Eye on Extremism: May 10

The Wall Street Journal: Secret U.S. Missile Aims To Kill Only Terrorists, Not Nearby Civilians

“The U.S. government has developed a specially designed, secret missile for pinpoint airstrikes that kill terrorist leaders with no explosion, drastically reducing damage and minimizing the chances of civilian casualties, multiple current and former U.S. officials said. Both the Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon have used the weapon while closely guarding its existence. A modified version of the well-known Hellfire missile, the weapon carries an inert warhead. Instead of exploding, it is designed to plunge more than 100 pounds of metal through the tops of cars and buildings to kill its target without harming individuals and property close by. To the targeted person, it is as if a speeding anvil fell from the sky, the officials said. But this variant of the Hellfire missile, designated as the R9X, also comes equipped with a different kind of payload: a halo of six long blades that are stowed inside and then deploy through the skin of the missile seconds before impact to ensure that it shreds anything in its tracks.”

Voice Of America: IS Foreign Fighters Dispersing Via Loosely Aligned Networks

“It was Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka, and the joy and serenity filling the country's churches were about to be shattered by a series of suicide bombings soon to be claimed by the Islamic State terror group. Until that point, few counterterror officials or analysts had raised concerns about IS in Sri Lanka. Unlike other parts of the world where IS had established provinces, like in Afghanistan, Libya or the Philippines, there had been little IS-related propaganda in the South Asian island nation. Nor had Sri Lanka sent many fighters to IS's self-declared caliphate. Officials there had put the number at fewer than 40, warning an unspecified number had been under surveillance.  But U.S. intelligence officials quickly confirmed the April 21 attacks were at least inspired by IS. In the weeks since, Sri Lankan officials steadily built a case that the attackers had multiple connections to the terror group. "We are the victims of global terrorism," Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told parliament on May 7. "Even if we take all those involved in the organization in Sri Lanka into custody, the terrorists can use many ways to undermine the country."

NPR: Doctor Says Syrian Government Is Increasing Bombings Of Hospitals

“NPR's Steve Inskeep talks to Dr. Ahmad Tarakji, president of the Syrian American Medical Society, who says hospitals in Syria are being targeted during airstrikes conducted by government forces.”

Asia Times: ISIS ‘Caliphate’ Heading West

“When Islamic State’s self-styled “caliph,” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, reappeared last week in his first video message in five years, most observers focused on his attempt to rally what remains of his largely defeated group. Less attention was paid to an almost throwaway reference to two pledges of allegiance to the group from jihadist militias in the West African countries of Mali and Burkina Faso. But the intention of that second message was to reinforce the first. After being wiped out in Iraq and Syria, Islamic State (aka ISIS) is searching for other territories in which to operate, and the Sahel region is a prime candidate. Their presence has not gone unnoticed. In the same week that Baghdadi’s message appeared, German Chancellor Angela Merkel landed in those two countries, pledging nearly US$40 million in financial aid in addition to the nearly 1,000 German troops already stationed in the region, along with thousands more from France and other European nations. But the Europeans have their own domestic agenda in mind and their own reasons for fighting a quiet war in a distant land. As German Economic and Development Minister Gerd Müller explained, “If we don’t solve the problems in Africa, they will come to us.”

Daily Caller: Facebook Is Promoting ISIS Propaganda, Whistleblower Says

“Facebook is promoting Islamic State propaganda, a whistleblower alleges in a complaint Thursday to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The social media company is likely violating securities laws prohibiting companies from misleading shareholders and the public, according to a petition filed by the National Whistleblower Center (NWC). Facebook’s artificial intelligence system is failing, according to Hany Farid, a digital forensics expert at the University of California, Berkeley, who advises the Counter-Extremism Project. “The whole infrastructure is fundamentally flawed,” he told the AP. “And there’s very little appetite to fix it because what Facebook and the other social media companies know is that once they start being responsible for material on their platforms it opens up a whole can of worms.”

Forbes: Countering Online Extremism Is Too Important To Leave To Facebook

“Social media has a complicated history with terrorism. As groups like the Islamic State harnessed the power of social platforms for recruitment, incitement and propaganda, the initial response from Silicon Valley was to refuse government calls to take action in deference to terrorists’ free speech rights. In the face of overwhelming public pressure and threats of new legislation across the world, the Valley made an abrupt about-face and began actively touting its counter-terrorism efforts. Yet, whistle-blower claims that Facebook's counter-terrorism efforts are far from as successful as the company publicly claims and new reporting of just how pervasive and easily discoverable terrorism content is on Facebook reminds us how little we actually know about the success or failure of Silicon Valley’s counter-terrorism efforts.”

United States

U.S. News & World Report: Pittsburgh Synagogue Attack Inspires New Hate Crimes Bills

“Democratic lawmakers in Pennsylvania are introducing a package of hate-crimes bills that are inspired by a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that killed 11 worshippers. Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa said Thursday the October attack at the Tree of Life synagogue showed that Pennsylvania law has shortcomings on hate crimes and ethnic intimidation. Authorities say the man accused of the Tree of Life shootings, Robert Bowers, had expressed hatred of Jews. Among other things, the bills would require municipal police officers to be trained to investigate crimes of ethnic intimidation, commission a hate group database and provide the attorney general's office with jurisdiction to investigate crimes involving ethnic intimidation. Last month, the city of Pittsburgh approved firearms restrictions that gun rights advocates are challenging in court.”

ABC News: Gunman Told 911 'I Just Shot Up A Synagogue' After Attack

“As the 19-year-old college student sped away in his 2012 Honda Civic, he dialed 911 and said: "I just shot up a synagogue." He told the dispatcher that he thought he had killed some people and that he did it "because Jewish people are destroying the white race." The chilling account in a federal affidavit unsealed Thursday was the most detailed yet of a gunman's attack on a Southern California synagogue that killed a woman and wounded three others during Passover service last month in the San Diego suburb of Poway. It describes a deeply disturbed man filled with hatred who claimed to be inspired by the attacks on the mosques in New Zealand and the shooting at the Pittsburgh synagogue last fall. The Department of Justice filed 109 hate crime and other charges against the suspect, John T. Earnest, who could face the death penalty. The federal charges include murder for the killing of 60-year-old Lori Kaye, who was hit twice as she prayed in the foyer of the synagogue. It also includes charges for the attempted murder of 53 others. In a court appearance last month, Earnest pleaded not guilty to state charges of murder and attempted murder and in a separate case to an arson charge tied to a mosque fire.”

The New York Magazine: The Rise Of The Far Right Is A Global Security Threat

“When Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz was elected in 2017 on an anti-immigrant, anti-Islam, nationalist platform, many observers (including yours truly) feared that the new government would empower right-wing extremists; those fears were confirmed a few months later when the far-right Freedom Party joined Kurz’s coalition. The party took control of several key ministries, while its leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, became Kurz’s vice-chancellor. On Tuesday, the New York Times published a disturbing story on what the Freedom Party has been up to since then. Shortly after the party came to power, the Interior Ministry asked the anti-extremism unit of the domestic intelligence service to hand over the names of informants who had infiltrated the far-right community; the leader of that unit refused, and a few weeks later, “armed police burst into her office and carted away years’ worth of domestic files as well as intelligence from allied nations.” This bears repeating: A government ministry demanded that a domestic intelligence agency expose the identities of its informants in violent extremist groups to officials sympathetic to those groups and, when rebuffed, proceeded to seize files from the agency by force in an illegal police raid.”


NPR: Freed By Isis, Yazidi Mothers Face Wrenching Choice: Abandon Kids Or Never Go Home

“It's the night before a group of Yazidi women and children freed from ISIS in Syria cross the border home to Iraq. A pale young woman with shrapnel wounds stretches out on a mattress. An older woman in a velveteen housedress leans against the wall cradling her bandaged arm — broken by an ISIS wife who accused her of taking food in the last days of the caliphate. On the floor near a small heater warming the concrete room, a 5-year-old girl has been crying for so long that her sobs have turned to jagged coughs. Her mother, who is 22, sits on the floor holding the girl's head in her lap, smoothing the hair off her face as she cries. The woman's other hand reaches out to grasp the tiny fingers of her sleeping 2-year-old son. It will likely be the last night she will spend with both her children. Her daughter is the child of her Yazidi husband, murdered by ISIS. The boy, Ibrahim, the son of a Moroccan ISIS fighter who enslaved her, won't be allowed to go home with her. Five years after the ISIS genocide against the ancient Yazidi religious minority in northern Iraq, hundreds of women are being forced to choose between returning home and keeping their young children born as a result of rape by ISIS fighters.”

The Washington Post: Only Trump Can Save Syria’s Idlib, But Time Is Running Out

“There is little that can stop the brutal assault underway in northwest Syria, where Russian, Iranian and Assad regime forces have launched a major military offensive as millions of civilians flee for their lives. But the record shows that if President Trump acts to try to halt the slaughter, it will have real impact on the ground. Even a presidential tweet could save lives. Time is of the essence. There’s a lot going on right now in U.S. foreign policy. The Trump administration is dealing with an escalating Iran crisis, North Korea missile firings, a shaky China trade negotiation and an attempt to oust the Venezuelan regime. It’s no mere coincidence that Bashar al-Assad and Moscow chose this moment to retake the last rebel-held area of Syria using scorched-earth tactics, committing atrocities along the way."


The Washington Post: Iran Reduces Commitment To The Nuclear Deal Amid Increased U.S. Pressure

“On Wednesday, one year after the U.S. announcement of withdrawal from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and the resumption of sanctions, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that Iran would reduce its commitments but would not withdraw from the nuclear deal. Iran’s response was carefully calibrated and demonstrated considerable restraint. Highlighting Iran’s continued commitment to the deal, Rouhani stated that Iran would give remaining parties to the deal 60 days to uphold their end of the bargain before Iran would be forced to walk away. The president’s statement was reiterated in a letter sent by the Supreme National Security Council — a body that makes decisions based on consensus within the diplomatic and security circles — to the other states party to the nuclear deal. Iran’s move was a response to a year of increasing struggles with renewed sanctions, a new set of U.S. sanctions and several provocative U.S. threats. On April 8, President Trump designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization, increasing the risk of potential confrontation between U.S. troops and Iranian forces or proxies in the region.”

Times Of Israel: Hezbollah Blasts US Over New Iran Mining Sanctions

“The parliamentary bloc of Lebanese terror group Hezbollah has blasted the United States over new sanctions it imposed on Iran, describing them as “unjustified.” The bloc said in a statement Thursday that the US move against Iran shows the Trump administration’s “tyrannical and dictatorial trend.” Hezbollah, which is backed and armed by Iran and sees the destruction of Israel as its main mission, is represented in Lebanon’s cabinet and parliament and has been under US sanctions for many years. The group said in a statement Thursday that America’s unilateral sanctions do not respect international laws, and that Washington “behaves in accordance with the law of the jungle.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Jeffrey To Asharq Al-Awsat: We Want Full Iranian Withdrawal From Syria

“James Jeffrey, the US Special Representative for Syria Engagement and the Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, said that his country wanted a full Iranian withdrawal from Syria and would not allow Iran to “fill the void” in the northeast of the country. In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Jeffrey said Washington would continue to pressure Damascus and its allies through economic sanctions, a military presence in northeastern Syria and a halt to Arab and Western normalization until a “new political government is formed.” “We will continue to find different ways to pressure [Syria] until the regime decides to cooperate on the political process,” he said. “The solution is political; not military.”

CNN: David Petraeus: Iran's Economy Is In A 'Tailspin' And It Would Be 'Suicide' To Start A War With US

“The Trump administration doesn't want war with Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday, but he warned Tehran of a "swift and decisive" US response to any attack. Iran "has engaged in an escalating series of threatening actions and statements in recent weeks," Pompeo said in a statement, echoing Pentagon and unnamed US officials. He provided no specifics about the nature or scope of that threat, but other US officials have said that they've observed Iranian forces moving missiles around on boats. "The regime in Tehran should understand that any attacks by them or their proxies of any identity against US interests or citizens will be answered with a swift and decisive US response," said the top diplomat, who cut short overseas travel to fly back to Washington Wednesday for urgent meetings on the situation with Iran and North Korea.”


Iraqi News: IS Militants Attack House, Kill 8 Persons In Right Coast Of Mosul

“A security source informed, on Thursday, that eight persons were slaughtered by militants from the Islamic State group, when the latter attacked their house in the right coast of Mosul. The source said in a press statement that militants from the Islamic State group stormed the house of the elder of Kawar area, located in the right coast of the city of Mosul, while pointed out that the militants slaughtered the elder, his wife and his six sons. Security forces cordoned off the area, and transferred the bodies to the forensic medicine department, he further added. It is noteworthy that several sleeper cells of the Islamic State group are still hiding inside the city of Mosul, while security forces managed to arrest large number of them recently.”

Reuters: Islamic State Claims Responsibility For Baghdad Blast: Statement

“Islamic State claimed responsibility on Thursday for a blast in Baghdad, saying a suicide bomber had detonated an explosive vest in the northeastern Sadr City district of the Iraqi capital and killed eight people. “He, thanks to God almighty, entered into a gathering of infidels ... and detonated his vest, killing eight and wounding more than 10 others,” the group said in a statement.”

Rudaw: Iraq Not Keeping Up With Evolving ISIS: US Defense Department

“Police in Nineveh arrested five alleged members of the Islamic State (ISIS), accused of working for the group when it controlled the city of Mosul, the Iraqi Interior Ministry announced Wednesday night. Recent analysis of ISIS activities after the group was territorially defeated in Iraq and Syria reveals the militants have adapted to their change of circumstances, but Iraq’s security establishment has not similarly evolved its tactics in order to capably counter the group. Nineveh police acted on warrants for the five suspects, three of whom were allegedly members of ISIS’ judicial branch and the other two are accused of being members of the religious police known as Hisbah, Interior Ministry spokesperson Saad Maan announced. ISIS was declared defeated in Iraq in December 2017, but the group remains a serious security threat. The militants have returned to their underground insurgency roots, but with more sophistication as they seek to take advantage of divisions in Iraqi society.”

Kurdistan 24: Seven Children Of Dead ISIS Parents Reunited With Swedish Grandfather In Erbil

“Seven orphaned children whose parents were members of the Islamic State have been reunited with their grandfather in Erbil following their recent handover from Syrian Kurdish authorities to a Swedish delegation at the border between Syria and Iraq's Kurdistan Region. The Swedish team met with Syrian Kurdish officials recently after an agreement was struck to return the children, who were found after their parents had been killed in the town of Baghouz, the Islamic State's final former territory in Syria. Following the collapse of Baghouz, many of those who fled and were captured by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and have been settled in the sprawling al-Hol camp. The camp’s residents are living in harsh conditions as those placed there number far above the facility's capacity. It currently houses around 70,000 people, many of them women accused of Islamic State membership and their children. The seven children, Swedish nationals, were among these. Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström in April said his government was “working intensively so that children with a connection to Sweden who are in Syria get the help they need.”


The New York Times: Taliban Open New Front Against Aid Workers While Talking Peace

“As the Taliban opened a new front this week in the Afghan war by attacking American-backed aid organizations in Kabul, negotiators for the group and the United States were meeting in the latest round of talks on ending the war. The Taliban has struck aid organizations sparingly in the past, making the attacks on Wednesday at the offices of CARE and Counterpart International even more stark. At least nine people were killed and 20 others wounded, Afghan officials confirmed. The death toll was nearly double initial reports. A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, was quick to claim responsibility for the attack and to offer an explanation on Twitter: Counterpart International, which works largely on civic engagement projects, is American led and is financed primarily by the United States Agency for International Development. But neither Taliban nor American negotiators commented on the inherent contradiction in talking peace while attacking civilian targets. The Taliban had rejected pleas by the Afghan government and the Americans for a cease-fire during Ramadan, but they had promised to avoid civilian targets during the holy month.”

The New York Times: Taliban Open New Front Against Aid Workers While Talking Peace

“As the Taliban opened a new front this week in the Afghan war by attacking American-backed aid organizations in Kabul, negotiators for the group and the United States were meeting in the latest round of talks on ending the war. The Taliban has struck aid organizations sparingly in the past, making the attacks on Wednesday at the offices of CARE and Counterpart International even more stark. At least nine people were killed and 20 others wounded, Afghan officials confirmed. The death toll was nearly double initial reports. A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, was quick to claim responsibility for the attack and to offer an explanation on Twitter: Counterpart International, which works largely on civic engagement projects, is American led and is financed primarily by the United States Agency for International Development.”

Reuters: Sixth Round Of Taliban-U.S. Peace Talks End

“U.S. and Taliban negotiators wrapped up their sixth round of peace talks on Thursday with “some progress” made on a draft agreement for when foreign troops might withdraw from Afghanistan, a Taliban official said.  The talks, in which the United States has also sought assurances the Taliban will not allow militant groups to use Afghanistan to stage attacks, began on April 30 in Qatar’s capital Doha.  About 17,000 foreign troops are based in Afghanistan as part of a U.S.-led NATO mission to help local forces.  The United States has been pushing the Taliban to agree to a ceasefire and to talk with Afghanistan’s government, which the militant group considers a U.S. puppet regime.  “The 6th round of talks ... ended, with some progress made on the draft agreement prepared in the last round of talks,” tweeted Muhammad Sohail Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha  “In general, this round was positive and constructive. Both sides listened to each other with care and patience,” he added.  The negotiations included the Taliban’s political chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and a U.S. team led by special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.  Khalilzad, an Afghan-born veteran U.S. diplomat, had suggested that the warring sides should declare a ceasefire as part of an effort to end the nearly 18-year war.”

Xinhua: 7 Security Forces, 34 Militants Killed In N. Afghanistan

“Seven government security forces and 34 Taliban militants have been killed and 31 militants wounded in clashes in Afghanistan's northern province of Jawzjan since early Tuesday, an official said Thursday. In one incident, the Taliban attacked a security checkpoint in Aqcha district of the province, but the clashes left 27 members of the group dead and 20 others wounded, Fraidoon Aniq, the provincial government spokesman, told Xinhua. Those among the killed was Khairullah, the Taliban deputy shadow governor for Jawzjan, he said. In the neighboring Qush Tepa district, seven Taliban militants have been reported dead and 11 others wounded during a clash between the militants and security forces, said the spokesman. The source also confirmed the death of seven security force members during the two-day clashes. Jawzjan has long been the scene of heavy clashes between Taliban and security forces. The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces control most of Afghanistan's population centers and all of 34 provincial capitals, but Taliban insurgents remain active in rural areas, staging coordinated large-scale attacks against Afghan cities and districts since early April when the militant group launched a yearly offensive.”


Bloomberg: Why India And Pakistan Keep Clashing

“Two of the world’s most acrimonious neighbors also happen to be among the few countries on the planet to have nuclear weapons. Long-running tension between India and Pakistan centers on the border region of Kashmir, an area in the Himalayas claimed in full -- and ruled in part -- by both. Violence flares often, as it did early in 2019 when a terrorist attack led to the most serious military escalation in more than a decade. The repeated skirmishing plays out against a backdrop of superpower jockeying by China and the U.S. 1. Why do India and Pakistan distrust each other? The independent nations of India and Pakistan were created by the partition of British India in 1947, which was largely driven by religion: Pakistan became primarily Muslim while India remained mostly Hindu. The drawing of new borders uprooted 14 million people and resulted in sectarian violence that killed as many as 1 million people. The two countries have fought three major wars since then, two of them over Kashmir. Pakistan’s leaders have seen India as an existential threat since the partition, which some believe India still hopes to reverse. India has been frustrated by what it sees as the Pakistan military’s support for terrorists that strike inside its territory.”

Voice Of America: Pakistan Islamic School Reforms Aim To Curb Extremism

“Officials in Pakistan say Islamic organizations have agreed to put some 30,000 madrassas, or seminaries, under the supervision of the Ministry of Education as part of the government's efforts to curb violent extremism in the country. Critics blame madrassas for the rising radicalization of Pakistan's youth and for serving as breeding grounds for transnational terrorist networks. The Pakistani military also has long been accused of covertly supporting some of these madrassas to train and send fighters to fuel conflicts in Afghanistan and a Muslim insurgency in the India-ruled portion of the disputed Kashmir region. “The agreement has outlined rules and regulations for all madrassas in Pakistan to be registered with the education ministry and those who oppose the process will not be allowed to work,” Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood told the local Geo News channel. Under the deal, the government will assist madrassa operators in opening their bank accounts and processing visas for foreign students seeking admission in Pakistani seminaries, the minister explained. Officials say the measure will enable the government to audit finances being provided to the seminaries in the name of donations and charities to deter terrorism-related transactions, and monitor activities of foreign students attending the institutions.”


The National: Houthi Rebels Are Holding A ‘Floating Bomb’ Oil Tanker Hostage Off Yemen’s Coast

“Houthi rebels are blocking UN access to an unmaintained oil tanker described as a "floating bomb" off of Yemen’s Red Sea coast, which officials say is an environmental catastrophe waiting to happen. The chief of the Iran-backed Houthi rebels is demanding a share of revenue from the sale of about one million barrels of oil aboard the FSO Safer. The UN warned almost a month ago that the ship was at risk of exploding, possibly causing a disastrous oilspill in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. It is a dangerous bargaining chip worth tens of millions of dollars. The Safer, once Yemen’s main oil export facility, is a floating storage and offloading vessel moored about 50 kilometres north-west of Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah, the entry point for most of the war-racked country’s humanitarian aid and imports.”

Al Arabiya: HRW Report: Sanaa Blast That Killed Children Was Not Caused By Coalition Strike

“A massive blast that killed 15 children and injured more than 100 people in the residential Sawan neighborhood in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, on April 7, was the result of an explosion in a Houthi controlled warehouse and not a coalition strike, revealed human rights organizations. Human Rights Watch and Mwatana for Human Rights carried on Thursday a detailed report which pointed out that a Houthi-controlled warehouse that stored volatile material near homes and schools caught fire and detonated midday resulting in the devastation and human toll. The groups could not determine the initial cause of the fire at the warehouse. Witnesses did not see or hear aircraft, the report said. The report provides details of what followed: “Scores of Houthi security forces arrived at the site, fired warning shots, and beat and detained several people who tried to photograph the warehouse, witnesses said. For several days, Houthi forces removed large quantities of undisclosed materials from the site on flatbed trucks, and prevented human rights researchers from accessing the area until April 11.”


Associated Press: US B-52 Bombers Land In Qatar Over Unspecified Iran Threat

“A top commander in Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard said Friday that Tehran will not talk with the United States, an Iranian news agency reported — a day after President Donald Trump said he’d like Iranian leaders to “call me.” The semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Gen. Yadollah Javani as saying that “there will be no negotiations with America.” The Iranian commander also claimed the U.S. would not dare take military action against Iran but did not elaborate. The verbal exchange comes as tensions escalate between Washington and Tehran. The Trump administration sent the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and a bomber squadron to the region in response to unspecified threats by Iran against American interests.”


The Guardian: Boko Haram Insurgents Attack Power Infrastructure In Borno

“The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) has confirmed an attack on the 330/132V transmission substation at Molai in Maiduguri, Borno State by Boko Haram insurgents. Its General Manager Public Affairs, Ndidi Mbah, who made the confirmation yesterday in Abuja, stated that the violence took place on May 7 at about 5:30pm. The development may have, however, added a new twist to the security situation in the region, considering that the terrorists had in the past destroyed electricity installations reportedly worth over N1 billion. In a statement, Mbah said two Post Isolators Porcelain units in the substation were affected, adding that the cracks on the affected transmission apparatus were, however, not too deep to affect supply to the substation. According to her, the insurgents stole a company van, destroyed two others and a vehicle belonging to a staff member.”


Daily Post Nigeria: Boko Haram: Terrorists Attack Ngala, Attempt To Overrun Idps Camp

“Unknown number of terrorists Wednesday evening at about 7pm, attempted to force their way into an Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, camp near the United Nations hub in Ngamboru Ngala local government area of Borno state in Northeast Nigeria. DAILY POST gathered that they met stiff resistance from soldiers stationed at and around the camp and the UN humanitarian hub, and were successful repelled. Some IDPs, however, told DAILY POST that there were casualties on both sides, the number of which could not be ascertained as there was no reply to questions seeking official statement on the casualty figures from the military as at press time. According to reports from Ngala, the attack may not be unconnected with an attempt to loot items from the biggest mobile storage unit in the local government. “We suspect that, the terrorists are out with the target of attacking the humanitarian hub as well as the storage unit to loot food and items,” a security source told DAILY POST. Although the extent of damage cannot be ascertained as at the time of filing this report, sources said there has been the presence of Boko Haram group around Ngala, and attacks as such may increase especially with the commencement of the Ramadan fast.”


All Africa: Somalia: Al-Shabaab Stages Attack On A Town Under Somali Troops

“Heavily armed Al-Shabab militants were reported to have launched a daring assault on a military base belonging to Somali government forces stationed in Barire town, located in Lower Shabelle. The fighters encountered a fierce resistance they tried to storm the army outpost, which was recently recaptured by Somali government troops backed by AU soldiers. The attack occurred Wednesday evening. A local resident confirmed to Radio Shabelle that the Al-Shabaab combatants attacked the village from different directions the onset of the night as people gather in their homes to breaking their fasting. The commanders of the troops in the area say they have beefed up security following the take-over and vowed to continue flushing out Al-Shabab from its remaining strongholds in Lower Shabelle region.”

The New York Times: U.S. Air Strike Kills 13 Islamic State Fighters In Somalia: U.S. Military

“A U.S. air strike killed 13 Islamic State fighters in Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland region on Wednesday, the U.S. military said, days after another strike killed three. The U.S. military has stepped up its campaign of air strikes in Somalia since President Donald Trump took office, saying it has killed more than 800 militants in two years. Islamic State, also known as ISIS, has gathered recruits in Puntland, although experts say the scale of its force is unclear and it remains a small player compared al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab group that once controlled much of Somalia. U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) said late on Thursday the latest strike targeted an ISIS-Somalia camp in Golis Mountains.”

The New York Times: U.S. Air Strike Kills 13 Islamic State Fighters In Somalia: U.S. Military

“A U.S. air strike killed 13 Islamic State fighters in Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland region on Wednesday, the U.S. military said, days after another strike killed three. The U.S. military has stepped up its campaign of air strikes in Somalia since President Donald Trump took office, saying it has killed more than 800 militants in two years. Islamic State, also known as ISIS, has gathered recruits in Puntland, although experts say the scale of its force is unclear and it remains a small player compared al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab group that once controlled much of Somalia. U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) said late on Thursday the latest strike targeted an ISIS-Somalia camp in Golis Mountains.”


Reuters: Kenyan Court Sentences Briton To Four Years On Terrorism Charges

“A Kenyan court on Thursday sentenced a British man to four years in prison on charges of helping to plan attacks in Kenya and possessing bomb-making materials.  Jermaine Grant was convicted of the offences in late April in a judgment that found him to be in possession of materials to cause explosions including hydrogen peroxide, AA batteries and electrical wire.  He denied the charges and his lawyer said he would appeal against the conviction.  Prosecutors had alleged he had planned to bomb hotels popular with foreign tourists.  Grant has been in custody since 2011, when he was arrested on charges of forging documents in an attempt to obtain Kenyan citizenship. He was convicted of that offence in 2015 and jailed for nine years.  The Mombasa court’s chief magistrate Evans Makori said Thursday’s sentence would run consecutively. In an appeal document seen by Reuters, Grant’s lawyer Chacha Mwita said there were “screaming contradictions, inconsistencies and lack of corroboration” in the prosecution case.  Mwita told reporters outside the building he thought the court had “overlooked certain fundamental issues of fact and law which we had presented during the hearing.” 

North Korea

Associated Press: Experts See Russia Fingerprints On North Korea’s New Missile

“The three new missiles North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has tested over the past week are eerily familiar to military experts: They look just like a controversial and widely copied missile the Russian military has deployed to Syria and has been actively trying to sell abroad for years. Ending a pause in ballistic missile launches that began in late 2017, and alarming North Korea’s neighbors, Kim personally supervised the launch of the first missile from the country’s east coast on Saturday and two more from the west on Thursday. All splashed down in the Pacific. The missiles were short-range and the launches do not mean Kim has decided to end his self-imposed moratorium on testing long-range missiles that could reach the United States mainland. They do indicate, however, that Kim is methodically expanding the battle readiness of his missile forces and that could have a major impact on the safety of American allies and U.S. forces in the region.”

The New York Times: U.S. Seizes North Korean Ship For Violating Sanctions

“The United States has seized a North Korean shipping vessel that was violating American law and international sanctions, the Justice Department announced Thursday, a move certain to escalate tensions already on the rise because of recent North Korean weapons tests. Prosecutors said the carrier ship, the Wise Honest, was being used to export North Korean coal, a critical sector of the North’s economy that the United States and the United Nations have aggressively imposed sanctions on in an effort to force Pyongyang to end its nuclear weapons program. The ship was also being used to import heavy machinery. It was the first time the United States has seized a North Korean cargo vessel for international sanctions violations, the Justice Department said. Officials said the seizure is part of a broad plan to enforce the international sanctions and ultimately pressure North Korea to dismantle its nuclear program.”

United Kingdom

BBC News: Is Extremism Really Getting Worse?

“Is extremism on the rise?  There is a widely-held narrative that we are living through a time of worsening intolerance in the UK, with people becoming more vitriolic and polarised. But Dr Julian Hargreaves, an adviser to the government's Commission for Countering Extremism, challenges the evidence. He wants research to produce a better-informed debate - systematically mapping levels of intolerance, looking at how labels such as "Islamist extremism" can skew the picture and asking whether there are other ways of looking at patterns of extremism. For instance, instead of looking at religious groups for warning signs of extremism, should we examine links with addictive, obsessive behaviour, such as drug addiction? Should there be attention to personality types as well as political beliefs?  The commission, set up in the aftermath of the Manchester Arena terror attack, has the task of assessing the scale of extremism and finding ways to tackle any support for such violence. Extreme or strongly-held view? But what is "extremism"? How does it differ from strongly-held, legitimate beliefs? Nobody sees themselves as an extremist.”

The Independent: Islamist Extremist Jailed For Terror Offences After Threatening To Kill Police Officers

“An Islamist extremist who threatened to kill police officers has been jailed for terror offences. Mohammed Hamza Ghani was already going through a government deradicalisation programme when he made the attack threat. Scotland Yard said the 28-year-old phoned 999 and the anti-terrorist hotline to “claim he would kill people or police officers” on 12 January. When officers went to his home in Barnet, Ghani confessed that electronic devices in his bedroom contained electronic copies of terrorist magazines, including Isis and al-Qaeda propaganda. He was already known to authorities because he was undergoing the Channel intervention programme - which is currently under review - after expressing extremist views. Commander Clarke Jarrett, head of the Metropolitan Police counterterror command, said: “The officer seized his devices, including USB sticks and a laptop, and these were later analysed by digital forensic specialists. They did indeed contain terrorist publications, featuring horrendous articles about how to make different types of bombs, where to carry out terrorist attacks and how to assassinate people.”


The Hill: Ambassador To Germany Threatens Companies With U.S. Ban Over Iran

“U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell warned companies that they could be blocked from the U.S. market if they do business with Iran. “You can do as much business as you want in Iran, but we have a say with regards to your visa,” Grenell, who has a history of exasperating his Berlin hosts, told Bild newspaper in an interview. “Because if you do something, we’re not going to agree to let you enter our country.” The Trump administration doubled down this week on its hard-line stance against Iran, slapping a new round of sanctions on its steel, iron, aluminum and copper sectors and deploying a carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the region as Tehran declared it would curtail its cooperation with a landmark 2015 nuclear deal.”


Fox News: 3 Convicted Of Terrorism For Arson Of Australian Mosque

“Three Sunni Muslim men have been convicted of engaging in a terror act by burning down a Shiite mosque in the Australian city of Melbourne three years ago. A Victoria state Supreme Court jury on Thursday convicted Abdullah Chaarani, Ahmed Mohamed and Hatim Moukhaiber over the firebombing of the Imam Ali Islamic Center on Dec. 11, 2016. No one was injured in the blaze. Mohamed and Moukhaiber had both denied any involvement. Chaarani conceded that he was there, but argued he had been part of an act of protest, advocacy or dissent, but not terrorism. The three will appear in court for sentencing next week. They each face a potential maximum sentence of life in prison.”

Southeast Asia

The Jakarta Post: One Alleged Terrorist Arrested, Two Pipe Bombs Seized In Raid In Bekasi

“The Jakarta Police arrested an alleged terrorist during a raid at a mobile phone store in North Bekasi, Bekasi City, West Java, on Wednesday, following a string of raids last week. In the raid, conducted at Wanky Cell, a mobile phone store on Jl. Muchtar Tabrani in North Bekasi, the National Police’s Densus 88 counterterrorism squad also found two pipe bombs. “The raid was the result of developments of a case in which earlier arrests of [alleged members] of JAD Lampung and JAD Bekasi were made,” Jakarta Police spokesman Argo Yuwono said on Thursday as reported by kompas.com, referring to the recent arrests of several alleged terrorists linked to the terrorist network Jamaah Ansharut Daulah. Investigators from Densus 88 made prior raids and arrests in Babelan, Bekasi regency, and Jatiasih in Bekasi municipality, where the police arrested one alleged terrorist, while another allegedly blew himself up during a separate arrest. “The suspect arrested here [Wanky Cell] was the head, he was the coordinator of the other suspects that we had arrested,” he said, adding that the police would conduct more raids in other places as part of an ongoing investigation.”

American Enterprise Institute: When Terror Runs In The Family

“Recent terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka and Indonesia have brought renewed attention to the fact that terrorism is often a family affair. (Take Osama bin Laden’s son, Hamza, for instance). This reality flies in the face of US counterterrorism policy, which has largely presumed that families are willing to counter the radicalization and recruitment of young people by terrorist groups. Numerous terrorism-watch hotlines have been created on the assumption that parents will report their children to the authorities. But what if parents are driving their children’s radicalization? Families should be seen for what they are: a network that can facilitate or impede the spread of violent extremism. By engaging families, terrorist groups harness existing social networks for recruitment, reinforce bonds within the group, and gain access to additional sources of financing. At the same time, the disruption of familial bonds can make young people more susceptible to recruitment. As I argue in a new report, rather than just relying on family members to inform, US efforts to prevent terrorism abroad should actively engage with high-risk families through targeted and tailored outreach efforts. Parents often play a central role in the radicalization of their children.”


The Wall Street Journal: France Steps Up Global Tech Scrutiny With Social-Media Policing

“The French government plans to give regulators here sweeping power to audit and fine large social-media companies like Facebook Inc. FB -0.47% if they don’t adequately remove hateful content—ratcheting up global oversight of Silicon Valley. France intends to introduce laws that would create a “duty of care” for widely used social-media companies, requiring them to moderate hate speech published on their platforms, according to French officials, speaking ahead of a Friday meeting between French President Emmanuel Macron and Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg. Richard Allan, a Facebook vice president, said the proposals were in line with the “kind of models we think will be effective in future.” He said “it’s about the platforms doing the work effectively but being very clearly accountable to a regulator.”

The Verge: Facebook Says It Shouldn’t Be Broken Up Because It Is Very Successful

“In response to a stunning op-ed from Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes published in The New York Times this morning, the company says it welcomes more accountability for its actions from lawmakers in Washington, but it says breaking up Facebook by decoupling Instagram and WhatsApp from its core service would be a step too far. “Facebook accepts that with success comes accountability. But you don’t enforce accountability by calling for the breakup of a successful American company,” Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and communication, writes in a statement given to The Verge. “Accountability of tech companies can only be achieved through the painstaking introduction of new rules for the internet. That is exactly what [CEO] Mark Zuckerberg has called for. Indeed, he is meeting government leaders this week to further that work.”

The New York Post: Louis Farrakhan Rails Against ‘Satanic Jews’ In Wake Of Facebook Ban

“Louis Farrakhan spoke at a Catholic church Thursday night in the wake of his Facebook ban and denied that he hates Jewish people while ranting about “Satanic Jews.” The Nation of Islam leader spoke at the controversial St. Sabina Church on Chicago’s South Side, where he claimed to not be a preacher of hatred while castigating those who he said did not follow “God’s word.” “I’m here to separate the good Jews from the Satanic Jews,” Farrakhan said alongside radical activist Rev. Michael Pfleger, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “I have not said one word of hate. I do not hate Jewish people. Not one that is with me has ever committed a crime against the Jewish people, black people, white people. As long as you don’t attack us, we won’t bother you.”