Eye on Extremism: March 13

The Washington Post: U.S. Prepared For Military Action In Syria If United Nations Doesn’t Stop The Bloodshed, Haley Warns

“The United States is prepared to act if we must’ to stop indiscriminate bombing of civilians in Syria, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, warned Monday as she circulated a new draft resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire. Addressing the Security Council 16 days after it passed a resolution demanding a cease-fire that largely has failed to stop the bombing or allow humanitarian access, Haley compared the situation today to last year when the United States launched airstrikes against a Syrian military base after a deadly chemical weapons attack. ‘When the international community consistently fails to act, there are times when states are compelled to take their own action,’ Haley said. This is one of those times, she added. ‘We warn any nation determined to impose its will through chemical attacks and inhuman suffering, but most especially the outlaw Syrian regime, the United States remains prepared to act if we must,’ she said. ‘It is not a path we prefer. But it is a path we have demonstrated we will take, and we are prepared to take again.’”

CBS News: Manipulating the Masses: CEP Senior Adviser and Dartmouth College computer science professor Dr. Hany Farid discusses the growing problems posed by digitally altered video and how he is working to combat the threat.

Newsweek: ISIS Tries To Take Back Iraq As U.S. Allies Switch Sides In Syria

“Fighters loyal to the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) have attempted to relive their self-proclaimed caliphate by taking advantage of fleeing U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces to storm the Iraqi border, according to local reports. A group of ISIS fighters active in one of the group's last remaining bastions in eastern Syria reportedly attempted to cross over into nearby Iraq on Sunday, but were quickly defeated by fighters of the Popular Mobilization Forces, an Iran-backed collective of mostly Shiite Muslim Iraqi militias that was officially inducted into the Iraqi military on Friday.”

The Straits Times: More Than 200 Nabbed In Malaysia On Suspicion Of Recruiting Terrorists Via Social Media

“Malaysia has arrested a total of 249 local and foreign individuals suspected of recruiting members for terrorism through social media so far, Deputy Home Minister Masir Kujat said on Tuesday (March 13). Datuk Masir said 240 of them carried out their modus operandi through Facebook, eight through Twitter and another one through Instagram. "The arrests were made as a result of police intelligence and monitoring by the Counter Messaging Centre," he told Parliament during a sitting on Tuesday. Mr Masir was responding to a question from a Barisan Nasional lawmaker on the government's efforts to curb the spread of terrorism on social media. He said on Facebook, some 3,871 accounts were monitored, while 800 accounts were blocked. On Twitter, 76 individuals were monitored and nine accounts blocked, while on Instagram, 72 individuals are being monitored. He added that, to date, 19 individuals, including a foreigner, was currently undergoing a deradicalisation programme under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (Pota).”

The New York Times: U.S. Braces For Return Of Terrorist Safe Havens To Afghanistan

“For 17 years, three successive presidents have told the American public that above all else, Afghanistan must never again provide ‘safe haven’ to terrorist groups seeking to harm the United States and its interests. But Defense Department and intelligence officials now say exactly that may be on the verge of happening. With the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in its twilight, American officials are tracking foreign fighters veering to provinces in Afghanistan’s north and east. Meanwhile, Al Qaeda remains a persistent and deadly threat across the country, a senior American general told senators last week. by the Institute for the Study of War flatly stated that Afghanistan is ‘a safe haven for terrorist plots against the U.S. homeland.’”

United States

Radio Free Europe: U.S. Says Russia, Syria, Iran Not Honoring Cease-Fire, Warns Of Action

“The United States has said it is ready to act in Syria to end chemical attacks and "inhuman suffering" if Russia, Iran, and Syria continue to allegedly ignore a 30-day cease-fire approved by the United Nations, prompting a warning from Moscow that it will strike back if the lives of its servicemen are threatened. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the UN Security Council late on March 12 that a cease-fire the council approved two weeks ago "has failed" and the United States was offering a new 30-day truce that she said has "no counterterrorism loopholes" and will be harder for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and others to ignore. Haley accused Syria and its allies Russia and Iran of exploiting such "loopholes" to "continue starving and pummeling hundreds of thousands of innocent Syrian civilians" in the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the council that air strikes, shelling, and ground offensives had only intensified in eastern Ghouta since the UN declared a 30-day cease-fire on February 24. "The Assad regime, Iran, and Russia continue to wage war against their political opponents," Haley said.”

The Huffington Post: Her Husband Killed 49 People In Orlando. Now She’s On Trial For Terrorism

“One year and nine months after Omar Mateen opened fire inside a crowded gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 and wounding dozens, his widow will stand trial on federal terrorism charges. Noor Salman, 31, is charged with aiding and abetting Mateen in his attempt to provide material support to a terrorist organization, and obstruction of justice. She has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, she could face life in prison. Jury selection began earlier this month, and opening statements are slated for Wednesday. The trial is being held in downtown Orlando at the Middle District of Florida courthouse, just two miles from Pulse nightclub, where the crime occurred. At the time, it was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. U.S. District Judge Paul Byron, who is presiding over the case, denied Salman’s request for a change of venue.  During jury selection, it was evident just how broadly the community has been affected by the tragedy. On the second day, almost half the potential jurors questioned said they knew someone affected ― a fact that was not, in itself, disqualifying so long as jurors maintained they could stay impartial.”

Detroit Free Press: Detroit Free Press: Cops Say Terrorist Threat To Lakeside Mall Thwarted; Shelby Township Man, 20, Held

“A Shelby Township man faces up to 20 years in prison after police said he sent text messages threatening to shoot up Lakeside Mall in Sterling Heights. Tyler Tindell, 20, was arraigned Monday on a charge of making a terrorist threat, after investigators determined he'd sent text messages planning a mass shooting at the mall, police said. Tindell was arrested Friday hours after three police departments began scrambling to locate him. The manhunt was launched after Shelby Township police "received a credible tip outlining a potential domestic terrorist act planned for Lakeside Mall," according to Shelby Township Deputy Chief Mark Coil. Tindell was arrested late Friday and police executed a search warrant at his home, finding one firearm, Coil said in a news release. Held over the weekend, Tindell was given a bond of $150,000 cash or surety bond — meaning he must post the full amount to gain freedom — by 41A District Court Judge Douglas Shepherd. Police would not describe or reveal the identify of the person to whom they said Tindell texted the threats.”


The New York Times: In Replay Of Aleppo, Syrian Army Splits Rebel Redoubt In Eastern Ghouta

“As five warplanes circled on Monday, Marwan Habaq, trapped in a shrinking rebel-held enclave near Damascus, the Syrian capital, agonized over how best to reunite with his wife and infant daughter. The Syrian government and its allies had managed overnight to split the enclave, eastern Ghouta, into three blocs, each surrounded and besieged, leaving Mr. Habaq suddenly separated from his family, he said by phone. The fracturing of the enclave, one of the last major rebel-controlled areas in Syria, could be a turning point after three weeks of a relentless scorched-earth campaign by pro-government forces, backed by heavy Russian airstrikes. In the pivotal battle for the northern city of Aleppo a year and a half ago, a government advance that divided the rebel-held pocket in two signaled the beginning of the end for insurgents. The sense of chaos has grown in recent days in eastern Ghouta. Government advances have sent residents fleeing into the remaining rebel territory, especially its main city, Douma, some accompanied by their livestock as agricultural areas were lost, and trying to squeeze into already crowded basements.”

BBC News:  Syria War: Wounded 'To Be Evacuated From Eastern Ghouta' – Rebels

“The largest rebel group in Syria's besieged Eastern Ghouta region says it has agreed with the government's key ally Russia to evacuate wounded people. Jaysh al-Islam said the evacuations would take place in stages, but it did not say when they would begin. There was no confirmation from Russia, but the UN said there had been talks. More than 1,100 civilians have been killed and 4,000 wounded since the government stepped up its offensive on the Eastern Ghouta on 18 February. Soldiers and allied militiamen have recaptured 60% of the enclave, which is just outside Damascus, the Syrian capital, and split it into three separate pockets in recent days.”

YNet: Hezbollah Forces Participating In Ghouta Massacre

“Hundreds of Hezbollah fighters are participating in the Assad army's onslaught on rebel forces in Syria and in the massacre of civilians in the Ghouta district in the eastern suburbs of Damascus. The Shiite Lebanese organization has been forced to dispatch fighters to the Ghouta area following orders received from Major-General Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force and "the high Iranian commissioner" in Syria. At the same time, Soleimani has eased the conditions of Iranian fighters in Syria by providing them with the status of "advisors" and "combat trainers" and sparing them from being sent to the front. Local reporters revealed Sunday that the Hezbollah fighters are gathered in the al-Makr base in the Damascus suburbs and are being sent to back the Syrian infantry forces and the Shabiha force, the Syrian regime's thugs, without knowing that they will eventually reach Ghouta. According to estimates, some 3,000 Hezbollah fighters have been sent to the military base in the Damascus suburbs in recent weeks.”

The Independent: Syria's War Of Ethnic Cleansing: Kurds Threatened With Beheading By Turkey's Allies If They Don't Convert To Extremism

“Syrian Arab militiamen leading the Turkish attack on Afrin in northern Syria are threatening to massacre its Kurdish population unless they convert to the variant of Islam espoused by Isis and al-Qaeda. In the past such demands have preceded the mass killings of sectarian and ethnic minorities in both Syria and Iraq. In one video a militia fighter flanked by others describes the Kurds as ‘infidels’ and issues a stark warning, saying ‘by Allah, if you repent and come back to Allah, then know that you are our brothers. But if you refuse, then we see that your heads are ripe, and that it's time for us to pluck them.’ Though the Kurds in Afrin are Sunni Muslims, Isis and al-Qaeda traditionally punish those who fail to subscribe to their beliefs as heretics deserving death. ‘The video is 100 per cent authentic,’ said Rami Abdulrahman, who heads the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights which released it, in an interview with The Independent. He adds that he is very concerned about the fate of some Yazidi villages in Afrin captured by the advancing Turkish forces, saying he has seen videos taken by the militiamen themselves in one of which ‘an elderly Yazidi man is questioned by them, asking him how many times he prays a day.’”


Al Monitor: One ‘Spark’ Could Reignite Protests, Warns Iran’s Interior Minister

“In separate interviews with leading Iranian newspapers, Iranian Interior Minister Abdul Reza Rahmani Fazli discussed the findings of an Interior Ministry report warning that the grievances that led to the nationwide protests in December and January could once again cause unrest in the country. In an interview with Hamshahri newspaper, Rahmani Fazli said there are two groups of factors that led to the largest protests in Iran since the 2009 election protests. Rahmani Fazli said the first group of factors involved “social, political and economic discontent.” He said it could take just “one spark to inflame” the situation with this level of unhappiness in the country. Rahmani Fazli also pointed to three deeper elements as the second set of factors for the protests. He labeled this second group “societal transformations.” Rahmani Fazli pointed to “generational changes,” saying that “39 years have passed since the revolution, and over time, ideologies, beliefs, thoughts and preferences have gone under fundamental changes.” He said this general change has been ignored, but that most people could witness such changes in their homes with their own children.”

The Independent: BBC Appeals To UN Over 'Persecution And Harassment' Of Persian Service Journalists By Iran

“The BBC said on Monday that its journalists will appeal for the first time directly to the United Nations over what the British broadcaster describes as the “persecution and harassment” by Iran of those affiliated with its Persian service. The decision by the broadcaster comes after an Iranian court last year froze the assets of more than 150 people associated with its Persian service.  While long targeted by authorities in the Islamic Republic, the BBC said its decision came after harassment by authorities had worsened recently as their complaints had been “completely ignored”. “We are not the only media organisation to have been harassed or forced to compromise when dealing with Iran,” BBC director-general Tony Hall said in a statement. “In truth, this story is much wider: it is a story about fundamental human rights.” Iranian state media did not immediately report on the BBC’s decision. Iran’s UN mission in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The BBC first disclosed the asset freezes in August, saying it came from a court at Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, which holds dual nationals and political detainees, among other prisoners.”


The Wall Street Journal: After Defeating Islamic State, Iraq’s Shiites Turn Ire Toward Government

“So many men from this oil-rich region of southern Iraq have been killed in battle with Islamic State militants that it has come to be known as “the district of martyrs.” Inside a small mosque, men gathered recently to mourn the latest losses: 17 members of their tribe, the Bani Mansour, slain in an ambush on Feb. 18 in northern Iraq, where Islamic State militants are still waging their insurgency more than three months after the Iraqi government claimed they had been vanquished. The tribesmen’s personal grief is mixed with resentment toward a government they say has failed to provide for them. “No one has repaid us for our sacrifices,” said 50-year-old Sheikh Amin al-Salim, who heads the branch of the tribe to which six of the fallen men belonged. “They did not give the martyrs their rights, pave a road or improve electricity.” In the last three years of war, Iraq’s Shiite-led government has overcome challenges posed by Sunni insurgents and Kurdish separatists. But now it faces a reckoning among its core Shiite constituency, including many who fought to keep the country united and paid with the deaths of their sons and fathers.”

The Jerusalem Post: ISIS’s New Insurgency In Kirkuk And Hawija In Iraq

“ISIS is carrying on a low-level insurgency in Iraq, one that is concentrated in Diyala, Salahuddin and Kirkuk provinces. Dozens of civilians and members of the Iraqi Security Forces have been killed along with a similar number of ISIS fighters, according to numerous reports. The US-led coalition is still carrying out air strikes against ISIS targets, even though the country was supposed to have transitioned to stabilization in the run-up to elections in May.”

The Jerusalem Post: Islamic State Attacks Kill 10 In Northern Iraq

“Islamic State militants killed at least 10 people including a local Sunni tribal sheik in two separate attacks late on Sunday in Iraq's northern provinces of Mosul and Kirkuk, police and local officials said. In a village near the Sunni town of Shirqat, south of Mosul, Islamists stormed the house of a tribal sheik who led a Sunni militia that had fought against the militants, killing him, his son and two guests, police sources said. Islamic State, which had seized control of much of northern Iraq in 2014, lost Shirqat to U.S.-backed Iraqi security forces supported by Sunni tribal fighters in 2016. However, a small number of militants are still operating in the area and are capable of launching sporadic attacks, security officials said. In the town of Nijana, south of the oil city of Kirkuk, five members of one family were killed by militants who set up a fake security checkpoint on a main road. The family were Shi'ite Turkmens - a father who is an Iraqi soldier, his pregnant wife, his two children and his brother-in-law.”


Associated Press: Thousands Flee As Turkey Lays Siege To Kurdish-Held Syrian Town Of Afrin

“Turkey’s military says its troops and Turkish-backed Syrian opposition fighters have begun a siege of the Syrian Kurdish-held northern town of Afrin. The military said in a brief statement on Tuesday that the siege of Afrin, the main town in the enclave also known as Afrin, had begun Monday. It said the military had taken control of “critical areas” of the town but did not provide details. Thousands of people had started to flee Afrin on Monday as the Turkish troops got closer to the town, heading toward nearby government-controlled areas. Turkey launched a military offensive into the border enclave on Jan. 20 to drive out Syrian Kurdish forces that it considers to be “terrorists” and an extension of Kurdish rebels fighting inside Turkey.”


Al Jazeera: Afghan Forces Battle Taliban Fighters In Farah Province

“Taliban fighters have taken over a police headquarters in Afghanistan's western Farah province during an ongoing battle with the security forces as officials warned the district was likely to be taken over by the armed group. At least 20 members of the security forces are believed to be killed or wounded when the fighters attacked the Anar Dara district's police and administrative offices on Monday morning. The exact number of killed or wounded is still not clear as the fighting is still under way, officials said. ‘The [Taliban] fighters attacked the district offices early in the morning from different directions and have taken over the offices,’ Dadullah Qane, a member of the provincial council, told Al Jazeera.”

Voice Of America: Iran Accuses US Of Supporting IS In Afghanistan; Washington Denies Allegation

“Iran has accused the United States of helping Islamic State militants in Afghanistan to fuel regional terrorism and threaten neighboring countries. Visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made the allegations while speaking to a gathering of diplomats, scholars and journalists in Islamabad. He said U.S. helicopters were found transporting IS members from the eastern Afghan district of Haska Meyna, also called Deh Bala, to unknown locations. ‘We see intelligence, as well as eyewitness accounts, that Daesh fighters, terrorists, were airlifted from battle zones, rescued from battle zones, including recently from the prison of Haska [Meyna],’ said Zarif, using the Arabic acronym for IS.”

The Interpreter: The Resurgence Of Al-Qaeda

“Nearly seven years after the killing of Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda is numerically larger and present in more countries than at any other time in its history. Indeed, the movement now boasts of some 40,000 men under arms, with approximately 10,000–20,000 fighters in Syria; 7000–9000 in Somalia; 5000 in Libya; 4000 in Yemen; a similar number dispersed throughout other countries across the Maghreb and Sahel; 3000 in Indonesia; and approximately 1000 in South Asia. From north-west Africa to South East Asia, al-Qaeda has been able to knit together a global movement of some two dozen local franchises. How is this possible? There are four reasons. First, al-Qaeda proved remarkably adept at exploiting the upheaval and instability that swept across North Africa and the Middle East in 2011 and 2012 during the Arab Spring. ‘The mujahidin around the world are going through a moment of elation,’ the movement’s chief propagandist, Anwar al-Awlaki, wrote in the March 2011 issue of Inspire, the online magazine of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, ‘and I wonder whether the West is aware of the upsurge of mujahidin activity in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Arabia, Algeria, and Morocco?’”


Reuters: Islamic State Claims Responsibility For Yemen Military Kitchen Bomb Attack

“Militant group Islamic State claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack on a military kitchen in the south of Yemen, the group’s news agency Amaq said on Tuesday. At least four people were killed in the attack, which occurred earlier on Tuesday, when a car bomb ripped through a military kitchen in Aden used to prepare meals for Yemeni forces trained and backed by the United Arab Emirates. It was the second attack of its kind targeting security forces in the city, where UAE forces from the Saudi-led coalition that has been operating in Yemen since 2015 hold sway.”

Al Arabiya: Yemeni Minister Reveals Why He Believes War Against Houthis Hasn’t Ended

“Yemeni Interior Minister Ahmed Al-Misri said on Monday that the ‘delay in finalizing the war’ against Houthi militias has been down to the legitimate government forces ensuring that they ‘respect human rights during the ongoing battles.’ His statements came during his meeting in the temporary capital of Aden with a team of international human rights experts which the United Nations Human Rights Council assigned to discuss ‘violations against Yemeni civilians.’ Misri discussed the Houthi crimes against civilians and how they intentionally shell residential neighborhoods and store weapons there and use citizens as human shields to avoid airstrikes. He also accused the Houthis of thwarting peace attempts and insisting to resume the war to implement Iran’s agenda without taking the Yemeni people’s interest into consideration. Mohammed Jandoubi, the head of the team of experts, voiced the importance of finding a peaceful solution and unifying efforts to end the conflict.”


Arab News: History According To The Former Emir Of Qatar

“For some, truth is not that important; what is more important is what can be presented to people. This is what Doha is trying to do, presenting fiction as fact, such as a documentary it has produced that fabricates the story of former Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani’s coup against his father, and claims that there was a plot to bring the father back to power. Because of the coup’s scandal, and since it detracts from the current government’s legitimacy, I never expected Qatar, which has the worst reputation in the Gulf, to talk about its recent history in the first place. The story of the coup is so bad that it cannot be whitewashed with fabricated documentaries and false testimony. Its history is still fresh, most of its witnesses are still alive, and given its alliance with Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda and Al-Nusra Front, Doha’s reputation is now even worse. The tragedy began when Sheikh Hamad, who still rules Qatar behind the scenes, overthrew his father in 1995 and shook the entire Gulf society. Sheikh Hamad’s "new version of history" claims that three countries conspired against him and tried to carry out a coup the following year. But in 1996, and for seven consecutive years, Qatar was guarded only by a small defense force, along with its police. Qatar still is a city-state whose population at the time did not exceed half a million, only a quarter of them locals. Thus, it would not have been difficult for a big country such as Saudi Arabia, which shares land and sea borders with Qatar, to intervene if it wanted to, but it did not, nor did the other Gulf states.”

Middle East

The Wall Street Journal: The Most Unnerving Visit To The Middle East In A Long Time

“I recently returned from the Middle East, where I visited Jordan and Israel. I have been to the region many times, and this was the most unnerving visit I’ve taken in a long time. With the help of Vladimir Putin and Bashar Assad, Iran is winning. Sunni Arabs, Israel and the U.S. are on their heels. How did this happen? Severe missteps from the Obama administration empowered Mr. Assad, who at the time saw no consequences for slaughtering thousands of Syrians. The death toll has since climbed into the hundreds of thousands, and the war rages on. President Obama’s decision to withdraw troops from Iraq, against military advice, led to the rise of Islamic State. He also ignored advice from his national-security team to help Syrian democratic forces when Mr. Assad was on the ropes. Hezbollah and eventually Russia and Iran came to Mr. Assad’s aid, entrenching him in power. The Trump administration took the gloves off in fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The results on the battlefield speak for themselves. Yet I do not see a coherent strategy from the administration to combat Iran’s growing influence in Iraq and the domination of Syria by Russia and Iran. Today Mr. Assad is an Iranian proxy and a Russian puppet.”


Daily Nation: Tillerson Vows US 'Full Support' For Nigeria In Jihadism Fight

“US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Monday slammed last month's mass abduction of schoolgirls in northern Nigeria and promised Washington's "full support" in the country's fight against Boko Haram jihadists. "The recent kidnapping of 110 schoolgirls is heartbreaking," Tillerson said on his arrival in the capital Abuja on the final leg of an African tour. "Nigeria has the US in full support and we are actively working with our partners in what we can assist you in this fight." Tillerson, who was greeted by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, is on the final part of his first tour of Africa since becoming secretary of state. He arrived from Chad, where he also promised support for a state fighting jihadism. His tour, which began on Wednesday, has also included Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya. Heavily armed Islamist militants abducted 110 girls from their school in Dapchi, in Yobe state, northeast Nigeria, on February 19. Parallels were immediately drawn to the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls in Chibok in 2014, which captured world attention and contributed to the ouster of Buhari's predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan.”

Reuters: Nigerian Presidency Says To Negotiate For Release Of 110 Abducted Dapchi Girls

“Nigeria’s presidency said on Monday it plans to negotiate for the release of 110 girls abducted from a school in the northeastern town of Dapchi last month rather than use a military option. In an emailed statement, the presidency said it was working with international organisations and negotiators to ensure the girls, taken by suspected Boko Haram Islamist militants, were released unharmed. They were kidnapped on Feb. 19.”

Vanguard: FG Probes Sources Of Boko Haram Ieds’ Materials

“The federal government is to launch probe into sources of materials used by the Boko Haram terrorist group in manufacturing Improvised Explosive Devices,IEDs, in the country. This was even as it disclosed it has already identified the prevalent types of explosives, accessories, fertilizers and procursor chemicals being used by the terrorists to unleash carnage on innocent citizens and would soon block access to them. The National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno, rtd, disclosed this Monday, in Abuja, while declaring open a five-day National Chemical Security Training Conference,organized by his office in conjunction with the Chemical Security Programme, CSP. According to Monguno, the federal administration would henceforth focus its attacks on criminal networks of sourcing for materials used in preparing IEDs by the terrorists group.”


CNBC: Russian Military Threatens Action Against The US In Syria

“The Russian military has threatened action against the U.S. is it strikes Syria's capital city of Damascus, according to multiple news reports. The threat, by Chief of Russia's General Staff Valery Gerasimov, was widely reported by Russia media sites such as state news agency RIA and Tass. It said Gerasimov said Russia had "reliable information" about militants preparing to falsify a government chemical attack against civilians. He continued by saying the U.S. would then use this attack to accuse Syrian government troops of using chemical weapons. He added that the U.S. would then plan to launch a missile strike on government districts in Damascus. "In several districts of Eastern Ghouta, a crowd was assembled with women, children and old people, brought from other regions, who were to represent the victims of the chemical incident, " Gerasimov said, according to RIA. Gerasimov said Russia would respond to a U.S. strike on Syria if the lives of Russian servicemen were threatened, targeting any missiles and launchers involved.”

BBC News: Russian Spy: Highly Likely Moscow Behind Attack, Says Theresa May

“Former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned by a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia, Theresa May has told MPs. The PM said it was ‘highly likely’ Russia was responsible for the Salisbury attack. The Foreign Office summoned Russia's ambassador to provide an explanation. Mrs May said if there is no ‘credible response’ by the end of Tuesday, the UK would conclude there has been an ‘unlawful use of force’ by Moscow. The chemical used in the attack, the PM said, has been identified as one of a group of nerve agents known as Novichok. Mrs May said: ‘Either this was a direct action by the Russian state against our country, or the Russian government lost control of its potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others.’”


Asia Times: ISIS Alive And Well In The Philippines

“Almost five months after Philippine troops flushed out Islamic State-aligned militants in the southern city of Marawi, fierce clashes erupted anew in restive Maguindanao province, leaving 44 Islamic militants killed, according to the military. The dead — although their number could not be independently verified — belonged to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), which like the Maute Group that laid siege to Marawi in May 2017, had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.”

United Kingdom

Al Arabiya: UK Tube Bomb Suspect Blames Britain For Death Of His Parents In Iraq

“Jurors in the trial of a teenager accused of an attempted London Underground bombing on Monday heard that he had said it was his ‘duty to hate Britain’ well before the botched attack in September. Ahmed Hassan, an 18-year-old Iraqi asylum seeker, arrived in Britain in October 2015, two years before he allegedly left a bucket of explosives that partially exploded on a Tube train at Parsons Green station, injuring 30 people. Katie Cable, a lecturer and mentor at a suburban college where Hassan studied media, told London’s Old Bailey court that he had said he blamed Britain for the death of his parents in Iraq. ‘It’s my duty to hate Britain,’ she said he had told her. Cable testified that she believed his father was blown up and his mother had been shot. When Hassan came to Britain, he told authorities he was in fear of ISIS and that it had taken him by force and trained him ‘how to kill’ when he was in Iraq. But the court also heard that the lecturer had even alerted a government terrorism prevention scheme of her concerns after she saw a message in August 2016 on his phone reading: ‘ISIS has accepted your donation.’”


The Guardian: Spanish Anti-Terror Law Has 'Chilling Effect' On Satire, Says Amnesty International

“Amnesty International has warned that an ‘exponential increase’ in prosecutions under a controversial Spanish anti-terrorism law is having a chilling effect on satire and dissent and is pushing social media users, musicians and journalists towards self-censorship. The charity is calling for the law to be repealed, arguing that recent high-profile cases brought under article 578 of Spain’s criminal code have highlighted the danger the legislation poses to freedom of speech and international human rights law. Under the article, those found guilty of ‘glorifying terrorism,’ justifying terrorist acts or ‘humiliating the victims of terrorist crimes or their relatives’ can be jailed, fined and banned from holding public sector jobs. Over the past two years, the legislation has been used with increasing frequency. In 2016, a judge eventually shelved an investigation into two puppeteers who were suspected of glorifying terrorism during a performance in Madrid.”


The Sun: Social Media Giants Face Massive Fines If They Don’t Stop Spreading Hate Speech, London Mayor Warns

“Social networks may have to pay out huge fines if they fail to crack down on the spread of hate speech, the Mayor of London warns today. Sadiq Khan has also accused Donald Trump of stirring up bigoted abuse against him by going to war with him on Twitter.”

Egypt Independent: Egypt To Launch Social Networking Platform Similar To Facebook: Minister

“Egypt’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology Yasser al-Qadi said on Monday that Egypt is taking concrete steps towards establishing a social networking platform similar to Facebook, without however providing any further details regarding the project. He explained that the period after the January 25 revolution in 2011, but more so recently, has witnessed a great deal of interaction between citizens through social media. He pointed out that the protection of data and information is very important and that the Egyptian state is keen on safeguarding the personal privacy of its citizens. He added that Egypt has a comprehensive strategy for the development and dissemination of new ideas and the modernization of the country’s information and technological infrastructure. The state is also developing its tools to combat terrorism, including improved legal frameworks that contribute to the protection of citizens and society as a whole.”

Terror Financing

Elmihwar: Algeria Proposes Criminalizing Ransom Payments To Militant Groups

“Algerian Foreign Minister Abdelkader Messahel announced that on April 9th and 10th his country will host a high-level African meeting on the financing of terrorism. The Algerian minister said after meeting with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, that this meeting aims to {enhance} cooperation in the sphere of counter-terrorism. He stressed the event is of great importance in light of the current situation and the need to take a unified African position. The meeting will serve to exchange views on the laws adopted by the various countries and determine the role of African entities working to combat terrorism and money laundering as well as the various types of smuggling and crime. It is expected that, during the meeting, Algeria will propose criminalizing the payment of ransom to militant groups. This is the most urgent matter for Algeria in the sphere of countering terrorism.”

Muslim Brotherhood

Elbalad: Clarification Of Rumors On The Removal Of Brotherhood-Linked Mohammed Abu Treika From Terror Lists

“Mohammed Othman, lawyer of the renowned ex-soccer player Mohammed Abu Treika, has refuted the recently circulated news about taking his client's name off the Egyptian terror lists {where he appeared} due to his alleged ties with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. Othman added that the judicial status of the retired Al Ahly Soccer Club legend is still the same. The lawyer further explained that even if the Advisory Authority of the Court of Cassation recommends canceling the ruling that places Abu Treika on the terror lists, such a recommendation is advisory rather than mandatory. It's noteworthy that the Court of Cassation has set the date 18th of April to review the appeals filed by Abu Treika and other suspects in the case. Judicial sources recently leaked rumors that the Advisory Authority of the Court of Cassation was recommending taking the name of the famous soccer star off the terror lists.”

Seventh Day: Egypt: Renewal Of Detention Of Muslim Brotherhood-Affiliated Politician Abdel Monem Aboul Fotouh

“Chaired by Counselor Khaled Diaa Eddein, the Supreme State Security Prosecution has renewed the detention of Abdel Monem Aboul Fotouh, a former Muslim Brotherhood member and current head of the political party named “Strong Egypt." The detention was extended by 15 days pending investigations. It's noteworthy that the prosecution had previously accused the former presidential candidate of undermining Egypt’s stability and security, seeking to topple the current regime, calling for chaos, spreading rumors and hindering the state’s institutions from fulfilling their role of stabilizing and securing the country.”

Akhbar Elyom: Security Expert Warns Of Muslim Brotherhood's Use Of Fourth-Generation Warfare's Tools

“General Mohsen Fahham, former Security Chief of the Cairo International Airport, stated that the Internet and social media websites have expanded significantly. In addition, these platforms are seeking to add a type of temptation by offering discounted products, services, trips and Umrah (pilgrimage) journeys via fake websites. Fahham warned that websites affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood are employing Fourth-Generation Warfare's tools and instruments to spread lies and fake news aimed at demoralizing the Egyptian people and denigrating the government's accomplishments on the ground. The former security official noted that the banned Islamic organization receives logistical support from foreign intelligence agencies in order to attain these malicious goals. The security forces are compelled to deploy all of the available technology and information capabilities to confront this phenomenon, Fahham stressed. In addition, he urged members of the parliament in general and members of the Parliamentary Committees on Telecommunications and Information Technology, specifically, to pay particular attention to this phenomenon, which is expected to continue growing ahead of the upcoming presidential elections.”


Alweeam: Sources: Iranian Committee Runs Houthi Affairs In Yemen

“Yemeni media figures and activists confirmed on Sunday the existence of an Iranian committee which is running the affairs of the Houthi group. This committee bankrolls leaders and media outlets owned by the Houthis at a monthly sum of thousands of dollars. The Yemeni media figures, who recently joined the internationally recognized government, explained that the committee is based in the Iranian Embassy {in Sanaa} from which it directly oversees a wide network of Iranian experts and members of the Lebanese Hezbollah militia who manage the affairs of the Houthis. They stressed that partisan and parliamentary figures loyal to the Houthis receive Iranian financial support totaling $200,000 a month.”