Eye on Extremism: June 21

Chicago Sun Times: Two Suburban Men Guilty Of Providing Support To Islamic State

“The FBI descended on their north suburban home in a raid two years ago that began with a “boom,” neighbors said. Then, the feds unveiled a 77-page criminal complaint in April 2017 that accused Joseph D. Jones and Edward Schimenti of sharing gruesome Islamic State videos online, fantasizing about the ISIS flag “on top of the White House” and, crucially, collecting cellphones they thought could be used as detonators by terrorists overseas.  Now, the 37-year-old Zion men have been found guilty of a conspiracy to provide material support to the Islamic State. A jury convicted them Thursday after more than a day and a half of deliberations, ending their roughly three-week trial. The jury also found Schimenti guilty of lying to the FBI about a matter involving international terrorism. Both men face significant prison time at sentencing hearings that have not been scheduled.  Schimenti and Jones looked sullen after U.S. District Judge Andrea Wood read the verdict Thursday afternoon. Jones’ lawyer, Patrick Boyle, later told reporters he was disappointed. It’s rare for a terrorism case to go to trial at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse. And in the lead-up to this one, defense attorneys convinced the judge they should be allowed to present an entrapment defense to the jury.”

The Washington Post: Months After The Fall Of ISIS, Europe Has Done Little To Take Back Its Fighters

“European leaders have hammered the United States for nearly two decades about the injustice of Guantanamo Bay, where prisoners are held indefinitely at a detention camp outside the normal U.S. justice system.  But faced with what to do about European nationals who went to fight for the Islamic State and ended up in Syrian detention camps, the continent’s leaders are proving reluctant to bring their citizens to trial at home. Three months after the collapse of the Islamic State, about 2,000 foreign fighters are imprisoned in Syria and Iraq, and about 800 of them are believed to be European, according to U.S. officials. Those figures don’t include the thousands of wives and children with foreign citizenship. European leaders have made little movement to repatriate their citizens, even as U.S. and Kurdish authorities beg them to take back their people. Some security officials warn that inaction could enable future attacks, and human rights advocates deplore the conditions in overcapacity camps. “It’s obvious that there is a humanitarian crisis unfolding in the camps in northeast Syria and the prisons in Iraq that are holding thousands of foreigners,” said Letta Tayler, a global terrorism researcher at Human Rights Watch.”

Yahoo News: 18 IS Fighters Killed In Joint Operation With US In Niger

“Eighteen members of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara were killed in a joint operation by US, French and Niger troops near Niger's border with Mali, the defence ministry said Tuesday. The June 8-18 operation took place in the northern border region of Tongo Tongo “targeting a gang of ISGS terrorists implicated in an ambush on May 14,” in which 28 Nigerien soldiers were killed, it said. “The toll on the enemy side is: 18 terrorists neutralised, five terrorists, of whom three are Nigerien, taken prisoner.” There were “no human or material losses” during the operation, which was codenamed ACONIT, it said. “Important materiel was recovered including equipment belonging to the Niger armed forces which were taken by the attackers after the ambush,” the statement said. In October 2017, the ISGS claimed responsibility for a raid which killed four US soldiers and five Nigerien troops in the same region, a mere 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the Malian border. That ambush claimed the largest number of American lives in combat anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa since the “Black Hawk Down” incident in Somalia in 1993 On June 8, a US army vehicle hit a landmine near the town of Ouallam, about 100 kilometres north of the capital Niamey, but there were no casualties.”

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Planned Strike On Iran After Downing Of Drone But Called Off Mission 

"The U.S. was preparing to launch a retaliatory strike against Iran for shooting down an American reconnaissance drone Thursday, but the mission was called off at the last minute, U.S. officials said. Details about the mission or the reason for the abrupt reversal of plans weren’t immediately known, but officials said a future military response hasn’t been ruled out. The U.S. appeared to be edging closer to military confrontation throughout the day on Thursday as President Trump charged that Tehran had made “a very big mistake” in shooting down the unmanned drone. But as the hours went by, each side refrained from additional escalatory steps, and Mr. Trump later appeared to defuse the crisis by suggesting that the shootdown might have been done without the blessing of Tehran’s top leadership. “I imagine someone made a mistake,” Mr. Trump told reporters. “We didn’t have a man or woman in the drone. It would have made a big, big difference.”

AZ Central: Police: Terrorism Suspect Swore Allegiance To ISIS Before Attacking MCSO Deputy

“A man facing terrorism charges called a 911 dispatcher and swore allegiance to ISIS before attacking a Maricopa County Sheriff's deputy, according to a recently unsealed Sheriff's Office report. The report claims 18-year-old Ismail Hamed repeatedly called 911 on the evening of Jan. 7 and demanded that a Maricopa County Sheriff's Office deputy meet him at an MCSO substation in Fountain Hills. He also swore allegiance to ISIS, the report says. Police say Hamed threw rocks and approached the responding deputy, Sgt. Brandon Wells, with a three-inch knife before Wells shot him. Hamed was treated at a Scottsdale hospital before being booked into jail on one count of aggravated assault involving a deadly weapon. But prosecutors eventually filed a complaint charging him with aiding a terrorist organization and engaging in an act of terrorism. A grand jury agreed to indict Hamed on the terrorism charges on Jan. 17. Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone held a press conference shortly after the confrontation where he claimed Hamed wanted to harm or kill Wells as part of a terrorist ideology but refused to elaborate.”

The National: 'Dangerous' Muslim Brotherhood Fatwa App In Apple Store's Top 100 Downloads

“A “dangerous hate” app linked to the Muslim Brotherhood has been in the top 100 downloads in the Apple store in a third of European countries since its launch, despite international calls for it to be banned. The Euro Fatwa app, which was launched in April, was created by the European Council for Fatwa and Research, a Dublin private foundation set up by Yusuf Al Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. Touted as a “simplified and concise Fiqh [Islamic jurisprudence] guide” to help Muslims adhere to Islam, critics, such as Germany’s security service, say the app is instead a “radicalisation tool”. The Qatar-based figure is banned from the US, UK and France for his extremist views. “What makes Qaradawi unique from other extremists are the ways in which his presence is condoned by social media, specifically through Facebook and Twitter’s verified user checkmark,” said Counter-Extremism Project researcher Joshua Fisher-Birch earlier this year.”

United States

The New York Times: Navy SEAL War Crimes Witness Says He Was the Killer

“In stunning testimony that may upend the war crimes trial of Chief Edward Gallagher of the Navy SEALs, a SEAL medic told the court on Thursday that he — not the chief — had killed a wounded captive in Iraq. The medic, Special Operator First Class Corey Scott, testified that he watched Chief Gallagher stab the prisoner, a teenage ISIS fighter, in the neck, but that the stab wound did not appear to be life-threatening. After the chief walked away, Special Operator Scott told the court, he pressed his thumb over the captive’s breathing tube until he died.”

Fox News: Tunisian National Who Backed ISIS Deported From US, ICE Officials Say 

“Federal immigration officials said they have removed a Tunisian national who had allegedly declared his support for the Islamic State, entered the U.S. on a sham marriage, and committed tax fraud. Enforcement and Removal Operations officers escorted Houcine Ghoul from New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport on Wednesday evening and turned him over to Tunisian authorities Thursday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said in a statement. A U.S. District Judge had sentenced Ghoul in August 2018 to two years in prison, followed by deportation for “unlawful procurement of naturalization” and falsifying his tax return, the ICE statement said. Authorities said Ghoul entered the U.S. from Tunisia on a tourist visa in 2001. He then overstayed his tourist visa, married a U.S. citizen – whom he later divorced – and obtained a legal permanent resident status.  Authorities began investigating Ghoul in April 2014 after he posted a photo online declaring his support for ISIS. The photo showed an individual with a sign in Arabic that read: “The victory of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,” followed in English by: “ISIS,” and “N. Carolina, USA,” where he was then residing.”

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Neighbors Shocked By Syrian Refugee's Alleged Bomb Plot

“The Syrian refugee living in Northview Heights who is charged with planning to blow up a North Side church picked a place of worship that many of his neighbors previously attended, neighbors said Thursday. Some Northview Heights residents — many from African countries — used the building of Legacy International Worship Center on Wilson Avenue to host their services, neighbors said, until recently moving into their own church in Monroeville. Residents of the public housing complex were shocked to see their neighbor, Mustafa Mousab Alowemer, 21, arrested by the FBI Wednesday and accused of planning to put a bomb in that church next month in support of the Islamic State of Iraq. Mr. Alowemer, a 2019 Brashear High School graduate who came to the United States in 2016 and had been living in Northview Heights with his family for about a year, apparently believed the church was Christian and Nigerian, and wanted to “take revenge for our [ISIS] brothers in Nigeria,” according to the FBI. Michael Anthony Day, pastor of Legacy International Worship Center, said his congregation moved into the building in late 2017. The church had been rented to a different congregation — one Mr. Day believed was African — between 2016 and 2017.”

Tallahassee Democrat: Federal Indictment: Suspect Sent Bomb Threats To Judges 'For Cause Of Islamic State'

“A former inmate at Blackwater River Correctional Institution in Milton claimed he threatened to blow up the secretary of state and several judges around Florida “for the cause of the Islamic State,” a federal indictment issued this week said. Noah D. Stirn, 24, was indicted on 12 counts Tuesday relating to letters to state and federal agencies he allegedly sent out while a state inmate between April and May. The letters threatened to use “C4” and “car bombs” to do harm to public officials, Lawrence Keefe, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, announced today. He was originally charged by a criminal complaint sworn out by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI affidavit said Stirn admitted to writing threatening letters to the Florida Secretary of State, the Social Security Administration, and several U.S. courts in Pensacola, Miami, Gainesville, Panama City and Tallahassee. The indictment describes six separate letters Stirn sent to federal judges in both the Southern and Northern Districts of Florida. In another letter he claims, “This is a direct attack on the U.S. Government.”


AFP: Children And Rescuers Among 20 Civilians Reported Killed By Syria Regime Fire Despite Truce

“Regime bombardment killed 20 civilians including eight children and three rescue workers in jihadist-run northwest Syria Thursday, as fighting killed dozens on the edges of the anti-government bastion. The Idlib region, home to some 3 million people, is supposed to be protected by a months-old international truce deal, but it has come under increased bombardment by the regime and its Russian ally since late April. The United Nations has warned that the spike in violence could spark one of the worst humanitarian disasters in Syria’s grinding eight-year conflict.”

Al Jazeera: Dozens Killed In Heavy Fighting In Northwest Syria

“More than 100 combatants have been killed over the past 48 hours in fighting between Syrian forces and rebels in the country's besieged northwest, a war monitor has said. Ongoing clashes and aerial bombardment centred on the village of Tal Meleh in the north of Hama province, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Thursday. According to the Observatory, which has a network of sources on the ground in Syria, 89 opposition fighters were dead with 41 fatalities among government forces. Al Jazeera was not able to independently verify the figures in the war zone. On Wednesday, Syria's state news agency SANA reported ”army operations” had been launched against the former wing of al-Qaeda - Hay'et Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) - in Tal Meleh and the surrounding countryside that it dominates. “Bodies of the terrorists and their vehicles scattered in the surroundings of al-Jalmah village due to the strikes of the army,” SANA reported, without specifying a death toll. Tal Meleh sits near the southwestern edge of Hama's neighbouring Idlib province, which has come under increasing bombardment by Syrian government forces and warplanes from Russia, an ally of President Bashar al-Assad.”

Arab News: Transitional Justice Could Help Stabilize Former Daesh Territory

“Following the territorial defeat of Daesh in northeastern Syria, Kurdish-led local authorities are now grappling with bringing the group’s members to justice. The scale of the crimes and the sheer number of victims — combined with massive shortages in resources and personnel — make the task extremely difficult to address through the traditional legal system. An alternative approach would be transitional justice mechanisms, which are often used after political conflicts to redress human rights abuses. So far, however, relevant authorities do not seem inclined to implement such solutions. What is at stake is the long-term stability of northeastern Syria. There are hundreds of thousands of families with ties to Daesh and, in the absence of a credible justice process, an enormous risk of extrajudicial revenge killings targeting not only former militants but also their entire extended families. The current judicial approach simply cannot cope with the volume of cases and the atrocities involved. The current efforts by the Kurdish-led self-administration entity to bring justice to victims are largely focused on detaining Daesh members and, where possible, charging them with terrorism offences. Authorities have set up local counterterrorism courts to prosecute thousands of locally recruited Daesh members who are in custody.”


The New York Times: Trump Approves Strikes On Iran, But Then Abruptly Pulls Back

“President Trump approved military strikes against Iran in retaliation for downing an American surveillance drone, but pulled back from launching them on Thursday night after a day of escalating tensions. As late as 7 p.m., military and diplomatic officials were expecting a strike, after intense discussions and debate at the White House among the president’s top national security officials and congressional leaders, according to multiple senior administration officials involved in or briefed on the deliberations. Officials said the president had initially approved attacks on a handful of Iranian targets, like radar and missile batteries. The operation was underway in its early stages when it was called off, a senior administration official said. Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down, the official said. The abrupt reversal put a halt to what would have been the president’s third military action against targets in the Middle East. Mr. Trump had struck twice at targets in Syria, in 2017 and 2018. It was not clear whether Mr. Trump simply changed his mind on the strikes or whether the administration altered course because of logistics or strategy. It was also not clear whether the attacks might still go forward.”

Wired: Iranian Hackers Launch A New Us-Targeted Campaign As Tensions Mount

“When two countries begin to threaten war in 2019, it's a safe bet that they've already been hacking each other's networks. Right on schedule, three different cybersecurity firms now say they've watched Iran's hackers try to gain access to a wide array of US organizations over the past few weeks, just as military tensions between the two countries rise to a breaking point—though it's not yet clear whether those hacker intrusions are aimed at intelligence gathering, laying the groundwork for a more disruptive cyberattack, or both.”


Iraqi News: Iraqi Intelligence Apprehend 3 Terrorists In Diyala

“Iraqi Intelligence Directorate announced, on Thursday, apprehending three terrorists in Diyala. It also indicated that one of them participated in a terrorist attack during the Islamic State offensive on the province. In a press statement, the directorate said, “Iraqi Intelligence forces (Diyala Operations Command), backed by the intelligence forces from the 74th brigade, managed to apprehend three terrorists in Jalawla – Klar Road, in Diyala Province.” Yesterday, two Islamic State militants were killed by an Iraqi warplane’s airstrike, in the eastern province of Diyala. It is noteworthy that In January 2015, Iraqi forces announced liberating Diyala province from the Islamic State grip. Diyala witnessed months of escalating fighting between Iraqi troops and IS militants, especially in Jalawla and Saadiyah areas, north of the province, in addition to some areas near the town of Muqdadiyah.”

Xinhua: Iraqi Forces Foil Suicide Attack In Diyala Province

“Iraqi security forces foiled on Thursday an attack by a would-be suicide bomber affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) in the eastern province of Diyala, a provincial security source said. The incident took place in the evening when an attacker wearing an explosive belt threw a hand grenade in a popular coffee shop in the center of the town Khanaqin, some 165 km northeast of the capital Baghdad, Ghalib al-Attiyah, spokesman for Diyala's provincial police, told Xinhua. The blast of the hand grenade injured four civilians and the attacker himself, al-Attiyah said. The police opened fire on and seriously wounded him when the attacker tried to flee, he added. Despite repeated military operations in Diyala, IS remnants were still hiding in rugged areas near the border with Iran, as well as the sprawling areas extending from the western part of Diyala to Himreen mountainous area in the northern part of the province. The security situation in Iraq was dramatically improved after Iraqi security forces fully defeated the extremist IS militants across the country late in 2017. IS remnants, however, have since melted in urban areas or resorted to deserts and rugged areas as safe havens, carrying out frequent guerilla attacks against security forces and civilians.”


AFP: Never-Ending War

“Of all the sad, wrenching things I have seen as a journalist in Afghanistan, Niaz Bibi’s house was probably one of the saddest. At the age of 70, Bibi has found herself as the main parent of some 40 kids -- the children of her three sons and three grandsons who had been killed by the Islamic State. Bibi does the best she can, but she is so poor that they all live in conditions not much better than a jail. “Have you seen my father?” some of the children asked me when I came to the house. They didn’t know their fathers were dead. They thought they were just away somewhere. They looked at their photos and counted the minutes until their return.”

FirstPost: Even As It Talks Peace, Taliban Provides Safe Haven To Lashkar-E-Taiba, Al Qaeda In Afghanistan, Says New UN Report

“The Taliban's leadership is providing safe havens and resources to the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups targeting India, a report produced by a United Nations expert group has revealed. "Foreign fighters continue to operate under the authority of the Taliban in multiple Afghan provinces at undiminished levels," the United Nations' Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team's report states. Intelligence and foreign-policy officials have long been warning that ongoing United States-led power-sharing negotiations with the Taliban could end up again turning Afghanistan into a hub for global Islamist terror groups.”

Reuters: Taliban Delegation Holds Talks In China As Part Of Peace Push

“China recently played host to a Taliban delegation as part of efforts to promote peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, China’s foreign ministry said on Thursday.  Representatives of the Taliban, who have been fighting for years to expel foreign forces and defeat the U.S.-backed government in Kabul, have been holding talks with U.S. diplomats for months.  The focus has been the Taliban demand for the withdrawal of U.S. and other foreign forces, in exchange for guarantees that Afghanistan will not be used as a base for militant attacks.  Taliban negotiators have also met senior Afghan politicians and civil society representatives, including in Moscow recently, as part of so-called intra-Afghan dialogue to discuss their country’s future.  Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a daily news briefing that Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban representative in Qatar, and some of his colleagues had recently visited China, though he did not say exactly when.  Chinese officials met them to discuss the Afghan peace process and counter-terror issues, Lu told the briefing, without saying who met the delegation.”

Xinhua: Over 2 Dozen Militants Including 16 Commanders Killed In N. Afghanistan 

“A total of 26 militants including 16 senior and junior Taliban commanders have been killed in the beleaguered Ghormach district of the western Badghis and parts of the neighboring northern Faryab province in target attacks over the past 24 hours, an army spokesman in the northern region Mohammad Hanif Rezai said Thursday. According to the officials, the senior commanders killed in the air raids backed by the NATO-led Resolute Support mission include Hajji Mullah the Taliban military chief for Ghormach, Mullah Abdul Rauf, Mullah Abdul Sattar, Mullah Torjan and Qari Surgul and 11 junior group commanders. The security forces would continue to target the militants' hideouts in Ghormach and its vicinity, the Rezai further said. Taliban militants have not commented yet.”


Radio Free Europe: Arab Deputies Urge Un To List Yemen’s Huthi Movement As ‘Terrorist Organization’

“A group of lawmakers from the Arab bloc have called on the United Nations to label the Iran-backed Huthi rebel movement in Yemen a “terrorist organization.” Parliamentarians meeting in Cairo on June 19 asked “the UN and the Security Council to take a firm and immediate position by classifying the putschist Huthi militia a terrorist organization,” the group said. The body is made up of representatives from the parliaments in the pan-Arab region. The body accused the Huthis of “regularly targeting civilian and vital infrastructure in Saudi Arabia with ballistic missiles or drones.” It also asked the Arab League to put “the issue of Iran's threats and interference” before the UN Security Council. Saudi Arabia and the United States, among other allies, accuse Iran of being behind a recent series of attacks in the region, either directly or through its support of the Huthi rebels. Among the attacks have been several drone strikes on Saudi Arabia, including an attack that damaged two oil pipeline pumping stations on May 14. A bloody civil war in Yemen has been called a “proxy war” between Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite-led Iran. The Yemeni government, supported by Saudi Arabia and its military allies, has been battling the Iran-backed Huthi rebels since 2015.”

Middle East

The National: Terror Group Funding Loophole Must Be Closed

“Khalifa Al Subaiy spent six months in prison in Qatar for financing terrorism and enabling others to be trained abroad. On his release in March 2008, he spent years channelling funds to senior Al Qaeda henchmen and dispatched recruits to the terror group’s training camps in Pakistan. He was able to do so, despite being on a UN Security Council blacklist, because a loophole in UN sanctions restrictions allowed him to access up to $10,000 a month, ostensibly for “basic necessities”. Instead, it allowed him to continue his illicit activity while under the watch of the Security Council, and while Qatar looked the other way. The revelation that such a loophole exists, revealed by the Wall Street Journal, is deeply concerning. The UN Security Council has blacklisted more than 250 individuals for supporting terrorist organisations – including Al Qaeda and ISIS – in a bid to sever access to their bank accounts and, by default, cut the supply chain to tap into funds. Yet chinks in its own system are being exploited by terrorist benefactors and are being funnelled back into the coffers of extremist groups. The deeply flawed set-up means that countries can apply for sustenance funds for their own citizens – but those applications can only be rejected by all 15 members of the Security Council and some countries fail to sufficiently monitor the activities of their citizens on the watchlist.”

Gulf News: Qatar Exploiting UN Loopholes To Facilitate Terror Financing

“Blacklisted terrorists from Al Qaida and Daesh have been able to tap into their bank accounts despite a UN asset freeze, according to documents reviewed by the Wall Street Journal. Qatari financier, Khalifa Al Subaiy, is among those who have accessed their funds. The US believes Al Subaiy to be a longtime funder of Al Qaida’s senior leadership, including 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. “I would be hard-pressed to find someone more prominent than him in the whole terrorism financing side,” said Hans-Jakob Schindler, a senior director at the Counter Extremism Project and former adviser to the U.N. Security Council. told the Wall Street Journal.”


Yahoo News: Rival Groups And Strategies Overshadow Jihadist Conflict In Nigeria

“Two attacks less than 24 hours apart in northeastern Nigeria this week have laid bare the deadly but divergent strategies of Boko Haram and a rival jihadist group, the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP). How these insurgencies evolve will greatly shape the course of the country's decade-old crisis, say security experts. The twin threats facing security forces came into focus with the attacks in Borno state. On Sunday, a triple suicide bombing killed at least 30 football fans in Konduga -- an assault that bore the hallmarks of the original Boko Haram group, led by its long-time leader, Abubakar Shekau. Shekau's faction typically use young women and children to target places of worship, markets and public places, seeking maximum civilian casualties. Then, on Monday, more than 15 soldiers were killed, as heavily-armed militants overran Gajiram military base in a coordinated attack. It followed the blueprint of attacks by ISWAP, whose stronghold is the Lake Chad region, where the porous borders of Chad, Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon come together. The rival factions are rooted in Boko Haram, which in 2009 launched an insurgency with the goal of establishing an Islamic caliphate in northern Nigeria.”

Xinhua: UN Security Council Condemns Terrorist Attack In Nigeria

“The United Nations Security Council on Thursday condemned “in the strongest possible terms” Sunday's terrorist attack in the northeastern Nigerian state of Borno that killed at least 30 people. In a press statement, the council members expressed their deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims and to the people and government of Nigeria. They wished a speedy recovery to those injured. The council members underlined the need to hold the perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism accountable and bring them to justice. They urged all states to cooperate actively with the Nigerian government as well as all other relevant authorities in this regard. The council members reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, and called on all states to combat by all means threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts. They commended the efforts of countries in the region to effectively combat terrorism, and encouraged further progress in this regard.”


Yahoo News: Sahel Jihadists Undeterred By Western-Led Fightback

“The Sahel region has become a haven for jihadist groups, who are now carrying out attacks almost daily in the vast, fragile region despite a fightback by international and local armies. The latest strikes included Tuesday's raid in northern Burkina Faso, which killed 17, and another at the gates of the Niger capital Niamey that claimed the lives of two policemen. Eighteen members of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara were meanwhile killed in a joint operation by US, French and Niger troops near Niger's border with Mali, Niger's defence ministry announced on Tuesday.The June 8-18 operation took place in the northern border region of Tongo Tongo and targeted a group “implicated in an ambush on May 14,” in which 28 Nigerien soldiers were killed,” it said. The volatile western rim of the southern Sahara includes conflict-ravaged Mali as well as Mauritania and Chad, which have become hunting grounds for a range of armed militia including some linked to the Islamic State (IS) group. “It's Sisyphean, it never stops!” said a French security source, referring to the figure in Greek mythology whose name signifies endless labour and frustration. Sisyphus was punished for eternity by being forced to roll a boulder to the top of a hill, only to see the rock roll down again once it neared the peak.”

Long War Journal: Islamic State Claims Attacks On American, French Forces In The Sahel 

“In the most recent issue of the Islamic State’s Al Naba weekly newsletter, the global jihadist group claims its forces were responsible for two recent attacks targeting French and American forces in the Sahel. ”Thanks to God, soldiers of the caliphate in Niger detonated an improvised explosive device on a car belonging to the Crusader American special forces which were supervising the training of apostate Nigerien soldiers,” the Islamic State’s newsletter reads.  It goes on to claim that two American soldiers were killed in the explosion. US Africa Command, while confirming that a vehicle was damaged in an explosion near Ouallam, Niger, on June 9, denied that any service member was killed.  The reported IED is not the first claimed Islamic State attack on US troops in Niger. In October 2017, the Islamic State was also responsible for the now infamous ambush near Tongo Tongo, Niger, which left four US Special Forces soldiers and several Nigerien soldiers dead. Also enclosed in today’s Al Naba is a statement asserting that the Islamic State’s men also recently shot down a French helicopter in Mali’s northern Menaka region. The jihadist newsletter states that the helicopter was shot down as part of a complex ambush on French and Malian troops last week.”

Africa Times: Niger Works With France, U.S. And Mali In Attack On Islamic State Fighters

“Eighteen members of the Islamic State affiliate active in Niger have been killed in a 10-day operation completed by the Nigerien military in partnership with France, Mali and the United States. That’s according to defense minister Moutari Kalla in Niamey, who announced the results of the ACONIT operation in a statement issued Thursday in which he praised the productive military cooperation between Niger and its strategic partners. The action was taken between June 8 and 18 in the North Tongo Tongo region where the armed extremists have been active. It was coordinated in response to a May 14 attack near Tongo Tongo – not far from the border with Mali – that left more than two dozen Nigerien soldiers killed. President Issoufou Mahamadou called the May attack barbaric, but it is one of many the Nigerien government has been forced to cope with in the ongoing battle with terrorists across Sahelian nations. Most recently, it was U.S. personnel who were targeted by an improvised explosive device near Ouallam on June 8. There were no casualties in that incident, which occurred during a joint exercise with Nigerien and U.S. forces. “Niger is a vital partner in the fight against violent extremist organizations.”


Daily Sabah: German Politicians Under Threat From Far-Right Terrorism

“Following the assassination-style murder of a pro-migrant German politician by a far-right extremist, at least three German mayors with pro-migrant policies have received death threats by post, police said yesterday. The close-range shooting of Walter Luebcke at his home in central Germany on June 2 and the arrest of a man officials say had far-right sympathies has shocked Germans and the government has said it should be a wake-up call. Luebcke was an outspoken defender of Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to welcome refugees and in 2015 drew the wrath of the far right by telling Germans who objected that they could leave the country. German police said at least three local mayors had received death threats in the mail. One of them, Cologne mayor Henriette Reker, was stabbed in the neck by a right-wing sympathizer in October 2015 and has been under police protection ever since. Another mayor, Andreas Hollstein, of the small town of Altena in North Rhine-Westphalia state, on Tuesday confirmed to German news agency DPA that he had again received death threats. He was slashed with a knife in 2017 after accepting a national award from Chancellor Angela Merkel for Altena's work with refugees.”


News Australia: Melbourne Man Charged With Terror Offence After ‘Planning To Engage In Hostile Activities Overseas’

“A Melbourne man has been charged with a terror offence after allegedly planning to travel overseas to “engage in hostile activities”. The 29-year-old was arrested at his Roxburgh Park workplace in the city’s north shortly after 8.30am on Thursday. He is set to appear in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Friday charged with preparing for an incursion into a foreign country for the purpose of engaging in hostile activities. No further arrests are expected, but the investigation is ongoing. “Victoria Police and the Australian Federal Police would like to reassure the community there is no ongoing threat against the Victorian community as a result of this investigation,” a statement from state and federal authorities said.”


The Portugal News: Portuguese Citizen Arrested On Suspicion Of Aiding ISIS

“Portugal’s PJ police have arrested a Portuguese national who is believed to have been living in the UK for a number of years, on suspicion of aiding Islamic State (ISIS). In a statement, national authorities said they carried out the police action here in Portugal, in the early hours of Sunday morning, responding “to a house search where the suspect was” to be found. They did not, however, specify the exact location of the raid. The defendant appeared in court on Monday and in view of the evidence presented by the authorities, was remanded in custody pending trial by the investigating judge. Respected online newssite Diário de Notícias (DN) elaborated, stating the detainee is Portuguese and is understood to have helped the so-called ‘Leyton Cell’ in England, which comprised six suspected Portuguese jihadists from the Sintra area and was the target of criminal investigations by Portugal’s Public Prosecutor. The ‘Leyton Cell’ encompassed brothers Celso and Edgar Costa; Sadjo Turé, Fábio Poças, Sandro Monteiro and Nero Saraiva. Of those six, only the latter is reportedly still alive, although he is thought to have been seriously injured in Baghdad in an attack by allied forces. Edgar and Celso moved to London in early 2000 and are believed to have been converted circa 2006.”


The Wall Street Journal: House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy Wants A Data-Privacy Law

“House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy backed the idea of national legislation to safeguard consumers’ data privacy, adding a prominent GOP voice to the bipartisan support in Congress for tackling how technology companies amass and use their information. Lawmakers from both parties in the House and Senate have been working on bills aimed at strengthening individuals’ ability to control their data collected by the biggest technology companies, including Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Facebook Inc. and Apple Inc.”

Fox News: Facebook Moderator Dies After Viewing Horrific Videos, Others Share Disturbing Incidents: Report

“A dozen current and former Facebook moderators described a filth-ridden, emotionally disturbing, high-stress work environment where they received an extreme amount of pressure to accurately moderate the never-ending firehose of despicable hate speech, graphic violence against humans and animals, and child pornography on the social network — often leaving them with post-traumatic stress disorder and related conditions. The contractors, part of Facebook's army of about 15,000 content moderators worldwide, work in Tampa, Fla., for a company called Cognizant, and receive about $28,000 per year to police the site as part of the Mark Zuckerberg-led company's two-year, $200 million contract with the tech giant, according to a report in The Verge. The New Jersey-based Cognizant has a market capitalization of $34.6 billion and is one of several large firms that provide digital moderation services to Silicon Valley players.”

Diplomatic Courier: YouTube’s Management Needs A #Metoo Moment

“In another ploy to throw circling regulators off its scent, YouTube declared it will remove thousands of videos and channels that advocate neo-Nazi white nationalism and other uber right wing content. It joins its social media corporate brethren in yet another public declaration of penance to clean up its platform before a fed-up American public demands more accountability and oversight of #BigTech."