Eye on Extremism: March 13, 2019

France 24: Thousands Surrender As IS Group Nears Defeat In Syria

“Around 3,000 Islamic State members have surrendered from the group's last holdout in Syria, Kurdish-led forces said Tuesday, as air raids and shelling resumed after a brief lull. A ragged tent encampment in the eastern Syrian village of Baghouz is all that remains of a once-sprawling IS group's "caliphate" declared in 2014 across large swathes of Syria and neighbouring Iraq. The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have been trying to crush holdout IS fighters for weeks but the mass outpouring of men, women and children from the riverside hamlet has bogged down its advance. Backed by the US-led coalition, the SDF renewed its assault Sunday after warning remaining IS fighters their time was up. Air strikes and shelling have since pummelled Baghouz three nights in a row, killing scores of fighters and prompting hundreds of jihadists and their relatives to surrender.”

The Guardian: ISIS Releases Video Of Fighters In Baghuz As Kurdish Forces Advance

“Islamic State fighters have released a video from the Syrian town of Baghuz, saying “tomorrow we will be in paradise” and urging their followers to remain steadfast as Kurdish forces edge towards the pocket of ruins that shelters the remaining Isis diehards. The video is one of few released by the militant group in recent months and attempts to depict the holdouts as composed and resilient in the face of a five-year war that is now in its final days. Footage of a small group of fighters gathered around a pot of food is in stark contrast to the slickly produced videos that marked Isis’s earlier years, in which it regularly rallied followers to join a utopia styled on seventh-century Islamic precepts. In the two-minute film, put together during one of many lulls in fighting as Kurdish forces have closed in, a militant who identified himself as Abu Abid al-Azeem claimed the group had been persecuted since it overran eastern Syria and western Iraq five years ago. “What is our guilt? What is our crime?” he said. “Why are we bombed by planes, why do all the nations of the unbelieving world come together to fight us? Why are we besieged, why are we bombarded day and night, and the world is silent, instead gathering together to fight and make war on us? We wanted to apply sharia law.”

The Wall Street Journal: Israel Says Hezbollah Operative Is Setting Up A Terror Network In Golan Heights

“Israel said a Hezbollah operative accused of killing U.S. troops is establishing a terror network in the disputed Golan Heights, spotlighting threats the militant group poses to its security as the Netanyahu government pushes for sovereignty over the strategic area. The U.S. charged Ali Mussa Daqduq with orchestrating the 2007 kidnapping and murder of five American soldiers in Iraq. But Iraq released him from custody in 2012 because of what officials said was lack of convincing evidence against him, despite the Obama administration pushing Baghdad to hold him accountable. There have been conflicting reports of the Hezbollah commander’s whereabouts since his release. On Tuesday, Israeli intelligence officials said Mr. Daqduq resurfaced on the Syrian-controlled side of the Golan Heights about six months ago and began efforts to set up a network of the Iran-allied militant group on its borders—eventually to launch attacks into Israel. Israeli officials said they hope exposing Mr. Daqduq’s activities would pressure Syrian President Bashar al Assad to get the group out of the area.”

NBC New York: New York Prosecutors Charge Georgia Woman With Conspiring To Support ISIS, Including Publishing 'Kill Lists': Authorities

“Federal prosecutors in New York announced charges Tuesday against a woman accused of recruiting cyber supporters to an online group that published “kill lists” on behalf of the Islamic State. Kim Anh Vo was arrested in Georgia Tuesday and scheduled to appear in federal court in Augusta, Georgia, on charges of conspiring to provide material support to the designated foreign terrorist organization Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, commonly referred to as ISIS. According to a criminal complaint, Vo joined an online group called the United Cyber Caliphate that pledged allegiance to Islamic State Group and spread propaganda on its behalf and committed to carrying out online attacks and cyber intrusions against Americans. Additionally, according to the complaint, on or about April 21, 2016, the United Cyber Caliphate group posted online the names, addresses and other identifying information of about 3,602 people in the New York City area, including residents. The list was posted along with the message: “List of most important citizens of #New York and #Brooklyn and some other cities MORE THAN #3000 NAME We Want them #Dead.”

Voice Of America: US Official: Iranian Regime Wants Iraq To Become A Province Of Iran  

“U.S. Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, blasted Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's visit to Iraq and accused his government of trying to control Iraq by fueling sectarian conflict in the country. In an interview with Alhurrha TV, Hook said Rouhani's visit is not in the best interest of the Iraqi people, adding that Iran does not support the security and sovereignty of Iraq. “When President Rouhani comes into Iraq, you have to question the motive,” Hook said Monday. “I think what Iran would ultimately like to see happen is Iraq turn into a province of Iran so that they can create a military highway across the northern Middle East that the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps can use to ferry missiles and weapons.” Hook said Iran is “the last revolutionary regime on earth,” and it is trying to further destabilize the Middle East by reinforcing the sectarian divide. “The Iranian regime wants to replace a national identity. They want to dissolve it and replace it with a Shi'ite identity. This has been the core of their foreign policy to create sectarian divisions. They want to do that in Iraq, as well.” The U.S. official's comments come as Rouhani arrived in Baghdad Monday and met with his counterpart, President Barham Salih, as a part of his three-day state visit to Iraq aimed at bolstering Tehran's influence and increasing commercial ties with Iraq.”

The New York Times: British Panel Calls For Stricter Antitrust Rules On Tech Giants

“The expanding power of technology companies has become a talking point in the United States presidential race, a subject of debate in India and a top focus of regulators in the European Union. Now, Britain is adding its voice to the worldwide backlash. Big Tech is reducing consumer choice and harming innovation, according to a British government report released on Wednesday. The government, as a result, needs to overhaul its antitrust policies. The 150-page report, ordered by the chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, the country’s top treasury official, said the country needed stricter rules on acquisitions in the technology industry and stronger oversight to make sure that new rivals cannot be squashed. “There isn’t sufficient competition today,” said Jason Furman, a professor of economic policy at Harvard who led the group behind the report and a former top economic adviser to President Barack Obama. Addressing that, he said, “is one of the most important economic policy questions” in the world today.”

United States

The Washington Post: Trump: ‘Very Seriously’ Considering Designating Mexican Drug Cartels As Terrorists

“President Trump in an interview published Tuesday said his administration is thinking “very seriously” about designating Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations. “We are. We are,” Trump told Breitbart News. “We’re thinking about doing it very seriously. In fact, we’ve been thinking about it for a long time… As terrorists — as terrorist organizations, the answer is yes. They are.” His comments come in the wake of his declaration of a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border last month, a move designed to spend more money on border barriers than authorized by Congress. According to the State Department, a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) must be a foreign organization that either practices or has the means to practice terrorism and “threatens the security of United States nationals or the national security of the United States.” Republican lawmakers have pushed legislation to allow such a designation for drug cartels. Last month, Reps. Mark Green (R-Tenn.) and Chip Roy (R-Tex.) presented a similar proposal to the State Department, seeking to apply terrorist sanctions on cartel members and third parties providing them assistance.”

Syria

CNN: Thousands Of ISIS Troops Surrender Amid Attack On Final Stronghold In Syria

“More than 3,000 ISIS fighters have surrendered amid a pitched battle by US-backed forces to retake the last ISIS stronghold in Syria. Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) spokesman Mustafa Bali claimed by Tuesday evening the number of ISIS members who had laid down arms had “risen to 3,000.” Bali added that three Yazidi women and four children had been rescued as well. It comes amid a heavy fighting in the Syrian town of Baghouz, the last bit of territory in Syria and Iraq claimed by the Islamic State. A CNN team in Syria witnessed intense shelling of the town throughout Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning, but so far the SDF have resisted providing details as to how they expect the remaining ISIS fighter to hold out. In a statement on Twitter Tuesday, Bali said the “decisive moment is closer than ever before.” He claimed the ISIS fighters in the city were “surrendering en masse.” Earlier in the day, the spokesman had claimed two weapons depots had been destroyed in the attacks, which killed 38 ISIS combatants. At its height, ISIS controlled huge swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq. The US-led coalition has been working for years to oust the group from cities and towns. Before the recent attack began in February, SDF officials estimated that 1,500 civilians and 500 ISIS fighters remained but after the battle began it became clear that the actual number was much higher.”

Reuters: After Defeating Islamic State, Syrian Kurds Eye Political Battle

“Syrian Kurdish authorities that led the fight against Islamic State are prepping for their next battle: a political struggle to win international recognition for their autonomous region and aid to help it recover from the war. Islamic State’s territorial defeat in Syria marks a critical moment for Kurdish forces who partnered with Washington to fight the jihadists. They now hope Western military allies will lend them political support.  Victory over Islamic State at Baghouz, a shred of land at the Iraqi border, will herald “a new phase”, said Badran Jia Kurd, advisor to the Kurdish-led administration running north and east Syria. “There will be efforts and a struggle to gain political legitimacy for this administration ... and towards finding a peaceful solution” to the Syrian conflict, he told Reuters during an interview in Qamishli.  The main Kurdish parties and their allies hold nearly a quarter of the country - the biggest chunk outside the hands of President Bashar al-Assad’s government. Their control is underpinned by a large military force, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which the Kurdish YPG militia spearheads.  But while the SDF has developed close ties with the United States, Washington has balked at extending political recognition to the authorities seeking autonomous rule.”

Iran

Reuters: Iran Threatens Defence Overhaul To Counter 'Suspicious Nuclear Projects'

“A senior Iranian security official on Wednesday accused regional powers of spending money on “suspicious nuclear projects”, and warned that such threats would force Tehran to revise its defence strategy. Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, did not name the countries - but a proposed transfer of U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia has raised concerns in Tehran.  The United States, Israel and other allies say Iran’s own nuclear programme is a threat to global security. Iran insists its atomic work is entirely peaceful, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued a religious decree against the development of nuclear weapons.  “Some countries in the region are spending their petro-dollars on suspicious nuclear projects that can endanger the security of the region and the world,” Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, was quoted as saying by Fars news agency.  “New threats like this will force us to revise our strategy based on the nature and geography of new threats, and predict the requirements of our country and armed forces,” he added.”

Iraq

The Telegraph: Iraq To Take Back 20,000 Who Left For Isil's Caliphate In Syria

“Iraq has agreed to take back up to 20,000 of its nationals who were captured leaving Isil areas in Syria, as local authorities warn they are struggling with the burden of foreign jihadists. The number includes women and children as well as a small number of fighters, according to officials from the Red Cross. Most are being held in al-Hol camp in Kurdish-held northern Syria, where authorities are scrabbling to accommodate the 65,000 who recently fled Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s final stronghold of Baghuz. More than 100 people have died in the camps, or on their way to it, including the three-week old son of 19-year-old runaway schoolgirl from Bethnal Green Shamima Begum. "Among the people who reached al-Hol camp you have a significant number of people who are of Iraqi origin. Figures are not official but probably we are talking about 20,000, including women and children," Fabrizio Carboni, ICRC regional director for the Middle East, told Reuters.”

Iraqi News: Iraqi Security Seize Islamic State Arms Depot In Anbar

“Iraqi security forces seized on Tuesday an arms depot of Islamic State terrorist group in al-Qa’im district in the western province of Anbar. “A huge cache of home-made explosives charge and mortar shells were found inside the depot,” Almaalomah news website quoted the Iraqi Military Intelligence Directorate as saying in a press statement. “All the explosive charges were detonated at the scene by specialized troops,” the statement read, adding that the ammunition was left by IS militants after their defeat at the hands of the Iraqi army in 2017. Iraq declared the collapse of Islamic State’s territorial influence in November 2017 with the recapture of Rawa, a city on Anbar’s western borders with Syria, which was the group’s last bastion in Iraq. IS declared a self-styled “caliphate” in a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria in 2014. A government campaign, backed by a U.S.-led international coalition and paramilitary forces, was launched in 2016 to retake IS-held regions, managing to retake all havens, most notably the city of Mosul, the group’s previously proclaimed capital.”

Radio Free Europe: No IS Kids Left Behind: Tajikistan To Repatriate Dozens Of Islamic State Children From Iraq

“As Islamic State's attempt to establish a caliphate crumbles, many countries are turning their backs on children born into the extremist group. Tajikistan is not one of those countries. “We're planning to bring them home,” the country's ambassador to Iraq and Kuwait, Zubaidullo Zubaidzoda, told RFE/RL. Hundreds of Tajik citizens went to Iraq and Syria to join Islamic State (IS), according to authorities, and Dushanbe has been known to take a relatively forgiving approach to the issue. In 2015, the Tajik government offered an amnesty to those who voluntarily returned and renounced violence, seeing it as an opportunity to warn citizens of the dangers of joining ranks with radical Islam. Now, with IS's once-formidable swath of territory encompassing large parts of Iraq and Syria having been reduced to a final foothold in eastern Syria, the question of what to do with fighters and their families left stranded and oftentimes stateless abroad has become more pressing. As governments publicly ponder their options, cases of IS family members seeking to return to the homelands they spurned have grabbed headlines. A New Jersey-born woman known as the “ISIS Bride” and who once made calls on social media to murder Americans has sued over the right to return with her toddler son to the United States, which has rejected her claim to birthright citizenship.”

Afghanistan

The New York Times: 2 Weeks Of U.S.-Taliban Talks End With ‘Progress’ But No Breakthrough

“Although more than two weeks of talks between the United States and the Taliban ended Tuesday without a breakthrough, two American officials said they were close to a final agreement on one crucial element to a framework for ending the long war: a Taliban promise to not allow terrorist attacks from Afghanistan. The officials also said they had made substantial progress on a second element, detailing a plan for the withdrawal of American troops. The chief American peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, was expected to fly back to Washington on Tuesday night to brief Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “My time here was well spent,” Mr. Khalilzad said as he left the talks. “We made progress, and we had detailed discussions to reach an understanding on issues that are difficult and complicated.” The Taliban continued an internal meeting after the American negotiators left the resort in Doha, where the talks have taken place under tight security. “This round of talks saw extensive and detailed discussions taking place regarding two issues that were agreed upon during January talks,” Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, said in a statement. “Those two issues were the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Afghanistan and preventing anyone from harming others from Afghan soil.”

The Washington Post: Afghan Journalist Wounded In Bombing; 10 Troops Killed

“An Afghan journalist who has long received death threats was seriously wounded in a bombing in the country’s south, while in the western province of Farah, the Taliban stormed an army checkpoint and killed 10 soldiers, officials said Wednesday. Also in Farah, a local official was gunned down outside his home on Wednesday, a councilman said. The attacks were the latest violence in war-torn Afghanistan even as the Taliban and the U.S. concluded another round of negotiations held in Qatar, with both sides reporting progress in the talks. Radio and TV journalist Nesar Ahmad Ahmadi was wounded when a sticky bomb attached to his car exploded as he was heading to work in Helmand province. Omar Zwak, the governor’s spokesman, said the attack happened on Tuesday in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital. Ahmadi had a leg wound and was transferred to Kabul for further treatment, the spokesman said. He runs the Sabahoon radio station and is also a reporter for Sabahoon TV in Helmand. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack in Helmand, the Taliban heartland. Afghan journalists are often targeted in attacks. In January, the Afghan Journalist Safety Committee said in its annual report that it had recorded a total of 121 cases of violence against journalists and media workers in 2018.”

Reuters: Taliban Pile Pressure On Afghan Government Forces In West

“Taliban fighters have stepped up pressure on Afghan forces in the western province of Badghis, killing 20 soldiers and capturing 20, an official said on Tuesday, as the militants make advances even as they hold peace talks with U.S. officials.  A large number of Taliban insurgents launched attacks on several army posts in the province’s Bala Murghab district, beginning on Saturday night, said Qais Mangal, spokesman for the defense ministry in Kabul. ”The fighting is still on,” Mangal said, adding that the Taliban had overrun four posts and government reinforcement backed by air support had been sent to prevent the whole area from falling to the insurgents. A member of the Badghis provincial council, Abdul Aziz Beg, said 20 soldiers had been killed, 10 wounded and 20 captured by the hardline Islamist group. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks in Badghis, which is on the border with Turkmenistan. Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said 20 soldiers had been killed, 28 captured and a large supply of weapons and ammunition seized. The Taliban, ousted in 2001, say they are fighting to expel foreign troops, topple the Western-backed Afghan government and restore their version of Islamic law.”

NBC News: U.S., Taliban Peace Talks Produce Draft Deal On 2 Issues, Trump Envoy Says

“The United States and the Taliban now have a draft agreement on two thorny issues that signals concrete progress toward a peace deal to end the 17-year-old war in Afghanistan, U.S. presidential envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said Tuesday. After two weeks of talks in the Qatari capital of Doha, the top U.S. diplomat overseeing negotiations with the Taliban said the two sides have hammered out a draft agreement on the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and a commitment from the insurgents to cut all ties with al Qaeda or other terrorist groups. “Peace requires agreement on four issues: counter-terrorism assurances, troop withdrawal, intra-Afghan dialogue, and a comprehensive ceasefire,” Khalilzad said in a series of tweets. “In January talks, we 'agreed in principle' on these four elements. We're now “agreed in draft” on the first two,” the U.S. diplomat wrote, referring to promises from the Taliban to sever links to terrorists and from the U.S. to pull out American forces. When the draft agreement on the two issues is finalized, the Taliban and the Afghan government — as well as other Afghan representatives — “will begin intra-Afghan negotiations on a political settlement and comprehensive ceasefire,” he tweeted. Khalilzad said the talks had produced genuine progress.”

Radio Free Europe: At Least 13 Troops Killed, 12 Captured In Taliban Attacks On Afghan Army Posts

“Taliban fighters have launched attacks on several army posts in western Afghanistan, killing at least 13 Afghan soldiers, officials say. Jamshid Shahabi, a spokesman for Badghis Province's governor, said on March 12 that 42 militants were also killed and 15 troops were wounded in the fighting in the province bordering Turkmenistan. The fate of a dozen other soldiers is unknown, according to Shahabi. Defense Ministry spokesman Qais Mangal said that government reinforcements backed by air support had been sent to Bala Murghab district after the Taliban launched its offensive late on March 9. He said that a total of 20 soldiers were killed and 20 others were captured in the battles. The Taliban overran four posts, Mangal said, adding that the fighting was “still on.” Taliban spokesman Qari Yousof Ahmadi confirmed that the group was behind the attack, saying that 28 soldiers were captured. The offensive comes as U.S. and Taliban negotiators are holding peace talks in Qatar aimed at ending the nearly 18-year war in Afghanistan. The Western-backed government in Kabul has been absent from the negotiations, with the Taliban insisting it will not engage with a Western “puppet.”

The National: Taliban Rule Returns To Haunt Afghan Women In Country's North

“The day she was flogged by members of the Taliban, Maryam was making her way to the local bazaar to shop for groceries – her face uncovered.  The 32-year-old housewife was born and raised in Afghanistan's Sancharak district in Sar-i-pul – a northern province, where the Taliban shadow police has tried for some time to return to. “I was on my way to the city [centre] when we saw the Taliban coming,” said Maryam, whose name has been changed to protect her identity. “Some people started to run, but I didn’t get the chance. One of them came up to me and three others and asked us: why aren’t you wearing a burqa?,” she recalled, referring to the long garment imposed by the Taliban, which covers women from head to toe. As quickly as they appeared, the men issued their verdict – Maryam and three other women were to receive 30 lashes for stepping out in public without a burqa. “I was speechless. I am not sure how many times I was lashed, I lost count after a while. The pain was too unbearable,” she said. Meanwhile, a crowd gathered to witness the impromptu trial. According to local reports, however, a group of men stepped forward to stop the Taliban. While Maryam was unable to corroborate this, Zabiullah Amany, the governor's spokesman said that several male residents tried helping many of the women arrested by the Taliban.”

Pakistan

Greater Kashmir: Pakistan Assures US To Deal ‘Firmly’ With All Militants, Says NSA Bolton

“Pakistan has assured the US that it will deal “firmly” with all militants operating from the country and take steps to de-escalate tensions with India, according to National Security Adviser John Bolton. The assurance was given by Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi during a phone call on Monday, Bolton said on a day when Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale called on US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo here and discussed the need to bringing those responsible for the Pulwama attack to justice and the urgency of Pakistan taking meaningful action against militant groups operating on its soil. “Spoke with Pakistani FM Qureshi to encourage meaningful steps against JeM and other militant groups operating from Pakistan,” Bolton said in a tweet. “The FM assured me that Pakistan would deal firmly with all militants and will continue steps to de-escalate tensions with India,” he said. Tensions flared up between India and Pakistan after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) killed 40 CRPF personnel in Kashmir's Pulwama district on February 14. In Islamabad, Pakistan's Foreign Office said the purpose of Qureshi's call was to provide Bolton Pakistan's perspective on the “recent regional developments.”

Yemen

Asharq Al-Awsat: Houthis Attack Redeployment Team In Hodeidah

“The Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen attacked on Tuesday the government team of the Redeployment Coordination Committee in Yemen’s Hodeidah city, reported the Saudi Press Agency. The militants fired a Katyusha rocket at the gatherers of a meeting that was preparing to carry out the first phase of the redeployment. A source from the government team accused the Houthis of seeking to obstruct any positive effort by the legitimate government to salvage the Sweden deal on Hodeidah. He added that today’s attack “was not the first and may not be last”. The Houthis had previously targeted former head of the redeployment team, Patrick Cammaert, by opening fire at his convoy in Hodeidah.”

The National: Yemen Baha'i Leader Faces Unjust Trial By Houthi Rebels

“A prominent Yemeni Baha’i leader is expected to appear in a Houthi court on Tuesday, amid international concerns of rebel persecution against the religious minority group. Hamed bin Haydara, 52, who has been in Houthi detention in Sanaa since 2013, was sentenced to death by a Houthi court for charges of espionage and apostasy. UN human rights representatives have called for the rebels to overturn his death sentence. “Hamed Haydara has been falsely charged with spying for Israel and for forging official documents,” a Yemeni government official told The National. Over 100 Baha’is, including six prominent members, being held by the rebels have been tried on charges the minority says are false. Yemen’s internationally recognised government has repeatedly pushed for their release but the rebels are yet to respond.”

Middle East

The Jerusalem Post: Senior Hamas Member Encourages Children To Join Terrorist Organizations

“A senior Hamas member has encouraged Palestinian children to be martyrs and join terrorist organization in a video published on the Hamas public broadcaster in Gaza. In the video, published by The Middle East Media Research Institute, shows the Hamas member as saying that they “will teach our kids in the kindergartens, the elementary schools, and the middle schools how to move forward and liberate their lands. “Oh the youth of Palestine, oh the youth of Gaza, you should join the Al-Quds and Al-Qassam, the mujahideen [Jihadists] and the freeman wherever they may be,” he said encouraging them to join the internationally recognized terrorist organizations. The senior Hamas member also made “the Jews are vanquished, they have been defeated,” he told a large crowd. “Those who stood by them out of despair will not save them from us, from our weapons, and from our land marches.” He also slammed Arab countries that have chosen to have “normalize their ties [with Israel] overtly or covertly” saying that they “will not succeed” or be “victorious.” “You shall be buried in the trash heaps of history...alongside Allah’s enemies - the Jews,” the Hamas member added.”

Egypt

The North Africa Post: Egypt: 46 Militants, Three Soldiers Killed In Shootouts In Sinai-Army

“The Egyptian army said it has eliminated 46 militants in the restive Sinai province in several gun battles that also claimed lives of three soldiers. The army in February last year launched an operation in the Sinai province to flash out Islamist state fighters and other militant groups. In a video recording made public Monday, the army said it lost three soldiers but killed 46 fighters whom it branded “dangerous”. “Over the last period” the campaign had resulted in “the elimination of 46 very dangerous members of terrorist elements during exchanges of fire in the north and central Sinai…,” the army said without elaborating on the places and the dates of the clashes. The army added that it arrested about 100 fighters and seized over 30 cars, scooters and 200 explosive devices. Hundreds of fighters have been killed since the outset of the campaign, according to the army’s figures. Al-Sisi had ordered the army to use “brute” force in the Sinai province operation. The move was denounced by human rights organizations, which accused the North African country of carrying out extrajudicial executions and of trying civilians in military courts as part of the crackdown.”

Nigeria

Daily Post Nigeria: Boko Haram: Troops Foil Attack On Military Base In Borno

“Troops of 152 Battalion, on Tuesday, killed some members of the Boko Haram terrorists when they attempted to infiltrate their location around Bula-Yobe, Banki axis in Borno State. A statement by Deputy Director Public Relations, 7 Division, Colonel Ado Isa, indicated that the terrorists came in with several gun trucks mounted with Anti Aircraft Guns and motorcycles. “The troops engaged the terrorists with superior fire power and inflicted heavy casualty on the BHTs and their equipment. “The fierce gun battle set confusion and disorganisation in the terrorists camp, withdrawing in disarray while the troops gave them a hot pursuit. “In that process, unconfirmed number of terrorists were neutralised while several others fled with gunshot wounds,” he said. He added that a Gun Truck mounted with Anti Aircraft Gun and several motorcycles belonging to the BHTs were destroyed, while one Gun truck mounted with Anti Aircraft Gun and Mortar Carrier were captured from the terrorists.”

The Cable Nigeria: Boko Haram ‘In Disarray, Fighters Stranded’

“The Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) in Chad says the leadership of the Boko Haram insurgent group is currently overwhelmed and in disarray. Timothy Antigha, chief of military public information of the MNJTF, confirmed this in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday. Antigha said the group was overwhelmed after a sustained air and land attacks in the ongoing “Operation Yancin Tafki’’ in the Lake Chad region. He also said ex-fighters, who were “receiving humane attention divulged that morale and fighting spirit of the group’s fighters is very low.’ Antigha quoted the ex-fighters as saying the development is as a result of growing insecurity and inability to replenish stranded fighters in the islands with food, medicine and ammunition. The MNJTF spokesman said an integral part of the operation is a series of well “coordinated day and night Human Intelligence as well as Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions.’’ He said the missions were being conducted by the air forces of the Lake Chad Basin countries- Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria. Antigha explained that this led to devastating air interdiction which destroyed Boko Haram logistic facilities and fighters in Tumbum, Gini, Abadam, Arege, Tumbun rego and Dagaya environs between March 7 and March 11.”

Somalia

CNN: US Conducts Airstrike In Somalia After Troops Come Under Attack

“The US military conducted an airstrike in Somalia on Monday after a Somali-led force and its accompanying US military advisers were attacked by Al-Shabaab militants. The strike killed eight Al-Shabaab fighters, US Africa Command, which oversees US military operations on the continent, said Tuesday. “US service members were present during the ground operation in an advisory capacity. All US service members are accounted for and are unharmed,” the statement added. The US has approximately 500 troops in Somalia, primarily in advisory roles. At least 244 fighters from the al Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shabaab have been killed in 25 airstrikes so far in 2019, according to figures released by US Africa Command. The US military estimates that Al-Shabaab commands over 4,000 fighters. There has been a significant increase in US airstrikes in Somalia since President Donald Trump authorized the military to carry out precision strikes targeting Al-Shabaab in March 2017 in an effort to bolster the Somali government. Prior to that the US military was authorized to conduct airstrikes only in defense of advisers on the ground. In all of 2018, the US conducted 47 airstrikes targeting Al-Shabaab, killing about 338 militants.”

North Korea

Jerusalem Post: Expert: N. Korea Summit Shows Need To Stop Iran From Getting Nukes

“The absence of a deal and the dynamics of the February North Korea-US summit in Vietnam showed the importance of stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, INSS Arms Control Director Emily Landau has said. In a recent INSS post she co-authored with former senior foreign ministry official Shimon Stein, Landau wrote that, “For the international community the lesson is clear: Iran must be stopped before it reaches its goal.” Evaluating the outcome of the summit with North Korea, she wrote that the process “underscores that negotiating with a nuclear state is very different from negotiating with a state that has not yet achieved this goal.” “For Iran, the North Korean experience further underscores the strategic significance of achieving a nuclear weapons capability,” which, like with Pyongyang, would give the Islamic Republic “significant leverage over anyone who would have it back down.” In other words, US President Donald Trump held his own by not giving in to North Korea’s demands, but he also was unable to find a pressure point to get Pyongyang to accept his demands and must walk lightly since it is already a nuclear power.”

China

The Wall Street Journal: Navy, Industry Partners Are ‘Under Cyber Siege’ By Chinese Hackers, Review Asserts

“The Navy and its industry partners are “under cyber siege” by Chinese hackers and others who have stolen tranches of national security secrets in recent years, exploiting critical weaknesses that threaten the U.S.’s standing as the world’s top military power, an internal Navy review has concluded. The assessment, delivered to Navy Secretary Richard Spencer last week and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, depicts a branch of the armed forces under relentless cyberattack by foreign adversaries and struggling in its response to the scale and sophistication of the problem. Drawing from extensive research and interviews with senior officials across the Trump administration, the tone of the review is urgent and at times dire, offering a rare, unfiltered look at the military’s cybersecurity liabilities.”

United Kingdom

BBC News: Colin Duffy And Two Others Appear Over Terrorist-Related Offences

“Three men, including Lurgan republican Colin Duffy, have gone on trial accused of a range of terrorist-related offences connected to a gun attack on the PSNI in 2013. The three accused are Colin Duffy, Harry Fitzsimons, 50, and Alex McCrory, 57. All three deny all of the charges. Mr Duffy, 51, is accused of preparing and directing terrorism and being in the IRA. Mr Fitzsimons is accused of attempting to murder members of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in the Crumlin Road area of Belfast on 5 December 2013. Harry Fitzsimons, 50, is accused of attempting to murder members of the PSNI He is also accused of having two AK47 assault rifles and ammunition with intent to endanger life, as well as preparing and directing terrorism, and being in the IRA. Mr McCrory is accused of attempting to murder members of the PSNI in the Crumlin Road in Belfast on 5 December 2013. He is also accused of having two AK47 assault rifles and ammunition with intent to endanger life, as well as preparing and directing terrorism and being in the IRA. The men appeared before Belfast Crown Court. A prosecution barrister told the court that three PSNI vehicles were travelling in convoy when they were attacked in 2013.”

The Week: An Extremist Irish Nationalist Group Has Claimed Responsibility For Sending Explosives To The U.K.

“An extremist Irish nationalist group calling itself the Irish Republican Army has claimed responsibility for sending five explosive devices to different places in the United Kingdom last Tuesday. Parcels capable of “igniting small fires” were found at London's Heathrow and City airports, and another at Waterloo train station, the country's busiest train hub, reports The Guardian. A fourth device was also sent to the University of Glasgow, where police orchestrated a controlled explosion. The fifth device, if it exists, has not been discovered. The three London devices did not ignite and no one was injured in any of the cases. Metropolitan police began investigating the origins of the devices last week. The packages were labeled with Irish stamps that read “Love Eire N.” (Eire is the Irish word for Ireland.) On Monday, the Irish News received a tip using a recognized IRA code word, in which the dissident group claimed responsibility for the bombs. Police in the U.K. were already considering the possibility of IRA involvement — specifically a group known as the New IRA, a splinter group that has remained intermittently active since rejecting the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, a ceasefire and peace treaty signed by Ireland, the U.K., and numerous factions within both countries (including the IRA), which was signed in 1998 following three decades of conflict.”

Europe

The Wall Street Journal: Brussels Jewish Museum Terrorist Sentenced to Life in Jail

“A French-Algerian man found guilty last week of murder in a terrorist shooting at the Jewish Museum of Brussels was sentenced to life in prison, concluding the first conviction of a European who joined Islamic State in Syria and returned to stage attacks. Mehdi Nemmouche, 33, who was convicted Thursday of killing four people in May 2014, received the maximum possible sentence, but could be released from prison under surveillance in as soon as 15 years. “Life goes on,” Nemmouche said in court before the sentence was read, according to Belgian state broadcaster RTBF. Nemmouche’s accomplice, Nacer Bendrer, was sentenced to 15 years for supplying him with the weapons for the attack. He could be released after five years. The decision, reached after roughly eight hours of deliberation, was read out late Monday night, according to RTBF. The European Jewish Congress said “this appropriate sentence sends a message that terror and anti-Semitic attacks will be judged to the fullest extent of the law.” In surveillance videos, some shown at the trial, a masked attacker identified by prosecutors as Nemmouche carried two duffel bags into the museum. He pointed a gun and shot an Israeli couple.”

Southeast Asia

New Straits Times: 13 Malaysians Who Joined Islamic State Want To Come Home

“A group of 13 Malaysians who left to join the terrorist group Islamic State (IS) to fight in Syria are now itching to return to Malaysia. The 13 are caught in the all-out offensive by the United States-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) against IS fighters in eastern Syria and some have contacted their families pleading to return home. Al-Jazeera reported that Malaysian police were working with the Syrian authorities to bring them back home. The news agency, quoting Special Branch counterterrorism unit head Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, reported that as the offensive was entering its final stage, more Malaysians were longing to return home. “We are trying to bring them home. “But, you know, the situation is difficult as it involves many parties from different countries,” he told Al Jazeera. Ayob Khan said Muslim leaders and psychologists would evaluate the returnees’ ideology, even as some countries are attempting to strip former fighters and their families of citizenship and prevent them from returning. Malaysia has made it clear that its citizens would be allowed to come back, provided they comply with checks and enforcement, and completed a one-month government-run rehabilitation programme."

The Straits Times: Wife Of Militant Detonates Bomb, Killing Herself And Her Children In North Sumatra Siege

“The wife of arrested Indonesian militant Husain alias Abu Hamzah detonated a bomb that killed herself and her children early Wednesday morning (March 13) inside a house besieged by police in Sibolga, North Sumatra. Police chief Tito Karnavian said late on Tuesday three children were inside the house, and police on Wednesday said the children died in the blast. “A team from the detachment 88 anti terror squad and local community leaders in Sibolga had spent 10 hours persuading her to surrender. We made a strong appeal, stressing minors were involved,” Brig-Gen Dedi said. The blast occurred at about 1.30am local time. Police arrested Husain on Tuesday after a raid in Lampung, in southern Sumatra, over the weekend, where a militant identified as initial R alias P was nabbed. He and Husein are believed to be members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group and had planned to launch attacks on police among others. Not long after the arrest of Husain on Tuesday, bomb explosions from the besieged house injured a police officer. “In the Lampung raid, we found bombs similar to those we found in Sibolga,” Dedi said, as well as materials used to make bombs. Tito said two more people were arrested in Sibolga, in addition to Husain.”

The Straits Times: Malaysia Govt Seeks To Scrap Mandatory Death Penalty For Terrorism, Murder

“The Malaysian government will seek to scrap the mandatory death penalty for 11 offences including committing acts of terrorism, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin said in parliament on Wednesday (March 13), according to Malaysian media. Five of the offences pertain to terrorism including directing and committing terror acts, while the rest cover murder, hostage-taking, organised crime, offences against the constitutional monarch, and the use of firearms, media reports said. “The government will suggest to replace the mandatory death penalty as provided for in the Penal Code and Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act with the death penalty on the court's discretion,” Mohamed Hanipa was quoted as saying in response to a question by opposition MP Che Abdullah Mat Nawi. Mohamed Hanipa noted that the move would fulfill one of the 27 promises made by the Pakatan Harapan government in last year's general eleection. However, he said there was no decision about the creation of a parliamentary committee to study the abolishment of the death penalty.”

Technology

Mother Jones: How Facebook And Amazon Help Hate Groups Raise Money

“Facebook and Amazon appear to be helping hate groups fundraise through philanthropy tools hosted on their platforms. Mother Jones found dozens of white supremacist and anti-LGBTQ organizations that appear to have access to Facebook’s Fundraiser tool, which lets users and organizations collect money for non-profits. One beneficiary is the National Policy Institute, the think tank of alt-right figure Richard Spencer, which has peddled racist and white supremacist ideals. Other groups that appear to be part of Facebook’s fundraising portal include the white-nationalist website VDare and several Islamophobic organizations labeled as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), including the Christian Action Network and the Center for Security Policy. “This should not be going on.” AmazonSmile, a program through which Amazon donates 0.5% of eligible transactions to non-profits, appears to have filtered out some noxious groups—like VDare and the National Policy Institute—that Facebook allows users to donate to. But AmazonSmile includes a variety of state-level anti-LGBTQ non-profits affiliated with national organizations identified by the SPLC as anti-LGBTQ hate groups, including the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council.”