a June 2 tweet that Russia, Syria, and to a lesser extent, Iran, stop “bombing the hell out of Idlib Province in Syria, and indiscriminately killing many innocent civilians.” He added: “The World is watching this butchery. What is the purpose, what will it get you? STOP!” Idlib is the last bastion of the hardened Salafi-jihadi-led opposition to the Syrian regime. It is the same province that, in 2017, Brett McGurk, then the U.S. envoy to the coalition against the Islamic State, called “the largest Al Qaeda safe haven since 9/11.” The president is right in showing concern for the innocent Syrian casualties of the horrific Russian and Syrian bombing campaign. Still, the president has not yet addressed the hornet’s nest of terrorism following his declared victory over the Islamic State. Clearly, Washington and its allies are at a loss as to how to prevent a humanitarian tragedy should the Syrian regime, backed by Russia, fight its way into Idlib. The Trump administration should not be complacent in allowing Idlib to remain a safe haven for hardened terrorists, who have created there an Islamic state in all but name. The Idlib province in northwestern Syria along with adjoining swath of territories in northern Hama and western Aleppo, is the stronghold of Al Qaeda offshoot Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).”

Arab News: Regime And Russia Bombardment Kills 28 In Northwest Syria: Monitor

“Regime and Russian air strikes and shelling killed at least 28 people including seven civilians in embattled northwest Syria, a war monitor said Friday, despite a cease-fire announced by Moscow. The civilians were killed in regime air strikes and shelling on the south of Idlib province and the north of Hama province Thursday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Russian and regime air strikes also killed 21 militant and Islamist fighters in the same region the same day, the Britain-based monitor added.”


The New York Times: Pompeo Says Intelligence Points To Iran In Tanker Attack In Gulf Of Oman

“Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that intelligence reviewed by American officials showed that Iran was responsible for attacks earlier in the day on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, a critical waterway for the transit of much of the world’s oil. Mr. Pompeo did not present any evidence to back up the assessment of Iran’s involvement. The assertion is certain to further fuel tensions between the Trump administration and Iranian leaders, which have been at heightened levels since early May, when the White House announced military movements in response to what American officials have said is an increased threat from Iran. Speaking at a news conference in Washington, Mr. Pompeo said the sabotage against the two tankers was only the latest in a series of recent violent acts by Iran. “Taken as a whole, these unprovoked attacks present a clear threat to international peace and security,” he said. The rapid escalation of tensions in early May between the United States and Iran took place around the time that four tankers were damaged by explosions at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, near the Strait of Hormuz. The explosions that occurred in the same area early Thursday morning, which forced crews to abandon ship and left one vessel ablaze, were similar to the incidents last month.”

Associated Press: US Says Iran Took Mine Off Tanker; Iran Denies Involvement

“The U.S. military on Friday released a video it said shows Iran’s Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the oil tankers targeted near the Strait of Hormuz, suggesting the Islamic Republic sought to remove evidence of its involvement from the scene. Iran denies being involved, accusing the U.S. instead of waging an “Iranophobic campaign” against it. The U.S. Navy rushed to assist the stricken vessels in the Gulf of Oman, off the coast of Iran, including one that was set ablaze Thursday by an explosion. The ships’ operators offered no immediate explanation on who or what caused the damage against the Norwegian-owned MT Front Altair and the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous. Each was loaded with petroleum products, and the Front Altair burned for hours, sending up a column of thick, black smoke.”

The Wall Street Journal: The Iranian Tanker Attacks

“Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday charged Iran with responsibility for the attack earlier in the day on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Mr. Pompeo cited intelligence reports and the nature of the weapons used, most likely torpedoes, as evidence. It is almost certainly true that Iran is behind the attacks, which makes it all the more important that the West unite in opposition to Iran’s aggression. This was a sophisticated attack that only a nation with a sophisticated military could carry out. Within about 45 minutes Thursday morning, the two tankers were hit by projectiles at the waterline with sufficient force to set them on fire but not sink them. The Iranians, under intense financial pressure from American sanctions on their oil exports, were sending the world a message: Pressure the U.S. to lift the sanctions or there will be more of this, and worse, to disrupt oil shipments in the Gulf.”

The National: London Bomb Factory Is A Sign Of Iran’s Widening Campaign Of Terror

“The latest revelation that an Iranian-backed terror group has been stockpiling bomb-making materials in London has shed fresh light on Tehran’s reach in Europe. For decades after the Islamic revolution of 1979, Iran mainly confined its terrorist activities to the Middle East region, using the Revolutionary Guard Corps and proxies such as Hezbollah to target opponents and undermine moderate Arab regimes. There was, of course, the brief flurry of terrorist activity in Paris in the immediate aftermath of ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s emergence as the leader of the revolution, as his followers sought to neutralise opponents of the clerical regime. Other notable acts of Iranian terrorism outside the region include the infamous 1994 attack against a Jewish institution in Argentina, which killed 85 people. But for the most part, the focus of Iran’s activities has been confined to the region, where attacks have been deployed as an effective tactic in support of Tehran’s drive for regional dominance. Now, intelligence officials in Europe are undertaking a radical reappraisal of that view in the light of recent events. Earlier this week, it was revealed that London raided a terrorist cell with links to Hezbollah four years ago.”

Arab News: The terrorism of Iran and its militias must be confronted

“The Houthis’ targeting of Abha Airport with a missile, injuring 26 civilians, is clear and explicit evidence of the group’s terrorism. This targeting of a civilian airport makes us re-evaluate the comprehensive Yemeni peace process at all levels. First is the mechanism for dealing with the Houthis — the rules of engagement should now be expanded, making the military option the only option. Not only have the Houthis rejected the Stockholm agreement and its implementation, but Wednesday’s escalation in targeting vital facilities within Saudi Arabia threatens the security of the Kingdom’s citizens and residents. This escalation from the Houthi side is considered a war crime and evidence that the militia is playing the role of Iran in the war and fighting on Tehran’s behalf. This is what the Arab League has always warned of. The re-evaluation this time should include the role of the UN and the international community, which has not done its job properly. The Houthis’ attacks on civilians inside Saudi Arabia have reached record levels.  Why should we re-evaluate the UN’s role in Yemen? Because Security Council resolution 2216 has, since 2015, called for the Houthis to withdraw from the Yemeni cities they occupy, hand over their heavy weapons, and engage in political negotiations to end the coup against the legitimate government.”


Reuters: Iraqi Shi'ite Groups Deepen Control In Strategic Sunni Areas

“The only sign that Sunni-majority Mosul’s newest and busiest marketplace is in Shi’ite Muslim hands is a small plaque in the office of its leaseholder from Baghdad.   “The Imam Hussein Market,” it reads, dedicated to the Prophet Mohammed’s grandson and most revered Shi’ite imam.  Banners of Shi’ite leaders that militiamen erected after helping drive out the Sunni extremists of Islamic State two years ago have been removed amid fears of renewed sectarian tension.  Iraq’s second city, once a recruitment center for Sunni officers in Saddam Hussein’s army, became an al Qaeda hotbed after the 2003 U.S. invasion that toppled the dictator, and later the base from where IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate in 2014.  Iranian-backed Shi’ite paramilitary groups that played a crucial role in driving out IS have since become dominant in the city, if less visibly than before.  But Shi’ite religious authorities are now quietly seeking to formally take over state land and property they say is historically Shi’ite - something that has incensed Sunni officials. In the Imam Hussein marketplace, an area of some 60 shops and stalls, they have established a lucrative foothold.”

Haaretz: France Denies Report That Iraq Requested Financial Compensation For Islamic State Trials

“France's foreign ministry denied on Thursday a report that it had been asked by Iraqi authorities to pay up to $2 million per fighter for Baghdad to deal with French jihadists transferred from Syria to Iraq. The ministry added that it respected Baghdad's sovereignty in judging foreign fighters. Bottom of Form Citing several unidentified sources, French daily newspaper Le Figaro reported on June 7 that Iraq had asked Paris for $1 million for each foreign jihadist sentenced to death and $2 million for those given long-term sentences. The article echoed other media reports that Baghdad has been seeking some $2 billion in compensation for dealing with hundreds of suspected Islamic State fighters held by Kurds in northeastern Syria, where there is no legal framework to deal with them. “We have not received any request to this effect,” French foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said when asked about the Figaro report. “We respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi state, including its judicial institutions that have declared themselves competent to try French Islamic State fighters.” While the ministry denied the report, a French official briefing reporters after a visit by Iraq's prime minister in May said Paris expected Baghdad to make an official request, including financially, on what it needed to handle large number of Islamist fighters.”


Associated Press: Turkey Won’t Bow To US ‘Ultimatums’ On Russia Missile System

“Turkey’s foreign minister said Thursday his country won’t bow to “ultimatums” after the United States warned Turkey it was excluding it from the F-35 fighter jet program over its deal with Russia to purchase its S-400 missile defense system. U.S. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said in a letter to his Turkish counterpart last week that the training of Turkish pilots will end July 31 and that Turkey wouldn’t be allowed to take final possession of the four F-35 aircraft it bought. Shanahan also warned that Ankara’s purchase of the Russian system could hamper America’s future relationship with Turkey, a NATO member which has been a critical U.S. partner and base for combat operations, including for the war in Syria.”


The Washington Post: Suicide Bomber Kills 9 In Eastern Afghanistan

“A suicide bomber walked up to an Afghan police vehicle in Jalalabad, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province, and detonated an explosive device that killed three police and six civilians on Thursday, said provincial health department official Shoaib Sahak. He said another 13 people were wounded, some of the seriously. Attahullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor, said security forces were the target of the attack. Several of the injured were police, he said. The Islamic State group, through its Amaq news agency, claimed responsibility for the suicide attack. The group claimed eight people were killed. Both IS and the Taliban operate in Nangarhar province, located on the border with Pakistan and considered an IS stronghold. Afghanistan’s security forces come under near-daily attacks by both Taliban and IS-affiliated fighters. Afghan forces have suffered staggering casualties in recent years, even as the Taliban hold peace talks with U.S. Peace Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad. He is currently in the Afghan capital, Kabul, trying to restart stalled peace talks aimed at ending the country’s 18-year war and America’s longest-running military engagement.”

The Long War Journal: Senior Al Qaeda Official Praises Taliban’s ‘Victory’ In Afghanistan

“Asim Umar, a senior al Qaeda official, has released a lengthy statement praising the Taliban’s “victory” in Afghanistan. He claims that America’s “defeat” proves that its superior technology is no match for the jihadists’ faith, adding that America’s army no longer wants to fight. Umar has served as the emir of Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), but it appears he may no longer hold that title. In another recent message, AQIS identified Usama Mahmood as its overall commander. Mahmood was previously the group’s spokesman and likely had other responsibilities within the group as well.  However, while Umar’s current position isn’t clear, he is obviously still a senior figure within al Qaeda. Umar’s new message, titled “And on that day the believers will rejoice,” was released by As Sahab earlier today to mark the occasion of Eid–ul–Fitr. As Sahab, which is the media arm for both al Qaeda’s senior leadership and AQIS, produced versions of Umar’s statement in Arabic, English and Urdu. The English-language transcript can be read here.  “May Allah make the victories of The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan a source of bringing back the honor and dignity of the Ummah,” Umar says at the beginning of his message.”

Reuters: Islamic State Claims Responsibility For Suicide Attack In Afghanistan's Jalalabad

“Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide attack in a which a militant on foot targeted in Afghanistan’s eastern city of Jalalabad, killing at least nine people including civilians, the group’s Amaq news agency said on Thursday.  The group did not give evidence for its claim.”

Saudi Arabia

Al Jazeera: Saudi Air Defence Intercepts Five Houthi Drones: SPA

“Saudi Arabia says its air defence forces intercepted five drones launched by Yemen's Houthis at Abha airport and the city of Khamis Mushait in the latest escalation of conflict in the region. The air traffic and airspace at Abha airport were operating normally, a Saudi-led coalition spokesman said in a statement released by the Saudi Press Agency said early on Friday. At least 26 people were injured after Houthis fired missiles at Abha airport on Wednesday, drawing a sharp response from Riyadh which vowed to take "stern action". The Iran-aligned Houthi movement earlier said that it carried out drone attacks on Abha Airport days after it targeted the airport in southwest Saudi Arabia with missiles, the group's Al Masirah TV reported. The rebels, who have been fighting the Saudi-led coalition since March 2015, have carried out at least four attacks on Saudi Arabia this week as it has stepped up attacks on the kingdom amid tensions between Shia power Iran and the United States, Saudi Arabia's main ally.”


Foreign Policy: Hezbollah Isn’t Just In Beirut. It’s In New York, Too.

“In recent years, Hezbollah has stepped up its activities beyond Lebanon’s borders. This uptick has been clearest in the Middle East—in Iraq, Yemen, and especially Syria—but plots have also been thwarted in South America, Asia, Europe, and now, possibly, the United States. Reports of Hezbollah activity in North America are not new, though such reporting tends to focus on the group’s fundraising, money laundering, procurement, or other logistical activities from Vancouver to Miami. But last month, the criminal prosecution and conviction in New York of the Hezbollah operative Ali Kourani revealed disturbing new information about the extent of Hezbollah’s operations and activities in the United States and Canada.”

The Independent: An ISIS Killer And An Unlikely Hero Have Heaved Open The Cracks In Lebanese Politics

“Saber Mrad grinned up from his bed on the third floor of the Islamic Hospital with a hero’s smile.  “I’ve always been the kind of person to interfere if someone’s being hurt,” he said. “I’ve never been scared in my life.” Which is just as well. For the cheerful Lebanese with the Australian accent, his torso covered in bandages and far too many tattoos, had deliberately crashed his car into the motor-cycle-riding Isis killer who opened fire on crowds of civilians preparing for the Eid al-Fitr festival in the Northern Lebanese city of Tripoli. The back of Mrad’s head is also swathed in gauze and bandages because – this being a truly bloody tale without many Hollywood happy endings – the Isis veteran from Syria shot him three times in the brain and once below the neck. ”I felt the bullets hitting me in a blur and then the back of my head opened. It was surreal,” Mrad said – and he never stopped smiling at me as he remembered – “but this guy had big hate-filled eyes, he seemed to hate everybody. He had a beard like me but longer, and he kept saying filthy things at all the people round me. It was surreal.” Even Mrad’s aunt and his other female relatives standing at the bottom of the 31-year-old construction worker’s bed open their mouths in awe at such a frightful description.”

The Jerusalem Post: US, Argentina Hold Workshop On Countering Hezbollah Terror

“The United States and Argentina held a workshop this week on countering Hezbollah’s terror activities in the Western Hemisphere, a month before the 25th anniversary of the AMIA bombings. The workshop, held in Buenos Aires on Tuesday and Wednesday, included law enforcement personnel and financial practitioners from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Panama, Paraguay and Peru, as well as representatives from Ameripol. Officials from the US Departments of State, Justice and the Treasury, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Counterterrorism Center, and Drug Enforcement Administration, also participated in the meeting. The summit was held ahead of Western Hemisphere Ministerial that the Government of Argentina will host commemorating the 25th anniversary of the terrorist bombing of the AMIA Jewish Center in the Argentine capital on July 18, 1994 which killed 85 people and injured over 300 others. According to a statement released by the US State Department, the workshop focused on Hezbollah’s global modus operandi and its terrorist and criminal infrastructure and activities in the Americas.”

Middle East

The Wall Street Journal: A Novice Player Gets A Painful Lesson In Middle East Peacemaking

“Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had a rough debut as Middle East peacemaker, ending the first trip by a Japanese leader to Iran in 41 years with the U.S.-Iran conflict even more volatile than before. Mr. Abe went to Tehran on Wednesday hoping to serve as a bridge between the U.S., Japan’s closest ally, and Iran, with which Tokyo has maintained warm ties. By the time he got back to Tokyo on Friday, a Japanese tanker had been set ablaze by attacks in the Gulf of Oman, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was denouncing Iran for “unprovoked aggression against freedom-loving nations” and Iran’s supreme leader said there was no way he would talk to America. The Japanese leader put a brave face on events, saying he saw progress in comments by Iranian leaders that they wanted peace. He said that between the U.S. and Iran, there was “complicated national sentiment on both sides.”


The Washington Post: Egypt Officials Say Roadside Bomb Wounds 6 Police In Sinai

“Egyptian security officials are saying that six policemen were wounded by a roadside bomb targeting a police patrol vehicle in the restive northern Sinai province. The officials said Thursday that the bomb was detonated remotely near the city of El-Arish. They said Islamic militants had set up ambushes along the highway leading to El-Arish where they had kidnapped at least 14 civilians over the course of the last 24 hours. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak to the media. Egypt has battled Islamic militants for years in northern Sinai, where an affiliate of the Islamic State group is based. Last week, the group claimed responsibility for the killing of eight policemen in an assault on a checkpoint near El-Arish.”


Reuters: Islamist Insurgents Overrun Nigerian Army Base In Northeast - Security Sources

“Islamist insurgents overran a Nigerian army base in the country’s northeast, killing at least the commander, two Nigerian security sources said on Thursday. Militants on Wednesday took a Nigerian army base at the village of Kareto in northeastern Borno state, some 130 kilometres from state capital Maiduguri, the security sources said. No other details about possible further casualties were available. Nigerian army spokespeople did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The latest development is at odds with the Nigerian military’s public statements as recently as Monday that their campaigns against Boko Haram and Islamic State’s West African branch are making “major breakthroughs”, statements that frequently describe the insurgents as “remnants”. It was not immediately clear whether the attackers were affiliated with Boko Haram or Islamic State. The insurgents were said to have overrun troops from the Nigeria Army’s 158th Battalion stationed at Kareto, killing at least their commanding officer and causing the remaining soldiers to flee, one security source said. After the assault, the militants left Kareto, but remained in the area, they said.”


Xinhua: 4 Al-Shabab Militants Killed In Kenya's Coast In Botched Attack

“Four al-Shabab militants were killed after an improvised explosive device (IED) they were setting up apparently detonated prematurely in Kenya's coastal Lamu region early Thursday, the police confirmed. A number of militants were also injured in the 3 a.m. incident near a bridge in Lamu East, said Lamu security operation director Joseph Kanyiri. “I can confirm that four of the militants died from an IED explosion,” he said. “It seems the device went off before they were done setting it up, killing three militants on the spot while another died a few minutes later. “Three badly charred bodies were recovered on the scene while another was picked up a few meters away. It seems he was trying to get away but succumbed to injuries,” Kanyiri added. The area falls within the infamous Boni forest where a security operation, dubbed Linda Boni, has been underway since 2015 to flush out militants there. The militants have been using the forest to stage attacks on local civilians and security personnel. Kanyiri said three loaded AK-47 magazines, 12 loose rounds of ammunition and a magazine pouch were also recovered at the scene.”


Bloomberg: Cameroon Says 88 People Killed In Suspected Boko Haram Attack

“More than 80 people were killed, including 16 Cameroonian soldiers, during an attack by suspected Boko Haram Islamists in the north of the country, the defense ministry said. Eight civilians and 64 fighters also died in the pitched battle in the Darak locality of Cameroon’s Far North Region on June 9, while another eight fighters were taken prisoner, Defence Minister Joseph Beti Assomo said in statement handed to reporters in the capital, Yaounde. Based in Nigeria, Boko Haram has been waging a violent campaign since 2009 to impose its version of Islamic law in Africa’s most populous country. Its attacks have left tens of thousands of people dead and the violence has spilled into Niger, Chad, and Cameroon.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Tunisian Who Withheld Info About ISIS-Affiliated Brother Sentenced To 10 Years

“The Court of First Instance in Tunis sentenced a Tunisian to 10 years in prison and his wife for six months. The two are accused of joining a terrorist group, planning to smuggle terrorist elements to the country, plotting terrorist operations and concealing important information about counter-terrorism agencies. Security investigation carried out by the anti-terrorism apparatuses revealed that the husband had been accused of contacting his brother, who is an ISIS affiliate. The wife, however, hid the mobile phone belonging to her terrorist brother-in-law who is currently in the hotbeds of tension in Syria. Security units considered this an attempt to mislead the judiciary and not enable anti-terrorism agencies to access information and important data in the ISIS element’s mobile phone. The wife confirmed that he contacts them on a regular basis and he talks to her husband and his mother. Yet, she said she was afraid to reveal her husband’s contacts with his terrorist brother and hid the mobile phone in a plastic bag before burying it near their house in Ramada (southeast Tunis). In this context, the husband denied preparing and planning to carry out terrorist operations in the country and denied smuggling a terrorist group across the border to carry out bombings and killings within Tunisia’s territory.”

The Defense Post: Islamic State Arrival In Mozambique Further Complicates Cabo Delgado Violence

“Islamic State claimed its first presence in Mozambique, saying in a statement on June 4 an attack by the army was repelled in “Metobe” in the “Mocimboa area.” The fighting was attributed to its Central Africa Province affiliate. Evidence of links between ISIS and local groups in northeastern Mozambique preceding this claim remain elusive, only increasing questions around the deadly insurgency carried out by Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jama. Previously, ISCAP-attributed attacks were limited to the Democratic Republic of Congo but ISIS on June 4 claimed: “The soldiers of the Caliphate were able to repel an attack by the Crusader Mozambican army,” and that the fighting led to “killing and wounding a number of them,” adding that “weapons, ammunition, and rockets” had been captured. Mozambique police denied that ISIS was behind the fighting, with spokesperson Orlando Mudumane saying “the security forces distance themselves from these reports,” and that “the information is not true.” Islamic State propaganda image purporting to show weapons and ammunition seized in clashes with the Mozambique army, June 2019. ISIS also released two images purporting to show weapons and ammunition seized in the fighting.”

United Kingdom

Yahoo News: Terror Arrests Drop After Surge In Wake Of Manchester And London Attacks

“The number of people arrested for terror offences in Great Britain has dropped by 40% in the last year, compared with the 12-month period which saw several high-profile attacks on London and Manchester. The 268 arrests made in the year ending March 2019 was significantly down on the 443 the previous year – the highest since records began – which included the Manchester Arena bombing, plus terror attacks at London Bridge, Parsons Green and Finsbury Park. Of the 268 arrests, about one third (90 in total, or 34%) resulted in a charge, while some 69 people (26%) were released without charge, according to Home Office data. Of the 70 people charged with a terrorism-related offence, 32 had been prosecuted, all of whom had been convicted. The 268 represents the lowest figure since 251 arrests in 2014. The figures show that more than two in five suspects (41%) were white – the highest percentage since March 2004 (42.%). Black suspects accounted for 11.9% of those arrested in the 12 months to March 2019, up slightly from 9.9% the previous year. The data also showed Asian suspects accounted for 36.2% of those arrested in 2018-19, down from 40.6% in the 12 months prior, and the lowest percentage since 2006 (34.9%).”

The Jerusalem Post: Islamic State – The British Connection

“In 2006, the trenchant British political commentator Melanie Phillips published a volume that quickly became a best seller on both sides of the Atlantic. Titled Londonistan, it was the first major attempt to explain how and why the UK had become what Phillips termed “the epicenter of Islamic militancy in Europe” – a hub for recruiting, financing and promoting Islamic terror and extremism. The incentive behind the book, and the urgent need Phillips felt to arouse the public’s awareness to the major problem it faced, was probably the London bombings on July 7, 2005, the worst terrorist attack to take place on British soil. At 8:50 that morning, explosions tore through three trains on the London Underground, killing 39 people. An hour later, 13 people were killed when a bomb detonated on the upper deck of a bus in central London. In addition, more than 700 people were injured. It was subsequently established that the attacks were carried out by four suicide bombers with rucksacks full of explosives. The investigation characterized the four as “ordinary British citizens,” but the British public was forced to recognize that these relatively unassuming young men, living what appeared to be quite normal lives, had been radicalized by extremists living freely in Britain and operating from institutions functioning legally on British soil.”

The Sun: Ten Terrorists Released From Jail Were Sent Back To Prison Last Year

“TEN convicted terrorists who had been released from jail were locked up again last year. It is the highest number on record for freed extremists being recalled to prison. The Home Office figures will spark fears that dangerous jihadis are being let loose too soon - while they still pose a national security risk. There was outrage last year when notorious hate preacher Anjem Choudary was set free halfway through his five and a half year sentence for drumming up support for ISIS. Overall, yesterday’s report showed 268 people were arrested under anti-terror laws in the year to March. It was a drop of 40 per cent on the previous year when there was a record surge in the wake of the deadly attacks on London and Manchester. Of those held last year, 70 were charged with terrorism offences, 32 of whom have been convicted so far.”


Yahoo News: Amid Sahel Violence, France Seeks More European Special Forces

“France has asked European powers to provide special forces to support thousands of troops struggling to contain a rise in violence in West Africa, Defence Minister Florence Parly said on Thursday. There has been an increase over the last six months in Islamist militant attacks and inter-ethnic violence in the Sahel region, highlighting the difficulty that foreign partners face in helping to restore stability. “If we do not stabilise Mali, Niger or Burkina Faso, Europe will have above its head, not one, but two lasting Damocles swords: that of terrorism ... and that of illegal migration,” Parly said in a speech at a French special forces bases in southwestern France. France, the former colonial power in the region, intervened in Mali in 2013 to drive out Islamist militants who had occupied the north. It has since kept about 4,500 troops in the region as part of Barkhane counter-terrorism operations, while the United Nations has a peacekeeping force in Mali of about 15,000 soldiers and police. Western powers have also provided funding to a regional force made up of soldiers from Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania to combat jihadists, but the so-called G5 force has been hobbled by delays in disbursing the money and poor coordination.”


The Jerusalem Post: Congressmen To Merkel: Designate Hezbollah A Terror Group

“A bipartisan group of four members of Congress sent a letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel urging Germany to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.  Currently, only the military wing of the terrorist group is named as such. Last week, the Bundestag failed to pass a resolution that would refer to the entire organization as a terror group. The four, Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1), Grace Meng (D, NY-6), Ted Deutch (D, FL-22), and Gus Bilirakis (R, FL-12) wrote to Merkel that they wish to “express concern” over the recent failed vote in the Bundestag. “We appreciate your government’s commitment to fighting terrorism, and we believe that taking the step to designate the political wing of Hezbollah will have a significant impact on Hezbollah’s activity in Europe and around the globe,” they added. “Since 2016, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and United Kingdom have labeled Hezbollah’s political and military wing as a terrorist organization,” they wrote, noting Hezbollah is an Iranian proxy with a significant political and military influence in Lebanon that poses a geostrategic threat to Israel. “Iran has provided Hezbollah with approximately $800 million annually for military equipment and supplied over 100,000 missiles in southern Lebanon, including the capability of building more missiles,” the four continued.”


Al Arabiya: Belgium To Bring Home Six Orphans Of Extremists Slain In Syria

“Belgium will bring six orphans home from Kurdish-controlled camps in Syria after the deaths of their extremist parents, Finance Minister Alexander De Croo said Thursday. “These are children who were born in our country and who today no longer have parents,” the minister told VRT public radio after a cabinet decision. Belgium is one of several European countries wrestling with the dilemma of what to do about citizens trapped in Syria following the defeat of ISIS. Some are reticent to accept captured extremist fighters, but the cases of children and non-combatant wives have proved more complicated for Western authorities. On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said Belgium has a signed deal to allow returnees to transit through Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region. The bulk of the ISIS fighters and family members who were captured when its so-called caliphate collapsed are being held in Syria in Kurdish-run camps. De Croo said that four of the six returnees are older than 10, but that none were suspects. “These are children who were alone in the camps, who have no support. There’s no question of taking back parents who chose to join terrorist groups,” he said.”


Foreign Policy: Xinjiang Visit By U.N. Counterterrorism Official Provokes Outcry

“A planned visit to China’s Xinjiang province this week by a Russian national who serves as the United Nations’ top counterterrorism official has infuriated human rights advocates and some Western governments, who fear Beijing will use the trip as propaganda. The visit by Vladimir Ivanovich Voronkov marks the first high-level visit by a U.N. official to the predominantly Muslim territory since Beijing began forcing an estimated million local members of the Uighur minority into detention camps, according to several U.N.-based diplomats. Voronkov, the undersecretary general for the U.N. Office of Counter-terrorism, will be accompanied by a Chinese public security minister, and critics say the trip will serve to reinforce China’s claim that its actions against the Uighur population in Xinjiang are the result of terrorist threats, not a brutal government crackdown on a minority population.””


The Los Angeles Times: Twitter Suspends Author Over Cover Of Book About The Radical Right

“The author of a book about American right-wing extremism says he’s been suspended from Twitter because his account featured an image from the cover of his book, which contains illustrations of Ku Klux Klan hoods. David Neiwert, the author of the 2017 book “Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump,” told the Daily Beast that Twitter decided the image ran afoul of its policy prohibiting “symbols historically associated with hate groups” on Twitter page headers. The hardcover cover of “Alt-America,” a section of which Neiwert used as his header image, features a stylized American flag with the white stars topped by hoods traditionally associated with the racist Ku Klux Klan. As of Thursday morning, Neiwert's account was still suspended. Users who try to go to his account receive a message reading:”@DavidNeiwert's account is temporarily unavailable because it violates the Twitter Media Policy.” Neiwert said he has appealed Twitter's decision, and he sent the Daily Beast a copy of his message to the social media company. “This book, 'Alt-America,' is a history of the rise of the radical right in the United States over the past 30 years,” Neiwert wrote.”

The Washington Post: How YouTube Erased History In Its Battle Against White Supremacy

“Last week, YouTube launched a crackdown on white supremacists and purveyors of hoaxes. It took down thousands of videos and channels that featured Holocaust denial and promoted Nazi ideologies. But instead of praise, the implementation of a new hate-speech policy managed to offend a wide array of would-be supporters: Some of the advocates who had been lobbying for YouTube to change its practices protested that their video clips had been wrongly caught up in the sweep. Among the videos that YouTube removed were clips of Hitler’s speeches and videos explaining the origins and dangers of white-supremacist ideas that had historical and educational value. YouTube wields enormous power as the gatekeeper of 5 billion hours of video uploaded daily. Its role is part social media service, part real-time broadcaster and part archive — meaning censorship on YouTube is more likely to raise difficult questions of erasing history.”