Eye on Extremism: June 24

The New York Times: Saudi Airport Struck By Deadly Attack

“One person was killed and seven others were wounded on Sunday in an attack by Iranian-allied Yemeni rebels on a Saudi airport, Saudi Arabia said. The strike came as the American secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, traveled to the country for talks on Iran. Regional tensions have flared in recent days. The United States abruptly called off a military strike against Iran last week in response to the shooting down of an unmanned American surveillance drone. The Trump administration has vowed to combine a “maximum pressure” campaign of economic sanctions with a buildup of American forces in the region. A new set of sanctions on Iran is expected to be announced on Monday. Sunday’s attack by the Yemeni rebels, known as Houthis, targeted the Saudi airport in Abha. Saudi Arabia has been at war with the Houthis in Yemen for more than four years. A Houthi spokesman, Yahia al-Sarie, said earlier Sunday that the rebels had launched drones against Saudi airports in the southern cities of Abha and Jizan. Saudi Arabia’s military spokesman, Col. Turki al-Maliki, did not say what type of weapon was used in the attack late Sunday.”

Reuters: U.N.'S Bachelet Says 55,000 Linked To IS In Syria, Iraq Should Be Tried Or Freed

“U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said on Monday that 55,000 captured Islamic State fighters, including foreigners, and their families detained in Syria and Iraq should face fair prosecution or be freed. States “must assume responsibility for their nationals” and should not inflict statelessness on fighters’ children who have already suffered so much, Bachelet also told the U.N. Human Rights Council as it opened a three-week session in Geneva. The 55,000 include alleged foreign fighters from nearly 50 countries and 11,000 family members held at the al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria “in deeply sub-standard conditions”, she said. Authorities in northeast Syria have been urging Western countries to take back citizens who joined Islamic State and their relatives after the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) captured the group’s last enclave this year.”

Voice Of America: Analysts: New Rebel Offensive May Further Complicate Syria’s Conflict

“Syrian rebel groups have launched a major offensive this week against government troops in a Syrian province in what is seen by analysts as a new twist to the ongoing conflict in the northwestern part of the country. Rebel fighters affiliated with the Turkish-backed National Front for Liberation said Tuesday that they have begun targeting Syrian regime forces in the northern part of Hama, a province bordering the flashpoint province of Idlib, which is the last rebel stronghold in Syria. The new assault is primarily aimed at targeting villages from which government forces launch attacks on Idlib, according to a rebel source quoted by German news agency DPA. This “military operation that opposition groups have started positions belonging to regime troops came about after government forces deployed military reinforcements in the countryside of Hama and Idlib in order to launch a large military offensive,” the unidentified rebel source said. Hama province has largely been under the control of the Syrian regime with parts of it briefly captured by rebel groups and Islamic State (IS) militants during different stages of Syria’s civil war. For weeks, Syrian government troops, backed by Russian warplanes and Iranian militias, have been trying to dislodge rebels from Idlib.”

The Telegraph: Tehran Sets Up Terror Cells In Africa As Western Sanctions Bite

“Iran is setting up a network of terror cells in Africa to attack US and other Western targets in retaliation for Washington’s decision to impose sanctions against Tehran, according to Western security officials. The new terror network has been established on the orders of Qassem Suleimani, the head of the Quds Force, the elite section of Iran’s Republican Guard Corps that has responsibility for overseas operations. The aim of the new terror cell is to target US and other Western military bases on the continent, as well as embassies and officials. The Iranian cells are said to be active in a number of African countries including Sudan, Chad, Ghana, Niger, Gambia and the Central African Republic. “Iran is setting up a new terrorist infrastructure in Africa with the aim of attacking Western targets,” a senior Western security source told The Daily Telegraph. “It is all part of Tehran’s attempts to expand its terrorist operations across the globe.” Intelligence officials say Iran has been working on the new terror network for the past three years since signing the nuclear deal on freezing its uranium enrichment activities with the US and other major world powers in 2015.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: US Court Sues Lebanese Citizen For Laundering Drug Money To Hezbollah

“Paraguayan authorities handed over their citizen of Lebanese origins, Nader Mohammed Farhat, to the US security authorities in Miami, Florida, where he faces criminal charges of money laundering. His case is expected to reveal a lot of information about money laundering and the complexities of trade on the border triangle between Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil, including the involvement of the Lebanese Hezbollah party. A federal court in Miami will decide whether Farhat’s trial will take place there or in New York, where he faces similar charges. Farhat is an alleged co-conspirator in a case involving another Paraguayan national of Lebanese origin, Mahmoud Ali Barakat, and three other defendants who are accused of assisting in the laundering of drug monies from inside the US. According to Court documents, Farhat is a “known money launderer for narcotics organizations and other illicit organizations,” while media reports allege a possible connection to Hezbollah.”

CNN: Five Years After James Foley Was Killed By ISIS, US Hostage Families See Improved Government Efforts, Survey Says

“After her son was kidnapped in Syria by ISIS, Diane Foley made monthly trips from her home in New Hampshire to Washington, DC, looking for updates on the government's efforts to rescue him. For nearly two years, as James Foley's captors demanded millions in ransom payments and moved the freelance journalist between prisons, Diane Foley set up as many meetings as she could with national security officials. The same agency would often send her to different people who had limited information on her son's case, she said. At times, she remembers she felt lied to. “There really wasn't anyone in the government who was accountable. They may have cared in many ways, but Jim was at the bottom of a very long list of other tasks for most of the people we met,” Diane Foley said in an interview with CNN. “It really was a very isolating, upsetting, excruciating ordeal.” Five years after James Foley was killed by ISIS, an increasing number of US citizens held captive have returned home and, according to a survey released Monday, families of hostages report a significant improvement in their interactions with the government during the traumatic process.”

United States

Associated Press: Pompeo In Saudi Arabia, Iran Threatens More US Drone Attacks

“U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held talks Monday with the Saudi king and crown prince after days of mounting tensions following the downing of a U.S drone last week and after President Donald Trump pulled back from the brink of retaliatory military strikes on Iran. Iran’s naval commander, meanwhile, warned that Iranian forces would not hesitate to act again and shoot down more U.S. surveillance drones that violate Iranian airspace. The U.S. denies the drone, valued at more than $100 million, violated Iranian airspace. Trump said he backed away from planned strikes after learning that 150 people would be killed but that military action remained an option. On Monday, Pompeo held separate talks with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Saudi port city of Jiddah to discuss the escalation with Iran. Pompeo wrote on Twitter that he had a “productive meeting” with King Salman and discussed “heightened tensions in the region and the need to promote maritime security” in the Strait of Hormuz near the Persian Gulf, through which roughly a fifth of the world’s traded oil passes.”

NPR: Politics Shape The Debate Over What To Call Far-Right Extremism

“In the back of a nondescript building at the University of Maryland, a team of researchers combs through the files of homegrown extremists who have plotted attacks in the name of far-right causes. In each case, researchers are hunting for the motivation, the ideology, that inspired the violence. That means digging into the many elements that make up the far right, as researcher Michael Jensen explained on a recent afternoon. “White supremacist, white nationalist, white extremist, sovereign citizen, anti-government, Patriot [movement], neo-Nazis, skinhead. What else?” Jensen asked two of his colleagues, Elizabeth Yates and Patrick James. “I've seen 'anti-federalist' recently,” Yates said. “We also deal with a lot of just specifically anti-Muslim or anti-immigrant,” James added. “Kind of xenophobic cases.” That list, rattled off on the spot, is nowhere near exhaustive, but it shows the complexities of trying to better understand far-right violence, which federal authorities say is the deadliest and most active form of domestic extremism. The labels the researchers use to code attacks are part of a wider debate over what to call the far-right threat — and how politics plays into that debate.”


CNN: Australian Children Of ISIS Fighters Rescued From Syria

“Eight Australian children have been rescued from a refugee camp in Syria and are in the care of the Australian government, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Monday. The young people aged between 2 and 18 -- the children and grandchildren of ISIS fighters -- crossed the Syrian border into an unnamed Middle Eastern country on Sunday, Australian national broadcaster ABC reported.  The rescue comes after the collapse of ISIS's caliphate in Syria, leaving thousands of ISIS affiliates -- many of whom are women and children -- in make-shift camps.  Morrison said the eight rescued were now in the care of Australian government officials.  “The fact that parents put their children into harm's way by taking them into a war zone was a despicable act,” he said in a statement sent to CNN. “However, children should not be punished for the crimes of their parents.” Morrison said the decision to repatriate the children -- who will be taken to Australia -- was not taken lightly, and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) officials had supported the efforts. “As I have said repeatedly, my government would not allow any Australian to be put at risk,” he said. “Australia's national security and the safety of our people and personnel have always been our most important considerations in this matter.”

Times Of Israel: Hezbollah Is Now Giving Orders To Syria’s Army — And Using It To Spy On Israel

“Earlier this month, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based watchdog group, reported that Israeli fighter jets struck Hezbollah positions on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. There was no Israeli comment on the claim. The report said one of the targets was a post on Tel al-Harra, a mountain that is considered a strategic point that overlooks the Golan Heights, while the other was in Quneitra, near the UN-monitored border crossing with Israel, where Arab media reports a Syrian air-defense position and a Hezbollah intelligence center are located. The Iran-backed Lebanese terror group had been trying to set up a front on the Syrian Golan for years, but had previously been unable to gain a sufficient foothold in the area. However, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s conquest of the border area last summer provided the regime-allied organization with an opportunity to once again attempt to establish the necessary infrastructure with which it could threaten Israel near the border.”

NPR: At Sunday School, Jimmy Carter Extends Praise To Trump For Restraint On Iran

“For the second time since breaking his hip a month ago, former President Jimmy Carter taught Sunday school at Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown of Plains, Ga. this weekend. Addressing an audience of approximately 500, the 94 year old used his scripture lesson to discuss a topic he is intimately familiar with: Iran. "I agree with President Trump on his decision not to take military action against Iran," he said. "I had a lot of problems with Iran when I was in office." Carter's remarks came just two days after President Trump said that he called off a strike on Iran ordered in retaliation for Iran's having shot down a U.S. drone. Trump said he did so after being told that 150 people would likely have died in the attack.”

The National: Children Of ISIS Fighter Khaled Sharrouf Removed From Syria And On Their Way To Australia

“Eight Australian children, caught in the Syrian war after their parents joined ISIS, have been moved from a refugee camp and are set to return to Australia. The group includes five family members of Khaled Sharrouf, an Australian terrorist who is infamously known for posing in a photo next to his son, who was holding a severed human head. The family members include his daughter Zaynab, 17, who is pregnant, and her two daughters. Then there are Sharrouf's son Humzeh, 8, and another daughter Hoda, 16. The children were taken to Syria in 2014 by their mother Tara Nettleton, who followed her husband to the war-torn country. The other three children heading to Australia are aged between 6 and 12. They are the children of ISIS fighter Yasin Rizvic and his wife, Fauzia Bacha, who are both dead. They also joined ISIS in 2014. The eight children crossed into Iraqi Kurdistan at 3.30pm local time on Sunday and were taken in by Australian officials. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the decision to repatriate the children was not made lightly, but the children should not be punished for their parents’ crimes. “As I have said repeatedly, my government would not allow any Australian to be put at risk,” Mr Morrison said.”

France 24: Regime Strikes Kill 4 Civilians In Northwest Syria: Monitor

“Syrian government air strikes on the rebel-held northwest killed four civilians, two of them children, on Saturday, a war monitor said, as a two-month flare-up showed no let-up. The Idlib region of some three million people is supposed to be protected by a September buffer zone deal, but the jihadist-run enclave has come under mounting bombardment by the government and its ally Russia since late April. The two children were killed in a garage on the edge of the town of Maaret al-Numan, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The other two civilians were killed in strikes on the Idlib province villages of Kansafra and Khan al-Subul, the Britain-based monitor said. The September deal signed by Russia and rebel backer Turkey was supposed to set up a buffer zone around the Idlib region, but it was never fully implemented as the jihadists refused to pull back from the front lines. Hostilities deepened In January when Hayat Tahrir al-Sham -- an alliance led by Syria's former Al-Qaeda affiliate -- took over administrative control of the region. Since late April, more than 460 civilians have been killed in government or Russian bombardment, according to the Observatory. The violence has forced around 330,000 people to flee their homes and hit 23 health centres, the United Nations says.”

The National Interest: Raqqa Will Rise Again

“For the third time in its history, the city of Raqqa is in ruins. It was first destroyed by the Persians in the early sixth century when it was known as Callinicum but was rebuilt by the Byzantine emperor Justinian shortly thereafter. The second time it was destroyed—by the Mongols in the mid-thirteenth century—it took centuries for the city to be rebuilt; its time as a political and intellectual center of the Islamic world had come to an abrupt end. The once and future capital of the Islamic caliphate was described as uninhabited ruins by historian Abu al-Fida in the early fourteenth century. Several centuries after Raqqa’s second destruction, the Ottoman Empire took over the area in 1516 AD, and early in their tenure, a small population returned to the area. Members of the Abu Sha’aban tribe arrived in Raqqa in the mid-sixteenth century from Iraq, the first of several tribal migrations to the area during Ottoman rule, and a tax census from the 1560s records fifty-seven Muslim households and fourteen non-Muslim households in the town. However, according to tribal lore, the initial Abu Sha’aban tribesmen believed the abandoned city to be occupied by genies and demons and did not enter at night, living just outside the ruins. It wasn’t until the late nineteenth century that the city really started to come back to life.”

Radio Free Europe: The Women Who Came Home: Kazakhstan Tries To Rehabilitate Islamic State Returnees

“Freshly returned from Syria to Kazakhstan, 24-year-old Zarina says she is taking one day at a time and has no clear plan for the future. The widowed mother of two sons born in Syria -- where she spent five years married to an Islamic State (IS) fighter -- spends most of her days in shopping centers and parks in her hometown of Aqtobe, in western Kazakhstan. Zarina, who doesn’t want to disclose her full name for “family reasons,” was among hundreds of Kazakh citizens repatriated from Syria this year in a special operation called Zhusan. “I was afraid to return, I thought I’d be arrested -- but in a refugee camp in Syria I heard that Kazakhstan will take back its citizens,” Zarina said. “I am grateful that my country took us back, gave us clothes and shoes, and is providing psychological support,” Zarina told RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service. Like the rest of the returnees from Syria, Zarina and her children spent a month in a special center in the city of Aqtau before being allowed to reunite with her relatives. The stint in the Aqtau facility is the first part of an elaborate rehabilitation and reintegration program designed for those who returned to Kazakhstan after living under the extremist IS militants.”


Reuters: Iran Lawmakers Chant 'Death To America' As U.S. Called 'Terrorist'

“Iranian lawmakers chanted “Death to America” during a parliament session on Sunday after a speaker accused the United States of being the “real world terrorist”, amid escalating tension with Washington following the downing of an unmanned U.S. drone. U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he aborted a military strike to retaliate for the drone incident because it could have killed 150 people, and signaled he was open to talks with Tehran. Iran said on Saturday it would respond firmly to any threat against it. ”America is the real terrorist in the world by spreading chaos in countries, giving advanced weapons to terrorist groups, causing insecurity, and still it says ‘Come, let’s negotiate’,” the parliament’s deputy speaker, Masoud Pezeshkian, said at the start of a session broadcast live on state radio.  “Death to America,” chanted many lawmakers. The chants, often repeated since the 1979 Islamic revolution which toppled the U.S.-backed Shah, came weeks after Trump said in a U.S. television interview: “They (Iranians) haven’t screamed ‘death to America’ lately."

Radio Farda: Regulators Tightening Scrutiny Of Iran Over Terror Financing

“A multinational task force said Friday it is keeping Iran on a financial blacklist for failing to take action to head off funds flowing to terrorists. The 38-nation Financial Action Task Force (FATF) said it will require more onerous financial oversight if Tehran fails to meet an October deadline for improving its controls. “The FATF expects Iran to proceed swiftly in the reform path to ensure that it addresses all of the remaining items,” according to the statement, while welcoming “high-level political commitment” to repair the deficiencies. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a speech Friday called out Iran's “willful failure to address its systemic money laundering and terrorist financing deficiencies.” The country has faced a growing series of US economic sanctions over the past year, as Treasury has blacklisted numerous firms and officials to choke off their access to funds following President Donald Trump's decision to abandon the 2015 nuclear deal negotiated by his predecessor. Amid rising tensions in recent days after Iran shot down an American drone, Trump early Friday appeared to preview the tougher stance, saying on Twitter that “Sanctions are biting & more added last night.” However, no sanctions were announced.”


Iraqi News: Iraqi Security Forces Destroy 10 Islamic State Tunnels

“Iraqi authorities announced on Tuesday destroying 10 tunnels of the Islamic State terrorist group between Nineveh and Salahuddin provinces. In a press statement carried by the Alsumaria News TV channel, the Security Media Cell said that counter-terrorism forces, backed by army personnel and international coalition warplanes, launched wide-scale security operations to track down remnants of the Islamic State group between Nineveh and Salahuddin provinces. The troops managed to destroy 10 Islamic State tunnels, the statement read. Several IS terrorists were also killed in the operations. The Islamic State group appeared on the international scene in 2014 when it seized large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, declaring the establishment of an Islamic “caliphate” from Mosul city. Later on, the group has become notorious for its brutality, including mass killings, abductions and beheadings, prompting the U.S. to lead an international coalition to destroy it."

Iraqi News: Iraqi Security Arrest Three Islamic State Terrorists In Samarra

“Iraqi security forces arrested on Sunday three members of the Islamic State terrorist group, who are accused of committing terror acts in Samarra city in Salahuddin. In a press statement, the security media cell said that three IS terrorists, who are wanted by the Iraqi judiciary, were arrested in Samarra city on charges of belonging to the group’s so-called Samarra military wing and carrying out terrorist attacks. All legal procedures were taken against the IS terrorists. On Saturday, security forces apprehended a smuggler on charges of transferring a number of the Islamic State members from Syria to Iraq after receiving accurate information. Iraq declared the collapse of Islamic State’s territorial influence in November 2017 with the recapture of Rawa, a city on Anbar’s western borders with Syria, which was the group’s last bastion in Iraq. IS declared a self-styled “caliphate” in a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria in 2014. A government campaign, backed by a U.S.-led international coalition and paramilitary forces, was launched in 2016 to retake IS-held regions, managing to retake all havens, most notably the city of Mosul, the group’s previously proclaimed capital.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Betrayal, Guilt, Hate: Post-Isis, Mosul Society Still Broken

“Haytham Salem has not spoken to his sister in years, but this is no ordinary family feud. When ISIS extremists overran Iraq's Mosul, he fled but his nephew joined them. Nearly two years since the group was ousted from the northern Iraqi city, seeds of distrust, betrayal and resentment planted during ISIS rule have begun bearing fruit in Mosul. Some families whose members supported ISIS have become pariahs, shunned by their onetime neighbors and friends, said an AFP report Sunday. Others are split by guilt, with relatives who stayed in Mosul after ISIS's 2014 takeover blaming those who fled for abandoning them to the extremists. Salem, 34, and his sister are among those still estranged. When ISIS burst into their hometown, he escaped to safety in the nearby Kurdish region, while his sister and her children remained in Mosul. “She still reproaches me for not having asked about her. But the extremists banned cell phones and I had no idea where she was,” he says. Salem's nephew joined the group, but his whereabouts are now unknown -- and his mother, spurned because of her son's actions, has not been allowed to move back into her neighborhood. “The truth is we still don't know what happened to her son, and security forces won't even let her go home,” says Salem.”


BuzzFeed News: How A Housepainter And An Army Widow Led The Secret Fight To Save LGBT People From ISIS

“The first time Majid and Ahlam saved a gay person’s life, they didn't even know what LGBT stood for. Word had reached them that three men were being held at home by members of their extended family, who were preparing to execute them for “shaming” the family. Majid, a bulky 54-year-old who spent much of his life as a housepainter, and Ahlam, the 50-year-old widow of an intelligence officer in Saddam Hussein’s military, arrived at the house an hour later to find it surrounded by 15 armed men. As Ahlam remembers, she approached the house on foot and told the men standing outside that she had been harassed on the road. In keeping with local custom, the men invited her to take refuge in the house, and left to find the supposed wrongdoers. Inside, Ahlam said she found the mother of one of the three men being held captive and worked with her to sneak them out of the house. They made it out the back door undetected and hopped the fence. Outside, they found Majid waiting in the car and were soon joined by Ahlam, who had walked out the front door after thanking everyone for sheltering her. Together they sped off to safety. “What kind of political movement is this?” he asked.”


ABC News: Taliban Threaten Afghan Media, Say Reporters To Be Targeted

“The Taliban have issued a threat to Afghan media, saying journalists will be targeted unless news outlets stop broadcasting what they describe as government propaganda against the insurgents. Monday's statement gives Afghan radio stations, TV channels and others a week to cease transmitting anti-Taliban announcements paid for by the government. The Taliban say that Afghan media that refuse to do this will be considered enemy intelligence nests and their journalists and other staffers will not be safe. The government in Kabul pays media outlets to regularly air please to the public to inform authorities if they see any suspicious Taliban activities. The Taliban have targeted Afghan media, radio and TV stations in the past but this is the insurgents' first threat over a specific issue such as the government-paid announcements.”

The Washington Post: In An Afghan Town Retaken From The Taliban, A Fragile Hope To Keep War At Bay

“For the past 11 months, the poplar-lined potato and wheat fields of this lush farming district were under Taliban control.  The mayor had been killed and the local government compound destroyed. Women were ordered to wear burqas and men not to trim or stylize their beards. Armed insurgents often appeared at farm gates, demanding to be fed.  But just over two weeks ago, about 360 Afghan army soldiers and commandos, led by army Gen. Mushtaba Mobin and backed by Afghan air force planes, pushed into this district in embattled Ghazni province, about 100 miles southwest of Kabul. In one morning, the government forces killed what Mobin said were more than 500 Taliban fighters, including members of their elite “Red Brigades,” and drove out the rest. ”We got 161 of their Red Brigades, and we didn’t lose a single man,” Mobin boasted Saturday after an outdoor ceremony under a shade tree, attended by elders and officials from the largely ethnic minority Hazara district. The army flew a group of journalists from Kabul to attend the event, which was heavy on pro-government praise and promises and decorated with posters of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.  “The people have nothing to worry about now. We are here to stay,” Mobin said.”

Al Jazeera: US And Taliban Announce New Round Of Talks In Qatar

“The United States and the Taliban are set to open fresh negotiations in Qatar as part of a bid to find a peaceful solution to Afghanistan's 18-year-old war.  In a Twitter post on Sunday, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation said that ”faster progress” is needed in negotiations and that the seventh round of US-Taliban talks will begin on June 29 in Doha.  “I believe all sides want rapid progress,” Zalmay Khalilzad said. In May, US and Taliban negotiators wrapped up a sixth round of peace talks in Qatar with “some progress” made on a draft agreement that included the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, a nationwide ceasefire and intra-Afghan talks. But at the time, Khalilzad said the “pace” of the talks was not “sufficient when so much conflict rages and innocent people are dying”.  The Taliban has long demanded the US pull out troops sent to Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US. That year, a US-led military coalition overthrew the Taliban government for sheltering al-Qaeda, the group blamed for the attacks in the US.  About 17,000 foreign troops, including a contingent of some 14,000 US soldiers, are based in Afghanistan as part of a US-led NATO mission to train, assist and advise Afghan forces.”

Long War Journal: Al Qaeda Growing Stronger Under Taliban’s Umbrella, UN Finds

“Al Qaeda and the Taliban remain close allies, according to a report by a United Nations Security Council monitoring team.  Indeed, Al Qaeda “has grown stronger operating under the Taliban umbrella across Afghanistan and is more active than in recent years.” While some are eager to portray the Taliban as a purely nationalist organization, the UN notes that the Taliban is the “primary partner for all foreign terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan, with the exception of” the Islamic State’s Khorasan branch, which seeks to undermine the Taliban’s legitimacy. Al Qaeda “members act as instructors and religious teachers for Taliban personnel and their family members.” And a “number of Al Qaeda activists have reportedly arrived in Afghanistan from Egypt,” though the UN did not identify these Egyptians or say when they arrived. The UN assesses that the Taliban “cooperate[s] and retain[s] strong links with” Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), the Haqqani Network (which is an integral part of the Taliban), Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (also known as the Turkistan Islamic Party, or TIP), “as well as nearly 20 other regionally and globally focused groups.”

Xinhua: 4 Policemen Killed In Taliban Checkpoint Attack In W. Afghanistan

“Four policemen were killed and another was wounded when Taliban militants attacked a security checkpoint in western Afghanistan's Herat province on Saturday night, a police official said. “Taliban launched a coordinated attack on a police checkpoint in Guzara district of Herat province early Saturday morning, killing four policemen and injuring another,” Sulaiman, the Guzara district police chief, told Xinhua. During the attack, a police armored vehicle was also damaged by Taliban militants, the official said, adding that Taliban militants also suffered casualties and the number was not clear.”


India Today: Pakistan Doing Best To Eliminate Terrorism: Army Chief

“Speaking at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London recently, Pakistan's Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has said that the country is using all its available sources to eliminate terrorism from its soil and is moving towards attaining sustainable peace and stability.”We are doing our best, utilising all available sources to wipe out the enemies of peace and prosperity. It is a fact that peace and stability in South Asia was dependent on the resolution of conflicts and disputes in the region,” a Pakistani daily quoted the Army Chief General as saying. General Bajwa also suggested that all nations must cooperate with each other in “wiping out terrorism” since it is a common enemy for all. “Our suggestion to all countries - especially our neighbouring nations - come forward and cooperate with each other. We have suffered a lot in the past. Better security will pave the way for foreign investment in Pakistan - the foreign investment plays a pivotal role in regional coordination,” he added. The Army Chief General's comments came a day after the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) directed his country to “swiftly” complete its action plan to curb terror financing within October or face the consequences.”


France24: Yemen's Houthi Rebels In Deadly Attack On Saudi Airport

“Yemen's Houthi movement launched an attack on Abha civilian airport in southern Saudi Arabia on Sunday that killed one person and wounded 21 others, the Saudi-led coalition battling the group in Yemen said. Houthi-run Al-Masirah TV earlier said that the Iran-aligned movement had targeted Abha and Jizan airports in the south of the kingdom with drones attacks. "A terrorist attack by the Iran-backed Houthi militia targeted Abha airport, killing a Syrian resident and wounding 21 civilians," the coalition said in a statement carried on Saudi state television. It did not confirm an attack on Jizan airport. Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV said a suspected drone hit the parking lot in Abha airport, which is about 200 km (125 miles) north of the Yemen border and serves domestic and regional routes.”

Middle East

The National: Muslim Brotherhood Can No Longer Hide Its True Colours

“In a revealing interview last week, former Muslim Brotherhood member Abdulrahman Al Suwaidi, who was jailed for his membership and subsequently pardoned by President Sheikh Khalifa, said the group is reeling from a wave of defections. “We lived under a delusion,” he said, reporting that the Brotherhood’s efforts to destabilise Arab nations have seen its membership figures fall. This is unsurprising given the extremism that the group stands for. However, the Muslim Brotherhood remains a potent threat across the Middle East. Behind its attempt at crafting an image of an organisation with political aims are links with violent extremism that are quite simply too dangerous to ignore. In Istanbul and other Turkish cities, the Brotherhood is operating in plain sight, with the tacit endorsement of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. And it is not confined to Turkey. Its spiritual leader, Yusuf Al Qaradawi, who has repeatedly spread hate and defended deadly acts, was able to set up a private foundation, the European Council for Fatwa and Research, which today operates in the Irish capital, Dublin. The UAE designated the Brotherhood a terrorist organisation in 2014, as have other countries, and the group's armed factions have targeted tourists in Egypt this year as part of a grim campaign of violence aimed at bringing chaos to the country.”


The Times Of Israel: Suspected Jihadists Kill 4 Workers In Egypt’s Sinai

“Egyptian officials said Saturday that suspected jihadists have attacked construction workers in the restive northern Sinai Peninsula, killing at least four civilian workers. The officials said the attack took place in the Mediterranean city of el-Arish as workers were building a fence around the city’s airport. They said the attackers wounded five other workers and burned two vehicles. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which bore hallmarks of an affiliate of the Islamic State group. Egypt has been battling Islamic terrorists for years, but the insurgency gathered steam and grew deadlier after the 2013 ouster of an Islamist president by President Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi, then defense minister. The country’s security forces launched an all-out offensive against militants in February last year. Earlier this month, the Egyptian Interior Ministry reported that security forces killed four suspected jihadists in the restive northern Sinai allegedly involved in a deadly attack week on a police checkpoint. The ministry said the suspected attackers were killed in a shootout as security forces raided a building used as a hideout in el-Arish, and three assault rifles and an explosive vest were seized.”


The Guardian Nigeria: Army Kill Two Boko Haram Terrorists, Detonate IEDs

“At least two Boko Haram terrorists were killed and two Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were detonated during a “fierce” operation against Islamic State fighters in Wala village of Nigeria’s Borno State on Saturday, the Nigerian Army said. The terrorists were killed when the troops of 26 Brigade Garrison on patrol and “escort duties of civilian merchants” ran into an ambush. “During the encounter, troops swiftly responded with heavy gunfire, thwarted the ambush, exterminated two terrorists and captured two AK 47 Rifles,” the army said in a statement.  The army said the “troops of 121 Task Force Battalion”, dispatched to reinforce the 26 Brigade Garrison, undertook further exploitation of the area where it encountered two Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). “The IEDs were successfully detonated and cleared,” the army said.  “There is no casualty on the part of Nigerian Army troops during the operation,” it added. Since July last year, Boko Haram has intensified attacks on military targets, killing dozens of soldiers and overrunning bases, mainly in the Lake Chad area of Nigeria, Chad and Niger where it is the dominant insurgent group. More recently early June, ISWAP fighters attacked military bases south of Baga in Marte, Dikwa and Kirenowa.”


Xinhua: UN To Reintegrate 126 Ex-Shabab Militants In Somalia

“The United Nations said 126 former al-Shabab combatants have completed a rehabilitation program and are ready for reintegration. The former combatants graduated from the Baidoa Rehabilitation Center, in Somalia's South West State, on Friday after completing an intensive rehabilitation program. Aden Hussein, national project officer in charge of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration program at the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said the rehabilitation (DDR) program will encourage more youths in al-Shabab to lay down arms and contribute to the country's peace process. “The ex-combatants undertook various vocational training lessons, among them, electricity, masonry, tailoring as well as welding,” Hussein said, according to a statement issued by the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) on Friday evening. He called for more support for the program, saying al-Shabab cannot only be fought using arms, but also through training and the reintegration of ex-combatants. “This is the best method, and hopefully the graduates will integrate back into the community and be constructive in their communities,” Hussein said, referring to the program.”


Reuters: West African Task Force Says Troops Killed 42 Islamic State Fighters Near Lake Chad

“West African troops killed 42 suspected Islamic State fighters in a battle in the Lake Chad region on June 21, the heaviest death toll suffered by the insurgents in the last six months, a regional military task force said in a statement. The Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) comprising troops from countries bordering the lake - said one of its soldiers was killed and 10 others were injured. In an apparent reference to the same clashes, Islamic State said its fighters had killed 15 soldiers in fighting on June 21 at Garno, a town in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state near Lake Chad. It said a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device but did not refer to any of its fighters having been killed. Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) was formed in 2016 when a faction of Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram pledged allegiance to Islamic State. The insurgency has affected countries that border Lake Chad - Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon, as well as islands on the lake itself. The MNJTF said in a statement issued on Saturday that “42 terrorists (were) neutralized” during fighting on and around a Lake Chad island called Doron Naira. It said it meant it had “inflicted the heaviest loss in 6 months on ISWAP.”

Yahoo News: 11 Chadian Soldiers Killed In Boko Haram Attack: Authorities

“At least 11 Chadian soldiers were killed in an attack blamed on Boko Haram jihadists at Lake Chad, the latest in a surge of attacks in the region, authorities said on Sunday. “The Chadian army lost 11 men including three officers... and six soldiers were wounded,” the regional authority told AFP. It added that Chadian forces killed “26 Boko Haram members” in fighting at Tchoukoutalia after the soldiers recovered cattle that the militants had seized. Boko Haram militants have been waging a decade-long insurgency in northwest Nigeria, but the conflict has spilled into the Lake Chad region where Nigeria borders Niger, Chad and Cameroon. Security sources earlier said seven Chadian soldiers and a guard were killed in the ambush that happened on Friday in Mbomouga in Chad's Ngouboua area. Since 2018, Boko Haram has carried out at least nine attacks on Chad. But the jihadist group has stepped up attacks outside Nigeria after a period of calm last year. Last month, militants killed four people in an attack on a Cameroonian island on Lake Chad and Boko Haram killed another 13 villagers in eastern Chad. In March jihadists killed at least 23 Chadian soldiers in an attack on an army post in the group's deadliest attack on the country's military.”

BBC News: Militants Killed While Attacking Kenya Police Base

“Three suspected al-Shabab militants have been killed after they attacked a police camp in Kenya's eastern County of Garissa, close to the border with Somalia, police say. Other fighters were repulsed by security officers, a statement said. At least eight Kenyan police officers were killed in an al-Shabab bomb attack last week in north-eastern Wajir County.  The militants have been trying to overthrow the Somali government. The al-Qaeda-linked group has carried out attacks and kidnappings in Kenya, vowing retribution for the country's involvement with Amisom - a 20,000-strong African Union force helping to support the government in Somalia. The Friday night attack happened in Yumbis Border Patrol unit camp in Fafi sub-county, but security officers did not suffer any casualties, police said.  The militants damaged a mobile phone mast, cutting off communication in the area, local newspaper The Star reports.  A team of security forces was pursuing the surviving assailants, police said.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Tunisia Sentences ISIS Suspects To 38 Years In Jail

“A Tunisian court sentenced a local construction contractor to two years in jail for joining the terror group ISIS abroad in 2013 then returning to home after spending two years with the organization in Syria. In the same case, the Court of First Instance in the Tunisian capital sentenced five ISIS leaders, all Tunisian nationals, to 36 years in jail. Five of the convicts were tried in abstentia, with one being held in custody. Meanwhile, the Defense Ministry confirmed the destruction of five hideouts used by terrorists in the mountains of El Kef province in northwest Tunisia. In a statement, the ministry noted that joint combing operations performed by military and local security apparatuses resulted in the discovery of these hideouts. They discovered conventional mines and chemicals for manufacturing explosives and bombs, as well as live ammunition and mobile phone devices connected to explosive electric wires. During another terrorist raid in El Kef, security and military units arrested a 32-year-old man suspected of supplying terrorist elements with money and food. The ministry said the suspect is very likely connected to a sleeper terrorist cell and was delivering intelligence on activities and movements of military and security forces.”

The Jerusalem Post: Three Al Shabaab Fighters Killed In Kenya After Attack On Police

“Security forces in Kenya killed three suspected militants from Somalia's Islamist group al Shabaab after they attacked a police outpost in Garissa county near the border, police said on Saturday. The incident happened on Friday night after the militants raided a camp used by a border patrol police unit, according to a statement. No security personnel were injured in the operation, it added. “Our officers effectively engaged them and with quick reinforcement from special forces, the attackers were repulsed,” police said. “The enemy suffered three fatalities during the incident.” Al Shabaab frequently stages attacks in Kenya to put pressure on Nairobi to withdraw its soldiers from Somalia. Some of the group's most deadly strikes in Kenya include an 2015 attack on a university in which 148 people, mostly students, died, while a 2013 assault on the Westgate shopping mall in the capital Nairobi killed 67 people. Al Shabaab is fighting to topple Somalia's Western-backed central government so it can install its own government based on its strict interpretation of the Islamic sharia law. A Kenyan military contingent is part of the African Union (AU)-mandated peace keeping force AMISOM that helps defend the central government.”

United Kingdom

The Guardian: Home Office Thwarted Return Home Of Isis Suspect Jack Letts

“British Islamic State fighter Jack Letts, whose parents were convicted of funding terrorism, wanted to return to the UK, but the Home Office pulled the plug on attempts to rehabilitate him. The 23-year-old – known as “Jihadi Jack” – who joined Isis as a teenager, had discussed leaving Syria in 2016 with a counter-radicalisation expert until the UK government took him off the Letts case, the Observer has learned. On Friday his parents were found guilty of funding terror by sending money to Letts while he was living with Isis in Syria. The Muslim convert, currently in custody in a Kurdish jail, told his Home Office-appointed counter-terrorism specialist that he was prepared to come home to face the UK authorities. Hanif Qadir, who worked for the government’s counter-extremism programme Prevent, had a series of Facebook conversations with Letts while he was in Syria. “He definitely wanted to leave that place. The last conversation we had was how can we get him out of there. The best option was to make his way into Jordan or Turkey and on to a UK embassy, where he would surrender and face the consequences when he got back and also open himself up to rehabilitation. It would have worked.”


Deutsche Welle: Germany Loses Track Of 160 'Islamic State' Supporters

“The German government has lost track of more than 160 German “Islamic State” (IS) supporters who traveled to Syria and Iraq to join the terror group, the Welt am Sonntag newspaper has reported. The figure from the Interior Ministry was part of a response to a request from the Free Democrats (FDP). The ministry said many of the German fighters were believed to have died in combat, however “in rare cases, these individuals could have succeeded in escaping and/or disappearing.” The ministry stressed it was unlikely IS followers would pass unnoticed in Germany, given “various measures (including wanted lists or entry bans), which make uncontrolled re-entry much more difficult.” FDP secretary general Linda Teuteberg told Welt it was alarming further measures weren't in place to prevent potential IS escapees from re-entering the country, “in light of the known patchy protection at the EU's external borders.” Teuteberg also accused the government of having “no plan for dealing with foreign fighters from Germany” or holding them accountable for their actions. “This applies to the Germans detained in the conflict zones, as well as the more than 200 former IS supporters who are now back in Germany,” she said.”

Deutsche Welle: Germany Has A Terrorism Problem, Foreign Minister Says

“German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has called for protests against right-wing extremism, claiming in an op-ed published in the Saturday edition of Bild newspaper that Germany “has a terrorism problem.” In the editorial, Maas responded to the recent murder of a German district president, Walter Lübcke, as well as death threats directed towards pro-migrant politicians Henriette Reker and Andreas Hollstein, the mayors of the western German cities of Cologne and Altena respectively. “Eighty years after the beginning of World War II, politicians have again become victims of right-wing terrorists. Because of their beliefs. Because of their commitment to our country,” Maas wrote. “All this shows what many still close their eyes to even now: Germany has a terrorism problem.” Maas proposed a Thursday protest for democracy, similar to the ”Fridays for future” climate change protest, where Germans “show that we are more than right-wing radicals, anti-Semites and dividers.” Marwa El-Sherbini, a pharmacist who lived with her husband and son in Dresden, was killed in Dresden's district court on July 1, 2009. She was stabbed by a 28-year-old Russian-German man shortly after testifying against him in a verbal abuse case. He'd previously called her a “terrorist” and “Islamist.”