Eye on Extremism: May 14

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Says Iran Likely Behind Ship Attacks

“An initial U.S. assessment indicated Iran likely was behind the attack on two Saudi Arabian oil tankers and two other vessels damaged over the weekend near the Strait of Hormuz, a U.S. official said, a finding that, if confirmed, would further inflame military tensions in the Persian Gulf. The assessment, while not conclusive, was the first suggestion by any nation that Iran was responsible for the attack and comes after a series of U.S. warnings against aggression by Iran or its allies and proxies against military or commercial vessels in the region. The U.S. official, who declined to be identified, didn’t offer details about what led to the assessment or its implications for a possible U.S. response. The U.S. has said in the past week that it was sending an aircraft carrier, an amphibious assault ship, a bomber task force and an antimissile system to the region after it alleged intelligence showed Iran posed a threat to its troops.”

The Washington Post: Coast Guard Officer Accused Of Plotting Terrorist Attack To Remain Jailed, Judge Says

“A federal judge ordered a U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant accused of plotting a widespread terrorist attack to remain in jail pending trial, overturning an earlier magistrate judge’s decision to release Christopher Paul Hasson on home arrest. The decision Monday came in a hearing in U.S. District Court in Maryland, where prosecutors and Hasson’s public defender clashed for the fourth time over whether Hasson should stay in jail if he faces drug and weapons charges but no terrorism-related offenses. Although the charges Hasson faces are “unremarkable,” U.S. District Court Judge George J. Hazel said, Hasson’s “history and characteristics” and potential danger to the community weighed in favor of blocking release. The evidence the government brought showed specific alleged actions toward a plan, Hazel said. Hasson’s alleged actions of amassing weapons, creating a target list of enemies and researching their locations ramped up after he started studying the manifesto of a Norwegian terrorist who killed 77, Hazel said. The evidence shows Hasson allegedly “intended to use these items to commit a series of violent acts,” Hazel said, noting the 15 firearms and 1,000 rounds of ammunition seized from Hasson’s home. Hasson, 50, of Silver Spring, was arrested in February.”

The Jerusalem Post: Saudi Arabia Says Oil Facilities Near Riyadh Attacked

“Saudi Arabia claimed on Tuesday that Iran-backed Houthi rebel drones targeted their oil pumping stations in what it called a "cowardly" attack two days after Saudi oil tankers were sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih confirmed on Tuesday that two oil pumping stations for the East-West pipeline had been hit by explosive-laden drones, calling the attack "an act of terrorism" that targeted global oil supplies. Falih said that Saudi oil output and exports for crude and refined products were continuing without disruption, but that the state oil giant Aramco had halted oil pumping in the pipeline while the damage was evaluated and the stations were repaired, according to a statement carried by the state news agency SPA.”

Bloomberg: Somalia Car Bomb Near Presidential Palace Kills 4 People

“At least four people were killed and scores of others were injured in a bomb explosion at the Warta-Nabada district headquarters in the Somalia capital, Mogadishu, the Horn of Africa nation’s police said. The car bomb that was set off inside the headquarters also destroyed nearby houses, Abdi Shino, a Somali police officer, said by phone. The al-Shabaab militant group, which is linked to al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack. Warta-Nabada headquarters is located in a heavily guarded neighborhood close to the presidential palace. Tuesday’s attack in Mogadishu is the first during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, when the insurgency traditionally increases attacks.”

The National: App Backed By Al Qaradawi Promoted On Apple Store

“A controversial mobile app launched by the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood is continuing to be promoted despite calls for it to be banned. The Euro Fatwa App was created by the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR), which was founded by Yusuf Al Qaradawi – a Qatar-based figure who has previously been dubbed “a terrorist” and banned from the US, UK and France for his extremist views. Campaigners have repeatedly highlighted the dangers of Al Qaradawi’s web and social media presence for creating extremists. “What makes Qaradawi unique from other extremists are the ways in which his presence is condoned by social media, specifically through Facebook and Twitter’s verified user checkmark,” said Counter-Extremism Project researcher Joshua Fisher-Birch earlier this year.”

CNBC: Facebook Facing 20-Year Consent Agreement After Privacy Lapses

“The social media giant Facebook is headed toward an agreement with the U.S. government over its privacy policies and practices that would put it under 20 years of oversight, according to a source knowledgeable about the discussions. The agreement would resolve a probe of whether the company violated a similar consent pact reached in 2011. There had been expectations a deal was imminent after Facebook set aside $3 billion to pay what it said it expected to be a $3 billion to $5 billion penalty. But two sources said on Monday that no deal was expected this week. One of the sources said that announcement of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission could be a month away. Several U.S. lawmakers have criticized aspects of a potential agreement between the FTC and Facebook that would elevate oversight of privacy policies and practices to Facebook’s board of directors and require the social media company to be more aggressive in policing third-party app developers.”

United States

The New York Times: White House Reviews Military Plans Against Iran, In Echoes Of Iraq War

“At a meeting of President Trump’s top national security aides last Thursday, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan presented an updated military plan that envisions sending as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East should Iran attack American forces or accelerate work on nuclear weapons, administration officials said. The revisions were ordered by hard-liners led by John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser. They do not call for a land invasion of Iran, which would require vastly more troops, officials said. The development reflects the influence of Mr. Bolton, one of the administration’s most virulent Iran hawks, whose push for confrontation with Tehran was ignored more than a decade ago by President George W. Bush. It is highly uncertain whether Mr. Trump, who has sought to disentangle the United States from Afghanistan and Syria, ultimately would send so many American forces back to the Middle East.”


Reuters: Rebels Launch Counterattack In Northwest Syria: Statement

“Rebels said they mounted a counterattack on Monday against government forces in northwestern Syria, ramping up battles in the country’s last major insurgent stronghold. Britain, Germany and France called on Monday for an end to a renewed wave of violence in northwestern Syria which has killed more than 120 civilians. An offensive by the Syrian army and its allies, backed by Russia, has uprooted more than 150,000 people, the biggest escalation in the war between President Bashar al-Assad and his enemies since last summer. The fighting has also hit parts of a buffer zone agreed in September under a Russian-Turkish deal that spared the region and its 3 million residents from an assault. The Turkish military has established about a dozen military positions in the region under its agreements with Russia. An array of insurgents have a foothold in northwest Syria - Idlib province and a belt of territory around it. The most powerful is the jihadist Tahrir al-Sham, the latest incarnation of the former Nusra Front which was part of al Qaeda until 2016.”


The New York Times: New Report Shows How A Pro-Iran Group Spread Fake News Online

“Ali Al-Ahmed is a veteran critic of the Saudi government, so late last year he was not surprised to receive a Twitter message purporting to be from an Egyptian woman living in London who said that she, too, was a Saudi opponent. But Mr. Al-Ahmed, who is based in Washington, was wary of the woman, who identified herself as Mona A. Rahman. “Her picture was too made up, like the picture of a model,” he recalled. Her Arabic was imperfect. And her messages in Arabic included a character that indicated that she was typing on a Farsi-language keyboard. Then she sent him an article that appeared to be from the website of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard about an unexpected development in Israeli politics. The article was on a site that had the exact logo, coloring and layout of the Harvard site. But the address was “belfercenter.net” — not the real one, “belfercenter.org.” And the article, claiming the Israeli defense minister had been fired for being a Russian agent, was a total fabrication.”


Iraqi News: Two Islamic State Terrorists Apprehended In Western Iraq

“Iraqi military intelligence forces apprehended on Monday two members of the Islamic State terrorist group in Anbar province. The Iraqi Military Intelligence Directorate, in a statement, said that its troops “have arrested two Islamic State terrorists in Ar-Rutba district in Anbar.” “One of them was responsible for securing financial support for the militant group, as well as booby-trapping vehicles to be used in terrorist attacks, while the other was collecting information about the families cooperating with security forces,” the statement read. Iraq declared the collapse of Islamic State’s territorial influence in Iraq 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. The Islamic State group appeared on the international scene in 2014 when it seized large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, declaring the establishment of an Islamic “caliphate” from Mosul city. Later on, the group has become notorious for its brutality, including mass killings, abductions and beheadings, prompting the U.S. to lead an international coalition to destroy it.”

Xinhua: 2 Civilians Killed, 12 IS Militants Arrested In Iraq

“At least two civilians were killed in an attack by Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, while Iraqi forces arrested 12 IS militants in Iraq's northern province of Kirkuk, an official and Iraqi military said on Monday. In the early morning, IS militants attacked a car near the city of Khanaqin, some 165 km northeast the Iraqi capital Baghdad, killing the driver and his son and set fire to their car, Sameer Mohammed Nour, head of Khanaqin city council, told Xinhua. Afterwards, a force from the paramilitary Hashd Shaabi units rushed to the scene and clashed with the attackers, leaving two Hashd Shaabi members wounded, Nour said, adding that the security forces launched after the incident a search operation looking for the extremist militants. Despite repeated military operations in Diyala, some IS militants are still hiding in some rugged areas near the border with Iran, and in the sprawling areas extending from the western part of the province to the Himreen mountain range in the northern part of the province. Separately, in Kirkuk province, an intelligence force dismantled an IS cell and arrested 12 militants who believed to be responsible for preparing hideouts and other logistic services, according to a statement by the Iraqi Defense Ministry.”


The Washington Post: Bombing Suspect Convicted For 2013 Attack In Turkey

“Turkey’s official news agency says a man accused of planning a deadly 2013 bomb attack was sentenced to life imprisonment. Anadolu Agency said Monday that a court in Ankara convicted Yusuf Nazik of murder, disrupting the unity of the state and membership in a terror group, among other charges. Turkish intelligence agents captured Nazik in Syria in September and brought him to Turkey. He was accused of planning and organizing two car bombings that killed 52 people in the town of Reyhanli, near the border with Syria. Turkey blamed Damascus for being behind the explosions, saying they were carried out by a Turkish Marxist group with alleged links to Syria’s intelligence agency. The Syrian government has denied the accusations. Two other suspects were sentenced for aiding a terror group.”


The Washington Post: Blasts Rock Afghanistan’s Jalalabad, Killing 3, Wounding 20

“Three explosions ripped through an Afghan provincial capital, Jalalabad, killing three people and wounding another 20 on Monday. All of the casualties were believed to be civilians, said Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesman for eastern Nangarhar’s governor. No one claimed responsibility for the attack which came as the United Nations expressed grave concerns about the increase in violence around the country during the first week Ramadan, the ongoing Muslim month of fasting from sunrise to sunset. Both the Taliban and an Islamic State affiliate operate in Nangarhar province. Over the past year, the U.S. has stepped up its air strikes in the area to try to dislodge IS fighters. The explosions took place in Jalalabad’s city center, but the target was not immediately clear. In a statement earlier Monday, the U.N. Mission in Afghanistan pointed out two major Taliban attacks in the past week — an assault in the capital, Kabul, on a non-governmental agency that killed five and an attack in northern Baghlan province that struck a police headquarters, killing 13 officers. “There can be absolutely no justification for deliberate or indiscriminate attacks against civilians,” Tadamichi Yamamoto, the U.N. secretary-general’s special representative, was quoted as saying.”

Radio Free Europe: At Least Three Police Killed In Taliban Attack In Pakistan's Quetta

“At least three police officers have been killed in a blast that apparently targeted a police vehicle near a mosque in Quetta, the capital of Pakistan's southwestern Balochistan Province, officials said. Liaqat Shahwani, a spokesman for the provincial government, told RFE/RL that at least six people, including three more police officers, were wounded in the blast on May 13. The banned Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the explosion that police say was caused by an improvised bomb rigged to a motorcycle.  The attack comes amid high security during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The police officers were deployed outside the Masjid al-Huda mosque to secure the area during the special Ramadan evening prayers.  Last week, at least 10 people were killed in a suicide bombing that targeted a police van guarding a major Sufi shrine in the eastern city of Lahore.”

Voice Of America: Afghan Taliban Chief Negotiator: 'US On Verge Of Defeat'

“The Taliban’s chief negotiator says in newly released remarks that the United States is on the verge of defeat and will quit Afghanistan soon “either of their own accord, or they will be forced out.” Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai made the assertions in an April 28 speech to an “internal gathering” in Doha, Qatar, just two days before he led his team of insurgent negotiators into fresh talks with U.S. interlocutors. Pro-Taliban social media outlets Friday released video of Stanekzai's speech, one day after the U.S. special reconciliation envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, and his team wrapped up the week-long negotiations with Taliban representatives in the Qatari capital. In the speech, Stanekzai praised what he called the bravery of the Afghan nation for defeating past British and Soviet invasions of their country and resisting the current foreign military presence, referring to the U.S.-led coalition, which is training and advising pro-government forces in battles against the Taliban. “God has helped us defeat three super powers in the last century. The third super power that we are currently confronted with is also on the verge of defeat, inshallah (God willing).”


Asharq Al-Awsat: Yemen: Houthis Accused Of Starving Yemenis

“Saudi-led Coalition Joint Forces to Support Legitimacy in Yemen accused Houthi militias of targeting the Red Sea Mills in Hodeidah aiming to starve the Yemeni people. The militias continue to elude and delay the implementation of the Stockholm Agreement, stated Coalition Spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki. Maliki revealed that last Thursday Houthis targeted the Red Sea Mills in Hodeidah, which contains large quantities of wheat, in a deliberate attempt to starve the Yemeni people and prevent the arrival of humanitarian aid to the needy in several areas. In two weeks, Houthi militias lost 232 equipment and positions, while 652 terrorist elements were killed during the same period. Maliki said the joint forces and the Yemeni National Army are adopting tactical self-restraint over Houthi violations of the Stockholm agreement to ensure the success of efforts of UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffith and head of the Committee for the Coordination of Redeployment, Lieutenant General Michael Lollesgaard. Speaking during his weekly press conference in Riyadh, Maliki indicated that the Yemeni government announced that unilateral withdrawal is not part of the provisions of the Stockholm agreement.”

Reuters: Yemen Warring Parties Hold Fresh Talks As Houthis Withdraw From Hodeidah

“Yemen’s warring parties started fresh U.N.-sponsored talks in Jordan on Monday, Yemeni officials said, two days after Houthi forces began withdrawing from the ports of Hodeidah, breaking a six month stalemate. The talks will focus on sharing out revenues from Hodeidah’s three Red Sea ports to help relieve an urgent humanitarian crisis, they said. The Iran-aligned Houthi group began on Saturday a unilateral pullout from the ports of Saleef, Ras Isa and Hodeidah, handing them over to U.N.-supervised local forces as agreed under a pact with the Saudi-backed government last December that had stalled for months. “The U.N. and its special envoy are sponsoring talks in Amman ... to discuss the issue of salaries and to make the economic situation neutral,” Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, head of the Houthis’ Supreme Revolutionary Committee, said in a tweet.”

Middle East

CNN: Four Ships Targeted In Mystery “Sabotage Attack,” Says UAE

“Four ships were targeted on Sunday near the strategic Emirati port of Fujairah, in what the UAE described as a “sabotage attack.” One was flying a UAE flag, and another the Norwegian flag. The other two were tankers owned by Saudi Arabia, which described the incident as a threat to the security of global oil supplies.  There were no injuries or deaths, according to the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. It did not elaborate on the nature of the alleged sabotage, or offer any indication as to who might be responsible.  Tensions have risen in the oil-rich region in recent weeks amid the deployment of a growing number of United States military assets to the Middle East, due to deteriorating relations with Iran.  Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said Monday that the incidents were “alarming and regrettable,” and requested further information on the alleged sabotage. He also warned against “plots by ill-wishers to disrupt regional security” and called for “vigilance of regional states in the face of any adventurism by foreign elements.”

Fox News: Hunting Ayman Al Zawahiri: Where Has The Al Qaeda Leader Been Hiding For 18 Years?

“Nestled alongside ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi in the deepest ranks of the depraved, Al Qaeda’s chief Ayman Al Zawahiri is one of the two most wanted men in the world – both have a $25 million U.S. bounty on their heads. But while much has been speculated about when it comes to the barbaric Iraqi man Al Baghdadi, little is known about the Al Qaeda commander who has evaded his big bounty since it was installed immediately following the September 11 attacks. “Zawahiri was a conspirator of the 9/11 attacks, and like other conspirators, will always be wanted by the United States,” said Rita Katz, Executive Director of the SITE Intelligence Group. “Zawahiri has framed himself more as the wiser alternative to Baghdadi and ISIS, who he characterizes as naïve and irresponsible.” Egyptian-born Zawahiri, 67, took the reins as Al Qaeda’s ruler after the Navy SEAL raid that killed the group’s long-running mastermind, Usama bin Laden eight years ago.  He also comes with a long list of pseudonyms ranging from Abu Mohammed, The Doctor, The Teacher and Abdul Qader Abdul Aziz Abdul Moez Al Doctor to Abu Fatma, Abdel Muaz, Nur, Ustaz and Dhawahri Ayman.”

The Jerusalem Post: U.S. Embassy Warns Of Terrorist Attack During Eurovision

“The US Embassy in Jerusalem warned of a terrorist attack or violent protests on Tuesday May 14, the anniversary of the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem.  “Terrorist groups may choose the anniversary, which coincides with the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv (May 14-18), or Nakba Day (May 15), to conduct violent protests or an attack,” The US Embassy said in a security alert on sent out on Monday night. “Security incidents can occur well beyond Gaza and its periphery and at any time.” The embassy urged American citizens “remain vigilant,” as it is unknown when attacks like rocket attacks will occur. The US also encouraged US citizens and the general public to be aware of the closest shelter to prepare for such an incident. During the first week of May there was increased tension near the Israel-Gaza border. With approximately 700 rockets launched at Israel, four Israelis died, with over 200 injured. In Gaza, 25 Palestinians were killed - among which nine were known members terrorist factions in Gaza - and 154 others were injured during the violence.”


Asharq Al-Awsat: Libyan National Army Accuses Turkey Of Supporting Terrorism

“The Libyan National Army (LNA), commanded by Khalifa Haftar, accused Turkey of supporting terrorism in Libya. LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari said Sunday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan openly makes statements against the army, adding that Ankara is actively supporting the militias, chaos and terrorist groups in Libya. Moreover, he stated that the militias of Government of National Accord chief Fayez al-Sarraj have now resorted to using drones to attack LNA forces after they lost several of their jets. “We realize fully that cleansing Tripoli of militias means that Turkey will lose a golden base that is compensating it for its losses in the international arena,” he told a press conference in the eastern city of Benghazi. He also accused Turkey of supporting the militias in Misrata city, east of the capital Tripoli. Mismari said that the Libyan Airlines planes were delivering weapons from Turkey to Misrata. On the ground, he revealed that the LNA had reached the outskirts of Tripoli and the militias were starting to collapse after their commanders were targeted in the capital. Addressing the threat of ISIS, he explained that the terrorist group’s movement in the southwest was aimed at distracting the LNA from its Tripoli operations.”


Fox News: Nigerian Army Says 54 People Rescued From Boko Haram

“The Nigerian army says it has rescued 54 women and children held captive by the extremist group Boko Haram. A statement issued Monday by military spokesman Sagir Musa says troops rescued the captives during a clearance operation over the weekend in Borno State. The military spokesman said the rescued persons consist of 29 women and 25 children. Sagir said Boko Haram fighters had fled the villages before troops arrived. Boko Haram frequently abducts women and children. The jihadist group began its insurgency in northeastern Nigeria and now has expanded its reach to the neighboring countries of Chad, Cameroon and Niger. In April 2014, 276 girls were abducted from the Government Secondary School in Chibok. More than 100 of them are still missing five years later.”

The Defense Post: Roadside Bomb Blast Kills 3 Nigeria Soldiers Near Damboa

“At least three Nigerian soldiers, including an army commander, were killed on Monday when their truck was struck by an improvised explosive device planted by Boko Haram militants, military sources told AFP. The military vehicle hit the mine while patrolling in a three-vehicle convoy in Damboa area of Borno state, two military sources said. Damboa town, the headquarters of the Local Government Area, is around 85 km (53 miles) southwest of Borno state capital Maiduguri. “The 145 Task Force Battalion lost its commanding officer, a lieutenant colonel, and two soldiers after their vehicles stepped on an IED buried by Boko Haram terrorists,” one military officer said. “Four soldiers sustained serious injuries,” said a second officer, adding that they were evacuated by air to Maiduguri for medical care, he said. Both officers did not want to be named as they had not been authorized to speak to the media. “Two gun trucks and a Tata truck” were damaged in the explosion which occurred at around 9:30 a.m. north of Damboa, between Mauli and Borgozo, Premium Times reported. Reinforcements were sent to the area from Beni Sheikh. The Nigerian military has been operating in the wider area in recent days.”


All Africa: Somalia: Al-Shabaab Attacks AU Military Base Near Somali Capital

“Armed Fighters belonging to the Somalia-based Al-Qaeda ally, Al-Shabaab have carried out an assault against a military manned by African Union forces in an area in the outskirts of Mogadishu, the country's capital. The attack which took place in Arba'ow village on Sunday night has led a gunfight between the militants and AMISOM - African Union Mission in Somalia troops, according to local residents. The two sides exchanged heavy and light weaponry during the confrontation that was reported to have raged on for around 30 minutes. Moreover, the casualty figures of the attack remain unclear as there has been no statement from both Al-Shabaab and AMISOM. Calm has returned to the area on Monday morning, despite military movements by Somali and AU troops in the locality and nearby Elasha Biyaha village.”


News 24: 'Terrorist' Attack On High-Security Niger Prison Foiled

“Authorities in Niger on Monday foiled a “terrorist” attack on a high-security prison near the capital Niamey, Interior Minister Mohamed Bazoum said on Twitter. “Around 10 armed assailants tried to attack the prison at around 16:00 GMT but were repelled because the security forces were already aware of an impending raid,” a security source told AFP. “There are no deaths in our ranks for the moment,” Bazoum said. The Koutoukale prison, some 50km north of Niamey, holds many jihadists. The security source said the assailants infiltrated the Koutoukale market to launch their attempt on the prison. The prison was previously attacked in October 2016 by assailants aboard motorbikes wielding explosives. Considered to be Niger's most secure prison, the facility holds the country's most dangerous detainees, including jihadists from groups active in the Sahel area and Islamist militants from Nigeria's Boko Haram. It also holds security prisoners from neighbouring Mali.”

Xinhua: 2 Terrorists Surrender, 3 Terror Suspects Arrested In Algeria: Ministry

“Two terrorists surrendered to Algerian authorities while three terror suspects were arrested in the western province of Tlemcen, the Defense Ministry said Monday. The two terrorists who surrendered probably joined terrorist groups in 2011 and 2015 respectively, a ministry statement said, adding they were in possession of two Kalashnikov-type machine guns. Algeria has opened safe routes along its southern border to encourage Algerian militants who joined terrorist groups to lay down their arms in exchange for fair trials. The statement also announced that three terror suspects were arrested in Tlemcen. The security situation in Algeria has remarkably improved in the last decade but clashes between security forces and terrorist groups are still occasionally reported. A few militants affiliated to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the recently established Islamic State-affiliated groups are still taking refuge in the dense woods in northern Algeria, and remote desert areas near the troubled Libya and Mali.”

North Korea

The Wall Street Journal: North Korea Wants Its Seized Ship Back

“North Korea demanded the return of a ship that the U.S. seized for allegedly violating sanctions, and accused the U.S. of breaching the “underlying spirit” of the countries’ pledge to forge new ties, Pyongyang’s state media said. Tuesday’s remarks, attributed to North Korea’s foreign ministry, didn’t include any ultimatums or direct threats against the U.S. The Kim Jong Un regime has walked a fine line when expressing its frustration over the stalled nuclear talks with the U.S., holding back from criticizing President Trump while engaging in provocations modest enough not to derail the diplomacy. In the first public comments on the issue since U.S. authorities disclosed the seizure last week, the unidentified foreign ministry representative said Pyongyang would “carefully watch every move of the United States hereafter.”


Asharq Al-Awsat: French FM: Paris Considers Mechanism To Try Foreign ISIS Militants

“French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced that an international “legal mechanism” is being studied to prosecute foreign ISIS terrorists detained in Kurdish areas in Syria. “The possibility of establishing a specific legal mechanism” that may be inspired by other examples of the international judicial system, as happened for Kosovo or the African continent, is being considered, Laudrian told Le Parisien newspaper. In 2015, a special tribunal based in The Hague was established to investigate allegations of war crimes committed against Kosovo Albanian separatist rebels and Kosovo political opponents in 1998 and 1999. In Africa, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), established according to the United Nations Resolution in 1994, issued dozens of convictions until its closure in 2015. In 2015, the Special Criminal Court was established to look into crimes against humanity and war crimes in Central Africa since 2003. The French Minister rejected any comparison with the Nuremberg tribunal that prosecuted Nazi officials after 1945. “It's a historically heavy comparison,” he said. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) called for the establishment of an international tribunal in northeastern Syria for ISIS war criminals.”

Xinhua: French Woman Placed Under Investigation On Terrorism Charges: Report

“A French woman was put under formal investigation by magistrates last week on charges of belonging to a terrorist cell, local news channel reported on Monday. A female national from Moroccan origin had expressed, on social media, her willingness to carry out a suicide attack and had been on a list of volunteers who wanted to act, new channel BFMTV reported, citing a judicial source. The 27-year-old suspect was arrested on May 6 after being expelled from Turkey and was convicted for “criminal conspiracy in relation to a terrorist company”, it added. She joined fighters in the conflict zones in Syria in 2014 and surrendered to Turkish authorities in October 2018. A wave of attacks, claimed by the Islamic State, had broken the calm several times in France. The bloodiest terror attack took place in Paris in November 2015, when a series of explosions and shootings left 130 people dead.”


Deutsche Welle: German Intelligence Agency Warns Of 'Islamic State' Attacks

“It was the first time Thomas Haldenwang, president of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, or BfV, hosted his agency's traditional symposium. The event on Monday in Berlin was entitled “Mobilization Capability in Political Extremism” — referring to issues beyond Islamists, a group that was almost exclusively the focus of attention in recent years under his controversial predecessor, Hans-Georg Maassen. Haldenwang also put right-wing and left-wing extremists on the agenda. Despite this shift in focus, Haldenwang neither ignored nor trivialized religiously motivated extremism. People should not be deceived by the fact that the “Islamic State” (IS) has suffered a military defeat in Syria and Iraq, he said. Referring to the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka that left several hundred people dead, Haldenwang added that IS has gone underground as a terrorist organization and said he fears their attacks could impact potential imitators in other regions of the world. IS followers in Western Europe have been spreading propaganda — including in German. “This propaganda continues to call for attacks on Western targets,” Haldenwang told DW. “Unfortunately, we know enough Islamist terrorists who are pursuing these plans.”

Southeast Asia

Al Jazeera: Sri Lanka Under Nationwide Curfew After Crowds Attack Mosques

“Sri Lanka has imposed a nationwide overnight curfew after the worst outbreak of communal violence since the deadly Easter bombings. A Muslim man was reportedly slashed to death in Sri Lanka on Monday, making him the first fatality in a violent new backlash against the Easter attacks. The 45-year-old man died shortly after admission to a hospital in Puttalam district during anti-Muslim rioting, police told AFP news agency.       Police imposed the island-wide curfew from 9pm local time (15:30 GMT) to 4am, a police statement. Officials told AFP the curfew was aimed at preventing an escalation of violence, after a second day of anti-Muslim riots in the country. Curfews were previously limited to specific areas where attacks had taken place, including Puttalam, Kurunegala and Gamphala districts near Colombo. Residents in Muslim areas of North Western Province said crowds attacked mosques and damaged Muslim-owned businesses for a second day on Monday. “There are hundreds of rioters, police and army are just watching. They have burnt our mosques and smashed many shops owned by Muslims,” a resident, who asked not to be identified, told the Reuters news agency. “When we try to come out of our house, police tell us to stay inside.”

The Defense Post: Malaysia Police Arrest 4 Linked To ISIS Bomb Plot

“Malaysian police said Monday, May 13 that they have arrested four militants linked to Islamic State who were in possession of explosives and planned to attack non-Muslim places of worship. The suspects – a Malaysian who led the group, two Rohingya from Myanmar and one Indonesian – were detained last week in raids around Kuala Lumpur and in eastern Terengganu state. Malaysia’s national police chief Abdul Hamid Bador described them as an “Islamic State cell” and said they planned to “assassinate high-profile individuals and attack Hindu, Christian and Buddhist places of worship in Malaysia.” He did not give any details about who the high-profile individuals were. Police also seized six improvised explosive devices, a pistol and 15 bullets, he said. The planned attacks were to avenge the high-profile death of a Muslim fireman during riots at an Indian temple outside Kuala Lumpur last year, police said. One of the Rohingya admitted supporting the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, a militant group blamed for attacks in Myanmar that sparked an army crackdown, and had also planned to target the Myanmar embassy in Kuala Lumpur, police said. The second Rohingya was a 25-year-old laborer who admitted to being militant with ties to ISIS, police said.”

The Straits Times: Indonesia Remembers Victims Of ISIS-Family Suicide Bombings

“An Indonesian church on Monday (May 13) remembered the victims of suicide bombings carried out by an ISIS-inspired family, one year on from the attacks that highlighted the extremist group's global reach. On May 13 last year, a family of six - including two girls aged nine and 12 - blew themselves up at the Santa Maria Catholic Church and two other churches in Surabaya during Sunday morning services, killing over a dozen congregants and wounding scores more. The next day, a family who went to the same Koranic study group as the first attackers staged suicide bombings at a police station in Indonesia's second-biggest city, wounding 10. Several hundred people gathered at the Santa Maria church on Monday for a memorial prayer session and to hear survivor accounts of the bloodshed, which had raised fears that suicide bomber families could be a terrifying new modus operandi for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group. “I have learned to move on and not be traumatised by the attacks because that's what they (terrorists) want,” said Desmonda, a Christian woman who survived last year's bombings. ISIS claimed the Surabaya bombings and the families were linked to local extremist group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), which supports ISIS.”


Fox News: ISIS Still Uses Instagram To Promote Jihad And Provoke Terror Attacks, Study Says

“ISIS extremists still use Instagram ”to promote jihad and incite support for terror attacks on the West,” according to an investigation by British newspaper The Daily Telegraph. However, Instagram maintains terrorists aren’t welcomed on the platform as parent company Facebook continues to crack down on dangerous users. The investigation indicates that the Islamic State circumvents the Facebook-owned social media platform to celebrate the killing of nonbelievers with everything from images of the ISIS logo, dead soldiers and beheadings to photos of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi himself.  “The investigation exposes serious flaws in the ability of the social media giants to police their sites and prevent extremists exploiting them to promote their causes,” Telegraph reporter Charles Hymas wrote. “The investigation uncovered dozens of accounts daily on Instagram carrying images of terror attacks in Syria, threats to expand the jihad to the rest of the world, a beheading video, Isis fighters combat training, al Baghdadi speeches, posters extolling jihad and very young children in combat gear.” An Instagram spokesperson told Fox News that “there is no place for terrorists, terrorist propaganda, or the praising of terror activity” on the platform.”

CNBC: Big Tech Must Take The Lead Against Online Hate

“This week, French President Emmanuel Macron and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will co-chair a meeting of technology executives and global leaders with the ultimate aim of curbing violent extremism online. The meeting was arranged after a gunman killed 50 people at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch in March. Tech companies faced stiff criticism for their inability to prevent a live-stream of the attacks which was widely shared on social media. Representatives from Google, Twitter, Facebook and Microsoft are all expected to attend, and Macron has already met with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg last week. France wants to introduce new rules which would punish any site that publishes violent content or extreme views. Of late, large tech firms have displayed an increased willingness to curb what they deem as extremist views on their platforms. Facebook has banned several figures it regards as “dangerous individuals,” including Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader who has expressed anti-Semitic views. Alex Jones, host of right-wing conspiracy website InfoWars and its U.K. editor Paul Joseph Watson are also now banned.”