Eye on Extremism: May 2, 2019

Fox News: More U.S. Troops Could Be Heading To Africa Following The Collapse Of The ISIS Caliphate

“As both a candidate and commander-in-chief, President Trump put an emphasis on ending America's involvement in conflicts overseas, especially in Syria and Afghanistan. But the reality has been more complicated; following the collapse of the ISIS caliphate, there are fears the terror group will spread instability to other areas, including Africa. And those fears have the Pentagon re-focusing on what has largely been a forgotten continent that's never gotten the lion's share of resources or funding for anti-terror operations. General Thomas Waldhauser is the outgoing commander of U.S. Africa Command, or AFRICOM, which is currently running 20 different anti-terror operations involving nearly 6,000 troops. He says there are no plans for a permanent U.S. military footprint on the continent, but says "we do need facilities, as I say, to allow us to mitigate the whole concept of time and space, to allow our forces to get closer to a problem as it develops. This will allow us to get there quicker." The Pentagon is also warning not to expect a full-scale shift from deployments in Afghanistan to those in Africa, but they're now putting more of a focus on anti-terror operations in countries like Nigeria, Somalia, and Niger, where ongoing violence and a lack of resources have helped de-stabilize local governments.”

The New York Times: Islamic State: Landless But Still Dangerous

“The 18-minute video clip had all the jihadist clichés — the terrorist leader sitting cross-legged on a flowered mattress in an anonymous room, his full beard dyed with henna, a faux-military fishing vest over his black robe and a custom AK-47 at his side, with lieutenants nearby, faces obscured. Osama bin Laden had used the same props, as had Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the first leader of the Islamic State, or ISIS. The image was the message: the leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, wanted his far-flung followers to know that he was still alive and in command, and that the ISIS terror network was functioning despite the loss of the broad “caliphate” it once viciously controlled across Iraq and Syria — and despite a $25-million bounty on his head. The terror war against the “Crusaders” was far from over: “Our battle today is a battle of attrition,” Mr. al-Baghdadi intoned in a low voice, “and we will prolong it for the enemy, and they must know that the jihad will continue until Judgment Day.” The tedious familiarity of the scene and the apocalyptic talk, however, made them no less menacing. Mr. al-Baghdadi apparently made the video sometime after ISIS was driven out of its last sliver of territory, the village of Baghuz in Syria, on March 23.”

The Wall Street Journal: Sri Lanka Identifies All 9 Easter Bombers

“The eight men and one woman who detonated bombs on Easter Sunday, killing themselves and more than 250 others, were a collection of Islamist radicals including a quiet truck driver and a foreign-educated engineer. Sri Lankan authorities released the names of the suicide bombers—ranging from the poor and uneducated to the wealthy and worldly, originally gathered into two different Islamist organizations—after completing DNA tests to confirm their identities. The eight men blew themselves up at hotels, most of them hosting foreign tourists, and at churches full of Sri Lankan Christians; the woman detonated a bomb as police entered a private home later on the same day. Many of the bombers were from Sri Lanka’s east coast and spent their whole lives or formative student years in Kattankudy, a densely populated Muslim enclave surrounded by majority Tamil-Hindu towns. Several others came from Buddhist-majority hill towns in the fertile center of the South Asian island.”

The St. Louis Dispatch: St. Louis County Woman Admits Helping Support ISIS Fighter In Syria

“A woman from St. Louis County pleaded guilty Wednesday to a federal charge of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists and admitted conspiring with her husband and others to provide money and other resources to a former St. Louis County resident who died fighting for the Islamic State. Sedina Unkic Hodzic, 39, could face 15 years in prison when sentenced in August, and will be removed from the country at the end of her prison term, according to court testimony Wednesday. Her plea agreement says that she and her husband, Ramiz Hodzic, shipped supplies to Abdullah Ramo Pazara and others in Syria, where he was fighting Syrian government forces.  Sedina Hodzic knew Pazara was engaging in deadly combat "with malice aforethought," the plea says. Sedina Hodzic learned in 2014 that Pazara had died in combat.”

BBC: Antiquities Looted In Syria And Iraq Are Sold On Facebook

“Facebook is being used by networks of traffickers to buy and sell looted antiquities, the BBC has learned. Private groups also discuss how to illegally excavate ancient tombs, according to research by academics. Facebook says it has removed 49 groups following the BBC's investigation. The BBC has also seen evidence that antiquities are still being smuggled from Iraq and Syria into Turkey, despite a police clampdown and the retreat of the Islamic State group. Roman mosaics still in the ground in Syria are being offered for sale on Facebook pages shown to the BBC by Prof Amr al-Azm, an archaeologist who has had to leave Syria and now works at Shawnee State University in Ohio. On the rooftop terrace of a restaurant overlooking the Bosphorus in the Turkish city of Istanbul, he points to a Facebook photograph of a sculpture which a user in northern Syria claims is from the ancient site of Palmyra, looted and damaged by Islamic State.”

The Wall Street Journal: Greece’s Slow Justice Lets Fascist Party Prosper

“In the depths of Greece’s economic crisis, members of the fascist movement Golden Dawn brazenly assaulted immigrants, political opponents and labor unionists. After police said a member killed a left-wing rap artist in front of witnesses and confessed, Greek authorities acted, prosecuting the party as a criminal organization. Nearly six years later, the trial of Golden Dawn has stalled in a case that highlights Greece’s dysfunctional justice system. The party, known for its stiff-armed salutes, swastika-like flag and black-uniformed street gangs, is regaining confidence by one measure: Rights activists say Golden Dawn street violence is on the rise. Golden Dawn is one of the most extreme political movements to emerge strengthened from Europe’s decade of crises. The party, founded 1993, emerged from a tiny sect of Hitler enthusiasts, whose activists were known for violence against minorities and left-wingers, but which barely registered at the ballot box.”

United States

CNN: Would-Be Subway Bomber Najibullah Zazi 'Provided Critical Intelligence' On Al Qaeda, Filing Reveals

“Nearly ten years ago, Najibullah Zazi pleaded guilty to plotting to bomb the New York City subway system. Since then, the al Qaeda-linked defendant has transformed from a would-be terrorist into a highly valuable government witness, providing "extraordinary cooperation" to US investigators, prosecutors disclosed as Zazi is set to be sentenced Thursday in Brooklyn federal court. Though Zazi's status as a cooperator had been made public, documents filed in court Wednesday marked the first time prosecutors described the extent of his assistance. Zazi, an Afghanistan native who was living in Colorado, pleaded guilty in 2010 to three charges connected to a plot to bomb the subway around the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. He agreed several months after he was charged to cooperate with the government, and since then, his assistance has included meeting with the government more than 100 times, prosecutors said in their sentencing submission. Zazi, they wrote, "provided critical intelligence and unique insight regarding al-Qaeda and its members, provided information that led to terrorism charges against numerous individuals, and testified as a witness in two terrorism trials in the Eastern District of New York, leading to successful criminal prosecutions and convictions.”

CNN: Former CIA Officer Pleads Guilty To Conspiring To Commit Espionage For China

“Former CIA case officer Jerry Lee pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges that he conspired to commit espionage on behalf of the Chinese government. The change of plea came as a trial was set to take place in Virginia federal court that would have seen Lee defending himself against additional, serious charges. "I conspired to gather and send secret level information to PRC," Lee, a 13-year veteran of the US spy agency, told Judge T.S. Ellis III, referring to China. Lee's attorney, Edward B. MacMahon, has maintained that Lee is not a Chinese spy, and Lee was not accused of actually sending any state secrets to the Chinese. Court documents, however, detail how Lee allegedly maintained communication with two Chinese intelligence officers that would send him envelopes with "taskings," or requests for secret information, in exchange for cash.”

CNN: Man Arrested At Charlotte Airport For Lying About Contacts With Terrorist Organizations

“A man was arrested after arriving in North Carolina Tuesday for lying about his contacts with terrorist organizations. Waqar ul-Hassan, 35, was returning from Pakistan and had gotten off a flight at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport Tuesday night when he was arrested on two counts of making false statements in 2015 interviews involving terrorism, according to an FBI criminal complaint.  It is unclear if Hassan has an attorney. According to the complaint, the FBI began an investigation into Hassan in 2014 because the organization had information that he was communicating with people involved in terrorist organizations. Hassan was interviewed by FBI agents and told them in some of those interviews that he did not support any terrorist or extremist group and did not know anyone who was a member of one, according to the complaint. In later interviews, he confessed to having lied, the complaint says, and admitted to "extensive contacts" with a recruiter about jihad. Hassan also admitted to traveling and staying with extremists for two or three days in 2014 and to giving up to $500 to and collecting food and money for a terror organization. The FBI complaint identified the group as Jaish-e-Mohammed, an organization the US considers a terrorist group.”

Associated Press: Anti-Semitic Attacks Spike, Killing Most Jews In Decades

“Israeli researchers reported Wednesday that violent attacks against Jews spiked significantly last year, with the largest reported number of Jews killed in anti-Semitic acts in decades, leading to an “increasing sense of emergency” among Jewish communities worldwide. Capped by the deadly shooting that killed 11 worshippers at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue on Oct. 27, assaults targeting Jews rose 13% in 2018, according to Tel Aviv University researchers. They recorded nearly 400 cases worldwide, with more than a quarter of the major violent cases taking place in the United States. But the spike was most dramatic in western Europe, where Jews have faced even greater danger and threats. In Germany, for instance, there was a 70% increase in anti-Semitic violence. “There is an increasing sense of emergency among Jews in many countries around the world,” said Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, an umbrella group representing Jewish communities across the continent.”

The Chicago Tribune: Facing Sentencing, Man Apologizes For Terrorism Plot To Blow Up Loop Bar: 'Sometimes I Laugh At My Stupidity'

“A man who attempted to detonate a 1,000-pound car bomb outside a crowded Loop bar in 2012 apologized Wednesday to his family, the judge and the United States for what he called a stupid mistake when he was a naive teen “trying to make friends.” "At the time I thought it was too late to turn back,” Adel Daoud, dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit and shackled at the ankles, told U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman about the night he pressed the detonator on the bomb, all part of a ruse by the FBI. “Sometimes I laugh at my stupidity. Was that really me?" Reading rapidly from written remarks, Daoud, 25, said he's a different person now. In the nearly seven years since his arrest, Daoud said he realized he was “crazy for God knows how long” but has found clarity with treatment and medication while in jail. He has also come to realize that his beliefs were terribly misguided on what the Islamic faith teaches about violence. "I was naive, gullible and confused," he said about his life in 2012. "I thought jihad could only mean war." Unlike previous court appearances when Daoud rambled incoherently about Freemasons and lizard people, his remarks Wednesday were lucid, his voice deeper and steadier. He ended by asking for leniency.”

Syria

Reuters: Syria's Lost Heritage Stands Out In Aleppo's Broken Minarets

“The pencil minaret of the Ottoman Adliyeh mosque in Syria’s Aleppo lists to one side and is scored by an ugly gash running down its flank, the result of bombing in the war. The sorry state of Aleppo’s Old City, a labyrinthine World Heritage Site and a battlefield from 2012-16, is obvious from a glance across the skyline at its shell-beaten minarets. They look down on an area that suffered massive damage in a conflict that brought down the medieval covered souk, smashed mosque domes and burnt churches. The U.N. cultural agency UNESCO in December said 10 percent of Aleppo’s historic buildings were destroyed and more than half the buildings they assessed showed severe to moderate damage. But restoration work in Syria is controversial. With the exception of Islamic State, which deliberately targeted ancient ruins, all sides in the war have portrayed themselves as guardians of historical sites and their enemies as vandals. A huge image of President Bashar al-Assad dangles from the monumental gateway of the ancient citadel in central Aleppo.”

CNN: We Need A Long-Term Solution For Captured ISIS Members

“The crumbled ISIS caliphate has bequeathed the world a terrible inheritance: Thousands of captured ISIS fighters and their families, many of whom remain dedicated to ISIS. And with the apparent re-emergence, via video, of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Monday encouraging what remains of ISIS to continue, radical detainees represent an even greater risk. Now, more than ever, it is crucial that a plan for a long-term sustainable solution be thought of. The one viable alternative is to create a larger, remote, offshore penal colony for these ISIS terrorists. One that would have the resources to hold more captured ISIS fighters and their families.”

Iran

Voice Of America: Rights Activists Denounce Iran's Crackdown On May Day Protesters

“Iranian police have arrested dozens of labor rights activists who rallied peacefully in Tehran to mark International Workers' Day, sparking denunciations from Iranian and global rights activists. VOA sister network RFE/RL's Radio Farda said eyewitnesses told it that at least 35 people were arrested outside the Iranian parliament during Wednesday's rally marking the occasion also known as May Day. The network cited witnesses as saying security agents beat and dragged some protesters on the ground before taking them into custody, and transferred all male detainees to security headquarters in Tehran's western district of Gisha. The Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, an independent trade union, issued a statement on its Telegram channel also accusing Iranian security agents of violently dispersing the rally and detaining one of its prominent members, Reza Shahabi.”

Iraq

The Atlantic: Why Baghdadi Risked A Video Appearance

“With a new video, the Islamic State’s long-elusive leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has reemerged. His message was simple: ISIS’s self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria has fallen, but the global community forged by ISIS lives on. That makes his video something of a rebuttal to President Donald Trump’s December claim that ISIS was “defeated.” The first question to ask about the video is: Why release it? Baghdadi has been, for almost five years, a ghost, not seen publicly since July 2014, when ISIS released a video that showed him speaking at the al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul, Iraq. For the world’s most wanted man, any link to the outside world is a vulnerability, a possible vector for intelligence agencies and militaries to find and eliminate him. Breaking a half decade of silence carries the risk of death. Baghdadi, however, evidently concluded that being seen and heard from right now outweighed that risk. And that’s surely because ISIS faces dangers as an organization that are more significant than the ones Baghdadi does as an individual. Each weekday evening, get an overview of the day’s biggest news, along with fascinating ideas, images, and voices. Top of FormBottom of Form What ISIS did that was new and different was declare a caliphate and actually establish one on real, physical territory.”

Military Times: Baghdadi Outlines Path Forward For Islamic State Post-Caliphate

“No longer burdened by territory and administration, Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi outlined the new path forward for his group: Widen your reach, connect with far-flung militant groups and exhaust your enemies with a “war of attrition.” The deadly Easter attacks in Sri Lanka a week before his video appearance underscored this message in blood. It also highlighted the ease with which IS, like al-Qaida before it, can inflict chaos through a loosely defined brand of global jihad in the most chilling way. That’s even after losing the relative safety of its so-called caliphate across stretches of Iraq and Syria. "Al-Baghdadi was letting his followers know that he was prepared to lead a guerrilla insurgency in Iraq and Syria, while not forgetting that ISIS is a global organization," said Colin P. Clarke, a senior research fellow at the Soufan Center, using another acronym for the group. The Islamic State group has lost all the territory it once controlled in Iraq and Syria, but its shadowy leader and self-proclaimed “caliph” is still at large. Though disheveled and never standing up in the video released Monday, al-Baghdadi’s appearance alone contradicted past Russian and Iraqi claims the militant leader had been killed during the long war targeting the militants.”

The Jerusalem Post: Iraqi Shi’ite Paramilitaries Seek To Clear ISIS From Syrian Border - Report

“Days after ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi released a new video the Iraqi paramilitary groups known as Hashd al-Shaabi, a 100,000-strong group of mostly Shi’ite militias, launched an operation to crush Islamic State in rural areas near the Syrian border, according to Iran’s Tasnim News. An operations command in Iraq’s western Anbar province released a statement saying that four units would participate, including armored vehicles and engineering and communications forces. Border guards would also assist. Al-Manar media, which is linked to Hezbollah, said the operation would clear 230 km of border. This area was taken from ISIS in 2017 by the Hashd al-Shaabi (PMU) but it remained restive and ISIS members were able to hide out in these desert areas. Recent reports showed ISIS activity stretching across some areas of Iraq from the Hamreen mountains and near Makhmur all the way to Syria. The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces defeated ISIS in Baghouz on the Euphrates in Syria in late March. But ISIS sleeper cells are still active in Syria. Iraq recently launched another major operation in Hamreen mountains. But ISIS has struck where it can. It murdered a Kurdish member of the local security forces earlier this week.”

Iraqi News: Iraqi Intelligence Forces Arrest Islamic State Terrorist In Mosul

“Iraqi military intelligence forces arrested on Wednesday an Islamic State militant, who was responsible for collecting information about the families fleeing the areas held by the militant group. The arrestee “was behind the murder of 40 people at the hands of Islamic State jihadists after he informed the terrorist group of their location,” Alghad Press website quoted the Military Intelligence Forces as saying in a press statement. “The terrorist was arrested in the eastern side of Mosul,” the statement read. Iraq declared the collapse of Islamic State’s territorial influence in November 2017 with the recapture of Rawa, a city on Anbar’s western borders with Syria, which was the group’s last bastion in Iraq. IS declared a self-styled “caliphate” in a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria in 2014. A government campaign, backed by a U.S.-led international coalition and paramilitary forces, was launched in 2016 to retake IS-held regions, managing to retake all havens, most notably the city of Mosul, the group’s previously proclaimed capital. Despite defeat in Iraq in late 2017, many Islamic State remnants remain at large in the hideouts of the Arab country and pose a threat to its security.”

Afghanistan

The Washington Post: U.S.-Taliban Peace Talks Reopen, But U.S. Watchdog Warns Deal Could Bring More Insecurity To Afghanistan

“Taliban and U.S. officials resumed peace talks Wednesday in Qatar for the first time since March, but the insurgent group continued to insist that it will not discuss any Afghan domestic issues until the two sides have agreed on the “full withdrawal” of foreign forces and on how to prevent other armed groups from using Afghanistan to do harm abroad. Meanwhile, a U.S. government watchdog group warned in a report that a peace settlement could result in setbacks for human rights and women’s rights, threats to U.S. reconstruction investment, deterioration of national security and a revival of violence or discord. “No matter how welcome peace would be, it can carry with it the seeds of unintended and unforeseen consequences,” the report from the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction said. Such “day after” risks, it said, “could frustrate the shared goal of a stable Afghanistan,” which respects the rule of law and is “at peace with itself and its neighbors.” The report came at a time of ongoing Taliban attacks across the country and record-high civilian casualties of 3,800 last year. Despite the violence, the report said U.S. military officials had informed the watchdog group that they no longer track the level of government or Taliban control in all 400 Afghan districts.”

The Wall Street Journal: The Afghan Endgame Has Become Surreal

“The U.S. no longer sees victory as a possibility in Afghanistan. Political and military leaders are now focused on getting out with a facade of honor. This has created a surreal situation: The U.S. is negotiating directly with the Taliban, the enemy it sought to remove from power almost 18 years ago. These “peace” talks are going on even as the Taliban has started its spring offensive. To add to the absurdity, the Afghan government, America’s own creation, has been excluded from the negotiations because the Taliban, our common enemy, demanded it. American leaders seem oblivious to their culpability for the deteriorating situation. How did we get to this point? The usual explanation is the incompetence of Afghan political leaders and security forces. In fact, the situation in Afghanistan is the result of ill-considered American-imposed plans. Though Afghanistan’s history, geography and culture suggest the country is unsuited to centralization, Washington insisted on a nationwide Afghan government through a central authority. American naiveté is now leading to another grave mistake in Afghanistan. The U.S. is trying to make peace with the Taliban, but why would a negotiating partner who is serious about peace restart the fighting? The answer is simple—the Taliban isn’t serious about peace.”

Pakistan

The Wall Street Journal: U.N. Designates Pakistani As Terrorist After China Acquiesces

“The leader of a Pakistani-based Islamist group that India blames for at least two terrorist attacks that raised tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbors, was placed by the United Nations Security Council on a list of global terrorists subject to sanctions. The Security Council, which had listed the Jaish-e-Mohammad group as being associated with al Qaeda and the Taliban in 2001, said on Wednesday that its founder Masood Azhar had funded Jaish since its founding. Mr. Azhar will now be subject to a freezing of assets, a travel ban and arms embargo after being added to the list.  Pakistan previously prevented multiple attempts by India and other countries to list Mr. Azhar as a terrorist at the U.N. by persuading its ally China to veto them, the last time in March this year. Pakistan, which faces the threat of international financial sanctions over lax control over terrorist funding, is under pressure to show it is cracking down on militants in the country.  U.S. officials said the U.N. vote was a sign that both China and Pakistan were taking serious steps to address concerns about terrorism in South Asia.”

Voice Of America: Pakistan Says Cross-Afghan Border “Terrorist” Raid Kills 3 Troops

“Pakistan says a “terrorist” raid Wednesday from across the Afghanistan border killed at least three soldiers and injured seven others. The military’s media wing said security forces were building a border fence in the remote North Waziristan district when “a group of 60-70 terrorists” from the Afghan side assaulted them. Pakistani troops “effectively repulsed” the attack in Alwara area, killing and injuring scores of assailants, it added. Militants have previously attacked construction teams, but the military vowed Wednesday that “Pakistan’s fencing effort shall continue, despite all such impediments.” Pakistan began the unilateral construction work about two years ago to secure the 2,600-kilometer largely porous border with Afghanistan. Officials anticipate the fencing and other installations will be in place by the end of this year , saying it will help address mutual concerns of terrorist infiltration. “While Pakistan security forces are solidifying border security through fencing and construction of forts to deny liberty of action to the terrorists, Afghan security forces and authorities need to have more effective control in border regions to support Pakistan’s efforts, as well as deny use of Afghan soil against Pakistan,” the army statement stressed. There was no immediate reaction from Afghan authorities.”

Reuters: India To Seek Downgrading Of Pakistan On Terrorism Financing List

“India’s finance minister said on Thursday the government will request that Pakistan be downgraded by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global body created to counter terrorism financing and money laundering.  “There is a meeting of FATF in mid-May,” Arun Jaitley told reporters. “We would want that the FATF for Pakistan should be downgraded.”

Yemen

Xinhua: 140 Killed In Houthi Cease-Fire Violations In Yemen's Hodeidah: Gov't Forces

“Yemen's government forces on Wednesday accused the Houthi rebels of committing 3,719 cease-fire violations in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah since December 2018, killing 140 civilians. "The army has monitored 3,719 violations committed by the Houthi militia in the province of Hodeidah since the truce took effect on Dec. 18, 2018," Spokesman of the National Army Abdu Majali said during a news conference held in the northern province of Marib. Majali said the Houthi violations resulted in "killing 140 citizens and wounding 811 others, mostly women and children." "The Houthis continued to target the positions held by the national army forces in the city," he added. The spokesman called on the United Nations and the international community to put pressures on the Houthis to implement the Stockholm Peace Agreement. Hodeidah is the key lifeline entry point for Yemen's most food imports and humanitarian aid. The four-year grinding war has pushed more than 20 million people to the verge of starvation.”

Libya

Reuters: Libya's NOC Chief Warns Of Risk Of Terrorist Infiltration Into Oil Fields: TV

“Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) chief Mustafa Sanalla warned that “terrorist organizations” could infiltrate the country’s oil fields, Al Hurra TV cited him as saying on its Twitter feed. On Monday, an armed group attacked Libya’s largest oilfield but was repelled after clashes with its protection force.”

The Libya Observer: Libyan, US Cooperation In Fight Against Terrorism Continues

“Spokesman of the Government of National Accord (GNA), Muhannad Younus confirmed that cooperation with the United States in the fight against terrorism has not been halted. Younis added that work is currently focused on strengthening and intensifying cooperation in all aspects, including supporting the work of the AFRICOM team in Libya. Media outlets have quoted sources in the government as saying that the US forces returned to Tripoli and Misurata, after leaving at the beginning of the armed confrontations between the Libyan army and the militias of warlord Khalifa Haftar.”

Nigeria

The Defense Post: Boko Haram Kills 14 Men Near Monguno In Nigeria’s Borno State

“Boko Haram militants killed 14 men who were collecting firewood in northeast Nigeria, residents and a militia told AFP, the latest deadly incident in the troubled Lake Chad area. The bodies were found by other firewood collectors at Duwabayi village near the garrison town of Monguno in Borno state late on Tuesday, April 30. “The bodies of the 14 men were evacuated to the police station in Monguno after some people reported seeing the bodies,” an anti-Boko Haram militia leader in the town said. “Fourteen dead bodies were brought this evening to Monguno and people have been going to the police station to see if they could identify them,” Monguno resident Kulo Gana said. Another resident, Bunami Mukhtar, said the corpses had “bullet wounds.” The area has been seen intense fighting since late last year, when militants from the Islamic State West Africa Province faction of Boko Haram, the dominant insurgent group in the Lake Chad area, significantly stepped up attacks in the region. Duwabayi village was abandoned last year when residents fled to camps in Monguno due to insurgent attacks. People in the camps rely on food aid to eat but some turn to collecting firewood to sell.”

The Guardian: UK Could Boost Military Support To Help Nigeria Defeat Boko Haram

“Britain is considering stepping up its military efforts to help the Nigerian government defeat Boko Haram, following a rise in terrorist activity in the country’s north-east in the past year, Jeremy Hunt has said after a visit to the region. The UK foreign secretary said on Wednesday that he will be discussing what more the British government can do in terms of aid and military support to combat the terrorist group, warning the crisis had the potential to trigger a humanitarian catastrophe on the scale of that in Yemen. Britain provides £240m in aid to Nigeria, of which £100m goes to the north-east, making it the second-largest donor after the US, and giving the UK a sizeable stake in what happens in the region. Boko Haram and Islamic State in west Africa have terrorised the region for several years, but their activities came to the world’s attention when hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls were kidnapped in 2014. British military personnel in Abuja and the wider region are giving strategic advice to Nigerian forces on how to run counterinsurgency operations, with their advice focused on combining humanitarian and military activities. The Nigerian military has been repeatedly criticised by humanitarian groups for running brutal campaigns that make little effort to win over hearts and minds.”

Somalia

Army Times: Al-Shabaab Fighter Responsible For US Soldier’s Death Has Been Killed By US Forces

“The U.S. military has killed an al-Shabaab militant it says participated in an attack against American forces that left a U.S. soldier dead and four other Americans wounded. During an airstrike on April 19, two al-Shabaab militants were killed. One of them was Abdullahi Jibiyow, a mortar team leader responsible for multiple attacks in the Lower Juba River Valley, in southern Somalia, according to U.S. Africa Command. Jibiyow was also responsible for the attack on June 8, 2018, that killed Army Staff Sgt. Alexander Conrad, Air Force Col. Chris Karns, AFRICOM’s spokesman, told Military Times. Conrad was assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, at the time of his death. He had been in the Army since 2010 and served as a human intelligence collector. Conrad was killed by enemy indirect fire while supporting Operation Octave Shield, according to the Pentagon. Octave Shield is the code name for the mission focused on targeting militant groups in Somalia. Conrad was part of a contingent of Americans who were providing advice, assistance and aerial surveillance to partner forces when they came under attack from mortars and small-arms fire at about 2:45 p.m. local time in Jubaland, about 220 miles southwest of Mogadishu.”

Africa

Fox News: ISIS Makes Inroads With Militant Groups In Congo

“The caliphate may be gone in Iraq and Syria but ISIS is rebranding and finding new places to terrorize, this time in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. ISIS claimed its first attack in the central African country on April 18 when “soldiers of the caliphate” attacked a military barracks along the border with Uganda in eastern Congo, killing eight people. The attack in Congo coincides with the recent terrorist attack in Sri Lanka as ISIS seem to be on the rise. The highly coordinated Easter bombings in Sri Lanka, which so far claimed the lives of 253 people, was the worst terrorist attack since 9/11. “What ISIS looks to accomplish through its claim of the attack in the DRC and Sri Lanka is generating the perception of a global insurgency,” Sim Tack, Global Analyst at Stratfor, told Fox News. Along with a string of recent attacks, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi resurfaced and appeared in his first video in five years on April 29, encouraging his supporters to carry out attacks and vowing to continue the crusade against the Caliphate’s invaders. “Many scholars and pundits have commented on the significance of this, but ultimately if ISIS is promising state-building in the form of a caliphate, it has to project that it is doing that somewhere.” 

United Kingdom

BBC News: How Do You Prevent Extremism?

“Over the past few years there have been increasing fears about the growth of far right, neo-Nazi and fascist organisations. Events such as those in Charlottesville in the United States 2017, in Chemnitz in Germany in 2018 and the recent terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, have led many to ask the question: what can we do to stop the spread of these extremist ideologies? A small number of organisations are now gaining traction in this area. They are doing so by focusing in particular on the root social causes of why some people become attracted to extreme and violent right-wing organisations – and the ways you can guide them on a different path. Their insights are often counter-intuitive, but appear to closely match findings from other forms of extremism, including Islamist terrorism. Some insights come from Exit Norway, a project established in 1997 by two researchers at the Norwegian Police Academy College. The project had three primary objectives: “To establish local networks to support the parents of children embedded in racist or violent groups; to enable young people to disengage from these groups; and to develop and disseminate methodological knowledge to professionals working with youths associated with violent groups.”

Germany

Deutsche Welle: Merkel Kicks Off West Africa Tour Pledging Support In Fight Against Terrorism

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel started her tour of West Africa on Wednesday, a trip that will see her visit Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger for key talks over the next three days. Merkel pledged millions in financial support for the restive Sahel region on Wednesday evening, shortly after meeting with Burkina Faso's President Roch Marc Christian Kabore in the capital, Ouagadougou. Germany will give an additional €20 million to Burkina Faso and over €35 million to Niger ($22.4 million and $39 million, respectively) to support development projects as well as the outfitting and training of police officers in each country, she said. "We talked about the deteriorating security situation and we want to be on the side of Burkina Faso, especially in terms of cooperation on security," Merkel told reporters after a meeting with Kabore. "This is necessary because in the east and north of the country there is a situation where children cannot go to school, where populations seem to live in insecurity. We need to end these problems as quickly as possible." Berlin also pledged an additional €60 million to the merger of the so-called G5 Sahel countries — which include Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Chad.”

Australia

The Guardian: Sydney Pharmacy Student Who Stabbed Man With Machete Found Guilty Of Terrorism

“A Sydney pharmacy student who repeatedly stabbed a passer-by with a machete, shouting “I will kill you, you will die”, has been found guilty of carrying out a terrorist act. “He got me probably three or four times and I didn’t know what to do,” Wayne Greenhalgh told police from his hospital bed. “There was blood pouring out of everywhere.” Ihsas Khan, 25, pleaded not guilty on the grounds of mental illness to committing a terrorist act when he attacked the then 57-year-old at Minto in September 2016. The victim ran to a nearby home hair salon for safety while bystanders confronted Khan, who was later tasered by police. On Thursday, Khan was found guilty by a sixth NSW supreme court jury, which rejected his defence that he was suffering from a mental illness at the time. Three previous trials were aborted midway through evidence, one was aborted on its second day and the fifth jury could not reach a verdict.”

Southeast Asia

The Washington Post: South Asian Security Experts Downplay Islamic State Threat

“Indian and Bangladeshi officials and security experts largely dismissed a fresh threat of violence from an Islamic State-aligned media group, insisting that safety measures and surveillance are adequate to keep militants from carrying out a Sri Lanka-style attack elsewhere in South Asia. Al-Mursalat Media released a poster on Tuesday featuring a photo of five militants who carried out a 2016 attack at a cafe in the diplomatic enclave of Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, according to global terrorism monitor SITE Intelligence. Below the picture of the militants, depicted carrying rifles and smiling, text states that the “soldiers of the khilafah,” or caliphate, in Bangladesh and India have not been “silenced” and “the anger of the mujahedeen will suddenly bring destruction upon you.” The poster, with text written in English, Hindi and Bengali and sent over the media group’s Telegram channel, came as authorities in India and Bangladesh investigated activities with possible IS links while Sri Lanka pursued suspects tied to the coordinated Easter Day bombings at churches and hotels that killed 253 people. Sri Lankan police late Wednesday made public the names and photographs of nine suicide bombers who carried out the series of Easter Day explosions, including the locations where their bombs were detonated.”

The New York Times: Fighting For The Soul Of Islam In Sri Lanka

“Two days after the Easter Sunday bomb attacks in Sri Lanka, I met my greengrocer at the Colpetty market, a symbol of the cosmopolitan city that I call home. I have known Ashraff virtually all my life. He did not have his usual half-smile on his face, and when I went up to him to say goodbye, I could see he was troubled. Eventually, shaking his head in sorrow, with tears in his eyes, he told me that the day before, someone he had known for 35 years, a man from Sri Lanka’s Sinhala majority, had said he could no longer be his friend. I understood his sorrow. The attacks on Easter Sunday have left everyone in Sri Lanka confused and bewildered. Those of us who are Muslim are also trying to understand how this violence could have come from our own community. In the hours and days after the attacks, I sent text messages to my Christian friends, apologizing for what the attackers had done. Even though these terrorists were as far away from me in ideology as anyone could be, I felt shame. My friends responded, in true Christian spirit, that I had no need to apologize, and sent messages of concern for my safety.”

Technology

The New York Times: Facebook Set To Create Privacy Positions As Part Of F.T.C. Settlement

“The Federal Trade Commission is negotiating a settlement with Facebook that would create new positions at the company focused on strengthening its privacy practices, according to two people with knowledge of the talks. Facebook has agreed to create a privacy committee to protect its users’ data, as well as an external assessor who would be appointed by the company and F.T.C., said the people, who declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly. The social network will also appoint a head compliance officer — who could be its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg — to oversee privacy efforts, one of the people said. The proposed commitments are part of negotiations between the agency and Facebook to settle privacy violations. Both have been talking for months over claims that Facebook violated a 2011 privacy consent decree. Last week, Facebook announced that it expected to be fined up to $5 billion by the agency, in what would be a record financial penalty by the United States against a technology company.”