Eye on Extremism: June 26

The New York Times: 2 U.S. Soldiers Killed In Afghanistan In What Taliban Call An Ambush

“Two United States soldiers were killed during a military operation in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, bringing to nine the total number of American military fatalities in the country this year. A statement released by the American-led NATO mission in Afghanistan confirmed the two deaths but did not provide further details. Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said the two service members were killed in an ambush in eastern Wardak Province. The deaths came just days before the next round of talks between the Taliban and the United States. The new round is scheduled to start on Saturday in Doha, the Qatari capital. Although the number of American troops in Afghanistan has dropped to about 14,000 — a small fraction of the more than 100,000 at the peak of the war — the American military has taken a more proactive role in helping Afghan forces. The remaining American forces are helping the Afghan military defend its positions and deplete the Taliban through airstrikes and commando raids, partly to gain leverage at the negotiating table in Doha. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in an unannounced visit to Kabul on Tuesday, reiterated that negotiating a political settlement to end the long war is a priority of the Trump administration.”

Deutsche Welle: Revolution Chemnitz: Right-Wing Group Charged With Terrorist

“German prosecutors charged a right-wing group with terrorism offenses, officials confirmed on Tuesday. Members of Revolution Chemnitz were alleged to have the formed the group in September with the intention of planning and carrying out terror attacks. The charges were initially revealed by a collaboration between public broadcasters NDR, WDR and newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, and later confirmed by the federal prosecutor's office in Karlsruhe. Members of the group had allegedly planned to orchestrate a civil-war-like rebellion in Berlin on October 2, 2018. Prosecutors based their charges partly on the use of chat logs found on the defendants' mobile phones. Eight alleged members are being held in pre-trial custody and known to police as leaders in the right-wing extremist scene in the eastern city of Chemnitz, which was the scene of anti-immigrant protests last year. The trial is expected to begin in the fall before the Higher Regional Court of Dresden. The demonstrations were sparked by a deadly brawl that broke out in the German city of Chemnitz in the early hours of Sunday (August 26). What started out as a war of words resulted in a 35-year-old man being stabbed to death. Hours later, spontaneous, anti-migrant protests took over the streets of Chemnitz.”

The Hill: Artificial Intelligence Can't Solve Online Extremism Issue, Experts Tell House Panel

“A group of experts on Tuesday warned a House panel that artificial intelligence is not capable of sweeping up the full breadth of online extremist content — in particular posts from white supremacists. At a House Homeland Security subcommittee hearing, lawmakers cast doubt on claims from top tech companies that artificial intelligence, or AI, will one day be able to detect and take down terrorist and extremist content without any human moderation. Rep. Max Rose (D-N.Y.), the chairman of counterterrorism subcommittee holding the hearing, said he is fed up with responses from companies like Google, Twitter and Facebook about their failure to take down extremist posts and profiles, calling it “wanton disregard for national security obligations.” “We are hearing the same thing from social media companies, and that is, 'AI’s got this, it’s only gonna get better,' “ Rose said during his opening remarks. “Nonetheless ... we have seen egregious problems.”  “We’ve been looking at this problem for months now,” he continued. “We’ve been approached by the social media companies with this libertarian, technocratic elitism that’s highly, highly disturbing and it centers around the claim that AI can accomplish everything.”

The Washington Post: Saudi Arabia Announces Capture Of An ISIS Leader In Yemen In U.S.-Backed Raid

“Saudi Arabia said Tuesday that it had captured a man it identified as the leader of the Islamic State’s Yemen branch during a raid this month on a house in southern Yemen, according to the official Saudi press agency. U.S. Special Operations forces also took part in the raid, according to American officials who did not disclose the exact nature of U.S. participation. The Islamic State branch rose to prominence about four years ago, at the beginning of Yemen’s civil war, and is considered one of the militant group’s smaller and less prominent franchises, with a few hundred fighters, according to a recent U.N. report. Saudi special forces working with Yemeni counterparts captured the leader — identified by his nom de guerre, Abu Osama al-Muhajir — during a raid on the morning of June 3 in the eastern province of al-Mahra, according to a fact sheet on Muhajir that the Saudi government sent to journalists.”

The New York Times: Netanyahu Presses Superpowers To Remove Iranian Forces From Syria

“Hosting an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday of the Russian, American and Israeli national security advisers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel pressed for ridding Syria of all foreign forces, in particular Iranians and their proxies across Israel’s northern frontier. With the eight-year Syrian civil war winding down, Mr. Netanyahu said, “I believe that there is a wider basis for cooperation between the three of us than many believe.” This meeting, he said, the first of national security advisers from all three countries, provides “a real opportunity” to advance stability in the region, “and particularly in Syria.” The meeting took place against the backdrop of spiraling tensions between the United States and Iran after Iran’s downing last week of an American surveillance drone and Iran’s threats to exceed the limits on its uranium supply set by the 2015 nuclear deal.”

DW: German Firms Sent Weapons-Grade Chemicals To Syria Despite Sanctions — Report

“Despite EU restrictions, German companies were involved in exporting chemicals to Syria, a report has uncovered. The ingredients can be used to make sarin gas — a nerve agent repeatedly used in Syria's devastating war. Despite European Union sanctions, German companies were involved in exporting weapons-grade chemicals to Syria in the midst of the war, according to a report published on Tuesday. The deals were uncovered by the Süddeutsche Zeitung, public broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk, and Switzerland's Tamedia media group. According to the report, German chemical wholesaler Brenntag AG sold the chemicals isopropanol and diethylamine to Syria in 2014 using a subsidiary in Switzerland. The recipient was a Syrian pharmaceutical company that had ties to the regime of President Bashar Assad. Reporters revealed that the diethylamine was produced by German chemicals giant BASF at a plant in the Belgian city of Antwerp. The isopropanol was made by Sasol Solvents Germany GmbH, located in Hamburg.”

United States

The Washington Post: Islamic Scholar’s Terror Convictions Reviewed In Virginia

“A judge is considering tossing out parts of a 10-count conviction against an Islamic scholar serving life in prison for persuading some of his followers to travel overseas after the Sept. 11 attacks and try to join the Taliban. The review in the case of Ali Al-Timimi of Fairfax comes after the Supreme Court on Monday struck down part of a federal law regulating crimes of violence as unconstitutionally vague. U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema issued a show cause order Tuesday giving prosecutors 30 days to explain why she shouldn’t overturn three of the 10 counts on which Al-Timimi was convicted at his 2005 trial. Vacating those convictions would likely still leave a significant sentence on remaining counts, which include soliciting treason. But the life sentence would be unlikely to survive. Al-Timimi was indicted in 2004, and prosecutors said the U.S.-born scholar — who had earned his doctorate in computational biology shortly before his arrest — enjoyed rock-star status among his small group of followers. At a private gathering a few days after the Sept. 11 attacks, Al-Timimi told his followers that an apocalyptic battle between Muslims and the West loomed, and that Muslims were obliged to defend the Taliban if they had the ability to do so, according to trial testimony.”

Reuters: Woman Accused Of Aiding Islamic State, Double-Crossing U.S., Faces Up To Life In Prison

“A U.S. woman charged with working as an Islamic State recruiter under the code name “Umm Nutella,” who agreed to cooperate with the prosecutors but then divulged her deal to extremists while out on bail, could be sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday.  Sinmyah Amera Ceasar, who has used that pseudonym, has pleaded guilty to two federal charges for her efforts to aid Islamic State and other extremist groups, according to papers filed in federal court in Brooklyn.  “The defendant’s conduct is deeply troubling,” U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said in court papers.  Donoghue laid out a cloak-and-dagger saga that began with Ceasar’s arrest 2-1/2 years ago as he asked a judge to deny bail in a letter unsealed on Monday and dated Feb. 6.  Ceasar was taken into custody in November 2016 at Kennedy International Airport as she tried to leave the United States. She confessed to using Facebook and other platforms to connect people with Islamic State members who would help them travel to territory controlled by the group, Donoghue said. She pleaded guilty to related charges in February 2017 under a cooperation agreement and was released on bail in April 2018, he said.”

Voice Of America: US Denounces China’s Justification Of Uighur Re-Education Camps

“The United States has condemned efforts by China at the U.N. Human Rights Council to justify its incarceration of a reported million Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in 're-education' camps in Xinjiang Province. After introducing himself as an ethnic Uighur, the vice governor of Xinjiang province in China, painted an idyllic picture of life there. Aierken Tuniyazi told diplomats at the U.N. Human Rights Council that 25 million people, encompassing many ethnic groups and religions, lived in solidarity, harmony and mutual assistance. He said people in Xinjiang are united as closely as the seeds of a pomegranate.  He said China had lifted 2.3 million people out of poverty in the province.   He said religious beliefs were protected by law and ethnic minority languages were taught in schools and widely used in social and public forums.”

The Wall Street Journal: Pompeo Sees Afghan Peace Deal Possible By September

“Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that “the hour has come for peace” in Afghanistan and that he hopes there will be a peace deal with the Taliban by September. In an unannounced visit to the Afghan capital for talks with Afghan officials, Mr. Pompeo said on Tuesday that progress has been made in reaching a comprehensive settlement of the nearly 18-year war and that neighboring Pakistan has an important role to play. “I hope we have a peace deal before Sept. 1,” Mr. Pompeo said. U.S. and Taliban negotiators are set to start another round of talks this week in the Gulf state of Qatar. Mr. Pompeo said the two sides were poised to complete a draft text outlining the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan and steps by the Taliban to help ensure the country doesn’t become a staging ground for Islamist militant groups to launch terrorist attacks abroad.”

CNN: US Carried Out Cyberattack On Iranian Backed Militia

“The US military conducted a major cyberattack on Iranian proxy group with forces in Iraq, Syria and inside Iran in the days after Iran shot down a US drone last week, according to two US officials with knowledge of what happened. The cyberattack's goal was to disable and degrade Kata'ib Hezbollah, an Iranian sponsored Shia militia group. The specific goal was to attack its networked communications, one official said. Neither of the officials, who asked not to be identified due to the sensitive nature of the information, would discuss how successful the cyberattack may have been. Officially the Defense Department refused to comment. "The US Central Command declines to comment on any potential cyberattack," said Capt. William Urban, spokesman for the command which oversees military operations in the Middle East. The US military maintains a list of potential cybertargets that can be selected to attack. The President has the final sign-off, but a range of options are available for the secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs to recommend.”


The Guardian: Faces Of War: Kurdistan’s Armed Struggle Against Islamic State

“The war against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has flooded our daily news with troubling statistics of massacres and mass migrations, yet there are faces and human stories at the heart of the conflict. Joey L wrote: “From Iraq, one crosses the Tigris River into war-torn Syria, and is catapulted into a worldview crafted by the guerrilla.” “You are welcomed back by familiar faces wearing a palette of earth tones interrupted by a brightly coloured scarf – probably given to them by their mothers. Conversations over cigarettes and tea with much too sugar often drift to conspiracy theories about the entire world plotting to destroy their cause. Oddly, these discussions begin to make sense. The guerrilla’s secretive hierarchy vanishes because of its compartmentalisation, and you find yourself among Kurds who left their families with the intention of defending their culture and way of life. We had once again entered the world of the Kurdish guerrilla.” “I could read all the articles, books and social media accounts in the world about what led to the war in Iraq and Syria, but that doesn’t constitute experience. The reality was that a burning curiosity – or shall I say a compulsion – drove me to observe what was happening on the ground with my own eyes, independently and unfiltered from the media I had lost trust in.”

RadioFreeEurope: UN Asks Russia For Answers About Bombed Hospitals In Syria

“The United Nations humanitarian coordinator said on June 25 that he had asked Russia to provide details on how it was using the location coordinates of hospitals in Syria following a string of attacks on health-care facilities. Coordinates of medical facilities are shared via the UN to the warring parties in Syria under a humanitarian deconfliction system with the aim of protecting them from attack. Despite this mechanism, more than 23 hospitals have been hit by strikes since Russia-backed Syrian forces launched an offensive in the northwestern province of Idlib in late April, according to the UN. Russia, which has given crucial support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad throughout the conflict, has denied that the bombing campaign has targeted hospitals. "I have written to the Russian Federation to request information as to how the details provided through the deconfliction mechanism are used," Mark Lowcock, the UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, told the Security Council.”

Voice Of America: Kurdish Official Calls For Stronger US Role In Syria After IS

“The United States should continue stabilizing areas recently liberated from the Islamic State (IS) terror group in Syria and use its leverage to push for a political settlement in the war-torn country, a Syrian Kurdish official said. Sinam Mohamad, a political representative for the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-led military alliance, said now that the U.S. has helped defeat IS militarily, its Syria policy needs to reflect the new dynamics on the ground. The U.S. “now should focus on mitigating tensions in the region and preventing new conflicts,” Mohamad told VOA. “Supporting the democratic project in northeastern Syria will be a turning point in the future of the country, which will help change the [Syrian] regime and establish a democratic system that is inclusive to all Syrians,” she said. Since 2014, the U.S has led an international coalition against IS. In March, the SDF declared victory over IS in its last stronghold in eastern Syria. The U.S. has about 2,000 troops in the country. But U.S. President Donald Trump has decided to withdraw these forces from Syria, while keeping only 400 troops.”


Reuters: Iraq, U.N. In Talks Over Prosecution Of Islamic State Prisoners In SDF Detention

“Iraq is in talks with the United Nations over whether it can prosecute foreign Islamic State fighters currently held in Syria who did not commit crimes in Iraq, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Tuesday. Asked whether Iraq would consider prosecuting them, Abdul Mahdi told reporters at his weekly news conference that his government was exploring the idea and had submitted some of its findings to the United Nations. ”We haven’t yet gotten serious offers to receive Islamic State members from Syria who did not fight in Iraq,” he said. Thousands of people, including men, women and children from more than 50 countries, are lingering in detention camps in northeastern Syria, held by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).  The group includes at least 2,000 suspected foreign fighters, many from Western countries, whose fates remain unresolved against a backdrop of protracted diplomacy.  Iraq has shown a willingness to prosecute them during talks with the U.S. and European allies. Iraq has been conducting trials of thousands of suspected Islamic State members, including hundreds of foreign men, women and children who were detained as the group’s strongholds crumbled.”

Reuters: Bomb Blast Kills Four Iraqi Federal Police Officers: Security Sources

“Four Iraqi federal police officers were killed on Tuesday after a bomb went off southwest of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, two security sources told Reuters.  The blast took place near the village of Habat, which lies about 40 km (25 miles) southwest of Kirkuk, on the border between Rashad and Daquq districts.  There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Islamic State militants are active in the area. Iraq declared victory over the group, which once held large swathes of the country, in December 2017.  But Islamic State has since switched to hit-and-run attacks aimed at undermining the Baghdad government.  Its fighters have regrouped in the Hemrin mountain range in the northeast, which extends from Diyala province, on the border with Iran, crossing northern Salahuddin province and southern Kirkuk.  On Monday, unknown gunmen opened fire on a village 65 km (40 miles) southwest of Kirkuk, killing three residents. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but police said they believed Islamic State was behind the attack.”

Iraqi News: Iraqi Security Arrest Four Islamic State Terrorists In Nineveh

“Iraqi security forces announced on Tuesday the capture of four Islamic State militants in Nineveh province. The arrested terrorists used fake names while joining the IS group but their true identity was revealed by the Iraqi intelligence forces, Alghad Press website quoted the Security Media Cell as saying in a press statement. They were referred to the competent authorities for legal action, the statement read. 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. Isolated cells believed to be linked to the Islamic State group remain active in some parts of the country. Suspected Islamic State insurgents have carried out several attacks targeting security forces throughout the country.”


Bloomberg: Pompeo Says U.S. Close To Draft Deal With Taliban On Terrorism

“Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said in a visit to Afghanistan that the U.S. is close to finishing a draft deal with the Taliban to ensure the country doesn’t become a terrorist haven, paving the way for talks on withdrawing American troops after 18 years of war. Pompeo made the remarks Tuesday from the U.S. embassy in Kabul during the unannounced visit in which he met with Afghan leaders including President Ashraf Ghani and former President Hamid Karzai, who remains an influential figure and has acted as a go-between with the Taliban and with nations with stakes in Afghanistan’s future. Pompeo said the U.S. and the Taliban had made “real progress” and are almost ready to draft an agreement that would ensure Afghan soil “never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists.’’ In light of that, “we’ve begun discussions with the Taliban regarding foreign military presence which today remains conditions-based,’’ Pompeo said. He made clear there was still no timeline on withdrawing NATO forces. U.S. troops have been in Afghanistan since after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.”


Reuters: One Killed As Militants Attack Pakistan Police Housing Complex

“A police constable was killed and five people injured in Pakistan on Wednesday, following a gun battle with Taliban militants at a police housing and training complex, security officials said.  Three militants wearing suicide vests attempted to storm the complex in the restive southwestern province of Baluchistan when confronted by guards at the entrance.  “Police personnel deployed at the gate killed one of the suicide bombers,” senior police officer Abdul Rehman Luni told Reuters.  “The other two blew themselves up inside the police complex,” he said, adding that a senior constable was killed in the attack, and five wounded people were taken to hospital.  The attack was claimed by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, also known as the Pakistani Taliban, in a statement sent to journalists.  Military cordoned off the area after the attack.  The walled complex comprises police residences and training facilities and is heavily guarded in a province where attacks on security officials are common.  Islamist militant groups and separatists fighting the central government are active in mineral-rich Baluchistan, with frequent attacks on gas and transport infrastructure and security posts.”


The Wall Street Journal: Saudis Say Yemeni Islamic State Leader Captured

“Saudi and Yemeni special forces captured the man they identified as the leader of Islamic State’s branch in Yemen this month in a raid aided by elite U.S. forces and American intelligence, Saudi and American officials said. The seizure of Abu Osama Al-Muhajir on June 3 deals a blow to one of Islamic State’s smaller branches, one of several on which the group has relied since losing control of its territory in Syria and Iraq over the past year. Islamic State and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula have taken advantage of the chaos in Yemen to expand their influence and carry out attacks, including the bombing of a pair of mosques in the capital San’a that killed at least 137 people in 2015. The operation marked a victory for a Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen’s civil war, which has devastated the country and caused what the United Nations calls one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. Saudi Arabia launched a military assault on Yemen in 2015 to combat Iran-allied Houthi rebels who overran San’a. The announcement comes as Houthi rebels have accelerated missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia amid heightened regional tensions between the U.S. and Iran and their allies.”

Gulf News: Al Houthis Accused Of Exploiting Stockholm Deal

“The Yemeni government has accused Al Houthi militia and their sponsor Iran of exploiting a UN-brokered peace deal signed in Sweden in December. At the time, the deal, known as the Stockholm Agreement, was seen as a breakthrough for ending Yemen’s conflict that erupted in late 2014. But the accord has since bogged down over Al Houthis’ procrastination. “The Sweden agreement is no longer a step towards peace, but it has become a weapon in the hand of Al Houthi militia and Tehran’s regime to threaten peace and security in Yemen, the region and the world,” Yemeni Information Minister Muammar Al Eryani said on Tuesday. He added that Al Houthis have not only intensified their attacks against Yemenis at home, but have also escalated their hostile acts against civilians in neighbouring countries.”

The Wall Street Journal: Congress Emboldens Iran In The Name Of Peace In Yemen

“With tensions escalating in the Middle East, Congress is emboldening Iran by sending the wrong message about Yemen. Last week the Senate voted to halt military sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Earlier this year, President Trump was forced to veto a congressional resolution aimed at ending U.S. assistance to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. Congress evidently can’t separate its response to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi from the threats posed by the Houthis, Iranians and terrorists in Yemen. This is no time to be sending mixed messages to Tehran. I know Yemen. I worked there as an undercover Central Intelligence Agency officer in the aftermath of the deadly 2000 bombing by al Qaeda of the USS Cole in the port of Aden. Since 2014, when the Iranian-backed Houthi government attacked Yemen’s internationally recognized government and seized the capital, Sana’a, the country has descended into a humanitarian crisis that is among the world’s worst. According to the United Nations, some 24 million people need humanitarian assistance and protection, mostly in Houthi-held territory.”

Xinhua: 3 U.S. Drone Airstrikes Kill 5 Al-Qaida Members In Central Yemen

“At least five members of the Yemen-based al-Qaida branch were killed during airstrikes launched by a U.S. drone in the country's central province of al-Bayda, a security official told Xinhua on Tuesday. Around three airstrikes targeted a gathering of al-Qaida militants in Dhi Naim district in the northwestern part of al-Bayda province late on Monday, leaving five militants killed, the local security source said on condition of anonymity. Other security sources based in the province confirmed to Xinhua that “mid-level commanders of al-Qaida group died during the U.S. aerial bombardment.” The Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which carries out sporadic attacks against the Yemeni forces in different areas of the country's southern regions, revealed no statement to confirm or deny the U.S. drone airstrikes. The U.S. military has carried out several airstrikes against AQAP fighters in different provinces of the war-torn Arab country since U.S President Donald Trump approved expanded military operations against the group. The expanded operations included intensified overnight airstrikes and ground military raids against the al-Qaida hideouts in the mountainous areas of al-Bayda and southeastern province of Shabwa.”

Saudi Arabia

Asharq Al-Awsat: Saudi Abha Airport Resumes Flights After Houthi Terror Attack

“Saudi Arabia’s southern Abha Airport successfully rebooted both domestic and international flights only hours after being hit by a terror attack staged by Iran-backed Houthi militias based in neighboring Yemen. In the drone assault, a Syrian national was killed and as many as 21 victims that included women and children from five different nationalities were injured. “The terrorist attack resulted in martyring a Syrian national and injuring seven civilians,” Arab Coalition Spokesman Colonel Turki Al Maliki said in the post-attack press release. He also revealed that the 21 injured included four Indian nationals, two Egyptians, 13 Saudis, and two Bangladeshis. Maliki lambasted the Houthis incessant violation of international and humanitarian law and conventions when systematically targeting civilians and committing war crimes. Houthis militias, for their part, claimed responsibility for the Abha airport attack in a news brief circulated by the group’s affiliated media outlets.”

Gulf Business: Saudi Forces Intercept Another Houthi Drone Headed Towards A Residential Area

“Saudi Arabia’s air defences intercepted another drone launched by the Houthis towards a residential area in Khamis Mushait on Tuesday night, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported. The spokesperson of the Saudi-led coalition Colonel Turki Al Maliki said that the Houthis were “trying to target civilian facilities and civilian objects in desperate and repeated attempts.” The latest strike comes after an attack by the Houthis on the Abha airport earlier this week killed one person and wounded 21 others. “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. Earlier this month, another Houthi missile strike on Abha airport wounded 26 people. Saudi Arabia has been targeted by hundreds of missile attacks since entering the Yemen civil war in 2015 to support ousted President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi against the Houthis. “We affirm our legitimate right to take the appropriate deterrence measures against such hostile acts and in conformity with international humanitarian law and its customary rules,” said Al Maliki.”

Middle East

The Jerusalem Post: IDF Arrest 9 Palestinians In West Bank, Seize Terror-Related Funds

“The IDF announced that Nine Palestinians were arrested overnight on Tuesday in the West Bank  for suspected terrorist related activity. During the night tens of thousands of shekels in terror-related funds were seized during operations near Hebron and in a small village in the Binyamin Regional Brigade. In a third incident, pipe bombs were also thrown at IDF soldiers in the city of Jenin. There were no casualties or damage reported. According to Walla! News, a 16-year-old Palestinian from the Jenin Refugee was arrested by Border Police after the incident when he was found riding a stolen scooter and had in his possession two masks and a container that had been made into a make-shift bomb.”


Asharq Al-Awsat: Egypt Foils Terrorist Plot Targeting The State

“Egypt announced on Tuesday that it had foiled a terrorist plot to target the state and its institutions on the anniversary of the June 30 revolt. The Interior Ministry said police have arrested at least eight people for their ties to the outlawed terrorist Muslim Brotherhood group. The arrest of Ziad el-Elaimy, a former lawmaker, was part of a raid that targeted at least 19 businesses and economic entities linked to the Brotherhood. The ministry revealed economist Omar el-Shenety and journalists Hossam Monis and Hisam Fouad were also arrested. The plot was being planned by fugitive Brotherhood members residing abroad with parties that claim to represent civilian political forces. The suspects were planning to stage riots against public institutions and inciting the people against the state through an organized campaign over social media and satellite television channels broadcasting from abroad. The most prominent terrorist plotters abroad are Brotherhood members Mahmoud Hussein and Ali Battikh, journalists Moataz Matar and Mohammed Nasser and fugitive convict Ayman Nour.”

Yahoo News: Egypt Says 7 Policemen Killed In Sinai Jihadist Attack

“Seven police officers have been killed in a jihadist attack in restive North Sinai, Egypt's interior ministry said Wednesday. The attack near the regional capital El-Arish targeted an "assembly centre" for police, according to the ministry. Four assailants died "during clashes" following the attack, one when he detonated an explosives belt, it said. North Sinai has long been a centre of insurgents and Egyptian authorities last year launched an offensive against the jihadists. Hundreds of militants have been killed along with dozens of soldiers, according to official figures which cannot be verified as Sinai is largely cut off to journalists. Egypt is currently on high alert as it hosts the Africa Cup of Nations, although none of the games are taking place in Sinai. A month before the tournament kicked off, a tourist bus was hit by a roadside bomb near the famed pyramids of Giza. A similar attack in December killed three Vietnamese holidaymakers and an Egyptian tour guide. The country's security forces and Christian minority have also been targeted by jihadist attacks.”


Sahara Reporters: Boko Haram Attacks Borno Again: Three Terrorists Killed, Two Soldiers Wounded

“At least seven people were killed including three terrorists while two soldiers sustained varying degrees of injuries when Boko Haram terrorist clashed with troops in Borno state Monday night, a security source said. The attack happened in Mafa headquarters, Mafa local government area of Borno state around 1830hrs on Monday evening, killing a soldier and destroying many houses. According to the security source both the attackers and troops recorded casualties, although the troops killed three terrorists and seized one of their utility vehicles and motorcycles. “The troops response swiftly to the attackers, when attacking our troops in Mafa yesterday, they suffered some causality three bodies of attackers found and many of them fled with gun wounds. One Hilux van and two motorcycles were recovered by the troops. “Unfortunately three civilians and a soldier lost their lives and two soldiers were seriously wounded in the attacks. Two trucks belong troops was by the attackers,” the source said. Similarly, there was another attack at Kareto in Mobar local government area of the state, the gallant troops successfully repelled the attacks.”

Xinhua: Morocco Dismantles “Terror” Cell, Arrests 4 IS Suspects

“The Moroccan security services dismantled on Tuesday a “terrorist cell” linked to the Islamic State (IS) militant group in the region of El Haouz, near the city of Marrakech, and arrested four suspects. “The suspects, aged between 25 and 40, have links to individuals operating abroad,” said a statement of the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation, Morocco's intelligence bureau. The suspects aims at “preparing and carrying out terrorist schemes in Morocco through the use of explosive devices as part of the destructive agenda of IS,” the statement added. This security operation led to the discovery of a farm in the town of Ourika belonging to the family of one of the cell's members, the statement said. Chemical residues, suspicious liquids, and equipment used in the manufacture of explosive devices were seized, the statement added. The suspects will be brought to justice upon the completion of the investigation led under the supervision of the competent public prosecutor's office, the statement said.” 

United Kingdom

Reuters: Cities Can Be 'Antidote' To Extremism, Says London Mayor

“Cities can provide an “antidote” to populism and extremism if they build bridges between their diverse communities, London’s mayor said on Tuesday, as he met the leaders of other major European cities in the British capital. From funding parenting classes to providing space for sports clubs, cities across Europe could foster integration and stem the social fractures that often lead to extremism, said Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim mayor of a European capital.  “We’ve seen a rise of nationalist, populist, nativist movements across Europe, indeed also in America. What’s clear is that cities can be the antidote to this sort of extremism,” Khan told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.  “If we’re not careful, people can live in silos: rich, poor, old, young, black, white - so we need to make sure we have bridges between communities,” he said on the sidelines of the European Union Capital City Mayors Summit in London.  Two-thirds of people in the world will be living in cities by 2050, according to United Nations estimates.  Khan was elected London mayor in 2016 on a manifesto pledge to tackle extremism, but has faced criticism on security following a spate of knife crimes.”


The Guardian: Austrian Far-Right Leader Searched On Suspicion Of Forming Terrorist Group With Christchurch Shooter

“The Austrian identitarian leader, Martin Sellner, has been subjected to further searches by Austrian police in connection with the Christchurch shooter, according to Austrian media reports and videos on Sellner’s own YouTube channel. The investigation has also reportedly widened to include Sellner’s US-based fiancee, Brittany Pettibone, and her own alleged connections with Australian far-right figure Blair Cottrell. Austrian newspaper Die Presse reported on 18 June that two apartments in Vienna were searched by the prosecutor’s office in Graz, which has been investigating Sellner’s connections to the Australian, Brenton Tarrant, who is currently on trial for the murder of 51 people in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March. In two German-language YouTube videos, Sellner offered his own account of the investigation. In the first, which he says was before an interview with police, Sellner says that police removed devices from his home, and that the reason was a “strong suspicion of forming a terrorist organisation with Brenton Tarrant”. In the second video, Sellner shows what he claims is an excerpt from the warrant police used in raiding his apartment.”


Voice Of America: Australia Rescues Children Of Dead Islamic State Fighters

“Australia has rescued the children and grandchildren of two dead Islamic State fighters from a Syrian refugee camp.  The Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said they could not be held responsible for the “crimes of their parents.” For the three surviving children of the notorious Australian militant Kahled Sharrouf, the nightmare of Syria is over. They are now reported to be in Iraq and will be resettled in Australia within weeks.  They are said to be traumatized and in poor health.  One has bullet wounds to her legs, while another, who’s still a teenager, is expecting her third child. She was forced by her father to marry a jihadist when she was 13. Sharrouf took his family from Sydney to the Middle East in 2014. He made headlines around the world, when he posed for a photograph in the city of Raqqa with his young son, who was holding a severed head. It’s thought Sharrouf was killed in an airstrike two years ago. He had previously been jailed in Australia for terrorism offenses and released in 2009. His Australian wife, Tara Nettleton, a convert to Islam, reportedly died of medical complications in Syria in 2015.”

Southeast Asia

The Straits Times: Singaporean Man Detained Under ISA For Wanting To Join ISIS; 2 Others, Including 62-Year-Old Woman, On Restriction Orders

“A 40-year old Singaporean man, who wanted to travel to Syria to join terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), was detained under the Internal Security Act. He was among three people picked up recently under the Act. The other two include a 62-year-old woman and a 39-year-old man, who have both been placed under restriction orders, which require them to undergo counselling and seek government approval before changing jobs or address, or going abroad, among other things. The Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement that Imran Mahmood, who is unemployed, was detained in January. His radicalisation began some time in 2013, when he started listening to the lectures of foreign religious preachers online, including those who preached about the imminent coming of the end-times, said MHA. He became a strong supporter of the violent objectives and actions of ISIS, and by 2014 had wanted to live under the group’s so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq. MHA said he looked into ways to get to Syria and was also willing to take up arms to defend or expand ISIS’s territory. He believed that he would achieve martyrdom if he died fighting for the terrorist group, added the ministry.”

South China Morning Post: 62-Year-Old Singaporean ISIS Supporter Who Self-Radicalised Online Is The Oldest Identified, Says Expert

“A 62-year-old woman is among three Singaporeans facing restrictions for terror-related offences and support for Islamic State, in a reflection of how the extremist group’s online radicalisation effort is continuing despite the crumbling of its so-called caliphate in Syria. Production technician Rasidah Mazlan, 62, was in contact with multiple foreign entities suspected of involvement in terrorism-related activities, including supporters of Isis, according to a Tuesday statement from Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs. “Investigations showed that Rasidah’s contacts with these individuals were mainly driven by her deep sympathy for Muslims suffering in overseas conflicts,” said the ministry, which issued her with a restriction order that will see her monitored and prevented from travelling abroad. Professor Zachary Abuza of the Washington-based National War College said Rasidah was “definitely the oldest woman” radicalised online to be identified by authorities.”

The Jakarta Post: At Ruang Obrol, Former Convicts Find Voice To Counter Terrorism

“The office of Ruang Obrol looks more like a home than a workplace. A passerby would never guess that this one-story bungalow in a peaceful Jakarta cul-de-sac is home to an innovative new social enterprise working to prevent terrorism and radicalization in Indonesia by enlisting the help of an unexpected ally: former terrorists. "We are trying to create credible voices; that means people who are former convicted terrorists or people who went to Syria and successfully came back alive," said Rosyid Nurul Hakiim, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Ruang Obrol.”

Latin America

Reuters: Nicaragua Arrests Four Men Suspected Of Ties To Islamic State

“Four men with suspected ties to the Islamic State militant group were captured on Tuesday by members of the Nicaraguan armed forces after entering the country illegally from Costa Rica, Nicaraguan police said. The identities of three of the men matched those of suspects featured in an alert attributed to U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) warning that three possible terrorists had recently arrived in Central America.  In a statement, Nicaraguan police said two of the men were Egyptian nationals and the other two were Iraqi. The four were due to be deported back to Costa Rica, it added. The Egyptians were named as Mohamed Ibrahim, 33, and Mahmoud Samy Eissa, 26, while the Iraqis were Ahmed Ghanim Mohamed Al Jubury, 41 and Mustafa Ali Mohamed Yaoob, 29. The first three men were named in the HSI alert published by Mexican media on Monday, which identified them as possible members of Islamic State headed for the United States. Questioned on the HSI alert on Tuesday, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said his government was aware of the search for the suspects and was dealing with the matter. U.S. Homeland Security officials could not immediately be reached for comment by Reuters.”

The Times Of Israel: Hezbollah Operating In Venezuela, Maduro’s Ex-Security Chief Says

“The feared former head of Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro’s intelligence police has charged that the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah operates in the Latin American country with the protection of the government. Gen. Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera, who fled his homeland for Colombia and then the US after the failed April 30 uprising in the country, has been passing some of the Maduro regime’s most closely held secrets to American officials. In an interview with the Washington Post published Monday, he spoke of his disenchantment with the government he had once worked to protect.  “I never saw the country’s situation and the government’s corruption as closely as I did during my last six months,” he said, the period when he ran the notorious SEBIN, or Bolivarian Intelligence Service, the regime’s political security arm. “I quickly realized that Maduro is the head of a criminal enterprise, with his own family involved,” Figuera said. Among the abuses: family members linked to the regime using their influence to buy and sell gold to the state for huge profits; support for terror groups like the Colombian ELN; and the deep influence that Cuba’s Raoul Castro has over Maduro, both personally and through Cuban guards and advisers who surround the Venezuelan president."

The Jerusalem Post: Mexico President Says Looking At Information About ISIS Members

“Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Tuesday that his security cabinet was responding to information that three ISIS members could enter Mexico. Lopez Obrador was responding to a reporter who asked about information from U.S. authorities that three ISIS members could enter Mexico. On Monday, Mexico's security minister said these people would be detained if they tried to come into Mexican territory.”


Reuters: Exclusive: In A World First, Facebook To Give Data On Hate Speech Suspects To French Courts

“In a world first, Facebook has agreed to hand over the identification data of French users suspected of hate speech on its platform to judges, France’s minister for digital affairs Cedric O said on Tuesday.  O, whose father is South Korean, is one of French President Emmanuel Macron’s earliest followers, and has been influential in shaping the president’s thinking on Big Tech as an advisor at the Elysee palace in the first two years of Macron’s presidency.  The decision by the world’s biggest social media network comes after successive meetings between Zuckerberg and Macron, who wants to take a leading role globally on the regulation of hate speech and the spread of false information online.  So far, Facebook has cooperated with French justice on matters related to terrorist attacks and violent acts by transferring the IP addresses and other identification data of suspected individuals to French judges who formally demanded it.  Following a meeting between Nick Clegg, Facebook’s head of global affairs, and O last week, the social media company has extended this cooperation to hate speech.  “This is huge news, it means that the judicial process will be able to run normally,” O told Reuters in an interview. “It’s really very important, they’re only doing it for France.” 

The Wall Street Journal: YouTube Content For Children Should Be Barred, Advocacy Groups Tell FTC

“Privacy advocates are calling on the Federal Trade Commission to remove all YouTube content directed at kids and impose tens of billions in fines against the video-streaming service run by Alphabet Inc.’s GOOG -2.61% Google unit for alleged children’s privacy violations. The recommendations were made in a letter sent to the FTC Tuesday by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and the Center for Digital Democracy. Those groups filed a complaint last year against Google and YouTube over their privacy practices regarding children, which the FTC is investigating. The core of the groups’ complaint is that Google and YouTube improperly avoid federal requirements for obtaining parental consent before collecting children’s personal information. “Google claims that YouTube is not for children under thirteen, and therefore, no consent is required,” the groups wrote on Tuesday. “This defense is outlandish given that YouTube is the number one online destination for kids.”