Eye on Extremism: June 6

The Wall Street Journal: Top Military Brass Will Avoid Discipline Over Flawed 2017 Niger Mission

“Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan said Thursday that he has accepted the findings of an investigation into a flawed Special Forces mission in Africa in 2017 that left four soldiers dead, and that after a review, he wouldn’t punish top-ranking officers involved. The Pentagon released its definitive report on the mission in Niger and the many shortcomings that led to an ambush of the Green Beret detachment by militants. Along with the detailed findings, the Pentagon said that nine of the men directly involved with the mission will be given awards for their actions, while nine others will be subjected to administrative discipline for mistakes and oversights. “Having examined an independent review by a senior general officer of the investigation into the 2017 ambush in Niger, I am satisfied that all findings, awards, and accountability actions were thorough and appropriate,” Mr. Shanahan said in a statement.”

The Guardian: London Bridge Attacker ‘Had Been Caught With ISIS Propaganda’

“Police caught the London Bridge attacker Khuram Butt with reams of Islamic State propaganda including martyrdom videos more than six months before the atrocity, but he was not prosecuted, a court has heard. The inquest into the June 2017 attacks was told about a series of alleged missed opportunities by counter-terrorism investigators in the months before eight people were killed. Butt was the ringleader and had been under investigation by police and MI5 since 2015 over fears he was planning an attack in the UK. He was under active investigation when he staged the attack on London Bridge, and the victim’s families believe opportunities were missed to realise the scale of the danger he posed.  A senior Metropolitan police counter-terrorism detective, known only as witness M, insisted police had not come across any material showing Butt was planning an attack. Gareth Patterson QC, for the victim’s families, questioned the senior detective about a raid on Butt’s home in which his phone and laptop were examined by police. The raid, over a fraud allegation, took place in October 2016 and resulted in no criminal charges after it was referred to the Crown Prosecution Service. The inquest heard the material recovered from Butt’s phone and laptop included Isis propaganda about martyrdom and suicide missions, which Patterson said showed “an obsession with Islamic State.”

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Spent Two Weeks On Edge Over Iran’s Missile Boats

“For two weeks in May, the U.S. military shadowed two Iranian commercial boats sailing around the Persian Gulf as policy makers in Washington and Tehran traded threats and taunts. American surveillance kept constant watch on the two vessels after U.S. officials said they saw Iranian forces load missiles into launchers on their decks, according to U.S. officials. As tensions climbed, the Iranian ships eventually pulled into a harbor and unloaded the missiles that had set off alarms for the U.S. military. This protracted face-off in the Gulf, details of which haven’t been reported, was the catalyst for a cascade of steps by the Trump administration that have fueled concerns of an armed clash.”

The Jerusalem Post: German Parliament Slated To Debate Ban Of Hezbollah

“The German Bundestag is scheduled to debate a bill on Thursday to outlaw the radical Islamic organization Hezbollah in the federal republic. The far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) party introduced the bill. The Jerusalem Post exclusively reported on Tuesday that the number of Hezbollah members and supporters in Germany rose from 950 in 2017 to 1,050 in 2018, according to a German intelligence report from the state of Lower Saxony. Chancellor Angela Merkel and her interior minister, Horst Seehofer, rejected an urgent appeal from the Central Council of Jews in Germany last week to ban Hezbollah amid rising Jew-hatred in the federal republic. “Hezbollah abuses German NGO law, finances terrorism by means of illegal drug and arms deals, and fights for the destruction of Jews and Israel, which you could witness last Saturday at al-Quds march in Berlin and nationwide, where they even chant ‘Gas the Zionists’ on the streets of Germany,” AfD faction secretary Bernd Baumann said at the news conference on Tuesday. “This must stop.”

Vice News: How Assad Is Using Hospital Bombings To Win His War In Syria

“A group of doctors working in the northwest of Syria decided this week to stop sharing the locations of their hospitals with the United Nations, a practice that is intended to protect them from attack. The reason: Some fear Russia has been using that information to help Bashar Assad’s forces target them with airstrikes. Their decision highlights the brutal lengths to which Assad and Russia have gone in recent weeks to break Syria’s last rebel stronghold, Idlib. And provides yet more proof that Assad has made doctors and their civilian patients a central target in his bloody war to hold onto power. More than 20 hospitals in the region have been bombed by Russian and Syrian jets in May alone, according to Physicians for Human Rights. Human rights monitors, meanwhile, say Assad, with Russia’s help, is indiscriminately using internationally banned cluster munitions and barrel bombs on civilians there, leaving medical facilities and schools destroyed in their wake. The concerted attacks on medical facilities prompted a group of international doctors Sunday to call for an immediate U.N. investigation into how the sharing of the coordinates, rather than shielding the hospitals, resulted in their destruction.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Libyan Army Accuses Turkey Of Providing Military Support To Brotherhood

“Karama operations media center of the Libyan National Army (LNA) has said ‘Turkish drones’ had targeted several regions in the south of the capital Tripoli. The center accused Turkey of making a “blatant intervention in support of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood and its militias despite a UN Security Council arms embargo on Libya.” LNA’s Brigadier General Fawzi al-Mansouri said that his forces thwarted Tuesday an attack conducted by militias loyal to Fayez al-Sarraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA). They attacked Tripoli’s former international airport but they ended up with heavy casualties, Mansouri added. Military sources in Sarraj’s government said that its forces launched an attack on at least four fronts in an attempt to force the LNA to withdraw. They noted that the attacks included airstrikes on army positions near Tripoli.Moreover, the GNA announced that Undersecretary of Housing and Utilities Ministry Salah al-Din al-Ruqaie was killed while fighting alongside pro-Sarraj militias on Monday. On its Facebook page, the ministry mourned Ruqaie and affirmed that he was on the frontlines of Tripoli before getting killed.”

United States

The Wall Street Journal: Kurds Return Six ISIS-Affiliated Americans To U.S. From Syria

“Kurdish authorities in northeast Syria transferred to the U.S. six Americans belonging to a group of several thousand foreigners captured on the battlefield as Islamic State was driven out of its last stronghold. The autonomous administration that controls northeast Syria didn’t disclose the identities of the two American women and four children. It said they had been handed over in response to a request from the U.S. government. Kurdish officials declined to discuss the matter on Tuesday, saying the U.S. had told them not to reveal further details. Kamal Akef, a spokesman for the autonomous administration’s foreign-relations department, confirmed they were “wives and children of the members of the Daesh organization,” using another name for Islamic State. In Washington, a State Department spokesman confirmed that “several U.S. citizens, including young children, have been safely recovered from Syria and we are assisting them with repatriation to the United States.” The spokesman wouldn’t identify the Americans or discuss their situation, citing privacy considerations. “We take all legitimate claims of U.S. citizenship by individuals in conflict zones seriously, and work to verify and handle those claims on a case-by-case basis,” the spokesman said.”

ABC News: Calif. District Judge Tosses US Case Against Members Of White Nationalist Group

“A U.S. district judge this week tossed out a case by federal prosecutors against members of a white nationalist group accused of conspiring to incite riots at political rallies, just a day before House Democrats pressed top FBI officials over the government's response to the rising threat of white supremacist extremism. The case underscores the ongoing difficulty prosecutors face in bringing charges against white nationalist groups who critics accuse of advocating violence and the absence of a federal law that explicitly addresses domestic terrorism. U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney on Monday dismissed a series of charges under the Anti-Riot Act brought last October against Robert Rundo, Robert Boman and Aaron Eason, all members of ”Rise Above Movement,” an organization that a U.S. Attorney's office in California previously called a “white supremacy extremist group.” Carney's ruling argued against the Anti-Riot Act as “unconstitutionally overbroad in violation of the First Amendment,” and said the government's charges largely dealt with behavior protected as free speech. Tyler Laube, a separate member of the group named in the government's initial indictment, previously pleaded guilty in November to a single count of conspiracy.”

The Daily Beast: Top House Democrat Intros Bill Requiring Feds To Track White-Supremacist Terror

“Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), chairman of House Committee on Homeland Security, has introduced new legislation on white-supremacist terrorism, according to legislative text reviewed by The Daily Beast.  The bill would require the FBI, the Justice Department, and the Department of Homeland Security to track domestic terrorism—including terror attacks committed by right-wing and white supremacist extremists—and release an annual, unclassified report on attacks.  A fact sheet from the committee, reviewed by The Daily Beast, says right-wing terrorism appears to present a more significant threat than foreign terrorism. “The limited information available to the public shows that right-wing domestic terrorism is on the rise, and, in recent years, has presented a more dangerous threat to the homeland than international terrorism,” the fact sheet said. "Domestic terrorism, fueled largely by a surge in white supremacist extremism, presents a growing threat to the security of our homeland,” said committee Chairman Bennie Thompson in a statement. “In 2018, the lives of 50 Americans were taken as a result of domestic extremist-related killings—all connected to right-wing extremism, and mostly tied to white supremacism.”

Yahoo News: White Nationalist Attacks Should Be Prosecuted As Terrorism, Lawmakers Say

“The only good Muslim is a dead one.” Rep Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., teared up as she read the chilling words from hate mail she had recently received. It was a poignant, disturbing moment from a House Oversight hearing on white nationalism. Tlaib wiped the tears away as she read the vitriolic words, leading Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., seated next to Tlaib, to put a consoling hand on her shoulder. Meanwhile, on the dais behind them, Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, fiddled with a smartphone plug. Tlaib and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. are the first Muslim women in Congress. Both have been the targets of political attacks, but also of threats on their lives. A man in New York was arrested in April for threatening to kill Omar.  “How is that not enough to fall under domestic terrorism?” Tlaib wondered aloud, speaking of the letter she had received. That was the central question of the hearing, the second conducted on white nationalism by the civil rights and civil liberties subcommittee. It is a question without an easy answer, because while U.S. law does define domestic terrorism, there is no specific criminal charge for it. That means white nationalists can be prosecuted on charges related to weapons, hate crimes and other laws, but they are not prosecuted or punished the same way as terrorists affiliated with a foreign group like the Islamic State would likely be.”

Voice Of America: Former Al-Qaida Propagandist Launches Counter-Jihadi Magazine

“Once al-Qaida’s chief American propagandist, Jesse Morton is launching a new counter-jihadi magazine. In 2009, Morton, then going by his adopted Muslim name Younus Abdullah Muhammad in New York City, helped launch Jihad Recollections, the first in a line of online glossy magazines that captured the imagination of many young jihadis. With an emphasis on visual presentation and design, the magazine came to be dubbed the Vanity Fair for al-Qaida, giving rise to several, more enduring iterations, including al-Qaida’s Inspire and the Islamic State’s Dabiq and Rumiyyah. The first issue of al-Qaida’s Inspire magazine included the infamous article “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of your Mom.” Its second edition taught readers how to turn a pickup truck into “the ultimate mowing machine” against civilian targets. Morton is a changed man these days, haunted, after four years in prison on terrorism charges, by the realization that his online creation led others to commit acts of violence. Using the same design he used to create Jihad Recollections a decade ago, Morton is rolling out a new magazine on Tuesday, offering an alternative voice to “those that espouse hate and violent extremist interpretations.”

Syria

Voice Of America: Coalition War Planes Holding Fire Against IS In Syria

“U.S. and coalition jets have been quiet in the skies over Syria, failing to launch any airstrikes against remnants of the Islamic State terror group for a second consecutive month. The U.S.-led military coalition said Wednesday there were no airstrikes in Syria between May 5 and June 3, while reporting 11 strikes in Iraq during the same period. According to the statement, the strikes in Iraq targeted 16 IS tactical units and destroyed 21 IS caves, along with two vehicles and one so-called “bed-down” location. The last time coalition planes targeted IS fighters in Syria came in the two-week period following the final victory over the terror group’s self-declared caliphate in the northeastern Syrian village of Baghuz on March 23. Between March 24 and April 6, coalition aircraft carried out 29 strikes against 28 IS units, destroying dozens of vehicles, fighting positions and supply routes. But since then, both coalition officials and officials with the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have said the need for airstrikes has been minimal. “The SDF are using tactics that are more surgical in nature as they root out Daesh sleeper cells, weapons caches and support bases,” coalition spokesman Col. Scoot Rawlinson told VOA last month, using the Arabic acronym for IS.”

JNS: Report: Syrian General With Ties To Hezbollah, Iran, Assassinated

“A high-ranking Syrian army commander was assassinated on Tuesday near the city of Sweida in the war-torn country’s southwest, dozens of miles from the border with Israel. Brig. Gen. Jamal al-Ahmad was gunned down by unknown assailants while touring the sector, the intelligence blog Intelli Times and London-based pan-Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat both reported on Wednesday. According to the Intelli Times, Ahmad was among a group of Syrian officers tasked with maintaining ties with Hezbollah in the Sweida area, and particularly with Hezbollah’s commander in southern Syria, Munir Ali Naim Shaiti,also known as Hajj Hashem, who is responsible for building the Lebanese terrorist organization’s military infrastructure in the Syrian Golan Heights. Although the identity of Ahmad’s assassins is still unknown, the enemies of the Syrian regime and its Iranian and Hezbollah allies are Israel and rebel groups still active in the country. The ability of these insurgent groups to carry out an assassination of this type has drastically decreased over the past year and their presence in southern Syria has been virtually eradicated. Another possible suspect is armed Druze groups who have quarreled in the past with the regime but have since made amends with it following the expulsion of the rebels from the area.”

The New York Times: An American Family Detained In Syria Is Sent Back To The U.S.

“Two American women and six children affiliated with the Islamic State have been sent back to the United States from Syria at the request of the American authorities, American officials and local forces in northeastern Syria said Wednesday. The transfer was one of the few repatriations of ISIS-linked women or children from Syria to Western countries since the group lost the last of its territory in March. The eight Americans were part of a Cambodian-American family from the Seattle area that had traveled to Syria to join the militants, according to one of the American officials, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the case. They had not yet arrived in the United States on Wednesday, the official said. The group includes four sisters who were taken to Syria by their parents, according to Kimberly Polman, an American-Canadian woman who was detained with the family in Syria. She said that the sisters’ parents were killed there.”

Al Arabiya: Syria Regime Bombardment Kills 10 During Eid: Monitor

“Air strikes and shelling by regime forces killed 10 civilians in Syria’s northwest on Wednesday, as residents marked the holiday of Eid al-Fitr, a war monitor said. Two children were among six people killed in regime strikes on the town of Kafr Aweid in the extremist-held province of Idlib, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The victims’ relatives gathered at the town’s graveyard on Wednesday afternoon as an excavator dug a large pit in the ground. The scattered remains of one of the children were placed in a cardboard box before being buried, an AFP photographer said. The corpse of another was covered in an embroidered blue sheath. Another civilian died in regime shelling on the northern Hama countryside, also held by insurgents, said the Britain-based monitor. Regime air strikes also hit a motorcycle in the Idlib town of Maaret al-Numan, killing a woman and her two children, said the Observatory. Wednesday’s attacks come amid an escalation in violence in parts of the country’s northwest held by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. A September deal was supposed to avert a full-out regime offensive on Idlib province and adjacent areas, home to around three million people, nearly half of whom have been displaced from other parts of Syria.”

Iran

CNN: US Officials Say Tensions With Iran Are Easing But They Remain 'Vigilant'

“A month after sending an aircraft carrier to the Middle East in reaction to intelligence the US claims it had showing Iran was preparing to attack US troops, military tensions appear to be easing, according to several US officials. "It seems tensions have dropped some, but we are still watching very closely, we haven't relaxed, we remain vigilant," one defense official with direct knowledge of the situation told CNN. While officials have not publicly shown any of the intelligence that they said led to the deployment of the carrier, as well as aircraft and air defense missiles, new information has emerged underscoring why the US was so concerned over the weekend beginning Friday, May 3. Several officials tell CNN that even as initial messages were sent to Iran through an unidentified third party on that day, the Pentagon had intelligence that the regime was not taking the US warning seriously. Then, by Sunday, the US took the next step by making public it was dispatching military forces. CNN has not seen the messages. President Donald Trump did little to dampen the tensions when he said this week there is "always a chance" the US might take military action against Iran. "There's always a chance. Do I want to? No, I'd rather not but there's always a chance" Trump said in an interview with ITV's Piers Morgan that was taped Tuesday.”

The Wall Street Journal: Iran’s Supreme Leader Rails Against U.S. Peace Plan

“Iran’s supreme leader accused Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries of betraying the Palestinians by cooperating with the U.S. and Israel, in an attempt to rally regional supporters and raise the stakes for the Trump administration’s long-awaited plan for peace in the Middle East. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Wednesday the Arab countries were committing “a big treason to the Islamic world” by supporting the U.S.’s so-called deal of the century. His remarks were an attempt to place Iran at the helm of the Palestinian cause, an emotive issue that continues to resonate across the Middle East, as part of Tehran’s bid for regional leadership and amid growing tensions with Washington and Arab rivals. U.S. officials, led by President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, are set to roll out an economic blueprint for peace in Bahrain in June, as the White House tries to drum up support for the political dimension of its plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian issue. It is seeking tens of billions of dollars from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states to support the economic portion of the plan and hopes they will encourage Palestinians to participate in negotiations.”

Radio Farda: Russia And China Voice Support For Iran After Xi Visit To Kremlin

“Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday hosted Chinese leader Xi Jinping for Kremlin talks that reflected increasingly close ties between the two countries that were communist rivals during the Cold War. At the conclusion of the meetings a joint statement by Russia and China voiced support for Iran and commended Iran’s implementation of the requirements of the Joint Comprehensive plan of Action (JCPOA) or Iran’s nuclear agreement with world powers, reported Russia’s Interfax news agency. Both countries underlined their commitment to maintain good relations with Iran. "The parties emphasize the need to protect their mutually beneficial commercial and economic cooperation with Iran and firmly oppose the imposition of unilateral sanctions by any states under the pretense of their own national legislation...," the statement said.”

Al Jazeera: Iran: Rouhani Welcomes Developing Relations With Qatar

“Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has stressed his country's willingness to strengthen relations with Qatar, and called regional tensions with Tehran "detrimental". In a phone call on Wednesday between Rouhani and Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the two leaders exchanged Eid al-Fitr greetings. "The points of view of Tehran and Doha are very close in many regional issues and the frequent contact between the two countries are very productive," the website of the Iranian presidency quoted Sheikh Tamim as saying. The emir also emphasized that Qatar is eager to developing relations with Iran in all fields and that negotiation is the only way to ease current tensions in the region. Last month, attacks on oil assets, including on two Saudi oil tankers of the coast of the United Arab Emirates, spurred Saudi Arabia to call for three emergency summits in Mecca.”

The Wall Street Journal: Japan Intervenes In U.S.-Iran Dispute With Abe’s Visit To Tehran

“Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is embarking on an effort to mediate the dispute between the U.S. and Iran over Tehran’s nuclear program, a rare international diplomatic move by a Japanese leader. Mr. Abe has built a rapport with President Trump over five rounds of golf and dozens of conversations, and he recently met Iran’s foreign minister. The Japanese leader is hoping to leverage those relationships on a trip to Tehran that Japanese officials said was set for June 12 and 13. Mr. Abe is expected to meet Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani. “We would like to take a proactive role toward a peaceful resolution,” said chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga on Thursday. He confirmed the trip—the first by a Japanese prime minister to Iran since 1978—but declined to say whom Mr. Abe would meet.”

Iraq

Iraqi News: Coalition Warplanes Kill IS Militants, Destroy Hideout In Anbar

“An official source informed, on Wednesday, that a number of the Islamic State militants were killed, while their hideout was destroyed by a coalition warplanes air strike, north of Anbar. In a press statement, the source said that the US-led coalition warplanes bombarded, today, specific area in Juail Valley, in the desert of al-Dulab, north of Anbar. The air strikes destroyed a hideout belongs to the Islamic State, while killed a number of the group’s militants, the source added on condition of anonymity. It is noteworthy that in early 2014, the Islamic State group, with the assistance of local Sunni militia, launched a successful campaign to control Anbar Province. Iraqi government launched many operations to drive out the IS from the province. The area was effectively recaptured by the end of 2017.”

Xinhua: 6 IS Militants Killed In Airstrike In Western Iraq

“Six Islamic State (IS) militants were killed Wednesday in an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition aircraft in Iraq's western province of Anbar, the Iraqi military said. Acting on intelligence reports from al-Jazira Operations Command, the U.S.-led coalition aircraft conducted an airstrike in northern al-Baghdadi area, some 180 km west the provincial capital Ramadi, killing six IS militants and destroying two of their vehicles, the media office of the Joint Operations Command said in a statement. IS militants are still active in the vast Anbar desert which stretches to the border with neighboring countries of Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, as many civilians have been kidnapped or killed by the extremist group recently. The security situation in Iraq was dramatically improved after Iraqi security forces fully defeated the extremist IS militants across the country late in 2017. IS remnants, however, have since melted in urban areas or resorted to deserts and rugged areas as safe havens, carrying out frequent guerilla attacks against security forces and civilians.”

Afghanistan

Radio Free Europe: Afghan Peace Marchers Detained By Taliban, Supporters Say

“Afghan peace protesters who went missing after marching through a Taliban-controlled area of Helmand Province have been detained by the militants, a supporter of the movement told RFE/RL on June 5. The so-called People's Peace Movement (PPM) attracted international attention last year with its peace marches across Afghanistan and in Kabul during which they warned about the record levels of violence across the country. PPM member Bacha Khan Muladad told RFE/RL on June 5 that there is no news about the fates of 25 of their friends who traveled to the Taliban stronghold of Musa Qala, some 130 kilometers from the provincial capital of Laskar Gah four days ago in an attempt to meet with militants and plead with them to seek peace. Almost 4,000 civilians -- including more than 900 children -- were killed in Afghanistan last year, with more than 7,000 wounded, according to the United Nations, making 2018 the deadliest year on record. After 18 years of war, the Taliban and the United States have held several rounds of peace talks, but an agreement still appears far off, mainly because the militants refuse to hold negotiations with the Afghan government.”

Yemen

Asharq Al-Awsat: Houthi Land Mine Explosion Kills Two Yemeni Children In Al Bayda

“As a series of battlefield losses left Houthi militants desperate to reinstate depleted fighter morale on south Yemen’s Ad Dali front and even in the northern Sadah province, where the insurgency is headquartered. In parallel, land mines left behind by Houthi militants continued to kill innocent civilians, with the latest victims killed being two young children in the Zaher district in the central Al Bayda governorate. According to locals, crimes committed by coupists targeted various areas of Al Bayda. Houthis shelled residential villages incessantly and planted mines indiscriminately throughout civilian infrastructure. The two children killed by a Houthi mins explosion were Abdullah Al-Hayqani and Abdul Qader Al-Hmeikani, who were both 13 years old. Houthi militia formations in Al Bayda incurred the loss of 10 fighters—a single account in a long string of losses militants have suffered. This has propagated fear and anxiety within Houthi commandership, eventually forcing it to order a security crackdown in areas controlled by the insurgency. Meanwhile, Yemeni army units, backed by Arab Coalition air forces, logged substantial advances in Taiz. The progress has allowed lifting the siege off the southern province which was overrun by Houthi fighters some four years ago.”

Al Jazeera: Yemen's Houthis Claim Seizing 20 Positions In Saudi Arabia

“Yemen's Houthi group has claimed that its forces crossed the border into neighbouring Saudi Arabia, which leads a military coalition against them, and took control of more than 20 positions. Speaking to Yemen's SABA news agency, Houthi spokesman Yahya Sarei said on Wednesday that the military sites in the kingdom's southwestern Najran province were captured in a "surprise" offensive carried out over the past three days. The spokesman said that more than 200 personnel affiliated with the Saudi-UAE-led military coalition battling the Houthis had been killed or wounded, while many others were captured along with large quantities of military equipment. "We have extensive video footage of the operation which will be broadcast later," Sarei was quoted as saying. His claims could not be independently verified. There was no immediate comment from Saudi Arabia or the military coalition.”

Saudi Arabia

CNN: Saudi View: Iran Seeks To Dominate Its Region

“Arab and Muslim leaders have just concluded a series of emergency summits in Mecca to discuss recent attacks on Saudi and Emirati territory which US officials have linked to Iran and its proxies. While both Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have repeatedly said they do not want war with Iran, they have strongly backed Washington's decision to impose sweeping sanctions on the Islamic Republic until Iran's leaders change their behavior. Critics of the Trump administration's aggressive posture toward the Iranian regime operate under the erroneous assumption that the Islamic Republic has abandoned its revolutionary roots and is maturing into a normal state that is defending legitimate interests in a treacherous region. This is a dangerous fallacy. Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran's revolutionary nature and expansionist intent have remained constant and its military capabilities have only improved. The US is the only power capable of preventing Iran from attaining the regional hegemony it desperately seeks, and Washington has a clear geopolitical and economic interest in doing so.”

Lebanon

Asharq Al-Awsat: Tripoli Attack Revives Concerns In Lebanon Over Threat Of ‘Lone Wolves’

“A shooting carried out by an extremist in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli on Monday has revived concerns over “lone wolf” attacks ahead of summer that is expected to be promising for the country’s tourism industry. On Monday, Abdul-Rahman Mabsout, riding a motorcycle, opened fire on police and army vehicles in the city, killing two police officers and two soldiers before breaking into a residential building and hiding there. He later blew himself up by detonating an explosive belt when confronted by troops. The attacker had earlier been in jail on charges of ISIS membership. On Tuesday, President Michel Aoun chaired a security meeting at Baabda Palace to discuss the terrorist attack. The President said confronting terrorism requires vigilance and constant readiness. He emphasized the significance of coordination, cooperation and exchange of information between the security apparatuses, and called for intensified security monitoring of suspects. The attack was the first in two years ago. Lebanon has relatively been stable with the army and security forces arresting fugitives and militants returning from Syria. The country has also been constantly keeping tabs on suspects and sleeper cells.”

Nigeria

The Punch Nigeria: NSCDC Arrests Suspected Boko Haram’s Bomb Material Supplier In Borno

“Operatives of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps in Borno State on Wednesday confirmed the arrest of one Aliyu Muhammed, 24, suspected to be Boko Haram’s Improvised Explosive Device logistics supplier in Maiduguri. The Commandant of the corps, Ibrahim Abdullahi, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, in Maiduguri. Abdullahi said that the suspect was nabbed by men of the command on April 25, following intelligence report while he was on his way to supply bomb materials for Boko Haram terrorists. He said that preliminary investigation conducted by the command revealed that the suspect supplied mobile phones battery, wrist watches as well as laptop computers used for setting off IEDs designed to inflict massive casualties. “The suspect who pretends to be a tricycle operator in the town has executed many missions for the insurgents. “He also operates several bank accounts, where he recieves funds for Boko Haram in the last six months. “He usually receives large sums of money from the Republic of Chad, through a third party account number to avoid being detected. “We have so far tracked dozens of his transactions especially at commercial money transfer centers within Maiduguri,” he said.”

Sahara Reporters: More Than 7,000 Nigerians Killed Under Buhari In Last One Year -Report

“Violent activities in Nigeria have resulted in the death of 7,253 Nigerians between June 2018 and May 2019. These figures, released by Nigeria Security Tracker (NST), a project of the Council on Foreign Relations' Africa program, consist of those killed by insurgent groups like Boko Haram and Islamic State in the northern part of the country, herdsmen and extra-judicial activities by the military. During the timeframe, Borno and Zamfara recorded the highest number of killings contributing to 49 per cent of the total deaths within the last one year. Borno recorded 2,384 killings while 1,157 people were killed by different violent activities in Zamfara. Other states that made up the top 10 states of death from violent activities are Kaduna, 540; Benue, 330; Adamawa, 303; Yobe, 264; Taraba, 176; Plateau, 166; Rivers, 160 and Katsina with 127 deaths. The least affected states are Kebbi, 3; Kwara and Jigawa, 4; Osun, 8; Kano and Bauchi, 10; Gombe, Oyo and Enugu, 11 and Abia, 12; The data also showed that extrajudicial activities by state actors led to the most killings in the country with 1,545 deaths, while 1,042 Nigerians were killed by Boko Haram sects. Also, communal crisis and clash between herdsmen and farmers resulted in killings of 1,178 Nigerians while 1,230 deaths resulted from other factors.”

Somalia

Xinhua: Airstrike Kills 6 IS Terrorists In Northern Somalia: U.S. Military

“The United States military said Wednesday it conducted an airstrike against Islamic State (IS) terrorists in northern Somalia on Tuesday, killing six militants. The U.S. Africa Command (Africom) which oversees American troops on the African continent said the latest strike was conducted in cooperation with Somali government targeting terrorists in the Golis Mountains. “Currently, we assess no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike. Our process and procedures allow for additional information to inform post-strike analysis,” Africom said in a statement. Golis Mountains are a known area for terrorist camps and ongoing fighting between the two terrorist groups. Pro-IS militants split from al-Shabab in October 2015 and later occupied Qandala, a key location in Bari Region under Puntland State Administration in northern Somalia since 2016.”

Africa

The National: ISIS Makes First Claim Of Mozambique Presence

“ISIS has claimed responsibility for the first time for an insurgent clash in northern Mozambique, according to Site Intelligence which monitors militant activities worldwide. An Islamist insurgency has been growing in the Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado since 2017, with more than 200 people killed and many villages torched. ISIS issued a statement late on Tuesday claiming involvement in an apparent gunfight with the Mozambique military in Cabo Delgado province, although an insurgency expert expressed caution over the claim. “The soldiers of the Caliphate were able to repulse an attack by the Crusader Mozambican army in Metubi village, in the Mocimboa area,” said the statement, according to a Site translation. “They clashed with them with a variety of weapons, killing and wounding a number of them. “The mujahideen captured weapons, ammunition, and rockets as spoils.” The Mozambican government and military decline to confirm any rebel activity. Insurgents regularly attack villages, kill local people – sometimes beheading them – and burn down houses despite a heavy police and military presence in the northern province. An insurgency expert who declined to be named said ISIS was unlikely to have direct contact with the local fighters.”

The New York Times: Pentagon Ends Review Of Deadly Niger Ambush, Again Blaming Junior Officers

“Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has effectively closed the book on a lengthy Pentagon investigation into a deadly ambush in Niger in 2017, officials said on Wednesday, approving a high-level review of earlier findings that mostly blamed junior officers. Over the demands of lawmakers and family members to hold more senior commanders accountable, Mr. Shanahan accepted the conclusions of an Army general he had appointed early April to take a new look at the ill-fated operation that killed four Army soldiers. In the end, Gen. Robert Brown endorsed earlier inquiries by the military’s Africa and Special Operations commands that led to reprimands for eight Army Green Berets and a two-star Air Force general. But other officers in the chain of command escaped punishment, including a Green Beret colonel who was responsible for Special Operations missions in northwest Africa at the time.”

Germany

Al Arabiya: Germany’s Parliament To Debate Proposal To Ban Lebanon’s Hezbollah

“Germany’s parliament (Bundestag) is to debate on Thursday a proposal to ban the activities of Lebanon’s Hezbollah in the country. The proposal was introduced by the right-wing Alternative for Germany AfD party, which accuses the pro-allied Iranian militia of posing a threat to Germany. The debate of the proposed bill in the Bundestag coincides with a statement issued by the German local intelligence, which pointed out that the numbers of Hezbollah elements in Germany rose to 1,050 in 2018. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed hope last week that Germany would follow in the footsteps of Britain and ban Hezbollah. Last February, Britain said it plans to ban all wings of Hezbollah due to its destabilizing influence in the Middle East, classifying the Lebanese militant movement as a terrorist organization, a move condemned by the Lebanese militia, which said that it showed “servile obedience” to the US.”

Southeast Asia

The American Prospect: How To Fight ISIS In Sri Lanka

“Arab traders in the seventh century A.D. traveled by sea to present-day Sri Lanka seeking spices and goods to sell along the oceanic Silk Road. Like other South Asian countries engaged in commerce with the Arab world, Sri Lanka over time became home to a small Muslim community tracing its ethnic and religious roots back to the Middle East. Throughout the country’s history, this community, though religiously distinct, kept cordial relations with other faith groups and avoided the sectarianism plaguing South Asia’s other Muslim communities—until now. Today, ISIS stands ready to take advantage of growing fissures in Sri Lankan Muslim identity—and as the aftermath of the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka shows, neither the country’s leaders nor the international community is prepared to do something about it. Meanwhile, communal backlash against the Muslim community grows amid worsening political tensions. This week, all nine of the country’s Muslim ministers and two Muslim provincial governors resigned under pressure from Athuraliye Rathana, a prominent Buddhist monk and presidential adviser, who accused them of having links to the Easter attack militants.”

Canada

Global News: Edmonton Man Appeals Extradition To U.S. To Face Terrorism Charges

“An Edmonton man is fighting his extradition to face terrorism charges in the United States. Abdullahi Ahmed Abdullahi, who is 34, has been charged in the U.S. with conspiring to provide and providing material support to terrorists engaged in violent activities in Syria. He was ordered extradited by Court of Queen’s Bench Justice John Little in May 2018. Three judges with Alberta’s Court of Appeal heard his appeal Wednesday and reserved their decision. Officials in the U.S. allege Abdullahi conspired with Douglas McCain, the first known American who died fighting for the Islamic State, and others in the U.S. and Canada. Abdullahi, known as Phish or Fish, was indicted in California in March 2017 and arrested by Canadian authorities in September 2017.”

Technology

The New York Times: YouTube To Remove Thousands Of Videos Pushing Extreme Views

“YouTube announced plans on Wednesday to remove thousands of videos and channels that advocate neo-Nazism, white supremacy and other bigoted ideologies in an attempt to clean up extremism and hate speech on its popular service. The new policy will ban “videos alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion,” the company said in a blog post. The prohibition will also cover videos denying that violent events, like the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, took place. YouTube did not name any specific channels or videos that would be banned. But on Wednesday, numerous far-right creators began complaining that their videos had been deleted, or had been stripped of ads, presumably a result of the new policy. “It’s our responsibility to protect that, and prevent our platform from being used to incite hatred, harassment, discrimination and violence,” the blog post said. The decision by YouTube, which is owned by Google, is the latest action by a Silicon Valley company to stem the spread of hate speech and disinformation on its site. A month ago, Facebook evicted seven of its most controversial users, including Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist and founder of Infowars. Twitter barred Mr. Jones last year.”

The Wall Street Journal: The Race To Save Encryption

“National-security experts and politicians have a message for America: A significant portion of the sensitive data we have today is going to be cracked by foreign powers in the not-too-distant future, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. But we might be able to stop them from decoding the data we produce down the road, if we act quickly enough. The danger comes from an ultrapowerful and still-experimental technology called quantum computing—which leverages the quantum properties of atoms to quickly compute problems that no conventional computer could crack. China has already launched the equivalent of a Manhattan Project in order to achieve this end, say experts, and companies like Google, Microsoft MSFT and IBM IBM are all pushing ahead with their own efforts to create quantum computers. Quantum computers, which are still in the very early stage, could revolutionize any number of real-world tasks, from researching new materials to picking the best route for delivery drivers. But right now, what many experts worry about is the problem of security.”