Eye on Extremism: May 16

The Wall Street Journal: Hezbollah Said To Be Laundering Money In South American Tri-Border Region

“Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Lebanese militia designated as a terror group by the U.S., is tapping a money-laundering ministate in Latin America that poses an escalating risk to U.S. national security, according to a report published Tuesday. The illicit activities in the so-called tri-border region linking Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay have long been a source of concern for U.S. security officials: After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, it became a surveillance target as a haven for terrorists in the Western Hemisphere. But now Venezuela’s political crisis and Argentina’s inflation, together with entrenched corruption and lax law enforcement, are helping fuel an illicit economy estimated to be worth $43 billion a year, far surpassing Paraguay’s entire gross domestic product, according to the report. The report was prepared by political risk consultancy Asymmetrica, funded and jointly published by the Washington-based nonprofit Counter Extremism Project. The ease of laundering ill-gotten proceeds and the economy of black market cigarettes, narco-trafficking, human trafficking and illegal arms sales have attracted criminal organizations from around the globe.”

Bloomberg: U.S. Sanctions Iran Central Bank Governor For Alleged Terrorist Support

“The U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions Tuesday on Iran’s central bank governor and another senior official in the bank for allegedly providing support for terrorist activities. Treasury named Valiollah Seif, Iran’s central bank governor, and Ali Tarzali, the assistant director of the international department at the central bank of Iran, as “specially designated global terrorists” for allegedly assisting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Quds Force to support Hezbollah. The U.S. accused Seif of playing a role in funneling millions of dollars on behalf of the Quds Force to support Hezbollah. “It is appalling, but not surprising, that Iran’s senior-most banking official would conspire with the IRGC-QF to facilitate funding of terror groups like Hizballah, and it undermines any credibility he could claim in protecting the integrity of the institution as a central bank governor,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “The United States will not permit Iran’s increasingly brazen abuse of the international financial system.”

The New York Times: Four Swordsmen Attack Police In Indonesia Amid A Siege Of Violence

“In the latest of a wave of apparent terrorist attacks in Indonesia, four sword-wielding men were shot dead on Wednesday after ramming a car into a security checkpoint at a provincial police headquarters on the island of Sumatra and attacking officers, the police said. One police officer died in a hospital after being hit by the vehicle, while two others suffered cuts in the attack, which happened shortly after 9 a.m. in Pekanbaru, the capital of Riau Province in central Sumatra, Inspector General Setyo Wasisto, a spokesman for the national police, told reporters. “When entering, their car was blocked by Riau police officers. They then got out of the car and attacked the police guards using long swords,” he said. An Indonesian news reporter who happened to be on the scene was also hurt. A fifth person in the attackers’ car drove off, hitting the police officer who later died, before eventually being captured by pursuing officers.”

Reuters: Chlorine Likely Used In February Attack In Idlib, Syria: Chemical Weapons Agency

“Banned chlorine munitions were likely dropped on a Syrian neighborhood in February, an international body on chemical weapons said on Wednesday, after laboratory tests confirmed the presence of the toxic chemical. In its latest report on the systematic use of banned munitions in Syria’s civil war, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) did not say which party was behind the attack on Saraqib, which lies in rebel-held territory in the province of Idlib. An OPCW fact finding mission for Syria “determined that chlorine was released from cylinders by mechanical impact in the Al Talil neighborhood of Saraqib”, the organization said in a statement.”

The New York Times: New Privacy Rules Could Make This Woman One Of Tech’s Most Important Regulators

“If Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t know who Helen Dixon is, he will soon. From an unassuming townhouse in the Irish capital, Ms. Dixon, the country’s data protection commissioner, leads an agency that was once a bureaucratic backwater. Employees share offices and have few of the perks available in Facebook’s building nearby: The main free amenities here are water, coffee and tea. Yet Ms. Dixon will soon gain vast new authority to investigate and fine Facebook, as well as an array of other technology giants with regional headquarters in Ireland. Amid increased concerns over online privacy, a sweeping new European privacy law could make her one of the world’s most consequential regulators. She is eager to test her newfound power. But the question remains whether her tiny agency is able — or willing — to stand up to tech behemoths of Silicon Valley.”

United States

The New York Times: 1 Killed In Explosion At Office Building In California

“One woman was killed and three other people were injured when an explosion ripped through the first floor of a California office building on Tuesday afternoon, forcing evacuations and prompting a large response from emergency workers. Carrie Braun, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, called the blast suspicious but would not comment further about what specifically had caused it. The authorities, she said late Tuesday, were “still trying to determine whether the explosion was accidental or intentional.” Just after 1 p.m. Tuesday, firefighters were called to the two-story office building at 11 Mareblu in Aliso Viejo, Calif., a city about 50 miles south of Los Angeles, said Capt. Tony Bommarito of the Orange County Fire Authority.”

CNN: US Has 1,000 Open ISIS Investigations But A Steep Drop In Prosecutions

“Despite its losses on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State remains a grave national security threat, according to the Trump administration and terrorism experts. That mixed news was brought home just last week. Last Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security extended its warning of homegrown terror threats to the US for the fifth time since December 2015. That was followed on Thursday by a tweet from President Donald Trump touting the reported capture of five top Islamic State commanders in Iraq. Over the weekend, ISIS claimed responsibility for a knife attack in Paris that left one dead and four injured. The perpetrator was killed by police. FBI Director Christopher Wray described the changing dynamics of the ISIS threat on Capitol Hill in December. "The good news is the caliphate is crumbling, and that's positive for all of us," Wray said during a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing. "The bad news is, ISIS is encouraging some of its recruits and potential recruits to stay where they are and commit attacks right in the homeland.”

Defense News: Here’s How Much The US Has Spent Fighting Terrorism Since 9/11

“From fiscal 2002 to 2017, the U.S. spent 16 percent of its entire discretionary budget as part of the counterterrorism fight, a new report has found. Counterterrorism funding — a broad term that includes government-wide homeland security efforts, international funding programs, and the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria — totaled $2.8 trillion between fiscal year 2002 and 2017, per the newly released Stimson Center study. That’s an average of $186.6 billion per year over 15 years. For comparison, that figure represents more than the overall 2017 defense expenditures of Russia, India and South Korea combined. The yearly average would also top the combined yearly average spent by the United States in the Korean and Vietnam wars, according to a government estimate using FY2011 dollars. Spending on counterterrorism peaked in 2008 with around $260 billion, a figure that dipped to $175 billion in 2017. Even that low figure would still represent almost 2.5 times the Trump administration requested for its Health and Human Services budget for FY19.”


Reuters: Syrian Rebels Pull Out Of Their Last Besieged Area

“The remaining fighters started to withdraw from the last rebel-held enclave in central Syria on Wednesday, state television reported, sealing the government’s control over the area and opening a major stretch of the country’s most important highway. It further cements President Bashar al-Assad’s dominant position over the most populated parts of Syria after years of fighting, but means any new military campaign might risk direct conflict with foreign powers. The withdrawal may also be the last in a series of agreed evacuations used by the government to defeat besieged insurgents by forcing them to surrender territory in return for safe passage to opposition areas in the north. Often brokered by Assad’s Russian allies, such agreements have in recent years become a defining characteristic of Syria’s seven-year war. They have displaced over 100,000 people - rebel fighters and civilians. The opposition has called it a policy of forced displacement amounting to demographic change to force out Assad’s opponents. The Syrian government has said nobody is forced to leave and those who stay must accept state rule.”

Fox News: 'I Gave The US Trucks And Ammunition To Al Qaeda': The Chaotic US Effort To Arm Syrian Rebels

“U.S. military equipment and ammunition, sent to Syria as part of a failed Obama administration plan to find and arm moderate forces to defeat ISIS, were instead simply handed over to an Al Qaeda group, according to the man who said he himself brokered the deal. “I communicated with Al Qaeda’s branch, Al Nusra, to protect and safely escort me and my soldiers for two hours from North Aleppo to West Aleppo,” Maj. Anas Ibrahim Obaid, better known on the battlefield as Abu Zayd, told Fox News from his home in the western Aleppo area. “In exchange, I gave them five pickup trucks and ammunition.” Those trucks and ammo were issued to him by the United States in 2015, part of a $500 million Department of Defense effort to "train and equip" a new "ideologically moderate" force to battle ISIS. The program, one of at least two designed to funnel arms to so-called moderate Syrian rebels, proved to be a spectacular failure for the Obama administration.”

Reuters: Syrian Government Forces Seize Last Rebel Enclave In Homs

“Syrian government forces are in full control of the last rebel enclave in Syria’s largest province after “overpowering terrorism” following the evacuation of thousands of armed men and civilians, an officer told state-run TV Tuesday. The rebels have agreed to surrender the northern countryside of Homs province to the government under a deal reached in early May. According to the deal, thousands of rebels and civilians who refuse to live under government control were to be evacuated to other rebel-held areas in the country’s north. State media and activists say more than 27,000 civilians and gunmen have left the northern countryside of Homs in the past days, the latest in a string of capitulation deals by the rebels around the country. In a major victory for the Syrian government, the rebels agreed, following Russian-sponsored mediation, to evacuate their areas in early May. The northern rural Homs deal came days after rebels cleared their last remaining strongholds around the capital Damascus. The government troops and allied fighters continue to battle the remaining Islamic State fighters in a pocket south of Damascus.”


The Washington Post: Europe Adopts Defiant Stance In Attempt To Save Iran Nuclear Deal

“The European Union’s chief diplomat took a defiant stance Tuesday after meeting with Iran’s foreign minister and other top European diplomats to try to salvage the Iran nuclear deal following President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States. Federica Mogherini, who negotiated the deal on behalf of the European Union, listed a string of proposals that taken together may not be enough to convince Iran’s leaders to hold to the deal but probably will be seen in Washington as a raised fist against U.S. policy. The Trump administration has announced that it will be reimposing sanctions on Iran and is seeking to prevent companies around the world from doing business there. Comparing the 2015 nuclear agreement to “a relative in intensive care,” Mogherini said ideas under consideration include plans to deepen Europe’s economic relationship with Iran, shield banking transactions with Tehran, keep purchasing Iranian oil and gas, and use E.U. financing for investments there. “We are operating in a very difficult context,” Mogherini said after an intense day of diplomacy that included meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany. All of those countries were signatories of the deal that aimed to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon in exchange for economic incentives. She said European leaders hoped to have a firm plan within a few weeks.”


Reuters: Shi'ite Cleric's Election Win Puts Iran To The Test In Iraq

“Already pressured by the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal, Iran faces a major test in managing Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a formidable opponent who beat Tehran’s longtime allies to achieve a shock victory in Iraq’s parliamentary election. But If Tehran overplays its hand by squeezing Sadr out of a coalition government dominated by its allies, it risks losing influence by provoking conflict between Iranian-backed Shi’ites and those loyal to Sadr. Populist Sadr all but won Iraq’s parliamentary election by tapping into growing public resentment directed at Iran and what some voters say is a corrupt political elite that has failed to help the poor. But Iran is unlikely to relinquish influence in Iraq, its most important ally in the Middle East, and will push for a coalition that will preserve its interests. “Iran will do everything in its power to remain strong in Iraq and to apply pressure,” said independent Iraqi analyst Wathiq al-Hashimi. “It’s a very critical situation.” Before the election, Iran publicly stated it would not allow Sadr’s bloc - an unlikely alliance of Shi’tes, communists and other secular groups - to govern.”


Tolo News: Al-Qaeda Leader Killed In US Strike In Nangarhar

“The US forces conducted an airstrike killing an al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) leader, Hazrat Abbas, and his bodyguard in eastern Nangarhar province on April 23, the US forces confirmed on Tuesday. The operation was launched in Sherzad district of the province and Abbas, a senior AQIS and Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commander, controlled fighting forces in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, the US forces said. Abbas’ forces were responsible for numerous attacks and kidnappings on both sides of the border. Abbas’ integration and command of multiple organizations highlights the relationships between terrorist organizations in Afghanistan and the surrounding region, specifically how regional terrorist groups shelter and facilitate global threat networks. However, the US forces did not provide further details about the strike.”


The Hill: Don't Count Lebanon's Election As A Victory For Hezbollah

“Early returns in Lebanon’s historic parliamentary election last weekend showed allies of the Hezbollah party gaining seats in the Lebanese Parliament and the international media ran with the story before letting the dust settle. Headlines in publications like the New York Times read “Lebanon Elections Boost Hezbollah’s Clout” played right into Hezbollah Leader Nasrallah’s hands, as he declared a wave election victory for Hezbollah. The actual election results tell a different story.  They show a Lebanese people less confident in Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s leadership, looking to allies of Hezbollah or anti-Hezbollah Christians to lead them.”


The Washington Post: Tunisian Policemen Foil Knife Attack Outside Synagogue

“Tunisian officials say a knife-wielding man tried to attack police officers outside the main synagogue in the capital, but was subdued before wounding anyone. The interior ministry said in a statement the failed attack took place Tuesday on Avenue de la Liberte, a major artery in Tunis. Police union official Nassim Rouissi told Shems FM radio that the attacker, acting alone, tried to stab a police captain outside the synagogue. Witnesses quoted by online newspaper Tunisie Numerique reported that the assailant shouted that he hated Israel. The suspect, a 45-year-old Tunisian, was being questioned by counterterrorism investigators.”


CNN: 'She Refused To Convert To Islam,' 85 Days On, Kidnapped Schoolgirl Leah Sharibu Remains In Captivity

“Under normal circumstances, Leah Sharibu would have shared a special birthday meal with her family under the bamboo covering protecting them from the Sahara desert dust swirling around them at their home in northeast Nigeria. At some point during the celebration, they would have bowed their heads in prayer, asking God to bless Leah on her birthday and to make her dreams come true. But this birthday, her 15th, was different and her family spent the day crying and fervently praying. They don't know where she is. Leah was one of the 110 schoolgirls kidnapped by members of the terrorist group Boko Haram in February from their school in Dapchi, in northeast Nigeria. All the other kidnapped schoolgirls from Dapchi have been freed -- except Leah who her friends say refused to renounce her Christian faith to Boko Haram.”

Reuters: At Least 100 People Kidnapped Along Road In Northern Nigeria

“At least 100 people have been kidnapped along a road in northern Nigeria in the past few days, officials, witnesses and relatives of the abducted told Reuters on Tuesday, underscoring the insecurity still afflicting parts of the country. President Muhammadu Buhari won elections in 2015 partly on promises to bring security to Nigeria but has struggled to fulfil them. He is now seeking a second term in February 2019. His critics and opponents question his record of tackling the multitude of conflicts that plague Nigeria from Boko Haram and an Islamic State insurgency in the northeast to clashes between farmers and herders in which hundreds have died. Kidnapping is also rife. In 2014, the abduction of more than 270 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok shot the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency into the spotlight, prompting the global #BringBackOurGirls campaign. “Over 120 people were kidnapped between Friday and today, Tuesday along the Birnin Gwari-Kaduna road,” said Surajo Usman, of Nigeria’s National Union of Road Transport Workers, who escaped an abduction himself.”

Financial Times: Violent Attacks Add To Pressure On Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari

“When armed militiamen killed dozens in an attack on an isolated village in northern Nigeria this month, it was seen as a sign of rising levels of violence across Africa’s most populous nation, not least because it was the third attack that week with a death toll that ran into double digits. Weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari announced his intention to seek a second term in elections due in February, his administration is under pressure as violence flares up across the country. In the past month alone, scores have been killed in twin suicide bombings that bore the grisly trademarks of Boko Haram and clashes between farmers and nomadic cattle herders in the ethnically mixed Middle Belt states have reached a critical point. The administration does not “understand that this is an existential crisis for them”, said Oluseun Onigbide, founder of BudgIT, a civic start-up. “It makes it look like the whole security architecture you promised is falling apart, because [every day] you see 10 people killed here, 20 people killed there.”


The Daily Nation: UN Extends Backing For African Union Mission In Somalia, Amisom

“A UN-backed peacekeeping mission in Somalia, which faces attacks by an Al-Qaeda affiliate, received unanimous Security Council backing Tuesday until July 31. The African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), with about 21,600 troops, operates with the approval of the UN and relies on international funding. By extending Amisom's mandate to the end of July, the United Nations Security Council allowed for a review of recommendations expected in a "joint assessment" report on Somalia to be presented by June 15. In its resolution, the Security Council recalled that it authorized the African Union to reduce Amisom to roughly 20,600 personnel by October 30, after 1,000 troops were pulled out last year. There are plans for a full withdrawal of foreign troops by December 2020, but heads of state and ministers from the main troop contributors — including Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda — in March warned the timeframe for the drawdown was "not realistic and would lead to a reversal of the gains made by Amisom.”


Mirror: "Attack Them With Truck Or Car": ISIS Release Sick Pamphlets With Tips On Successful Terror Attacks During World Cup

“ISIS have released a pamphlet complete with tips to conduct a terrorist attack during the World Cup. The extremist group , who continue to lose ground in Syria and Iraq, have called for their followers to target football fans at next month's tournament in Russia. The Islamic State are attempting to encourage more 'lone attackers' to hit targets in developed countries. The pamphlet pinpoints 'deadly points in the human body' and says terrorists should 'attack them (football fans) with a truck or a car' before 'blowing them up, slaughtering them and shooting them'. The latest twisted propaganda comes after murderous 'suicide families' blew themselves up in Indonesia in the last week. ISIS claimed responsibility after two girls aged nine and 12 were among a family-of-six who killed 14 people, including children, in blasts on three Christian churches in Surabaya on Sunday.”

North Korea

The Washington Post: North Korea Expands Threat To Cancel Trump-Kim Summit, Saying It Won’t Be Pushed To Abandon Its Nukes

“North Korea is rapidly moving the goal posts for next month’s summit between leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump, saying the United States must stop insisting it “unilaterally” abandon its nuclear program and stop talking about a Libya-style solution to the standoff. The latest warning, delivered by former North Korean nuclear negotiator Kim Gye Gwan on Wednesday, fits Pyongyang’s well-established pattern of raising the stakes in negotiations by threatening to walk out if it doesn’t get its way. This comes just hours after the North Korean regime cast doubt on the planned summit by protesting joint air force drills taking place in South Korea, saying they were ruining the diplomatic mood. If the Trump administration approaches the summit “with sincerity” for improved relations, “it will receive a deserved response from us,” Kim Gye Gwan, now vice foreign minister, said in a statement carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency on Wednesday. “However, if the U.S. is trying to drive us into a corner to force our unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in such dialogue and cannot but reconsider our proceeding to the DPRK-U.S. summit,” he said, using the abbreviation for North Korea’s official name. He also questioned the sequencing of denuclearization first, compensation second.”


The Wall Street Journal: Deadly Trail Of Terror Grips Indonesia Ahead Of Ramadan

“A militant attack on a police post extended a deadly wave of Islamic State-linked terrorist strikes in Indonesia on the eve of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, after police uncovered a cache of pipe bombs and bomb-making equipment in the country’s second-largest city. Five assaults on churches and police buildings in the past four days have killed at least 14 security personnel and civilians, making them together Indonesia’s deadliest since 2005. At least 18 assailants have been killed in the attacks and ensuing police operations, as well as in what appeared to be an additional failed plot when a bomb exploded in an apartment Sunday night. Police have tied the onslaught to a terrorist cell that two years ago was responsible for the first Islamic State-linked attack in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation. National police chief Tito Karnavian told reporters earlier this week that investigators suspect the attacks were motivated by instructions from Islamic State’s central command.”


The Guardian: Facebook Lets Advertisers Target Users Based On Sensitive Interests

“Facebook allows advertisers to target users it thinks are interested in subjects such as homosexuality, Islam or liberalism, despite religion, sexuality and political beliefs explicitly being marked out as sensitive information under new data protection laws. The social network gathers information about users based on their actions on Facebook and on the wider web, and uses that data to predict on their interests. These can be mundane – football, Manhattan or dogs, for instance – or more esoteric. A Guardian investigation in conjunction with the Danish Broadcasting Corporation found that Facebook is able to infer extremely personal information about users, which it allows advertisers to use for targeting purposes. Among the interests found in users’ profiles were communism, social democrats, Hinduism and Christianity.”

Forbes: The Problem With Using AI To Fight Terrorism On Social Media

“Social media has a terrorism problem. From Twitter’s famous 2015 letter to Congress that it would never restrict the right of terrorists to use its platform, to its rapid about-face in the face of public and governmental outcry, Silicon Valley has had a change of heart in how it sees its role in curbing the use of its tools by those who wish to commit violence across the world. Today Facebook released a new transparency report that emphasizes its efforts to combat terroristic use of its platform and the role AI is playing in what it claims are significant successes. Yet, that narrative of AI success has been increasingly challenged, from academic studies suggesting that not only is content not being deleted, but that other Facebook tools may actually be assisting terrorists, to a Bloomberg piece last week that demonstrates just how readily terrorist content can still be found on Facebook. Can we really rely on AI to curb terroristic use of social media?”

Counter Terrorism

Al-Ain: Egypt: Ramadan TV Series Combats Terrorism

“The prevailing unpleasant circumstances in many Arab countries has had a major impact on the TV dramas of this year's Ramadan, which starts tomorrow. These TV series, which are mainly produced by Egyptian television production companies, have explicitly declared war on terrorism. The leading TV dramas during Ramadan of 2018 primarily tackle the issue of brainwashing and the misuse of religion. Countering terrorism has become the essence of the content of these series, including Abo Omar El-Masry, Al Seham Al Mariqa (Rogue Arrows), Nesr El-Saeed (El-Saeed's Eagle), Afrah Iblis (The Devils' Celebrations), Kalabsh (Cuffs) and Malika.”

Financing of Terrorism

Libya Akhbar: Warnings Against The Use Of Digital Currency For Terrorist Financing In Libya

On Tuesday, the Central Bank of Libya warned individuals, institutions and companies about the use of digital currency such as Bitcoin in Libya. The Bank asserted that these virtual currencies are illegal since they are linked to security problems, urging individuals and entities to obtain prior permission from the Bank before conducting any virtual money transactions. The Central Bank of Libya further cautioned that the high degree of anonymity offered by the digital currency potentially makes it an ideal avenue for terrorists, militants and criminals.”


Ennahar Online: Algeria: Individuals Of Algerian, Qatari And French Nationalities Financed ISIS Cell

“The counter-terrorism department belonging to the security agency of the Algerian capital thwarted the activities of a terrorist sleeper cell, consisting of three militants originating from the capital and Constantine. They communicated via social media with a certain "M. Faris", an ISIS leader nicknamed "Abu Dujana al-Bitar." This militant was reportedly killed in an air strike in Syria. Before his death, the suspects had communicated with him about carrying out suicide attacks in eastern Algeria. They plotted to target the security headquarters of Bab al-Qantara in Constantine and to kill a policeman. They also prepared for a suicide attack in a neighborhood housing army officers in Constantine. It is reported that the activities of this cell were funded by persons of Algerian, Qatari and French nationalities.”

Muslim Brotherhood

Shorouk News: Court Upholds Decision To Place 215 Suspects Of Muslim Brotherhood Helwan Brigades On Terror List

“Chaired by Counsellor Fathy Abdul-Maqsoud Afifi on Tuesday, Egypt's Court of Cassation, upheld an earlier ruling that places 215 suspects on the country's terror list for three years, in a trial known in the media as the "Helwan Brigades" case. The defendants are accused of forming and running some of the armed "Qualitative Cells" of the banned Muslim Brotherhood. The aim of these militant cells was to disrupt public order and safety, prevent state institutions from fulfilling their duties, take part in violent protests, oppose the authorities, incite riots against the authorities and public installations, plot terror crimes and establish an armed terrorist organization.”


Al-Ain: Houthi Group Is Moving To Seize Zakat Funds

“As part of its efforts to rob the population in the provinces under its control in order to finance its wars against the Yemenis, the Iran-backed Houthi group is now trying to get its hands on the Zakat funds. The group is imposing payment of Zakat on all Yemenis residing in areas under its control. On Monday, just a few days before the holy month of Ramadan, the group's second-in-command, Mahdi al-Mashat, issued a decree establishing the so-called Zakat Authority. Houthi-affiliated media said that the president of the so-called Political Council, and strongman al-Mashat, issued a decree establishing the Zakat Authority, detailing its objectives and powers, without revealing the specific details of the new Houthi law on this matter.”