Eye on Extremism: May 15

The Washington Examiner: Thousands Of ISIS Fighters Remain Undefeated In Underground Cells, Coalition General Admits

“Despite the destruction of the Islamic State's physical caliphate in March, thousands of its fighters have simply gone underground and remain a significant threat, carrying out deadly attacks, a senior coalition military officer said Tuesday. “It has been reorganizing itself into a network of cells and intent on striking key leaders, village elders, and military personnel to undermine the security and stability in Iraq and Syria,” British Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika, a senior spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, said from Baghdad in a briefing for Pentagon reporters. “Daesh fighters are still ambushing security patrols, detonating [improvised explosive devices], and conducting kidnappings,” said Ghika, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS. “Despite its territorial setbacks, Daesh is still having successes, and its ideology still inspires people around the world.” Ghika said there are “on the order of 10,000” members of ISIS in Iraq and several thousand in Syria, including people who are not fighters but support the group. Many of the ISIS fighters the U.S.-led coalition drove out of the terrorist group's final stronghold in Syria are Iraqis, and most of them have returned to Iraq and have been hiding in mountain caves, where they have been targeted by U.S., coalition, and Iraqi airstrikes in recent weeks.”

The New York Times: Yemen’s Houthi Rebels Attack Saudi Oil Facilities, Escalating Tensions In Gulf

“Yemen’s Houthi rebels carried out multiple drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities on Tuesday, a day after Saudi Arabia said two of its oil tankers had been damaged in an act of sabotage, ratcheting up tensions in the region. A Houthi spokesman, Mohammed Abdul Salam, claimed responsibility for the drone strikes on Twitter, saying that they were a response to Saudi “aggression” and “genocide” in Yemen. Although the Houthis are backed by Iran, it was unclear whether the attacks were related to increasing tensions between Iran and the United States and its allies in the Persian Gulf. A total of four oil tankers were damaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates on Sunday in what the Emirati government called acts of sabotage. Though little hard information has emerged about the attacks, American and Gulf suspicions have centered on Iran, in an area already jittery about the prospect of a violent clash with the republic. The Trump administration has warned of planned aggression by Iran or its proxies, though it has not elaborated on that contention, and it has deployed military forces to the region. But both sides said Tuesday that they were not looking for a war, even as the threats and counterthreats continued.”

NBC News: Rescued U.S. Hostage Was Due To Be Given To Al Qaeda-Linked Katibat Macina

“The American hostage freed by a pre-dawn rescue operation in Burkina Faso last week would have been transferred to an Al Qaeda-linked group had the high-risk raid not occurred, according to French authorities. Two French tourists, a South Korean national and the U.S. woman were being transported north toward Mali when French special forces stormed their captors' hideout. Two French naval commandos were killed in the mission, which was authorized by President Emmanuel Macron. While the identity of their captors remains unclear, the hostages were destined to be transferred to a group known as Katibat Macina, French Army Chief of Staff Gen. Francois Lecointre said. The risk of them ending up with an extremist group in Mali — which would have made efforts to free them impossible — triggered the operation early Friday, Lecointre added.”

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Embassy Staff To Leave Iraq As Iran Tensions Mount

“The U.S. ordered all its nonemergency staff to leave Iraq immediately, amid heightened tensions with Iran over recent attacks against oil tankers and facilities in the Persian Gulf region. The decision comes amid fears that Iran-allied militia in Iraq could target U.S. citizens and soldiers in the country. Normal visa services will be temporarily suspended both at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and the U.S. Consulate in Erbil, according to a brief statement posted on the website of the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Iraq, it noted. The order comes after the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Sunday advised all U.S. citizens to remain vigilant due to heightened tensions in Iraq.”

Al Arabiya: Libyan Parliament Designates The Muslim Brotherhood As A Terrorist Organization

“The formerly- Tobruk- based Libyan parliament on Tuesday classified the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. The decision came after the measure was passed with a majority vote. National Defense and Security Committee member in parliament, Tarek al-Jaroushi, said that the Libyan National Army (LNA) has evidence of Muslim Brotherhood leaders residing between Turkey and Qatar. A statement on the Libyan parliament’s website revealed that legal action would be taken against a Muslim Brotherhood member Mohamed Margham who, in a recording which was handed to the National Defense and Security Committee, demanded Turkish military intervention in Libya.”

France 24: Macron, Ardern Host Paris Summit Against Online Extremism

“French President Emmanuel Macron and New Zealand’s premier Jacinda Ardern will host other world leaders and leading tech chiefs on Wednesday to launch an ambitious new initiative aimed at curbing extremism online. The initiative, known as the 'Christchurch call', was pushed by Ardern after a self-described white supremacist gunned down 51 people in a massacre at two mosques in the New Zealand city in March, the country’s worst atrocity of recent times. Participants will be asked to commit to pledges to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content on social media and other online platforms. The political meeting will run in parallel to an initiative launched by Macron called 'Tech for Good' which will bring together 80 tech chiefs in Paris to find a way for new technologies to work for the common good. The summit comes as there is a growing realisation that the current abuse of social media by extremists must be countered, after the Christchurch attacker broadcast live footage on Facebook from a head-mounted camera. Ardern has been the driving force behind the Paris summit following the tragedy. The New Zealand leader earned huge international prominence and respect after the attacks by reaching out to Muslim communities at home and vowing a widescale crackdown on extremist content."

United States

CNN: Tackle White Supremacy As Terrorism, Experts Say

“Americans are being killed. Murdered not for what they have done or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Slaughtered again and again because, whether Jewish, or black, or simply not “pure” white, they are seen as a pestilence to be purged. Their murderers are followers of a vile and hateful ideology that meets the FBI definition of terrorism. But some top current and former law enforcement officials say that they are not treated as terrorists, because they are American, and they are white. But amid the rising number of deadly white supremacist attacks, the officials say that must change. White supremacy must be called terrorism and tackled with the same vigor as ISIS and al Qaeda. Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance came to that realization while investigating the homicide of a black man in the center of New York City. 66-year-old Timothy Caughman was walking alone in Midtown Manhattan collecting cans to recycle when a man approached from behind. That man plunged a sword through Caughman's chest. Caughman uttered his last words as he turned toward his killer: “Why are you doing this?” The man continued to stab him. Caughman bled to death. The answer to Caughman's question would soon become clear.”

The New York Times: U.S. Orders Partial Evacuation Of Embassy In Baghdad

“The State Department ordered a partial evacuation of the United States Embassy in Baghdad on Wednesday, responding to what the Trump administration said was a threat linked to Iran, one that has led to an accelerated movement of American ships and bombers into the Persian Gulf. The department ordered “nonemergency U.S. government employees,” at both the embassy in Baghdad and the consulate in Erbil, to leave the country. The order applies primarily to full-time diplomats posted to Iraq by State Department headquarters in Washington, and an embassy statement said that visa services in Iraq would be suspended as a result. Contractors who provide security, food and other such services will remain in place for now.”

BBC: US Does Not Seek War With Iran, Says Mike Pompeo

“US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the United States does not seek a war with Iran, amid rapidly growing tensions between the two countries. Speaking in Russia, Mr Pompeo said the US was looking for Iran to behave like a "normal country" but would respond if its interests were attacked. Meanwhile, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has also said there will be no war with the US. Last week, the US deployed warships and warplanes to the Gulf. Tensions escalated even further after an incident with four tankers off the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, with US investigators reportedly believing Iran or groups it supports were involved.”

AL.com: 'It Was In Our Backyard’: Alabama Terrorist Camp Report Shocks Macon County

“An Alabama State Trooper was called to the scene on Dec. 13, 2017 when a vehicle overturned in Chilton County. The driver, Siraj Wahhaj, was with an adult and seven children and said they were going from Georgia to New Mexico for a camping trip, according to news reports at the time. The trooper’s report said he found no camping equipment but noted Wahhaj had five guns, a bag of ammunition and a bulletproof vest. “Mr. Wahhaj seemed to be very concerned about his weapons and stated several times that they were his property and that he owned them legally,” according to the report, shared by CBS News. It was the last time one of those children -- Wahhaj’s 3-year-old son Abdul-ghani Wahhaj -- was seen alive. The boy’s body was found at a remote desert compound in Taos County, N.M., where 11 children were found living in filth, on Aug. 7, 2018 -- nearly eight months after the Alabama wreck and a day after what would have been Abdul-ghani’s 4th birthday. Authorities say the boy was denied health care and died during an exorcism. Prosecutors have said they will show Wahhaj, who has pleaded not guilty in Abdul-ghani’s death, was using the New Mexico compound to launch an anti-government plot and talked of jihad and martyrdom.”

Syria

Fox News: Syria TV Says 6 Killed In Insurgent Attack On Displaced Camp

“Syria state TV says six people were killed when insurgents lobbed missiles into a government-controlled displaced people's camp in the country's northwest. Al-Ikhbariya TV said the dead from Tuesday's attack on the Nayrab camp southeast of Aleppo city included two children. An Al-Ikhbariya journalist in Aleppo said the missiles landed around sunset, when Muslims observing the holy month of Ramadan break their fast. The camp houses displaced Syrians and Palestinian refugees who have been living in Syria. The attack on Nayrab comes amid an unprecedented escalation between the government and insurgents who have a last foothold in northwestern Syria, adjacent to Aleppo city. Government troops have been advancing on the insurgent stronghold that is home to 3 million people, gaining ground on its southern edge and displacing tens of thousands.”

The Washington Post: Syria TV Says 6 Killed In Insurgent Attack On Displaced Camp

“Syrian state TV says six people were killed when insurgents lobbed missiles into a government-controlled displaced people’s camp in the country’s northwest. Al-Ikhbariya TV said the dead from Tuesday’s attack on the Nayrab camp southeast of Aleppo city included two children. An Al-Ikhbariya journalist in Aleppo said the missiles landed around sunset, when Muslims observing the holy month of Ramadan break their fast. The camp houses displaced Syrians and Palestinian refugees who have been living in Syria. The attack on Nayrab comes amid an unprecedented escalation between the government and insurgents who have a last foothold in northwestern Syria, adjacent to Aleppo city. Government troops have been advancing on the insurgent stronghold that is home to 3 million people, gaining ground on its southern edge and displacing tens of thousands.”

Dhaka Tribune: Monitor: 12 Dead In Exchange Of Fire In Northwest Syria

“Twelve civilians were killed on Tuesday during exchanges of fire in northwestern Syria, including six slain when jihadist rockets hit the city of Aleppo, a war monitor said. Syria's second city Aleppo is under the control of President Bashar al-Assad's regime but it is located only a short distance from jihadist-held Idlib province. The regime and its ally Russia have intensified attacks on Idlib and neighbouring Aleppo, Hama and Latakia provinces despite a months-old buffer zone deal intended to shield it from any government offensive. On Tuesday, six civilians were killed by "rocket attacks by jihadist groups" in a southern neighbourhood of Aleppo, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor. State television confirmed six civilians had been killed in "terrorist" strikes, using the regime's terminology to refer to both jihadists and rebel fighters.”

Human Rights Watch: Syria: Reveal Fate Of Missing Victims Of ISIS

“Families whose relatives disappeared in the custody of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) while the group controlled parts of Syria are struggling to learn what happened to their relatives, Human Rights Watch said. The Coalition of Families of Kidnapped by ISIS, a new organization of Syrian families with missing relatives, and Human Rights Watch are holding a joint news conference on May 14, 2019, in Paris. The international coalition against ISIS should make information-sharing with families a priority and help create a formal mechanism to address the issue of the missing and to allow families to register their cases, Human Rights Watch said. This mechanism should maintain a database of information on the missing, help under-resourced local authorities in northeast Syria exhume mass graves, and process appropriately obtained information on the status of those ISIS held. “Now that the territorial battle against ISIS is over, the anti-ISIS coalition should address the terrible ISIS legacy,” said Nadim Houry, terrorism/counterterrorism director at Human Rights Watch. “A critical issue for thousands of families is uncovering what happened to those ISIS abducted.”

Iran

Al Arabiya: Pompeo: Nuclear Deal Increased Terrorism, Malign Behavior From Iranians

“United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that all kinds of bad things happened during the nuclear deal and that it increased terrorism and led to a radical increase in malign behavior from the Iranians. In an interview to CNBC, Pompeo said: “there were more missile launches and a radical increase in malign behavior from Iranians toward entities that range from the Houthis to Hezbollah,” Pompeo said. “All of that occurred while we were in the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action], and President Trump is determined to change that behavior from the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said. During the interview, Pompeo said that the European partners are important allies with respect to Iran. “When we talk about threats of terror, and we talk about threats of destabilization, and we understand the risk from Hezbollah and the Houthis and from Iraqi militias under Iranian control and not under the control of the Iraqi Government, which is what we want, I think the Europeans understand and they share our concerns.”

Daily Star: Hezbollah Will Join Battle If US Hits Iran

“Hezbollah and other Iranian-backed Shiite forces will join the battle if Iran were to be attacked by the U.S. or Israel over its nuclear program, political analysts said Tuesday.”

Associated Press: Iran’s Supreme Leader Makes Uranium Enrichment Threat

“Iran’s supreme leader issued a veiled threat in the same speech in which he stated that “no one is seeking war,” saying it wouldn’t be difficult for the Islamic Republic to enrich uranium to weapons-grade levels amid rising tensions with the U.S., state media reported Wednesday. The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, meanwhile, ordered all non-essential, non-emergency government staff on Wednesday to leave Iraq immediately amid escalating tensions with Iran. Washington did not publicly provide any evidence to back up claims of an increased threat from Tehran. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s comments late Tuesday came after Yemen’s Houthi rebels launched a coordinated drone attack on a critical oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia. A satellite image obtained by The Associated Press shows one of the two pumping stations attacked by the drones apparently intact.”

Iraq

Iraqi News: Islamic State Militants Kill Two Civilians In Iraq’s Diyala

“Islamic State militants killed two tribesmen in in an attack in Diyala province late Monday, local media reported Tuesday as the country struggles against remnant extremist cells. The attack, the second of its kind in Habib Abdallah village the town of Khanaqin, left a father and his son dead, according to Shafaaq News. Iraq declared victory over Islamic State militants late 2017, but continues to sustain occasional attacks by the extremist group against civilians and security forces.”

Iraqi News: Iraqi Security Arrest Daesh Tax Collector, Wife In Mosul

“Iraqi security forces arrested a Daesh (Islamic State) member and his wife who had used to act as tax collectors for the extremist group in Mosul in Mosul, north of the country, local media reported. BasNews website quoted Nineveh police Captain, Mohamed Jassem, saying the pair was arrested as per a tip-off, and were being referred to interrogators preparing to send them to justice. Islamic State declared in 2014 its self-styled “caliphate” rule from Mosul, before Iraqi forces recaptured the city three years later. Iraqi security continues to hunt for the extremist group’s vestiges across their former strongholds. The group had been notorious for imposing taxes on locals, forced marriages, sex slavery, and execution of violators of its extremist religious code.”

Kurdistan 24: Suspected ISIS Attack Leaves Two Kurdish Civilians Dead In Disputed Khanaqin

“An armed group suspected of being Islamic State militants attacked the villages of Ahmed-Taher and Habib in the disputed Khanaqin district late on Monday, killing two Kurdish civilians. According to Jaafar Mustafa, the head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) office in Khanaqin, one of the victims, Dilar Najim, came across the armed group while he was driving his vehicle. The militants shot Najim and burned his car, Mustafa told Kurdistan 24, adding the victim had called home for help after he was injured but was shot dead in cold blood shortly after.  Mustafa said the second victim was Najim’s father who had rushed to the scene in an attempt to rescue his son, but the armed group killed him as well. Over the past few months, Islamic State militants have carried out insurgency attacks in villages far from the city, but have now gotten much closer to Khanaqin’s center, according to Mustafa. In a statement on Tuesday, a tribal leader in Khanaqin said Monday night’s incident proves the security situation in the city and its surrounding areas is deteriorating. He warned that if the Peshmerga forces do not return to the district, the attacks, kidnappings, and security gaps in the area will remain.”

Afghanistan

Xinhua: At Least 15 Militants Killed In E. Afghan Province

“At least 15 Taliban militants have been killed, five wounded and three others arrested in eastern Afghan province of Ghazni, the military said Tuesday. “Afghan Special Operations Forces conducted operations in Shely locality of Andar district and Shinkai area of Gelan district on Monday. The security forces received hostile fire during the mission and returned fire, killing 13 enemy combatants,” the army Corps 203 Tandar based in the region said in a statement. Three suspected militants were arrested and six vehicles and eight motorcycles were destroyed by the security forces in the raids in the restive province, 125 km south of the country's capital Kabul, according to the statement. In addition, one militant was killed and five others wounded after NATO-led coalition forces launched an airstrike in Shaleez locality of Ghazni, the statement added. One militant was killed following an engagement between army personnel and militants in Tawhid Abad, an area on the outskirts of the provincial capital Ghazni city. In a separate incident, one civilian was killed in a landmine explosion in Sadokhil area of Muqar district of Ghazni, according to the statement. Fighting rages across the war-torn country and clashes between security forces and Taliban have been continuing in at least 25 out of the country's 34 provinces since early April when Taliban launched a yearly rebel offensive.”

Pakistan

Gulf News: Four Lawmen Killed In Pakistan Bombing: Police

“Four police were killed and nine people wounded when militants detonated a bomb hidden under a motorbike in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, police said on Monday. The Pakistani Taliban claimed the attack. Two of the wounded were also police, senior police official Abdul Razaq Cheema told AFP. “Two of the injured are critical,” he added. The motorbike was parked outside a mosque where police personnel were posted in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province. The attack came two days after Baloch separatists attacked a luxury hotel in the province’s second city, Gwadar, where development of a port is the flagship project of a multibillion dollar Chinese infrastructure initiative in Pakistan. Five people including a soldier died in the hotel attack, which also left all three militants dead. The violence comes during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest and poorest province which borders Afghanistan and Iran, is rife with Islamist, separatist and sectarian insurgencies. The Pakistani military has been waging war on militants there since 2004, and security forces are frequently targeted.”

Yemen

Al Jazeera: Houthi Drone Attacks In Saudi 'Show New Level Of Sophistication'

“Drone attacks on a Saudi oil pipeline west of Riyadh on Tuesday have revealed an apparent significant leap in the capabilities of the Ansar Allah fighting group, otherwise known as the Houthis. The Aramco East-West pipeline, stretching across the country to the port and oil terminal at Yenbu, was damaged in two places as pumping stations were hit. The attacks caused minor damage but alarmed an international community already rattled by the sharp downturn in relations between Iran and the United States. Information on the attacks is scarce, posing more questions than providing answers. Drones have been increasingly used by the Houthis in operations against the Saudi-UAE-led coalition. In July 2018 a drone exploded at Abu Dhabi airport causing only minor damage but sending a message to the UAE that its economic interests were not invulnerable.”

Saudi Arabia

CNBC: Oil Prices Jump As Saudi Energy Minister Reports Drone ‘Terrorism’ Against Pipeline Infrastructure

“Oil prices rose sharply Tuesday morning on reports of a drone attack at oil pumping stations in Saudi Arabia. The incident is an “act of terrorism,” Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said according to the Saudi state news agency SPA, describing attacks on two oil pumping stations near Riyadh for the country’s East-West pipeline carried out with bomb-laden drones. Brent crude futures were up 1.7% at $71.39 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures settled at $61.86 per barrel, up 1.2%. The fire has since been contained, according to the SPA. Al-Falih asserted that oil production was not interrupted. State oil company Saudi Aramco said that its oil and gas supplies to Europe have not been affected, and that no one was injured. “This act of terrorism and sabotage in addition to recent acts in the Arabian Gulf do not only target the Kingdom but also the security of world oil supplies and the global economy,” the SPA described al-Falih as saying. Top of Form

Middle East

Gulf News: UAE Court Upholds Sentence For Man Promoting Terror Groups

“The State Security Court of the Federal Supreme Court on Monday upheld a five-year jail sentence of a man for seeking to damage the reputation of the UAE and promoting terrorist groups. The defendant, who is a 21-year-old citizen of Comoros Islands, was also fined Dh1 million. He was convicted of seeking to damage the UAE’s reputation and the relationship of the country with its neighbours by publishing false reports and information on Twitter. The man was found guilty of swearing allegiance to the terrorist organisation Daesh on Twitter. He was also convicted of publishing material and video clips on social media to promote the terrorist ideology of Daesh and urge young people to join it. The court confiscated his electronic devices and ordered him to pay all judicial costs. Under the UAE cybercrimes law, an imprisonment period not more than five years, and a fine between Dh500,000 and Dh1 million will be handed down to whoever publishes information on the computer network or though information technology means with the aim to incite hate. For first-time offenders, the court may rule for the accused to be placed under electronic probation, and prevented from using information technology means during a period not more than the maximum penalty prescribed.”

Libya

The Libya Observer: SPF Warns ISIS Is Taking Advantage Of The Unrest In Tripoli

“Spokesman for Sirte Protection Force (SPF), Taha Hadid, said Monday that ISIS is taking advantage of the ongoing events in Tripoli to reorganize themselves and resume their activities. Hadid told the Russian news agency, Sputnik, that they will continue to conduct fixed and mobile patrols in the west, east, and south of the city to repel any terrorist acts and to support the state's civil and security institutions, stressing that there is no other force in the vicinity of Sirte other than the SPF-aligned forces, which were called after detecting suspicious movements of ISIS in the south-west of the country.”

Nigeria

Fox News: 54 Women And Children Rescued From Boko Haram, Nigerian Military Says

“The Nigerian army has rescued 54 Nigerian civilians – 29 women and 25 children – from the clutches of the terrorist group, Boko Haram, the African country’s military announced Monday. According to military spokesperson Sagir Musa, troops retrieved the captives during a clearance operation over the weekend in Borno State. The fighters are believed to have fled in the area ahead of troops’ arrival. Boko Haram insurgents for years have waged war across swaths of northern Nigeria, carrying out bombings of markets and large-scale assassinations, with mass kidnappings also a hallmark of its bloody revolt. Five years ago, the world’s eyes watched aghast after the group kidnapped almost 300 schoolgirls from Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria. Last February, a further 100 schoolgirls were seized after Boko Haram attacked a village in the northeastern state of Yobe. The protracted violence has prompted some 90,000 Nigerians to flee to villages in Cameroon, which is struggling with its own internal conflict. Officials, including leadership from the UN’s Refugee Agency UNHCR, this week were in discussions to develop a “safe” repatriation process. Over the past decade, Boko Haram is estimated to have killed more than 100,000 people, but in the past three years, the group has suffered blows to its survival, with state forces stepping up its decimation of the ISIS-affiliated outfit.”

France 24: Nigerians Hold Birthday Rally For Girl Held By Boko Haram

“Nigerian activists Tuesday staged a rally to mark the 16th birthday of a girl who was abducted by Boko Haram 449 days ago. Leah Sharibu is the only girl still in captivity following the abduction of more than 100 female students on February 19, 2018, from a secondary school in the northeast state of Yobe. Almost all were released after about a month after negotiations with the Nigerian government, but Sharibu was not, allegedly because she refused to renounce her Christian faith. Charity groups, most of which are affiliated with churches, organised the rally to mark her 16th birthday and press the government to work harder for her release. Dozens of activists staged their march at the Unity Fountains in Abuja's Central District. Their aim was to "remember Leah in prayer and also to engage in a peaceful march to ask for her release," the rally coordinator, Reverend Gideon Para-Mallam, told AFP.”

Somalia

Xinhua: Somali Security Forces Kill 14 Al-Shabab Militants In Foiled Attack

“Somali security forces killed 14 al-Shabab militants after they foiled a terrorist attack by the terrorist group in Bariire town in southern region, the government said on Tuesday. The ministry of information said the terrorists were killed on Monday night during a fierce fighting between the Somali National Army (SNA) and the militants in Lower Shabelle province. The terrorists were killed on Monday night when SNA successfully repelled an attempted attack by terrorist infiltration into Bariire town in Lower Shabelle province, the ministry said. Al-Shabab, which controls large parts of rural southern and central Somalia, continues to carry out high-profile attacks in Mogadishu and elsewhere, targeting bases manned by African Union and Somali security forces. Al-Shabab forces have been fighting to overthrow the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu.”

Africa

The Washington Post: Mali Calls For More EU Help Amid Attacks In Africa’s Sahel

“The impoverished West African country of Mali on Tuesday urged the European Union to step up support for the Sahel region amid a spate of extremist attacks, as France buried two officers killed during a hostage rescue mission. “It’s a race against time,” Foreign Minister Tiebile Drame said, following attacks in central Mali and across the border in northern Burkina Faso. He called for action from “Europe and other countries in the world that have the means and feel concerned by the terrorist threat.” Speaking to reporters in Brussels after a meeting of EU and Sahel country government ministers, Drame said that “we need support. We need to speed up procedures. We need international mobilization in a concrete way.” Security has deteriorated in the Sahel over the past decade, with extremist attacks occurring frequently. Both fighters and people seeking better lives in Europe move easily across the region’s long, porous borders. Several groups linked to the Islamic State organization and al-Qaida are active in the region. In a rare video released late last month, Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi congratulated “brothers” in Burkina Faso, Mali and other countries for pledging allegiance.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Tunisian Woman Lands In Jail Over Terror Plot

“The court of first instance has sentenced a Tunisian female terrorist to seven years in prison for inciting people to adopt extremist ideology and plotting to carry out an attack with an explosive belt. Tunisian counter-terrorism agencies launched an investigation over the suspect’s role in encouraging young men to join ISIS in Syria by using several websites through pseudonyms. Investigators also accused the woman of inciting against state institutions. The counter-terrorism agencies found that she was promising young men to marry them in exchange for carrying out a terrorist attack using an explosive belt. But security forces thwarted her terrorist plot in 2017 after arresting her.  Another woman, Mona Qibla, staged a suicide attack in the center of the Tunisian capital on October 29, 2018, which resulted in the injury of 15 security personnel and five civilians. Separately, the Tunisian Counter-Terrorism Committee issued a list of 103 terrorists whose funds have been frozen for joining terrorist organizations. Among those on the list are six extremists who have been recently killed in operations carried out by anti-terrorist bodies.” 

United Kingdom

BBC News: Omar Ashfaq Jailed For Leaving 'Violent Footage' In Shoes At Mosques

“A man who left USB sticks containing terrorist propaganda inside shoes at six mosques in England has been jailed. Omar Ashfaq, 24, of St Thomas Road, in Derby, left 17 of the sticks in footwear while Muslim worshipers were praying between May and June last year. Derbyshire Police said the sticks contained “violent footage and propaganda encouraging terrorism”. Ashfaq admitted 11 terrorism offences and was given four years and six months in prison at Birmingham Crown Court. He was also sentenced to one year on licence. During last year's Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, he left the sticks at mosques in Derby, Loughborough, Coventry, Birmingham and Luton. Among the material were two videos entitled 'ISIS children execute spies' and 'ISIS burn Turkish Apostate soldiers'. Worshippers who found the sticks informed mosque authorities who were able to identify Ashfaq from CCTV footage. One USB stick was discovered by a nine-year-old boy, who had gone to the mosque with his father. When Ashfaq was arrested at his home, police found a further 15 memory sticks inside bags marked 'Manchester' and 'Bradford' and notes outlining his plans. A map detailing a route between the mosques was also found.”

BBC: Aras Amiri: British Council Names Employee Jailed By Iran

“The British Council has said it believes one of its Iranian employees, Aras Amiri, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran for spying. Sir Ciarán Devane, chief executive of the UK cultural organisation, said he was dismayed by the reported sentence and was "profoundly concerned for Aras' safety and wellbeing". "We firmly refute the accusation levied against her," he added. Iran said Ms Amiri had confessed to co-operating with British intelligence. She was detained in March 2018 while visiting her elderly grandmother, and was charged two months later with "acting against national security".Ms Amiri's cousin, Mohsen Omrani, told the BBC that she was currently being held in the same section of Tehran's Evin prison as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a dual British-Iranian national sentenced to five years in prison for spying in 2016.”

Germany

Associated Press: Anti-Semitic Crime In Germany Up, Amid Uptick In Hate Crimes

“The number of anti-Semitic and anti-foreigner incidents rose in Germany last year, despite an overall drop in politically motivated crimes, according to statistics released Tuesday. The Interior Ministry’s latest annual report on politically motivated crimes showed that anti-Semitic incidents rose 19.6% to 1,799 from 1,504 in 2017, with 69 classified as acts of violence. Of the total, 1,603 were committed by far-right perpetrators, while 102 and 52 respectively were listed as crimes committed out of “foreign ideological” or “religious ideological” grounds. Events characterized as anti-foreigner crimes increased 19.7% to 7,701 amid an overall uptick in hate crimes to 8,113 from 7,913. The far-right was responsible for 7,064 of the anti-foreigner crimes, and 7,153 of the overall hate crimes, according to the report.”

Southeast Asia

Reuters: A Network Of Extremism Expands

“Aadhil Ameez, a 24-year-old Sri Lankan software engineer, who was monitored by Indian intelligence agencies three years ago for links with Islamic State suspects, is believed to have provided technical and logistical support to the groups that carried out the attacks on churches and hotels. Four sources in Sri Lankan investigating agencies said they believed Ameez was a key link between the National Tawheed Jamaath (NTJ) led by radical preacher Zahran Hashim and the Jamathei Millathu Ibrahim (JMI), the two groups that Sri Lankan authorities have said carried out the attacks. A Reuters investigation has pieced together a network of characters directly involved in the attacks or targeted in the police raids that followed, who largely managed to stay under the radar as they plotted the deadliest attack in Sri Lanka since the end of a civil war 10 years ago. Aadhil has been arrested and is in police custody, the sources said. His arrest has not been made public, but when asked by Reuters, a police spokesman confirmed Aadhil was taken into custody on April 25, four days after the attacks. Aadhil, who described himself on his LinkedIn profile as a senior engineer/programmer/web designer with a masters degree in computer science and a bachelors in political science from U.K. universities, could not be reached for comment.”

The Wall Street Journal: Buddhist Mobs Target Muslims In Sri Lanka Following Deadly Easter Bombings

“Rampaging mobs from the majority Buddhist population attacked Muslim communities Monday night, police and witnesses said, igniting fears of a new phase of violence in Sri Lanka following deadly church bombings on Easter Sunday claimed by Islamic State. The new attacks occurred in a cluster of towns in the country’s northwest, where the Muslim minority are often owners of shops and other businesses. In interviews, some Muslim residents said they huddled inside as the mobs approached, while others fled their homes into fields and jungle. The mobs ransacked homes, burned vehicles and looted shops. They vandalized some mosques, burned Qurans and urinated in water stored for ritual washing, residents said.”

The Straits Times: Terror Alert In Jakarta: More Than 32,000 Troops Deployed Ahead Of Election Results

“Indonesia is deploying more than 32,000 troops to secure its capital Jakarta, following intelligence of possible terrorist attacks during the release of the presidential election results in the week ahead. Security agencies are scrambling to foil what they suspect is a plot by a local militant group to set off bombs during street protests, expected after the official vote count is announced by the elections commission (KPU). “There are indications of terrorists possibly mounting attacks when there is a mass gathering at the KPU building,” said national police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo on Monday (May 13). “So we are taking precautionary measures to optimally thwart such acts.” Brigadier-General Dedi said police and military personnel will also set up security cordons around the Bawaslu elections supervisory body headquarters in downtown Jakarta. The building is located in Jalan M. H. Thamrin, a major thoroughfare in the city where the first terrorist attack in Indonesia claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) played out back in 2016. Last week, supporters of presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto held two street rallies at Bawaslu to pressure the elections watchdog to act on his allegations of electoral fraud at the April 17 polls.”

The Times Of Israel: ISIS Heading Towards South Asia

“Islamic State (ISIS) has come to the limelight of the media in the world, particularly South Asia following the April-2019 Easter Sunday jihadist attacks in Sri Lanka. Although there already are alerts issued by the counter-terrorism and counter-militancy organizations in South Asia about the possible ISIS suicide attacks on the Buddhist and Hindu temples in India and Bangladesh, confession by recently arrested ISIS men in Malaysia proves, this jihadist outfit is plotting massive attacks on non-Muslim places of worship during the month of Ramadan ISIS plotting massive attacks during Ramadan While in Malaysia, four Islamist militants are arrested who belong to Daeshgroup and were in possession of explosives and planned to attack non-Muslim places of worship during the month of Ramadan; some of the Islamic State (ISIS) contacts in the region already are looking for ‘several’ jihadist suicide attacks during the month of Ramadan. Malaysia has been on high alert since Islamic State’s series of attacks in Indonesia in 2017. The arrested four suspects are, two Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, an Indonesian and a Malaysian. Country’s national police chief Hamid Bador described them as an “Islamic State” sleeper cell and said they planned to assassinate high-profile individuals and attack Hindu, Christian and Buddhist places of worship.”

Australia

The Guardian: Brother Of Bourke Street Attacker Pleads Guilty To Preparing For Terrorist Act

“The brother of the man who stabbed the Melbourne cafe owner Sisto Malaspina to death has pleaded guilty to preparing for a New Year’s Eve terrorist attack in the city. At a supreme court of Victoria hearing on Wednesday, Ali Khalif Shire Ali, 22, pleaded guilty to one charge of preparing for a terrorist act, his lawyer, Jarrod Williams, confirmed. Ali, an Australian citizen, was due to stand trial over the accusation that between March and April 2017 he prepared to commit a terrorist act at Federation Square on 31 December the same year. He had previously pleaded not guilty in a committal hearing in Melbourne magistrates court.”

Technology

NBC News: Facebook To Restrict Livestream Feature After Christchurch Attack

“Facebook announced Tuesday night that it will restrict who can use the company’s livestream tool in an effort to limit its use to “cause harm or spread hate,” a company executive said. Facebook said that users who break particular rules will be barred from using the livestream feature, called Facebook Live. Facebook said its “Dangerous Organizations and Individuals” rules would be included in the new policy. The company said it would prevent users who violate “our most serious policies” from using Facebook Live for “set periods of time — for example 30 days — starting on their first offense.” “We plan on extending these restrictions to other areas over the coming weeks, beginning with preventing those same people from creating ads on Facebook,” Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of integrity, wrote in a press release. The announcement comes two months after the mosque attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, that left 51 people dead. The shooter, a white supremacist from Australia, livestreamed the terror attack on Facebook, and led followers to the video with a post on the far-right message board 8chan. It is unclear if the new detection mechanisms would have disallowed the Christchurch shooter from starting a livestream, and Facebook did not comment on if this use would have been prevented.”

The Verge: How Social Networks Are Recruiting Teenage Extremists

“In March, in the aftermath of the Christchurch shooting, I tried to distinguish between internet problems and platform problems. Internet problems arise from the existence of a free and open network that connects most of the world; platform problems arise from features native to the platform. The fact that anti-vaccination zealots can meet online is an internet problem; the fact that Facebook recommended that new mothers join anti-vaccination groups is a platform problem. The recent rise in white supremacist violence around the world has given us fresh reason to ask which aspects of the problem belong to the entire internet, and which belong to our biggest social networks. It seems apparent that the internet is cultivating loose but potent networks of extremists. But what are the mechanics of this radicalization? And what role could platforms play in discouraging it? I thought about that question while reading Joe Bernstein’s unsettling piece about Soph, a 14-year-old YouTuber who has gained a measure of fame (and 800,000 subscribers) by preaching a slur-laden gospel of homophobia, Islamophobia, and racism.”

The Washington Post: The Strange Tale Of An Unlikely Racist Slogan That Went Viral — To Lethal Effect

“Every wave of terrorism has its intellectual point of departure. For al-Qaeda’s attacks in the West, it was Osama bin Laden’s seminal Declaration of Jihad of 1996; in the case of Islamic State-inspired terrorism, it was the announcement of the Islamic caliphate in 2014. The current wave of white-supremacist terrorism, which recently manifested itself in lethal attacks against mosques in New Zealand and a synagogue near San Diego, can be traced back to a much-less-well-known event. It was a chilly November day in 2014 when the French writer Renaud Camus addressed an audience of roughly 500 people at a summit organized by the European white-nativist movement Generation Identity in Paris. At this so-called Remigration meeting, Camus warned of the ethnic, cultural and civilizational substitution of the white European people. He blamed what he called (in his eponymous 2012 book) “the Great Replacement” on the actions and policies of the political, media, industrial and intellectual elites.”

Forbes: Facebook: Breakup And Regulate

“Especially in light of recent events, it is remarkable to think that only 18 months back or so Mark Zuckerberg floated the idea of running for president, and to applause. Those feelings are all gone now. Especially after the recent dustup with his former partner, Chris Hughes, Zuckerberg, the man who once looked like a kind of digital Messiah, now looks considerably more sinister. Hughes, who helped start Facebook and left the firm’s employ some ten years ago, has made his position well know in writing and interviews. He has described Facebook as too powerful with an awesome ability to control information and speech. The firm controls an estimated 80% of the world’s social network revenues. According to Hughes, its position is “unprecedented and un-American.” Hughes has gone on to characterize Zuckerberg as all-powerful within the company.”

The Sun: Parents Warned Against Letting Kids Browse YouTube As Conspiracy Theory, Pseudo Science And Fake News Videos Could ‘Lead Them Into Extremism’

“PARENTS have been warned against letting kids browse YouTube for conspiracy theories, pseudo-science and fake news videos as it could “lead them into extremism”. There are fears that by watching such content, youngsters will veer towards “dark corners of the web”, to see – or post – extremist, racist and violent views, says an investigative report. Ben Elley, an expert on the far right online, told Newshub that many people found it thrilling to be radicalised. He explained they got sucked in as they “really like the idea of radicalising others” and consider their warped views as “heroic”. Elley said that teens in particular are at risk of being drawn to the far-right – including to the likes of online message board 8Chan, where criminals, extremists and those concerned about privacy are increasingly turning to communicate.”

The New York Times: Supreme Court Allows Antitrust Lawsuit Against Apple To Proceed

“The Supreme Court on Monday allowed an enormous antitrust class action against Apple to move forward, saying consumers should be allowed to try to prove that the technology giant had used monopoly power to raise the prices of iPhone apps. The lawsuit is in its early stages, and it must overcome other legal hurdles. But the case brings the most direct legal challenge in the United States to the clout that Apple has built up through its App Store. And it raises questions about how the company has wielded that power, amid a wave of anti-tech sentiment that has also prompted concerns about the dominance of other tech behemoths such as Facebook and Amazon. The court’s 5-to-4 vote featured an unusual alignment of justices, with President Trump’s two appointees on opposite sides. Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, who joined the court in October, wrote the majority opinion, which was also signed by the court’s four more liberal justices. Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, who joined the court in 2017, wrote the dissent.”