Eye on Extremism: May 17

BBC: Niger Ambush: Militants Kill 28 Soldiers Near Mali

“The bodies of 11 Nigerien soldiers missing since Tuesday's ambush have been discovered, bringing the death toll to 28. Militants killed four US soldiers at the same place in 2017. Niger and other countries in the Sahel have been facing a growing militant threat from several Islamist groups. The Islamic State group has said it was behind the ambush but there has been no confirmation of this claim by the authorities. Militants belonging to affiliates of al-Qaeda are also active in the region. They are most active in neighbouring Mali, where French troops intervened in 2013 to prevent them from advancing on the capital, but they often stage cross-border raids.”

The New York Post: Former Uggs Salesman Found Guilty Of Being Hezbollah ‘Sleeper’ Agent

“A former Uggs salesman with a rocky marriage has been found guilty of working as a “sleeper” agent for an arm of Hezbollah while living in the Bronx — helping the terror group prepare for attacks on New York City. After less than a day of deliberations, a Manhattan federal jury found Bronx resident Ali Kourani, 34, guilty on eight counts that included providing support to Hezbollah, which carries up to life in prison. Kourani, looking business casual in a rumpled white dress shirt and dark pants, sat motionless as the jury of eight women and four men rendered its verdict following a weeklong trial. He was hauled in on the charges in 2017 after he spilled his guts to the feds with hopes of becoming an informant — rather than a convicted felon facing a potential life sentence. Kourani was born in Lebanon and immigrated to the United States legally in 2003, traveling back to Lebanon frequently in the years that followed. He was recruited into the Islamic Jihad Organization, an arm of Hezbollah, in 2008, and soon thereafter began working as a sleeper agent for the group, conducting surveillance on New York City airports and military facilities.”

The Guardian: Iran Tells Middle East Militias: Prepare For Proxy War

“Iran’s most prominent military leader has recently met Iraqi militias in Baghdad and told them to “prepare for proxy war”, the Guardian has learned. Two senior intelligence sources said that Qassem Suleimani, leader of Iran’s powerful Quds force, summoned the militias under Tehran’s influence three weeks ago, amid a heightened state of tension in the region. The move to mobilise Iran’s regional allies is understood to have triggered fears in the US that Washington’s interests in the Middle East are facing a pressing threat. The UK raised its threat levels for British troops in Iraq on Thursday. While Suleimani has met regularly with leaders of Iraq’s myriad Shia groups over the past five years, the nature and tone of this gathering was different. “It wasn’t quite a call to arms, but it wasn’t far off,” one source said.”

The New York Times: Indonesia Says It Foiled Plot To Detonate Bombs Via Wi-Fi

“The Indonesian police say they have foiled a suspected terrorist cell with the ability to use Wi-Fi to detonate explosive devices, highlighting advances in bomb-making in a country with a history of militant activity tied to the Islamic State. Several of the suspects, who were arrested in raids last week on the densely populated island of Java, are members of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah, or J.A.D., a local militant group that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, the police said. During the raids, counterterrorism agents found bomb-making equipment and traces of triacetone triperoxide, or TATP, a highly unstable homemade explosive that is sometimes used by the Islamic State outside the Middle East. TATP was used in Islamic State bombings in Paris and Brussels, as well as last month in Sri Lanka, where more than 250 people were killed by suicide attacks at churches and luxury hotels. One of the suspects in the Indonesia plot, a skilled bomb-maker who was arrested on May 8, was perfecting the process of detonating a bomb through Wi-Fi networks, Dedi Prasetyo, the national police spokesman, said on Thursday. Mr. Dedi said that militants were planning to launch attacks on Wednesday, when the official results of Indonesia’s national elections are expected to be tallied.”

The Washington Post: Sri Lankan Army Probes Possible Additional Extremist Groups

“Sri Lanka’s army chief said Thursday that other groups of Islamic extremists could be operating in the country independent of the one that carried out Easter Sunday bomb attacks. “There could be other groups, definitely,” Lt. Gen. Mahesh Senanayake said. “To what extent are they offensive, what is the equipment they carry, what is the time frame, who are their handlers, these are all matters under discussion,” he told reporters. More than 250 people were killed in coordinated suicide bomb attacks at three churches and three tourist hotels on Easter Sunday that were claimed by the Islamic State group and carried out by a local radicalized Muslim group. Seven suicide bombers blew themselves up at their targets and another killed himself and two guests at a motel after his device failed to explode at a fourth tourist hotel. A ninth suicide bomber killed herself and her children as police surrounded her home. Senanayake said the military is developing a two-year plan to eliminate the new terrorist threat. The attacks took place a month before the 10th anniversary of the end of Sri Lanka’s 26-year civil war between government forces and separatist ethnic Tamil rebels. Senanayake said the army has organized a series of events to mark the anniversary.”

PCmagazine: Americans Show Bipartisan Support For Breaking Up Facebook

“Antitrust arguments against Facebook have popped up with increasing regularity over the past few years, as the tech company has weathered one data privacy and security scandal after another and continues to lose public trust. In the past few months and in the wake of a record FTC fine over the Cambridge Analytica saga, calls to break up the social media giant have only grown. Outspoken figures from Senator Elizabeth Warren to Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes have called for anti-monopoly regulation and proposed plans to break up big tech. Facebook has pushed back with criticism that breaking it up—by splitting up Facebook proper from apps such as Instagram and WhatsApp—won't fix the problems lawmakers aim to solve, but more and more Americans across the political spectrum are beginning to support antitrust action against the company.”

United States

The Wall Street Journal: In U.S.-Iran Standoff, Gulf States Steer Clear Of Confrontation

“Saudi Arabia and its Persian Gulf allies haven’t called for a confrontation with Iran over recent attacks in the region that the U.S. has said Tehran likely initiated, a tack that reflects their limited appetite for another conflict in the war-racked region. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have urged the U.S. for years to take a more-aggressive stance toward Iran, a regional neighbor that both view as an expansionist power and an existential threat. But both have issued muted responses and not called for punitive actions against Iran since a U.S. official, without citing specific evidence, blamed Iran for acts of sabotage that hit four oil tankers in the Gulf over the weekend. Iran accuses the U.S. of trying to frame it for attacking the tankers as a pretext for war. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks.”

The New York Times: Trump Tells Pentagon Chief He Does Not Want War With Iran

“President Trump has sought to put the brakes on a brewing confrontation with Iran in recent days, telling the acting defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, that he does not want to go to war with Iran, administration officials said, while his senior diplomats began searching for ways to defuse the tensions. Mr. Trump’s statement, during a Wednesday morning meeting in the Situation Room, sent a message to his hawkish aides that he does not want the intensifying American pressure campaign against the Iranians to explode into open conflict. For now, an administration that had appeared to be girding for conflict seems more determined to find a diplomatic off-ramp. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the leader of Oman, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, on Wednesday to confer about the threat posed by Iran, according to a statement. Long an intermediary between the West and Iran, Oman was a site of a secret channel in 2013 when the Obama administration was negotiating a nuclear agreement with Iran.”

The Hill: Key Republican 'Convinced' Iran Threats Are Credible

“The top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee says he is "convinced" there is cause for concern around Iran's activists following a pair of briefings on the Gulf nation. “I am convinced that the information and warnings that we have collected are of greater concern than the normal Iranian harassment activity that we’ve seen in the Persian Gulf and the surrounding area,” Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) told reporters Thursday. “I don’t think it’s business as usual. It is cause for greater concern. ... and a great part of that concern relates to Americans being targeted.” Several prominent senators on Thursday called for more information from the Trump administration after it pulled nonemergency U.S. personnel from Iraq as part of escalating tensions with Tehran.”


Reuters: After Fleeing Bombs, Syrian Families Shelter In Olive Groves

“Families who fled Syrian government and Russian strikes in northwestern Syria are sleeping in an olive grove near the Turkish border without enough food and no place else to go. They are some of the 180,000 people who have escaped an upsurge in violence in the last major Syrian rebel stronghold in the last few weeks. It marks the most intense escalation between President Bashar al-Assad and his rebel enemies since last summer, with dozens killed in the shelling of insurgent territory.  “The house fell in over my children and grandchildren at night ... but God saved them, they emerged from the rubble,” said a 70-year-old woman who gave her name as Aziza as she spoke under the shade of an olive tree.  Aziza’s family is one of scores who fled targeted parts of southern Idlib and northern Hama province and are now living in the olive groves at the Turkish border.  There is no room for them at the nearby camp for the displaced in the town of Atmeh. Aziza fled her town of Kfar Nabuda with 17 relatives nearly two weeks ago, taking nothing with her, as the warplanes flew overhead. The exodus has left many towns and villages empty. Some have made makeshift tents by stringing sheets between the olive trees. Infants sleep under mosquito nets suspended from the branches.”

France 24: UN Security Council Set To Discuss Northwest Syria

“Belgium, Germany and Kuwait on Wednesday requested an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the upsurge in fighting in northwest Syria, diplomats said. Syrian forces and their Russian allies have stepped up attacks on the jihadist-controlled Idlib region since late April, raising alarm that a full-on offensive is imminent to seize the territory. The public meeting, expected to be held this week, would follow up on a closed session of the council held on Friday during which several countries expressed concern over a potential humanitarian catastrophe from an all-out assault. Belgium, Germany and Kuwait, three non-permanent members of the council, lead efforts to address the humanitarian crisis in Syria, now in its ninth year of war. More than 180,000 people have been displaced by the latest violence, according to the United Nations, while 119 civilians have been killed in bombardment since late April, according to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights.”

Haaretz: Rocket Strike On Palestinian Refugee Camp In Syria Kills 10 Civilians, UN Says

“At least 10 civilians were killed and 30 wounded in Syria by a rocket strike on the Neirab camp for Palestinian refugees close to the city of Aleppo on Tuesday night, the United Nations said in a statement on Thursday. "As families gathered to break their fasts for the Ramadan Iftar meal, several rockets hit the densely populated Neirab camp for Palestine refugees in Aleppo," the statement from the U.N. humanitarian aid agency UNRWA said. "Among those killed were four children, the youngest just six years old. A number of the injured remain in critical condition.”


The Washington Post: Iran Can’t Win A War Against The United States. But Tehran Could Win In Negotiations.

“During a recent speech, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani declared that “Obama, the president of the United States, asked me nineteen times for a meeting. But the government did not have the authorization to respond.” Most likely, President Barack Obama did not ask 19 times for such a meeting, but another U.S. president has made it publicly clear that he wants to have talks with Iran.  Rouhani was signaling to his own hard-liners that it was time to engage President Trump. Iran cannot win a war against the United States, but it is confident it can outwit Washington at the negotiating table. The most persistent question in Iran today is not about war but whether it is time to entrap the Americans in another lengthy diplomatic process. For the past two years, the Trump administration has had the luxury of imposing a series of punitive sanctions on Tehran without the Iranians doing anything in response. The guardians of the Islamic republic assured themselves that the Trump team would not be able to persuade America’s allies to join in its sanctions policy, much less drive Iran’s oil exports to zero.”

The Wall Street Journal: Intelligence Suggests U.S., Iran Misread Each Other, Stoking Tensions

“Intelligence collected by the U.S. government shows Iran’s leaders believe the U.S. planned to attack them, prompting preparation by Tehran for possible counterstrikes, according to one interpretation of the information, people familiar with the matter said. That view of the intelligence could help explain why Iranian forces and their allies took action that was seen as threatening to U.S. forces in Iraq and elsewhere, prompting a U.S. military buildup in the Persian Gulf region and a drawdown of U.S. diplomats in Iraq. Meanwhile, administration officials said President Trump told aides including his acting defense chief that he didn’t want a military conflict with Iran, a development indicating tensions in the U.S.-Iran standoff may be easing. However, there are sharply differing views within the Trump administration over the meaning of intelligence showing Iran and its proxies making military preparations, people familiar with the matter said.”

The Jerusalem Post: Iran's Showdown Accelerates

“Iran’s 60-day deadline that it gave the parties to the 2015 nuclear deal to grant it sufficient economic benefits and protection from the US pressure campaign is the first one that has mattered in the standoff in a long time. Thus, just under 60 days from now, everything could change in the nuclear standoff between the Islamic Republic and Washington. The deadline and an exchange of threats and initial military moves by the US and Iran have also heavily heightened tensions. It is true that the Trump administration’s exit from the nuclear deal in May 2018 and its various deadlines in August, November and May 2 earlier this month all signaled an increase in pressure on Tehran. But these were all tools to impact Iran’s behavior; and until now, its behavior and position on the issues in dispute were unchanged. As late as March 21, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave a major speech signaling strategic patience. Despite all of the US steps to pressure Iran, it would remain in the nuclear deal based on the hope that it could outlast Trump and get a more favorable new US president in November 2020."


Asharq Al-Awsat: Born Under ISIS, Sick Iraqi Children Left Undocumented, Untreated

“No documents? No doctor. Without state-issued IDs, Iraqi mothers struggle to have children born under the now-defeated ISIS group treated for conditions ranging from asthma to epilepsy. “It's unjust,” said Salima, a 36-year-old mother of four living in the Laylan 2 displacement camp in northern Iraq. Three of her children were born under ISIS rule and cannot go to school or leave the camp because they lack state-issued identity papers -- including Abdulkarim, who was struggling to nap in her lap on a muggy afternoon. The toddler's breathing was strained, his tiny chest heaving. The asthma, Salima said, was getting worse. “There's a clinic in the camp but it's no good. They refer us to hospitals but the camp security won't let us go,” she said, stroking his head. To leave Laylan 2 even briefly, displaced families need to present IDs to the federal police at the entrance and sometimes even get a sponsor to vouch for them. Salima said she tried numerous times to take Abdulkarim to a specialist in nearby Kirkuk, but was not allowed to leave. And trying to have IDs issued for her three stateless children has proved almost impossible, as both parents' papers need to be submitted. Her husband was an ISIS member killed in fighting, which means Salima's own papers have been confiscated by camp security.”

Al Monitor: Iraq To Handle Foreign IS Fighters' Trials

“Now that the Islamic State (IS) is considered largely contained, the next challenge is what to do with the thousands of jihadis captured and awaiting trial, many of them in Iraq. In addition to thousands of its own people imprisoned for fighting for IS, Iraq is under pressure to receive and try some 1,000 foreigners in the hand of Syrian Kurds. It would seem expedient to try the detainees there, rather than shipping them back to the roughly 50 other countries involved. Paris doesn't want these fighters back and French President Emmanuel Macron, for one, thinks the trials should be conducted in Iraq — except for the strong possibility Iraq will sentence many of them to death. The Iraqi judiciary often issues death sentences against IS members. France outlawed the death penalty in 1977. In January 2018, French officials threatened to intervene should death sentences be issued against two extremist French nationals. Yet Macron now says French IS fighters who were captured in Iraq and Syria must be tried in the countries where they face charges. A judicial source told Al-Monitor that Baghdad is preparing to try French nationals ”who fought alongside IS in Iraq and Syria and who were arrested by the Syrian Democratic Forces in Syria a few weeks ago.”

Kurdistan 24: Iraqi Children Born To ISIS Parents Live In Dire Medical Conditions, Labeled As Future Risks

“Thousands of children born to women accused of Islamic State membership are stuck in camps in Iraq where they lack proper medical care and are without official documents, representatives at the Laylan Camp said on Thursday. According to camp officials at Laylan, located in Kirkuk province, the children, along with their mothers, have contracted various diseases and have limited access to adequate medical aid. The children are also without proper documentation as Iraqi authorities confiscated the paperwork or their parents lost it. “The medical care at the camp is not efficient to treat our children who suffer from certain sicknesses, and the security forces at the camp prevent us from seeking healthcare elsewhere,” Salima, one of the hundreds of women accused of Islamic State ties who live at Laylan, told Kurdistan 24. She noted that authorities had denied them access to healthcare and proper documentation due to their alleged ties to the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Hussein Hub, one of the representatives at the Laylan camp, told Kurdistan 24 Iraqi security forces had confiscated documents from the mothers and their children which denies them access to hospitals outside of the facility. “Some of the displaced people inside the camp are diagnosed with cancer,” Hud noted.”

The Press Herald: Sen. King: Amid Fragile Advances In Iraq, ISIS Remains A Major Threat

“The recent video of Islamic State terror leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi reasserting his presence was a jarring reminder of a grim reality: The battle against terror, in Iraq and Syria and worldwide, is evolving – not over. Contrary to some public perception, ISIS is not defeated and the threat could again intensify if left unchecked. Moving forward, it is vital that America’s resolve and commitment to the Iraqi people remain strong. Iraq has the potential of establishing itself as a self-sustaining, sovereign nation that can be a positive center of gravity in that region – an outcome that is strongly in our interests, as Iraq is one of our key strategic partners in the Middle East. Through continued work and thoughtful strategy, we can help them withstand internal and external pressures that could otherwise force them off this path. This was the top takeaway we were given by numerous officials and men and women in uniform when we traveled to Iraq as part of a congressional delegation last month. There is an old saying: “One day of seeing is worth 30 days of reading.” With that in mind, the three of us went to Baghdad, Taji and Erbil, to see, listen and learn. What we heard from all levels was the same message: ISIS is still an active, present and dangerous terrorist and insurgent threat that must not be allowed to regain a foothold in the region.”


Reuters: China Tells Turkey To Support Its Fight Against Uighur Militants

“China has called on Turkey to support its fight against militants operating in China’s restive far western region of Xinjiang, following criticism from Turkey about rights in a part of China heavily populated by a Turkic, mostly Muslim people. China has faced growing international opprobrium for setting up what it calls vocation training centers to combat extremism in Xinjiang, home to the Uighur people, which many Western countries view as internment camps. Turkey is the only Muslim nation which has regularly expressed concern about the situation in Xinjiang, including in February at the U.N. Human Rights Council, to China’s anger. Meeting Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal in Beijing, the Chinese government’s top diplomat State Councillor Wang Yi said that China sets great store on its ties with Turkey, China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement late on Thursday. China “has always respected Turkey’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and supports the efforts of the Turkish side to safeguard national security and stability”, the ministry paraphrased Wang as saying.”


Al Jazeera: Taliban Attack Leaves 10 Soldiers Dead In Southern Afghanistan

“A Taliban attack on two military checkpoints has left 10 Afghan army members dead in southern Zabul province, officials said. The attack in the Shamulzayi district of the province also wounded at least four soldiers, provincial council member Dur Mohammad Qiam said on Thursday. Another councillor, Asadullah Kakar, while confirming the details, added that Afghan security forces have technically retreated from the checkpoints in the district. According to officials, the Taliban control a vast part of the province, with the government trying to retake lost areas. The group controls or influences more territory than ever since its removal by US-led troops following the September 11, 2001 attacks. Despite the ongoing talks between the United States and the Taliban for a political solution, the armed group has also been launching deadly attacks on US and Afghan security personnel. Earlier this month, US envoy for peace, Zalmay Khalilzad, said on Twitter that he told the Taliban: “It is time to put down arms, stop the violence and embrace peace.” The Taliban responded by saying Khalilzad “should drive the idea home [to the US] about ending the use of force and incurring further human and financial losses.”

Al Jazeera: Afghanistan: Air Attack Kills 17 Policemen 'By Mistake'

“An air attack has killed 17 policemen by mistake during a battle with the Taliban just outside the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province, officials said. Attaullah Afghan, the head of the provincial council, said the attack took place on Thursday while Afghan police were fighting the Taliban near the city. Fourteen policemen were wounded in the attack, he added. A spokesperson for the provincial governor said the strike was carried out by NATO Resolute Support mission force in the Nahr-e-Seraj area of the Helmand-Kandahar highway. There was no immediate response to a query to the US military in Kabul. American forces regularly back Afghan troops when asked to. Helmand's Governor Mohammad Yasin said the air raid is being investigated. A Taliban statement claimed US forces were behind it.”


The National: ISIS Announces New Pakistan ‘Province’

“ISIS has announced a new branch in Pakistan in a move analysts say is intended to boost recruitment for the flagging militants. The extremist group had claimed all of its attacks in Pakistan in the name of the group's “Khorasan Province”, which was founded in 2015 to cover “Afghanistan, Pakistan and nearby lands”. The new organisational structure was disclosed in two statements on Wednesday, claiming responsibility for killings in Pakistan. ISIS claimed to have assassinated a police officer in Mastung, south-west Balochistan, and hit rival Taliban fighters in Quetta, killing one and wounding three. Both killings were attributed to a new “Pakistan Province” of the group. Analysts said the group was trying to restructure and rebuild after the loss of its “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria. It is shifting towards a decentralised network of terrorist groups. Setting up local branches could be an attempt to bolsters its local credentials to attract new recruits and existing militant groups in those areas. “As ISIS seeks to build and restructure foundations of insurgencies across the globe after its losses in Iraq and Syria, it is attempting to recruit also from Pakistan, a country with an existing militant population,” said Rita Katz, director of the Site Intelligence Group, which monitors militant propaganda.”

Radio Free Europe: Nine Islamic State Militants Killed In Southwest Pakistan Raid

“Pakistani security forces have killed nine Islamic State militants during an hours-long operation near the city of Quetta in the southwestern Balochistan Province where repeated militant attacks occurred this month, officials said on May 16. Four troops were wounded in the operation in a mountainous area called Qabu Koh-e-Mehran in the Mastung district, 47 kilometers from Quetta. “Nine bodies (of Islamic State militants) have been brought to hospital from Mastung,” said Waseem Baig, a spokesman for a Quetta hospital. The operation was launched following a sudden surge in militant attacks across Pakistan during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Five police officers were killed in the latest attack, on May 13 in Quetta, which was claimed by Islamic State. Various militant groups as well as separatists fighting the central government are active in mineral-rich Balochistan, where attacks on gas and transport infrastructure and security posts occur frequently.”


Al Arabiya: Al-Jubeir: Houthi Attack Proves They Are Indivisible Part Of IRGC

“Yemen's Houthis are an indivisible part of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and are subject to the IRGC’s orders, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, said on Thursday. He added that this is confirmed by the Houthi targeting of facilities in the Kingdom. In a series of tweets on his official account, al-Jubeir said that the Houthis prove that they implement Iran’s agenda "by sacrificing the need of the Yemeni people for the benefit of Iran". On Tuesday, the Houthi militias claimed responsibility for twin drone strikes on Saudi Arabia’s main East-West oil pipeline. Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the vital conduit for global oil supplies in case of a military confrontation with the United States.”


Fox News: Egypt: 5 Soldiers Killed, Dozens Of Militants Die In Sinai

“Egypt says five soldiers and dozens of militants were killed in recent clashes in the country's restive northern Sinai Peninsula. Military spokesman Tamer al-Rifai issued a statement on Thursday saying the five slain troops included an officer. He says four were wounded and as many as 47 militants were killed. The statement didn't specify when the clashes took place. The last update on Sinai released by al-Rifai was on March 11. The statement says scores of militant hideouts and much ammunition and bombs were uncovered. It says the bombs were safely detonated by the Egyptian forces. Egypt has been battling Islamic militants in Sinai for years. The area remains off limits for journalists, diplomats and other observers so information from there cannot be independently verified.”


The Punch Nigeria: Boko Haram Crisis Led To 20,000 Deaths In Nine Years —WHO

“The World Health Organisation has lamented that the Boko Haram crisis has led to over 20,000 deaths in nine years. The United Nations’ organ in its 2018 Annual Report released this week said, “The ongoing crisis in North-East Nigeria has led to over 20,000 deaths in the past nine years.” WHO also lamented that health systems were disrupted in the troubled geopolitical zone, adding that it was difficult to cope with the upsurge of treatable ailments. It also revealed that the decade-old crisis led to increased frequency of disease outbreaks in the North-East. WHO said in spite of the difficult environment, it had been able to provide technical leadership, coordinate health sector partners and increase access to quality health services. It also said that two million IDPs and host community members were vaccinated against yellow fever in Borno State alone. It also said 200,000 children were treated for common childhood illnesses, including malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea. At the capacity building workshop held in Yola, Adamawa State, the media practitioners were taught topics including Basic Facts on Diseases of Public Health Importance in Emergencies and Redefining the Roles of Mass Media during Health Emergencies.”

Sahara Reporters: Boko Haram Storms Adamawa Village In Late Night Attack

“Boko Haram terrorist has carried out late night attacks on Shuwa village in Madagali Local Government Area, Adamawa. Residents of the village confirmed the attack on the village while adding, “many are fleeing the village to avoid being killed.” It was gathered that while the residents fled their homes, the terrorist group torched homes and shops of the villagers. To avoid a similar attack, residents of Duhu and Gulak have abandoned their homes to rescue themselves from danger. The renewed attack is coming two days after the chief of army staff, Tukur Buratai attributed the insecurity in the country to politicians who lost the 2019 general elections seeking revenge.”

Xinhua: Lake Chad Basin No Longer Safe Haven For Boko Haram: Nigerian President

“The Lake Chad Basin is no longer a safe haven for terror group Boko Haram, as joint military efforts by countries in the region have yielded good results so far, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said on Thursday. “We have led vigorous military campaigns against the terrorists by re-organizing the multinational joint task force which had dislodged them,” Buhari, represented by Nigeria's minister of interior Abdulrahman Dambazzau, said at the closing of the 16th Annual General Meeting of West African Police Chiefs Committee and Meeting of the Forum of Ministers in charge of Security in Abuja. He said in the past four years, Nigeria, working with regional and international allies, had taken drastic measures and spared no effort in the fight against Boko Haram. The Nigerian president urged the regional security chiefs to share their experiences, re-assess and harmonize crime control and operations in their various countries to see the end of the terror group. He said the insecurity posed by corruption, terrorism, communal clashes, and kidnap for ransom, organized crimes, among others, were some vices threatening the region's peace, progress, integration, and development.”


Reuters: Spreading The Net: Somali Islamists Now Target Kenyan Recruits

“A youth recruited while watching football. A Catholic school graduate. Girls desperate for cash and jobs.  The al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab insurgency is using some unconventional accomplices to step up attacks beyond Somalia’s borders.  January’s assault on an office and hotel complex in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, was the first to be led by a someone who is not an ethnic Somali since al Shabaab began major cross-border operations in 2010. Twenty-one people were killed. The attack’s leader, Ali Salim Gichunge, nicknamed Farouk, was a 26-year-old Kenyan who attended a Catholic school and whose largely Christian Meru ethnic group has no ties to Somalia. He led four other assailants, including at least one non-Somali used as a suicide bomber, Kenyan security officials said. All died in the attack. They are among a growing number of Kenyans with no family links to Somalia drafted by the militants in recent years, according to relatives, security officials and analysts. Widespread poverty and unemployment mean al Shabaab can tempt recruits by offering cash or promises of work, researchers who interviewed defectors said. Even small gifts have lured some young men, their families said."


Foreign Policy: In Africa, All Jihad Is Local

“Last month, after an attack on members of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s military was claimed by the Islamic State, observers quickly voiced concerns that the militant group was making inroads into Africa. A U.S. Africa Command spokesperson said that there are “meaningful ties” between the Islamic State and the Allied Democratic Forces rebel group. To the southeast, similar concerns are being raised about the threat posed by a nascent insurgency in Mozambique. Residents refer to the insurgents by a variety of names suggesting ties to international Islamist groups, including al-Shabab, Ansar al-Sunnah, Swahili Sunnah, and al-Sunnah wa Jamaah. The militants have engaged in sensationalist displays of brutality, including decapitating residents. The Mozambican government has arrested hundreds of people for alleged participation in the insurgency. Because many of those who have been arrested are foreigners, some have taken this to mean that transnational jihad has come to Mozambique as well. A particularly alarmist (and dubiously sourced) report from a South African newspaper last year alleged that 90 fighters from the Islamic State had traveled to Mozambique—a claim the Mozambican government denies.”

Voice Of America: Burkina Faso Seeks Broad Sahel Anti-Terror Coalition

“The foreign minister of Burkina Faso called Thursday on the international community to consider creating a counterterrorism coalition, like the ones for Iraq and Afghanistan, to better combat terrorism in Africa's Sahel region. The region currently has the G5 Sahel Joint Force, which includes troops from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. Those troops are tasked with fighting threats from extremist and armed groups. But in the two years since its creation, the force has faced major delays and obstacles, including the car bombing of its headquarters. The U.N. says the force is now 75 percent operational, but that equipment and training shortfalls are slowing its progress toward full operational capacity. The Sahel also has 16,000 U.N. peacekeepers in Mali and 3,000 French troops based in Chad to help restore stability. But despite the presence of the three forces, Burkina Faso Foreign Minister Alpha Barry told the Security Council the situation caused by terrorism and intercommunal violence was worrisome and deteriorating. “This threat is gaining ground,” he said through an interpreter. “It is no longer contained within the north of Mali, in the Burkina-based Sahel or far from the borders of Mauritania. It is spreading and taking other forms, whose consequences are equally dramatic.”


The Wall Street Journal: Western Companies Get Tangled In China’s Muslim Clampdown

“Western companies, including brand name apparel makers and food companies, have become entangled in China’s campaign to forcibly assimilate its Muslim population. Adidas AG, Hennes & Mauritz AB, Kraft Heinz Co. , Coca-Cola Co. and Gap Inc. are among those at the end of the long, often opaque supply chains that travel through China’s northwest region of Xinjiang. Residents there are routinely forced into training programs that feed workers to area factories, according to locals, official notices and state media. Political indoctrination is a significant component of the programs, which are aimed at ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities, according to official notices. Along with vocational skills, the curriculum covers Mandarin Chinese, the importance of the Communist Party and national unity, Chinese law and how to counter extremism—such as not dressing too conservatively or praying too frequently. The programs can include militarylike drills.”


The Guardian: How To Counter Far-Right Extremism? Germany Shows The Way

“Dozens of heads of state, policymakers and leaders of technology companies gathered in Paris this week to discuss social media’s impact on global terrorist violence. Their goal – to eliminate terrorist and violent content online – is a laudable, necessary step toward combating extremism. But a critical group was missing from the meeting: educators. During dozens of meetings about extremist radicalisation and violence across Europe and the US over the past several years, I’ve met plenty of academics, CVE (countering violent extremism) specialists, terrorism analysts, policymakers and diplomats working to understand the roots of extremism and ways to stem violence. These discussions typically bring experts together to discuss collaborative approaches to law enforcement and surveillance, learn about new research findings and practical efforts on the ground – and forge high-level, international public-private cooperation around issues such as online radicalisation. But I have been struck by how rarely these meetings include the very experts whose practical knowledge is most central to understanding how young people might be vulnerable to radicalisation to begin with – the teachers, social workers, careers counsellors and youth development workers who interact with young people every day.”


Fox News: 24 In Morocco Face Terror Trial In Nordic Hikers' Slayings

“Twenty-four people have gone on trial in Morocco on terrorism charges for the brutal slaying of two Scandinavian women hikers that shocked Denmark, Norway and Morocco itself. The court decided to include the Moroccan government as a civil party to the case during Thursday's hearing in the coastal city of Sale. Hafida Makssaoui, the government-appointed lawyer representing the four chief suspects, says the trial is expected to run for months. She told The Associated Press that her clients, aged 25-30, have pleaded guilty and regret their actions. However she expects they will get a death sentence over the December attack on Louisa Vesterager Jespersen of Denmark and Maren Ueland of Norway. The attackers shared a video of the killing on social networks and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group.”

Southeast Asia

The Straits Times: 3 Suspects Linked To ISIS 'Wolf Pack' Cell Arrested In Malaysia

“Three suspected militants who were part of a recently busted “wolf pack” cell have been arrested, days after their “brothers in arms” were detained in a series of anti-terror swoops in the country. National police chief Abdul Hamid Bador said the suspects - two Malaysians and one Indonesian linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) - were arrested in Kedah and Selangor on Tuesday. Datuk Seri Abdul Hamid identified the local men as burger seller Muhammad Syazani Mahzan and farmer Muhamad Nuurul Amin Azizan. They were detained in Kuala Muda, Kedah, after turning themselves in. Said the Inspector-General of Police in a statement yesterday: “Both suspects, aged 27, have previously gone for bomb-making training conducted by Indonesia's terror group Jemaah Ansharut Daulah Indonesia in Yogyakarta last year with another militant who was arrested in November last year.” He added that the suspects had learnt to produce the triacetone triperoxide chemical used to make large-scale bombs and car bombs. “Both of them had recced a few churches in Jogjakarta for potential targets. Muhammad Syazani had also planned to launch a suicide bomb attack at a non-Muslim house of worship in Malaysia,” he said.”


The New York Times: Colombia’s Peace Deal Promised A New Era. This Is What It Looks Like

“After Colombia’s government signed a peace deal with the country’s main rebel group, ending decades of war and upheaval, both sides said it heralded a new era. But two and a half years after the militants agreed to lay down their arms, many of the promises made are not being honored, and the prospect of a true, lasting peace now seems far from certain. This is what we found: As many as 3,000 militants have resumed fighting, threatening the very foundation of the accord. Many of the millions of Colombians who once lived in rebel-held territory still await the promised arrival of roads, schools and electricity. The government’s pledge to help rural areas was a big reason the rebels stood down. Since the peace deal was signed, at least 500 activists and community leaders have been killed, and more than 210,000 people displaced from their homes amid the continuing violence. That undercuts a core selling point of the deal: that it would bring safety and stability.”