Eye on Extremism: June 7

ABC News: Man Arrested For Planning To Detonate Grenades In Times Square, Sources Say

“An unidentified man is in federal custody after he asked about buying grenades and discussed possibly detonating them in Times Square, according to law enforcement sources. The man was intercepted by federal and local officials, and he posed no imminent threat. He is expected to appear in federal court in Downtown Brooklyn on Friday. He was detected both inquiring about obtaining grenades and discussing using them in Times Square, the sources told ABC News. Members of the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force -- made up of FBI agents and NYPD detectives -- began tracking the man and eventually took him into custody. He is not believed to be linked to any other people or part of a larger plot. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is expected to comment later Friday. The NYPD referred all questions to the FBI.”

Fox News: ISIS Plotted To Send Westerners To US Through Mexico Border: Report

“A chilling confession from a captured ISIS fighter has shed light on how the terrorist group intended to exploit the vulnerabilities of the U.S. border with Mexico, using English speakers and westerners to take advantage of smuggling routes and target financial institutions. Seized ISIS fighter Abu Henricki, a Canadian citizen with dual citizenship with Trinidad, last month said that he was sought out by the violent insurgency’s leadership to attack the U.S. from a route starting in Central America, according to a study by the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE) and published in Homeland Security Today. “ISIS has organized plots in Europe with returnees so it seems entirely plausible that they wanted to send guys out to attack. The issue that makes a North American attack harder is the travel is more difficult from Syria,” Anne Speckhard, who co-conducted the study as the director of ICSVE and Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University, told Fox News. “So the idea that they would instead use people who were not known to their own governments as having joined ISIS might make it possible for them to board airplanes.” Henricki allegedly traveled to Syria with the intention of serving as an ISIS fighter, but was later told he could not take on soldier duties due to a chronic illness.”

The Daily Beast: YouTube Crackdown On Extremism Also Deleted Videos Combating Extremism

“YouTube’s new policy was supposed to combat extremism on the site. Some white supremacists lost their videos, but after a confused rollout on Wednesday, journalists and educators are also seeing their videos purged. But the policy’s announcement seemed slapdash. David Ibsen, executive director of the Counter Extremism Project, called YouTube’s new policy a public relations stunt. “Instead of simply enforcing its long-standing community guidelines consistently and transparently, YouTube has once again resorted to big tech’s usual tired PR playbook,” Ibsen said in a statement, “publicizing a new policy change via the media only after a high-profile incident, namely that of a well-known YouTube personality harassing a Vox journalist, which resulted in negative publicity for the company. “YouTube has also issued similarly vague announcements in the past, subsequently followed by inconsistent and non-transparent enforcement. This is why YouTube is still a preferred platform for hateful material promoting far-right and Islamic extremism, which continues to radicalize people around the world.”

The Economist: Bashar Al-Assad’s Ruinous Campaign To Retake Idlib From Syrian Rebels

“Even the Eid al-Fitr holiday did not bring a respite for the almost 3m Syrians bottled up in Idlib. Warplanes buzzed overhead, as they have for more than a month, dropping ordnance on this scrubby province in north-western Syria, the last significant pocket of rebel-held territory. The offensive has already killed more than 300 people. Russian and Syrian jets have repeatedly bombed hospitals despite promises that they would be protected. Some 250,000 people have been displaced. The ferocious bombing now under way in Idlib was not supposed to happen. Last September Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s dictator, began massing troops for an offensive to retake the province. But a deal to prevent it was hashed out by Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the presidents of Russia and Turkey, the strongest foreign powers in the neighbourhood. The Sochi agreement, as it is known, called for a buffer zone up to 25km deep between rebels and the regime. Soldiers from both countries would patrol it and apply pressure to their allies.”

The Guardian: ISIS Claims Sub-Saharan Attacks In A Sign Of African Ambitions

“Islamic State has claimed responsibility for two attacks by militants in sub-Saharan Africa in less than 24 hours, suggesting the continent is central to the terrorist group’s strategy of expanding a global network of extremists after the loss of its territories in Iraq and Syria. On Tuesday Isis said it was involved in an attack in Mozambique, where an intensifying insurgency has pitted a little-understood network of militants against local security forces in the northern Cabo Delgado province. It was the first such claim of an Isis link to the former Portuguese colony. “The soldiers of the caliphate were able to repulse an attack by the crusader Mozambican army … 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,” a statement said, according to SITE Intelligence, a company that monitors extremist activity. Earlier in the day, Isis also claimed responsibility for a deadly overnight attack in the (DRC). The two claims come amid what experts say is a new effort by Isis to become a “platform” for Islamic extremist groups worldwide. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Isis, has mentioned new oaths of allegiance from extremists in Mali and Burkina Faso in the Sahel region, and displayed a report on the group’s “Central Africa province”, which was first mentioned in 2018.”

ABC News: Families Blast Decision Not To Punish Higher-Ranking Officers In Niger Ambush

“Family members of some of the special operations soldiers killed in a 2017 ambush in Niger reacted angrily Wednesday after being handed a 289-page report by Army officers and learning that no further disciplinary action was required beyond the letters of reprimand that have already been issued. "I'm angry as hell," Debra Gannon, the mother of Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah Johnson, told ABC News, as she sat inside a popular Fort Bragg bar, next to a photo of her son on a memorial wall. Arnold Wright, the father of Green Beret Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, said, "I don't see how people in the direct chain of command are being promoted when it was their decision to override the ground commander (who) was instrumental in my son's death." Four American soldiers, Johnson, Wright and Staff Sgt. Bryan Black and Sgt. LaDavid Johnson, were killed in an ambush by Islamic State-affiliated militants in Niger. Their family members spoke with ABC News on Wednesday in North Carolina and expressed their unhappiness with the Pentagon's decision not to punish senior commanders for their role in the circumstances that led to the deadly attack.”

United States

The Wall Street Journal: A Dangerous Plan To Limit U.S. Nukes

“Unbelievably, Congress is considering a restriction on the ability of the U.S. to defend itself. The proposal, tucked into this year’s defense bill, would prohibit the Pentagon from spending money to deploy smaller, low-yield nuclear warheads on submarine-launched ballistic missiles. These weapons have been scheduled to be deployed before the effective date of this year’s defense bill, meaning that this provision would pre-emptively recall the weapons from deployment. Preventing these missiles from being deployed dangerously threatens America’s ability to defend itself against adversaries who themselves possess low-yield nuclear weapons. Last year, with a bipartisan vote, Congress provided funding necessary to configure low-yield nuclear warheads for submarine-launched missiles that, once detonated, produce one-tenth the explosive yield of traditional nuclear warheads. Russia actively deploys low-yield nuclear weapons. As noted in the 2018 U.S. Nuclear Posture Review, this effort to replace higher-yield warheads with low-yield ones was intended to enhance “the diverse set of nuclear capabilities that provides an American President flexibility to tailor the approach to deterring one or more potential adversaries.” The goal is to deter our adversaries from considering the use of nuclear weapons.”

Syria

NPR: In Syria, An Orphanage Cares For Children Born To Yazidi Mothers Enslaved By ISIS

“A little girl with enormous blue eyes watches, mesmerized, as Fajriya Khaled gives a tiny 3-month-old baby a bottle. The girl is 1 1/2. She wears a white party dress with sequins and pink roses on the bodice, and a pink sash. On her wrist is a string bracelet — perhaps for luck. In her ears are the gold earrings she was wearing when she was brought to the orphanage as a baby — a sign that, although abandoned, she was not unloved. She is one of 41 children in this orphanage in northeastern Syria born to ISIS fighters and the Iraqi Yazidi women they enslaved when ISIS ruled over large parts of Iraq and Syria, starting in 2014. Forced by Iraq's Yazidi community to give up the children, and told that the children have been given to Kurdish Syrian families to adopt, many of these mothers don't know the orphanage exists. The children at the orphanage were born while their mothers were enslaved by ISIS. A few Yazidi mothers come to the orphanage to personally hand over their babies. But others are separated from their children just before they cross back into Iraq, and they don't know what happens to them. Yazidis are an ancient religious minority, considered infidels by ISIS.”

The Daily Beast: How A Terrorist War Criminal Was Hunted Down

“The three dozen shaken men brought before a jihadi cleric in Tabqa, Syria were sentenced to death. Al Qaeda-linked militants had captured the men, all members of the Assad regime security forces, when they took the city of Raqqa and asked the Islamic jurist for guidance on what to do with them. Now, with the sentence handed down, the militants dragged the men—soldiers, militia, and police—to a garbage dump in Tabqa and let the cleric draw first blood, which he did by stoning a man to death. The militants took the remaining captives, bound and gagged, and executed them in groups of five to six before throwing their bodies into a natural hollow at the dump.”

The Atlantic: Syria’s New Assad Statues Send A Sinister Message: ‘We Are Back’

“In early March, just days before the eighth anniversary of the 2011 revolt against Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian regime organized a boisterous celebration in the main square of the southern city of Daraa to unveil a new bronze sculpture of Bashar’s father, Hafez. It depicts a youthful-looking Hafez fused from the waist down to a large rock atop a pedestal, with a series of steps leading up to the monument. The sculpture of Hafez, an army general who seized power in 1970 through a coup against his own Ba’ath Party comrades and ruled Syria with an iron fist until his death in 2000, looks immovable, indestructible, and above all, eternal. He’s a half-human, half-rock demigod gazing ahead coldly and resolutely, with his hands resting on the shoulders of two awestruck children pressed against his waist and clutching stalks of wheat—the main crop in the largely agricultural Daraa province.”

Yahoo News: Jihadists Kill 21 Regime Forces In Syria's Northwest: Monitor

“Jihadists in northwestern Syria on Thursday launched an attack on government forces killing at least 21 fighters, a war monitor said, following a series of regime advances in the area. The deadly assault in a northern strip of Hama province, comes amid an escalation in violence in parts of the country's northwest held by Syria's former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). Damascus and its ally Russia have since late April ramped up deadly air strikes and rocket fire on the region, and fighters have clashed on its edges. Thursday's attack by HTS militants and allied jihadist groups on the village of Jibeen, follow a series of regime advances in the region in recent weeks, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said. “The insurgents are launching a counterattack,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP. “They are making strategic advances,” he said, adding that they have seized several hilltops. He said at least 14 jihadists were killed in ensuing clashes. State news agency SANA said that militants launched rocket attacks on a number of villages in northern Hama, destroying homes. Syrian state television said that Syrian troops thwarted the assault on the villages of Tal Maleh and Jibeen.”

Iran

Saudi Gazette: Iran Is 'Championing Terrorism' In Mideast, Says Trump

“US President Donald Trump launched yet another broadside against Iran on Thursday, accusing Tehran of “championing terrorism” across the Middle East. Iran is failing as a nation after Washington imposed powerful sanctions last year, Trump told reporters before holding bilateral talks with French President Emmanuel Macron in Caen, western France, after attending a ceremony to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day. He added he could turn that around very quickly in talks with the leadership in Tehran. Iran and the United States have been drawn into starker confrontation in the past month, a year after Washington pulled out of a deal between Iran and global powers to curb Tehran's nuclear program in return for lifting international sanctions. “When I became president, Iran was a true state of terror. They still are and were undisputed champions of terror.” “They are failing as a nation, but I don't want them to fail as a nation. We can turn that around very quickly but the sanctions have been extraordinary (in) how powerful they have been.” Trump has condemned the nuclear deal, signed by his predecessor Barack Obama, as flawed for not being permanent and for not covering Iran’s ballistic missile program or its role in conflicts around the Middle East.”

The New York Post: Trump Has Already Proved Team Obama Was Completely Wrong About Iran

“For years, the liberal foreign policy establishment presented Americans with a false choice on Iran: surrender or war. President Trump has proved that binary to be a fantasy, squeezing and deterring the Iranians without full-on confrontation. “When I became president, Iran was a true state of terror,” Trump said in France this week. Now, “they are failing as a nation.” Not that his critics give him credit — or room to maneuver. As The Daily Beast reported last week, alumni of the Obama administration have been secretly in touch with the Iranians — no doubt to reassure the mullahs that if they wait out Trump, their fortunes will turn. Though it’s unprecedented to see former administration officials actively undermining official US policy abroad, the more the Obama alumni echo chamber’s Iranian apologists clamor to save the Islamic regime from economic ruin, the more we understand that the Trump administration’s strategy is working.”

Haaretz: On Iran, Putin Has A Price. Can The U.S. And Israel Pay It?

“The first ever trilateral meeting between U.S., Russian and Israeli national security advisers could be a gamechanger on pushing Iran's military out of Syria. What will it cost to get Russia into the anti-Iran camp - and who will pay. Largely overshadowed by last week's political upheaval in Israel was a low-key but highly significant announcement: Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat will host a joint meeting.”

Voice Of America: Trump Calls For Iran Talks As Allies Announce Rare Tehran Visits

“U.S. President Donald Trump has called for U.S.-Iran talks for a second day to resolve mutual tensions — a prospect two U.S. allies hope to promote as they send senior envoys to Tehran for the first time in years. "I understand they want to talk, and we want to talk. That's fine. We'll talk," Trump said Thursday, referring to Iran as he sat for a bilateral meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Caen, western France. The two leaders earlier had attended a ceremony in the region to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day. "But the one thing that [Iran] can't have is … nuclear weapons. And I think the president of France would agree with that very strongly," Trump added. In a Wednesday interview with British channel ITV on the final day of Trump's state visit to Britain, interviewer Piers Morgan asked the U.S. president if he was prepared to talk to his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani.”

The Guardian: Iran Backed Down In Gulf Due To US 'Deterrence', Says American General

“Iran has chosen to “step back and recalculate” after making preparations for an apparent attack against US forces in the Gulf region, but it is too early to conclude the threat is gone, the top commander of American forces in the Mideast said on Thursday. In an interview with three reporters accompanying him to the Gulf, General Frank McKenzie, the head of US central command, said he remained concerned by Iran’s potential for aggression, and he would not rule out requesting additional US forces to bolster defences against Iranian missiles or other weapons. “I don’t actually believe the threat has diminished,” McKenzie said. “I believe the threat is very real.” Tensions between the US and Iran have worsened since Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and several world powers, and reinstated sanctions on Tehran. Last month, in response to what American officials characterised as an imminent threat, the US announced it would rush an aircraft carrier and other assets to the region.”

Wired: Russia And Iran Plan To Fundamentally Isolate The Internet

“FOR YEARS, COUNTRIES have spoken in vague terms about creating domestic internets that could be isolated from the world at will. Now we’re seeing some begin to execute that vision. Last month Iran announced that its "national information network"—essentially a domestic internet—is 80 percent complete. Earlier this year, Russia launched a major initiative to build a domestic Russian internet, purportedly to defend against cybersecurity threats—though also a likely expansion on the Kremlin’s desire to control the flow of information within its borders. With Russia and Iran spearheading a new level of internet fragmentation, they’re not just threatening the global network architecture (cables, servers) or working to allow the government to greatly control information flows and crack down on freedoms; their actions could also inspire others to follow suit and create geopolitical implications extending far beyond those two countries’ borders.”

Iraq

The National: ISIS Leader Killed In Western Iraq By US-Led Coalition

“A prominent ISIS leader was killed by the US-led coalition air strike on Wednesday night in Iraq’s western province of Anbar as Special Forces ramped up efforts to fight the insurgent’s remaining sleeper cells. Since the group’s territorial defeat in Iraq and Syria, the terrorists have gone underground, carrying out various attacks across the neighboring countries where it aims to expand. “Air strikes targeted the tunnels where the insurgents were hiding killing six terrorists including the Emir [Prince] of Wiliayat [State] Al Jazeera, Abu Musallam Al Iraqi and two of their vehicles,” commander of Al Baghdadi tribal forces that operate in Anbar, Qatary Al Samarmad, said in a statement. The attack were conducted in the Tharthar valley, located north west of Baghdad. The operation is part of a security program set between the Iraqi army and local tribes that aims to combat the terror group, Mr Al Samarmad said. Iraq’s army, backed by an US-led coalition established to defeat ISIS, has recently shifted away from major combat operations to areas they believe the insurgents are hiding. The US-led action began after ISIS took over large areas of territory.  ISIS is active in rural areas across Iraq especially in isolated lands that give them the freedom to move and plan attacks.”

Al Arabiya: Iraq To Identify Remains From ISIS Graves In Yazidi Area

“Iraqi authorities will begin identifying the remains of 141 people exhumed from mass graves in the Yazidi region of Sinjar, the head of Baghdad’s forensic office said Thursday. “The remains will first be examined, and then DNA samples will be taken to compare with samples gathered from families,” Zaid al-Yousef told AFP. The efforts are part of an investigation by the Iraqi government and a special United Nations team to collect evidence of crimes committed by ISIS. The extremist group swept across swathes of Iraq in 2014, including the Sinjar region where the Yazidi minority was long based. The Kurdish-speaking Yazidis follow an ancient religion, but ISIS considered them “apostates”. Thousands of Yazidi women and girls were forced to be “sex slaves”, while the boys were recruited to fight and the men executed en masse in what the UN has said could amount to genocide. The UN began its joint probe last year, exhuming the first mass graves of ISIS victims around the town of Kojo in Sinjar in March. It said last month that 12 of 16 identified gravesites around Kojo had been exhumed. But Yousef said the next phase of identifying the victims would be a fraught process.”

Deutsche Welle: Will IS Fighters Face An International Court In Iraq?

“Swedish politicians are some of the most vocal supporters of a special tribunal to try individuals who have committed crimes as members of the so-called Islamic State (IS). Sweden's interior minister, Mikael Damberg, recommends the quick creation of such a court. “There should not be impunity for murder, terrorist crimes, war crimes or crimes against humanity,” Damberg said in Stockholm at a conference for experts from various European countries. He included other war criminals in Syria and Iraq in this category: “This applies to all parties in the conflict,” he said. Damberg did not specify the location of the potential court but said it would be in the region of Syria and Iraq. The interior ministers from EU nations are set to meet Friday in Luxembourg to further discuss the issue. Following the military victory over IS, Syria and Iraq have been holding tens of thousands of former IS fighters and their family members in prisons and camps under abject conditions. Television reports over the past weeks have shown startling images: Women fully veiled in black and children, including many orphans, idling miserably in temperatures around 45 C (113 F).”

Afghanistan

Fox News: Afghan Military Frees 84 Prisoners From Taliban Jail

“An Afghan military spokesman says troops have freed 84 prisoners from a Taliban-run facility in the northern Faryab province. Mohammad Anif Rezaye says most of those freed in the operation late Wednesday were Afghan security personnel and civilians, but that several captive Islamic State fighters were also found inside the facility. It was not immediately clear what would be done with the IS fighters, including four from Uzbekistan, three from Tajikistan and one from Kyrgyzstan. The Taliban and the local Islamic State affiliate are both at war with the Afghan government. But the two are fiercely divided over tactics and ideology, and have clashed repeatedly. The IS fighters were captured last year during a Taliban push to drive the extremists from the neighboring Jozjan province.”

Pakistan

Fox News: Gunmen Kill 2 Pakistani Troops Deployed For Eid In Southwest

“Pakistan's military says suspected militants have opened fire on a paramilitary vehicle patrolling in the town of Hernai in southwestern Baluchistan province, killing two troops before fleeing. In a statement, it said Thursday's attack targeted troops deployed for security duty during the three-day Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which began across Pakistan on Wednesday. It said a search has been launched to track the assailants. No one claimed responsibility but small separatist groups have been blamed for previous such attacks. Baluchistan province has been the scene of a low-level insurgency by separatists demanding more autonomy and a greater share in the region's natural resources, such as gas and oil. The province has also witnessed attacks claimed by Sunni Muslim militants.”

Yemen

Al Arabiya: Houthis Kill Imam, 9 Worshippers For Following Saudi Eid Al-Fitr Moon Sighting

“An imam and nine worshippers were killed following Houthi militia attacks on a number of mosques for celebrating Eid al-Fitr on Tuesday, after Saudi Arabia announced the sighting of the Shawwal crescent, Yemen’s information minister Moammar al-Eryani and local media reported. According to al-Eryani, the militias stormed mosques during Eid prayer in Houthi-controlled areas, including Sanaa and Dhamar. “The Houthi militia prevented the majority of honorable citizens in their areas of control from celebrating Eid al-Fitr and stormed a number of mosques and arrested citizens in Sanaa, Dhamar, Hajjah, and Ibb who refused to comply with its decision to postpone the celebration,” al-Eryani tweeted on Tuesday night. Local media reports stated that the imam and worshippers were shot dead at a mosque in the Qiva district in al-Bayda, after they refused to stop their Eid prayers on Tuesday when ordered to do so by Houthi militiamen. Sanaa residents also reported that the Houthi-controlled Religious Endowments and Guidance offices instructed religious guides and militiamen to monitor other “violating” mosques.”

Lebanon

Xinhua: Lebanon Arrests 5 Suspects In Tripoli's Terror Attack

“Lebanon's state security arrested on Thursday five suspects in a terrorist attack that took place on Tuesday. The five people have suspected links to Abdel Rahman Mabsout, an Islamic State member who blew himself up in Tuesday's terror attack, military sources were quoted by Elnashra, an online independent newspaper, as saying. A total of four members of the Lebanese Army and Internal Security forces were killed in the terror attack that hit Lebanon's northern city Tripoli early Tuesday morning.”

Middle East

The Wall Street Journal: U.A.E. Stops Short Of Directly Accusing Iran Over Attacks On Ships

“The United Arab Emirates said Thursday that special forces from a hostile nation likely carried out coordinated attacks last month on four ships near the Strait of Hormuz, but stopped short of directly accusing Iran. In a closed-door briefing to members of the United Nations Security Council, Emirati officials presented their preliminary conclusions that small boats dropped divers in the waters near a busy U.A.E. port and that the divers then placed limpet mines on the hulls of the four ships. Four explosions on May 12 blew holes in the hulls of two tankers from Saudi Arabia, one from Norway, and an Emirati ship near the port of Fujairah that serves as a transit point for vessels moving through the Strait of Hormuz. The tanker blasts have been one of the biggest points of recent tensions in the Persian Gulf. Last month, the Pentagon directly accused Iran’s elite military unit, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, of carrying out the attack.”

Egypt

Fox News: Egypt: Troops Kill 14 Militants Day After IS Attack In Sinai

“Egypt says security forces killed 14 militants while pursuing attackers behind an assault on a police checkpoint in northern Sinai that authorities said left eight policemen dead. The Islamic State group had claimed responsibility for Wednesday's attack near the city of el-Arish. Egyptian security officials initially said as many as 10 policemen died in the attack but the discrepancy in the accounts could not be reconciled. The area is off limits to reporters.  The Interior Ministry says that while pursuing the attackers, security forces located a group of insurgents hiding inside a deserted house in the city. A shootout ensued, killing 14 militants who had automatic rifles, bombs and explosive belts in the possession. Egypt has battled Islamic militants for years in northern Sinai, where the IS affiliate is based.”

Libya

Reuters: Islamic State Claims Car Bombs At Libya's Eastern Forces Camp In Derna

“Islamic State claimed responsibility on Thursday for two car bomb explosions that targeted a military unit belonging to the eastern forces of the Libyan National Army (LNA) in Derna earlier this week, the group’s Al-Nabaa newspaper said.  At least 18 people were wounded in the explosions in the eastern coastal city, a medical source and residents told Reuters.”

Africa

Yahoo News: Khartoum Residents In 'State Of Terror' After Bloody Crackdown

“Heavily armed paramilitaries roamed the Sudanese capital Thursday, forcing fearful residents to hide indoors after a crackdown on protesters that authorities admitted had left dozens dead and prompted the African Union to suspend Khartoum. Members of the Rapid Support Forces, who rights groups say have their origins in the Janjaweed militias of Darfur, deployed on the streets in pick-up trucks mounted with machine guns and rocket launchers, witnesses said. “We're living in a state of terror because of sporadic gunfire,” a resident of south Khartoum told AFP. He said he was “afraid for (his) children to go out in the street”. As international condemnation mounted, a health ministry official told AFP that “the death toll across the country had risen to 61,” including 52 killed by “live ammunition” in Khartoum. But it denied doctors' claims that more than 100 people had been killed in the crackdown on protesters that began with a raid on a long-running sit-in outside the army headquarters on Monday. The Central Committee for Sudanese Doctors said Wednesday that 40 bodies had been pulled from the Nile, sending the death toll soaring to at least 108. The committee, which is part of the protest movement and relies on medics on the ground for its information, warned the figure could rise.”

Germany

Associated Press: German FM Traveling To Iran To Salvage Nuclear Accord

“Germany’s foreign minister is traveling to Iran next week to discuss the faltering nuclear accord between Tehran and leading world powers, his office said Thursday. Heiko Maas’ visit to Iran will be part of a broader trip to the Middle East starting Friday, with stops in Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Adebahr said. Maas plans to meet his Iranian counterpart Mohammed Javad Zarif on Monday to discuss Tehran’s role in the restive region and the 2015 nuclear accord. “We want to preserve this nuclear agreement because we believe it is a good agreement that prevents Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons,” Adebahr said. Maas discussed the trip with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a recent visit to Berlin, she said. U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the accord last year and reinstated sanctions against Tehran, saying the agreement failed to sufficiently curb Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons or halt its support for groups that the U.S. says destabilize the Middle East.”

The Washington Post: German Woman Faces Islamic State-Linked Terrorism Charges

“Federal prosecutors say a 32-year-old German woman faces terrorism charges for joining the Islamic State group in Syria. Carla-Josephine S., whose last name wasn’t released for privacy reasons, is also charged with child endangerment resulting in death and other offenses, prosecutors said Friday. She’s accused of taking her three children to Syria in 2015. Prosecutors say she joined the Islamic State group and lived in one of their facilities. Her children underwent IS ideological indoctrination, and her son took paramilitary training before he was killed in 2018 when their compound was bombed. Unable to convince her husband to join her, S. in 2016 married an IS fighter from Somalia and took paramilitary training herself. She was arrested upon her return to Germany in April. Prosecutors wouldn’t give any details about her daughters.”

The Jerusalem Post: German Parliament Rejects Ban Of Hezbollah, Snubbing U.S. And German Jews

“Germany’s Bundestag rejected a bill on Thursday to outlaw the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah in the federal republic. An array of parties comprising the Christian Democratic Union, Christian Social Union, the Social Democratic Party, the Left, the Greens and Free Democrats opposed an anti-Hezbollah bill authored by the far-right party Alternative for Germany party. The mainstream German parties’ rejection of the motion to ban Hezbollah comes a week after an urgent appeal from the Central Council of Jews in Germany to outlaw Hezbollah amid rising Jew-hatred in the federal republic. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requested last Friday that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration proscribe Hezbollah as a terrorist entity. The Jerusalem Post reported on Wednesday that a German intelligence report from the state of Lower Saxony asserts the number of Hezbollah members and supporters in Germany has climbed from 950 in 2017 to 1,050 in 2018. “For a long time we have been calling for a ban on the antisemitic terrorist organization #Hezbollah,” the American Jewish Committee’s Berlin office tweeted on Thursday. “It is regrettable that this topic is now being taken up by the right-wing populists. We hope that all democratic parties will finally seek this prohibition. #Bundestag.”

Southeast Asia

Malay Mail: Bangladeshi Jailed 42 Years In Melbourne For Islamic State-Inspired Attack On Malaysia-Born Australian Host

“A Bangladeshi student who enrolled in an Australian university with the aim of killing someone in the name of the Islamic State (IS) group was jailed for 42 years Wednesday for stabbing her local host as he slept. Momena Shoma, 26, admitted to engaging in a terrorist act when she stabbed Roger Singaravelu in the neck with a kitchen knife just eight days after arriving in Australia. Shoma, who wore a black niqab showing only her eyes at the sentencing hearing in Victoria state’s supreme court, shouted “Allahu akbar” as she attacked Singaravelu, who survived and was also present at the hearing, the court heard. “Your deeds and words, and the intentions accompanying them, are chilling,” said judge Lesley Taylor in handing down the sentence of 42 years, with a non-parole period of 31 years and six months. She faced a maximum sentence of life in prison. Taylor said her actions “sent ripples of horror throughout the Australian community”. “But they do not make you a martyr. They do not make you a beacon of Islam... They make you an undistinguished criminal,” she said. Prosecutors said Shoma became radicalised in 2013 while living in Dhaka and became enamoured of the Islamic State and its calls for Muslims to engage in violent jihad against non-Muslims.”

Fox News: Sri Lanka Readies Laws To Curb Hate Speech, False News

“Sri Lanka's government will introduce laws to curb hate speech and false news that threaten ethnic reconciliation and national security, in the aftermath of Easter bombings that killed more than 250 people. According to a government statement, those found guilty of distributing false news would face five years in prison and a million rupee ($5,670) fine. The government says a penalty for hate speech will be announced later, after Parliament approves amendments to the penal code. The Easter Sunday suicide attacks on churches and hotels were claimed by local Muslim militants tied to the Islamic State group. Since then, minority Muslims have seen their shops and homes burned and faced harassment in public places, spread by hate comments.”

The Economist: Sri Lanka Responds To Islamist Terrorism By Terrorising Muslims

“The charge sound silly but the consequences are not. One Muslim lady’s crime was to wear a shirt printed with a ship’s helm. Her accusers said it looked like the wheel of dharma, so she must be mocking Buddhism, the religion of the majority. A young Muslim man was nabbed for having three SIM cards in his pocket, and a broken memory card. True, he worked in a phone shop, but police insisted he must have snapped the memory card to hide nefarious contents. A rich Muslim doctor was accused of having secretly sterilised 4,000 women by pinching their Fallopian tubes. More than 700 of the supposed victims have complained, enraged by rumours of a fertility “jihad” against non-Muslims. Just over a month ago, on Easter morning, jihadist terrorists killed more than 250 people around Sri Lanka in a series of suicide-bombings. It is not surprising that since the attacks, jittery police have arrested more than 2,000 people, nearly all of them Muslim. But with suspicion among the public running high, calls for extra vigilance soon morphed into harsher demands. A Buddhist monk threatened to fast to death unless three prominent Muslim officials, accused of having links to terrorists, resigned. Instead, on June 3rd, all nine Muslim ministers, as well as two Muslim provincial governors, quit in protest.”

Technology

The New York Times: Tech Giants Amass A Lobbying Army For An Epic Washington Battle

“Faced with the growing possibility of antitrust actions and legislation to curb their power, four of the biggest technology companies are amassing an army of lobbyists as they prepare for what could be an epic fight over their futures. Initially slow to develop a presence in Washington, the tech giants — Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google — have rapidly built themselves into some of the largest players in the influence and access industry as they confront threats from the Trump administration and both parties on Capitol Hill. The four companies spent a combined $55 million on lobbying last year, doubling their combined spending of $27.4 million in 2016, and some are spending at a higher rate so far this year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks lobbying and political contributions. That puts them on a par with long-established lobbying powerhouses like the defense, automobile and banking industries.”

The Wall Street Journal: Youtube’s Efforts To Scrub Hate Speech Spawn Vicious Reaction Online

“YouTube’s steps this week to block hate-based and conspiracy-mongering videos have sparked a backlash online, according to social-media intelligence firm Storyful. Messages with threatening and biased terms directed at YouTube started appearing on social media about 150 times an hour on Thursday, according to Storyful’s analysis, a day after the unit of Alphabet Inc. GOOG 0.20% said it would escalate efforts to scrub hateful content from its platform. Before the announcement, these types of terms appeared on social media approximately 30 times an hour. One of the measures YouTube outlined Wednesday was a plan to ban videos that deny historical events such as the Holocaust. For years, YouTube and other social-media companies justified a hands-off approach to how they moderated content, with the view that their sites and apps are content-neutral technology platforms. Mounting public anger over the prevalence of offensive and inaccurate information online has made such neutrality hard to defend.”