Eye on Extremism: May 22

CNN: US Warns Syrian Regime Following Allegations Of Chemical Weapons Use

“The US State Department issued a warning to the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria on Tuesday, saying the US is closely watching the regime's military operations against a rebel enclave in northwest Syria and is looking into allegations that Assad's troops have used chemical weapons in recent days. "Unfortunately we continue to see signs that the Assad regime may be renewing its use of chemical weapons including an alleged chlorine attack in northwest Syria on the morning of May 19," State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement. "We are still gathering information on this incident but we repeat our warning that if the Assad regime uses chemical weapons, the United States and our allies will respond quickly and appropriately," she added.”

Voice Of America: Islamic State In Afghanistan Growing Bigger, More Dangerous

“The collapse of the Islamic State's self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq is doing little to slow down the terror group's branch in Afghanistan. Newly unclassified intelligence suggests IS-Khorasan, as the group is known, is growing both in numbers and ambition, now boasting as many as 5,000 fighters — nearly five times as many as estimates from last year — while turning its focus to bigger and more spectacular attacks. Military officials say the numbers, shared by U.S. Forces-Afghanistan for the latest quarterly report by the Lead Inspector General for Operation Freedom Sentinel, issued Tuesday, are “low confidence” estimates but that IS-Khorasan has fighters in Kabul, as well as in Nangarhar and Kunar provinces and in other parts of northeastern Afghanistan. More worrisome, according to defense intelligence officials, is that the terror group has been gaining ground, both against the Afghan government and the Taliban, expanding the amount of territory under its control in Kunar province since the start of the year. It also appears IS-Khorasan has managed to gain a toe-hold in other areas. The assessment finds it is “highly likely” IS has smaller cells operating in parts of Afghanistan under either government or Taliban control.”

The New York Times: 'American Taliban' to be Released: Officials Say He Still Supports Global Jihad

“He was the “American Taliban” captured during the invasion of Afghanistan in the fall of 2001. Pictures showed him as a gaunt, filthy 20-year-old held in the aftermath of a prison uprising that claimed the first United States casualty of the war, a 32-year-old C.I.A. officer named Johnny Micheal Spann. On Thursday, that captive, John Walker Lindh, is scheduled to leave a federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., released on probation after serving 17 years of a 20-year sentence for providing support to the Taliban. The case of Mr. Lindh, who converted from Catholicism to Islam at 16 and first left his California home at 17 to study Arabic in Yemen more than three years before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, has stirred questions and controversy from the start. His journey took him to Pakistan in 2000 and later to Afghanistan, where he spent time at a Qaeda training camp as a Taliban volunteer.”

ABC News: Yemen's Houthi Rebels Target Saudi Arabian City With Drone

“Air defense crews raced to action in the southern Saudi Arabian city of Najran Tuesday night to intercept an attack from Iran-backed Yemeni Houthi rebels as tensions remain high between Tehran and the United States. The attack on Najran, about 10 miles north of the Saudi border with Yemen, was carried out by one Qasef K-2 drone armed with an explosive warhead and targeted a Saudi airport and military facility, the Houthi news outlet Al Masirah said. The broadcaster added that the drone struck an “arms depot,” causing a fire. Najran has repeatedly been targeted by the Houthis since the Saudi-led war in Yemen began four years ago. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are leading a Western-backed coalition of Sunni Muslim states seeking to restore the internationally recognized government ousted from power in Yemen by the Houthis in late 2014. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage. On Tuesday morning, in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) and reported in the pro-regime newspaper Arab News, Colonel Turki Al-Maliki, the spokesman of the Saudi-led military coalition fighting the war in Yemen, said Houthi militants had tried to hit a civilian facility in Najran with a drone carrying explosives.”

Fox News: UN Envoy: Islamic State Revival In Iraq Must Be Prevented

“The U.N. envoy for Iraq is calling for “wide-based international support” to prevent Islamic State extremists from regaining a foothold in the country. Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert also told the Security Council on Tuesday that if the issue of thousands of returning Islamic State fighters and their families from Syria to Iraq isn't managed properly, “we risk creating a new breeding ground for the next generation of terrorists.” She stressed that this “is not just an Iraqi problem” because there are non-Iraqi fighters as well. She implicitly criticized some unnamed countries that are maintaining a “strategic distance” from their own nationals. More broadly, Hennis-Plasschaert also criticized Iraqi political infighting that has blocked key ministerial appointments a year after national elections and corruption that she said is “pervasive at all levels in Iraq.”

The Jerusalem Post: Israel Slams Un For Consorting With Hezbollah

“After United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis met with Deputy Secretary General Naim Qassem of Hezbollah, Israel officials condemned the meeting.  “We are shocked and disappointed by this meeting with a designated terror organization’s leader, threatening Israel, Lebanon and the whole region," Israel’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon tweeted. "One doesn’t need to read the Naim Qassem book, courtesy of #Hezbollah terrorists, in order to understand this !!" Israel's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Danny Danon also shared his displeasure on twitter. “The role of #UN representatives is to promote a stable and secure region and not to meet with the leaders of a terrorist organization and to glorify incitement against the State of Israel," Danon tweeted Wednesday morning.”

United States

The New York Times: John Walker Lindh, Known As The ‘American Taliban,’ Is Set To Leave Federal Prison This Week

“He was the “American Taliban” captured during the invasion of Afghanistan in the fall of 2001. Pictures showed him as a gaunt, filthy, 20-year-old held in the aftermath of a prison uprising that claimed the first United States casualty of the war, a 32-year-old C.I.A. officer named Johnny Micheal Spann. On Thursday, that captive, John Walker Lindh, is scheduled to leave a federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., released on probation after serving 17 years of a 20-year sentence for providing support to the Taliban. The case of Mr. Lindh, who converted from Catholicism to Islam at 16 and first left his California home at 17 to study Arabic in Yemen more than three years before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, has stirred questions and controversy from the start. His journey took him to Pakistan in 2000 and later to Afghanistan, where he spent time at a Qaeda training camp as a Taliban volunteer. The government has characterized Mr. Lindh in recent years as holding on to extremist views, and his release has now brought objections from Mr. Spann’s family and elected officials and raised questions about how he can be safely reintegrated into society without some kind of formal government program for rehabilitating former jihadists.”

The Daily Beast: Feds Broke Up Alleged Scheme To Send Surplus Pentagon Gear To Iran

“The Justice Department says a New Hampshire man sold nearly $1 million worth of surplus Defense Department hand-me-down machinery to Iran—and they’ve got secret tracking data to prove it. Prosecutors charged Aiden Davidson, an Iranian citizen and a naturalized American, with money laundering, violating U.S. sanctions on Iran, and immigration offenses in the fall of 2018. Justice Department officials have not spoken publicly about the charges and The Daily Beast is the first news outlet to report on the charges and search warrants obtained in the case. Davidson, who also went by the name Hamed Aliabadi, allegedly shipped surplus machinery to Iran using what the Justice Department claimed was a Turkish front company. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and his attorneys declined to comment on the case.”

USA Today: Charlottesville Victim Sues White Nationalist Groups, Leaders

“An Ohio man injured in the 2017 Charlottesville, Virginia, attack is suing white nationalist organizations and leaders in federal court. Bill Burke, of Athens, Ohio, says he was struck by the car driven by James Alex Fields Jr. on Aug.17, 2017, during the violence that broke out during the "Unite the Right" events in Charlottesville. He said he suffered a concussion, injuries to his left knee and arm and his eye also swelled shut. He also said he watched Heather Heyer die in the street. "He continues to suffer deep debilitating psychological and emotional distress that prevents him from resuming his former life," the lawsuit states. "The physical injuries he sustained ... required and continue to require extensive and expensive medical treatment." Named in the lawsuit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court, are Fields, Jason Kessler, Richard Spencer, Matthew Heimbach and the Daily Stormer. "They are neo-Nazis, Neo-Fascist, Klansmen, white supremacists and white nationalists," the suit states. "They embrace and espouse racist, anti-Semitic, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic ideologies.”


The Washington Post: Can The U.S. Fully Defeat The Islamic State? Here’s What Can Help.

“This spring, U.S. troops and their coalition partners, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), captured the final outpost of the Islamic State territory in eastern Syria. But the United States has yet to achieve its stated policy objective: the “enduring defeat” of the Islamic State in the region. In just the past few weeks, the congressionally-mandated Syria Study Group warned the group has already begun reconstituting in Syria and Iraq — and the Islamic State’s leader released a defiant video message aimed at galvanizing more attacks like those in Sri Lanka. So how does the United States plan to achieve the Islamic State’s enduring defeat in Syria? In addition to the (wavering) military support to the SDF, officials emphasize that civilian “stabilization” assistance is a crucial tool. Through stabilization programs, the United States and its partners remove rubble, clear mines and restart basic services such as electricity, sanitation and water. These programs are vital in their own right in helping Syrians recover. But U.S. policymakers also argue that this assistance will help achieve their strategic goal — the enduring defeat of the Islamic State — by addressing factors fueling the group’s resurgence. What does the evidence say?”

The New York Times: U.S. Says Assad May Be Using Chemical Weapons In Syria Again

“The State Department said on Tuesday that the Syrian government might be renewing its use of chemical weapons, citing a suspected chlorine attack in northwest Syria, and maintaining that any use of such weapons would lead the United States and its allies to “respond quickly and appropriately.” The Trump administration said the suspected attack took place on Sunday in the Idlib area, the final stronghold of rebels who have tried to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. In the fall, Mr. Assad appeared to be on the verge of ordering an invasion of the area, where millions of civilians live or are seeking safe harbor, before a cease-fire agreement was put into effect between rebel groups and the Syrian government. But since April, the Syrian military, with help from Russian forces, has started an air bombing campaign in Idlib to retake the territory in what is expected to be a slow and bloody campaign.”

Haaretz: 'We Didn't Expect To Come Out Alive': Syrian Family Flees Into Fields To Escape Idlib Attacks

“Ali al-Ahmed and his family fled on foot through the fields when the bombs began raining down on their house in northwestern Syria, escaping a major offensive by the Syrian army and its Russian allies. "In the early hours of the morning, the artillery stopped. Then the warplanes and helicopters came out," Ahmed, a 25-year-old farmer, said, recalling his last hours in the village of Habeet which he fled with his family of five dozen. Scattered during their frantic escape from the village, the family are now reunited in a makeshift shelter in an olive grove near the border with Turkey. They are among some of the 180,000 people uprooted by the military escalation.”

Al Jazeera: Dozens Killed As Rebels Launch Counterattack In Syria

“Rebels in northwestern Syria launched a counterattack on Tuesday against pro-government positions and fighting killed more than three dozen combatants from both sides, a war monitor said. The fighting in the town of Kafr Nabuda, in the north of Hama province, killed 26 pro-government fighters as well as 18 rebels, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Syrian forces seized control of the town on May 8. State news agency SANA also said “terrorist groups” - a catch-all term for opposition armed groups - fired missiles on the west of government-held Aleppo city, wounding six civilians. About 200,000 people caught in the crossfire in northwestern Syria have now fled intensified fighting between rebels and Syrian and Russian forces. The territory is largely controlled by Hay'et Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an armed group that formerly represented al-Qaeda's Syrian wing. The Syrian government has vowed to remove HTS from the region. Thousands of Syrians are on the move in search of safety, food and shelter, according to NGO Mercy Corps. “People on the ground tell us that their first need is food, yet food prices have reportedly increased by up to 45 percent during the holy month of Ramadan in the worst-affected areas of northern Hama and southern Idlib,” said Made Ferguson, Mercy Corps' deputy country director for Syria.”


The New York Times: U.S. Officials Work To Convince Divided Congress Of Iran Threat

“Top American national security officials sought to convince a divided Congress on Tuesday about the seriousness of new threats from Iran as they defended intelligence that has prompted military deployments aimed at deterring attacks by Tehran. Democrats emerged from the classified briefings on Capitol Hill with sharp questions about whose actions ultimately led to the recent escalation: Tehran’s or the Trump administration’s. Late last week, Iran removed some missiles it had stationed on small boats in its territorial waters — a step American officials said was a sign that Iran was seeking to ease tensions. On Tuesday, American officials said Iran had threatened to target those missiles at Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure to drive up oil prices and disrupt international trade. Recent intelligence has indicated that Iran was considering such attacks in response to tough American sanctions against Iran’s oil sector and the administration’s decision to designate the paramilitary arm of Iran’s government a terrorist organization, according to two officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the analysis publicly. “Are they reacting to us, or are we doing these things in reaction to them? That is a major question I have, that I still have,” Senator Angus King, a Maine independent who mostly votes with Democrats, said after the closed-door briefings.”

The Jerusalem Post: U.S. Intercepted Iranian Orders To Hezbollah To Attack Americans - Report

“The US intercepted conversations between Iran and Hezbollah in which Iran ordered Hezbollah to conduct attacks on Americans, according to KAN news.”

The Wall Street Journal: Iran Threat Has Been Put ‘On Hold,’ Acting Defense Chief Says

“The Trump administration said Tuesday that the threat of hostilities with Iran has receded in the face of U.S. military deployments and sought to assure lawmakers in classified briefings that a war wasn’t imminent. The briefings were the first for all members of Congress since the Trump administration more than two weeks ago declared a threat of an imminent Iranian attack and deployed several warships and bombers to the region. While some congressional leaders and other lawmakers have been briefed on the situation, many have complained that they had been left in the dark, and several left Tuesday’s sessions saying they had been given conflicting information about the nature of the threat. “We’re told that Iran is less threatening from what we’ve seen as a result of our actions,” said Rep. Adam Smith (D.,Wash.), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. “There’s a lot going on in a lot of different places, so I would hesitate to say it’s de-escalated at this point.”


Iraqi News: Mass Grave Of Islamic State Victims Found In Iraq’s Mosul

“Iraqi security forces found on Tuesday a new mass grave of Islamic State victims in Mosul city, which once hosted the group’s self-proclaimed “caliphate”. A security source told the National Iraqi News Agency (NINA) that a mass grave containing remains of 37 people was found in Ayn al-Tamr city in western Mosul. “Most of the bodies are of Iraqi women, who were executed by the hardline Sunni group during its capture of Mosul,” the source said. “The bodies were moved to the forensic medicine department in Mosul,” the source added. As Iraqi troops recaptured areas held by Islamic State militants since 2014, they have regularly run into mass graves of civilians and security agents executed by the militants for fleeing the group’s havens or collaborating with security forces. Iraq’s war against the Islamic State displaced millions of civilians both inside and outside the country, and left thousands dead, according to government and United Nations figures. In 2017 alone, violence left more than 3000 dead and more than 4000 wounded.”

Xinhua: 11 IS Militants Killed In Operation In Central Iraq

Iraqi security forces killed 11 Islamic State (IS) militants in an operation in Iraq's central province of Salahudin, the Iraqi military said on Tuesday. A joint force from the Iraqi army, provincial police and paramilitary Hashd Shaabi units conducted an operation to clear a desert area in Salahudin province from IS militants, the media office of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command said in a statement. During the operation, the troops discovered 13 IS hideouts and two car-bomb-making sites, as well as killing 11 IS militants and destroying two booby-trapped vehicles, the statement said. The troops also found 16 explosive belts and six containers filled with explosives, in addition to other supplies and equipment, the statement added. The security situation in Iraq was dramatically improved after Iraqi security forces fully defeated the extremist IS militants across the country in late 2017. IS remnants, however, have since melted in urban areas or resorted to deserts and rugged areas as safe havens, carrying out frequent guerilla attacks against security forces and civilians.”


The New Arab: Turkey Seeking Extradition Of UK Lawyer Over 'Terrorist Propaganda'

“A British lawyer is currently facing extradition to Turkey over accusations that he is a supporter of Fethullah Gulen, the exiled spiritual leader Turkey blames for plotting a 2016 coup attempt. Ozcan Keles, a UK citizen of Turkish descent, appeared before a London court on Monday to face charges of spreading propaganda online brought by Turkey. Keles' case is the latest in a series of extradition cases filed by the Turkish government in the UK against opponents of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. They stand accused of supporting Gulen, who Turkey alleges carried out a 2016 failed coup attempt. Supporters of Gulen, a reclusive cleric who has lived in exile in the US for two decades and held wide influence in Turkey and beyond, are accused of being members of a secretive terrorist organisation named FETO by the Turkish government. Followers of the spiritual leader instead term themselves members of the Hizmet (Service) movement, which they describe as a non-political global civil society and educational effort inspired by Islamic values. But many, including opponents of Erdogan, say the remarks which forced Gulen into a self-imposed exile indicate the cleric's desire to take over the Turkish state.”

Reuters: Turkey Says It Will Not Withdraw Posts In Syria After Government Attacks

“Turkey will not evacuate its military observation post in northern Syria’s Idlib, the last rebel stronghold in the region, after a suspected Syrian government attack this month, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said. Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency has said that Syrian government forces have carried out at least three attacks near a Turkish observation post in the Idlib de-escalation zone, one of 12 posts set up under an agreement between Turkey, Russia and Iran last May. “Evacuating the observation post in Idlib after the regime’s attack is definitely not happening, it won’t happen anywhere,” Akar told reporters late on Tuesday. “The Turkish Armed Forces will not retreat from where it is located.” More than 3 million people live in Idlib and surrounding areas, including many who fled government advances in other parts of Syria in recent years.”


The New York Times: Attacks On Girls’ Schools On The Rise As Taliban Make Gains

“Just before midterm exams in January, Mohammad Sadiq Halimi, the deputy education director for Farah Province in western Afghanistan, was given an ultimatum by local Taliban leaders. Fire all male teachers at girls’ schools, Mr. Halimi said he was told. Replace them with women — men should not teach girls, the militants said. The government did as it was told. “We didn’t want to give them an excuse” to shut down the schools by force, Mr. Halimi said. But Farah’s schools were not spared. Last month, on two successive nights, armed men on motorcycles set fire to two girls’ schools just outside Farah city, the provincial capital. Both were badly damaged and the teaching materials inside were destroyed, ending classes indefinitely for nearly 1,700 girls. Graffiti on a nearby wall read, “Long live the Islamic Emirate” — the Taliban’s name for their movement. Four other girls’ schools in the province have been attacked in the past several months, said Muhibullah Muhib, a police spokesman. Besides terrifying teachers, students and their families, the attacks have renewed larger fears of a return to the repressive days of Taliban rule, as the militants and the United States try to negotiate a peace deal.”

The Washington Post: Even Without A Taliban Peace Deal, Progress For Afghan Women And Democracy Seems Vulnerable

“Afghans often express fears that a Taliban return to power would bring a reversal of the gains in democracy and women’s rights made during nearly 18 years of civilian rule.  But in the past two weeks, a woman’s murder on a Kabul street and a chaotic brawl in parliament have exposed the tenuous nature of these gains, the permanent specter of violence, and the stubborn grip of male pride and ethnic rivalry in this traditional, conflict-steeped society. Mina Mangal seemed the perfect symbol of a successful, urbanized Afghan woman. The former TV news presenter and active social media commentator was working as an adviser in parliament. She spoke with poise and wrote with boldness. In recent posts, she had hinted that her life was in danger. On May 11, as Mangal was leaving home for work, she was shot dead at close range. Police ascribed the killing to a family dispute, and it soon emerged that there was another side to this young woman’s life — a side over which she had no control. According to her family, Mangal had been unhappily married to an abusive man in an arranged match. Her family sought legal protection, the couple separated, and she filed for divorce. At one point, her mother told Afghan media, Mangal was abducted and beaten by her husband and his relatives.”

Tolo News: Al-Qaeda Elements Are Seen In Parts Of Afghanistan: Miller

“The US and NATO Forces Commander in Afghanistan Gen. Scott Miller has said that there are some indications about the movements of al-Qaeda elements in some parts of Afghanistan but gave no details about the nature of these movements. “We have seen al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Yes, in different parts of Afghanistan. In different parts of Afghanistan, we can find them, so it’s not one particular region, it’s across the country,” said Miller. He said the United States will continue its cooperation and partnership with the Afghan forces and the Afghan citizens. “I do believe that intra-Afghan dialogue is going to be very important to the peace process. Peace is something that all Afghans care about and as we move forward, that is a process and a journey, possibly that is the will of the people that peace comes to Afghanistan and certainly our relationship with Afghanistan which has been longstanding will be part of that process,” said Miller.”

Xinhua: Afghan Forces' Fresh Crackdowns Kill 42 Militants In Eastern Ghazni

“Up to 42 militants have been confirmed dead as government forces launched fresh operations against Taliban hideouts in parts of the eastern Ghazni province on Monday, provincial government spokesman Aref Nuri said Tuesday. The air-backed operations, according to the official, launched in the troubled Andar and Dayak districts on Monday evening which ended on Tuesday morning, left 42 insurgents dead and wounded several others. A Taliban group commander Mullah Fateh and six foreign nationals are among those killed during the operations, the official said, without identifying the nationalities of the alleged foreign fighters. Taliban militants are yet to make comment on the report.”


DW: Yemen: Houthi Drone 'Hits Saudi Arms Depot'

“Houthi-run Masirah TV said on Tuesday that the Yemeni rebel group had launched a drone attack on Najran airport in Saudi Arabia which caused a fire to break out at the facility. The airport is located in the city of Najran on the Saudi-Yemen border, an area that has repeatedly been targeted by Houthi rebels. Saudi government spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki said the Houthis "had tried to target" a civilian site in Najran and there would be a "strong deterrent" to such attacks.  Last Tuesday, Riyadh claimed that two oil pumping stations — which maintain the flow rates of a major Saudi oil pipeline — were hit by armed drones, resulting in a fire at one of the stations and a temporary shutting of the oil line as a precaution. Masirah TV said after the May 14 pipeline attack that the Iran-linked Houthi group had launched drone attacks on Saudi installations in response to what it called Saudi aggression and a blockade on Yemen. A Saudi-led alliance has been at war with the Houthis and their allies since 2015. Saudi Arabia and Iran are also on opposite sides of the war in Syria.”

BBC: Yemen War: UN Appeals To Houthi Rebels Over Aid

“The UN says food aid is being diverted by some corrupt and uncooperative officials in Houthi-held areas of Yemen, where millions of people are believed to be on the verge of famine. David Beasley, head of the World Food Programme (WFP), told the BBC the agency's efforts to reach people in need were being repeatedly blocked. He said he hoped "good Houthi leaders" would prevail over the corrupt ones. On Monday, the agency warned of a possible suspension of aid delivery. Yemen is the worst humanitarian crisis in the world currently and some 12 million people - almost 40% of the population - are on the brink of starvation, according to Mr Beasley. Most of those most in need are in Houthi-controlled areas.”

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Gazette: Security Forces Apprehend 26 Terror Suspects In Ramadan

“Security forces have nabbed 26 terror suspects during the first 10 days of Ramadan, according to the Presidency of the State Security.The presidency said those arrested include 14 Saudis, five Yemenis, two Sri Lankans and two Syrians. Besides, one suspect is each from Pakistan, the Philippines and India. The presidency said four suspects — one each from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Syria — were apprehended on the first day of Ramadan (May 6). On the third day of the fasting month (May 8) another Saudi was caught and on the fourth day (May 9) three Yemenis and a Syrian were nabbed. The presidency said an Indian and a Yemeni were caught of the fifth day of Ramadan (May 10) while six suspects were caught next day. They were four Saudis and one each from India and Sri Lanka. On the seventh day of the fasting month two Saudis were caught while on the ninth a Saudi and a Filipino were caught. Five suspects, all Saudis, were arrested the following day.”

Middle East

CFR: Women And Terrorism: Hidden Threats, Forgotten Partners

“A new report from the Women and Foreign Policy program, launched this week, highlights the roles that women play in violent extremism—including as perpetrators, mitigators, and victims—and offers recommendations to better enlist their participation in efforts to combat radicalization. Extremist groups rely upon women to gain strategic advantage, recruiting them as facilitators and martyrs while also benefiting from their subjugation. Yet U.S. policymakers continue to overlook the ways in which women perpetrate and prevent extremism, putting the United States at a disadvantage in its efforts to prevent terrorism globally and within its borders. Understanding and addressing women’s paths to radicalization and the roles they play in violent extremism is crucial to disrupting terrorists’ abilities to recruit, deploy, and abuse them. Although women are often ignored in conventional depictions of violent political actors, they have been active participants in 60 percent of armed rebel groups over the past several decades. And the number of women implicated in terrorism-related crimes is growing: In 2017, the Global Extremism Monitor registered 100 distinct suicide attacks conducted by 181 female militants, constituting 11 percent of all incidents that year.”

Arab News: Time For Action On Muslim Brotherhood’s European Activities

“Fighting the Muslim Brotherhood should be at the top of the agenda of the next Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting in Makkah on May 30. When the Brotherhood cannot come in through the door, they go through the window — currently via the window of your computers and smartphones. The European Council for Fatwa and Research recently launched what it called a “Euro Fatwa App” out of Dublin. Its main audience was Britain and it was heavily promoted by mosques in the UK that are affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood. The head of the organization behind the app was a certain Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, a Qatar-based Egyptian cleric considered to be the spiritual head of the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Qaradawi was banned from entering the UK in 2008 and is also banned from entering France, the US, the UAE and Ireland, amongst other countries, because of his extremist views. What the app aimed to do was exploit technology and infiltrate the homes of ordinary Muslims in Britain.”


Al Arabiya: Egypt Says 16 Suspected Militants Killed In Sinai

“Egypt’s interior ministry said on Tuesday 16 suspected militants have been killed in North Sinai, where security forces have for years been battling a local affiliate of ISIS extremist group. The militants were killed during police raids on their hideouts in the provincial capital el-Arish, the ministry said in a statement, without detailing when the raids took place. Based on intelligence from the national security department, the ministry alleged the militants had been planning attacks on “important and vital facilities” as well as prominent figures in the city. Egypt has for years been fighting an insurgency in North Sinai, which escalated following the 2013 military ousting of president Mohamed Morsi. Since then, hundreds of police officers and soldiers have been killed in militant attacks. In February 2018, the army launched a nationwide operation against the militants, focusing mainly on the turbulent North Sinai region. Some 650 militants and around 45 soldiers have been killed since the start of the offensive, according to separate statements by the armed forces.”


The Telegraph: Boko Haram Adopts 'Hearts And Minds' Strategy In Nigeria – Inspired By Isil

“When a motorbike convoy of Boko Haram fighters invaded Baga in north-east Nigeria last December, residents feared the very worst. Watching the gunmen roll in, they recalled Boko Haram's last seizure of the town in 2015, when hundreds of their men were slaughtered and their women kidnapped as “bush wives”. This time, though, the Hells Angels' style motorcade did not bring the usual orgy of rape, murder and pillage.  "They didn't beat anyone, they just said that we should stay where we were," said Mansour Yusuf, 44,  a father of nine. "But they also said we were free to leave if we wanted to." Mr Yusuf took no chances, fleeing along with thousands of other Baga residents to the better-defended town of Monguno, where Nigerian troops have dug a protective trench around the town.”


The National: Mogadishu Blast: Explosion Reported In Somalia's Capital

“An explosion near Somalia's old parliament building in Mogadishu sent smoke and dust billowing into the sky on Wednesday, local news outlets reported. The blast happened in the south-east of the city, in Mogadishu's old town and near the coast, according to a member of Somalia's parliament. Abdirizak Mohamed, the former minister of internal security and an MP, said two members of parliament fleeing the explosion sought shelter in his house. One of them lost a member of staff and another was taken to hospital, he wrote on Twitter. Somalia's old parliament building is opposite the "Monument of the Unknown Soldier" where other reports said the blast took place. Pictures showed the aftermath of a blast, with smoke rising into the air.. It is not clear who is responsible for the bombing and there has been no official confirmation.”


Bloomberg: Islamic State, Largely Defeated At Home, Is Rebuilding In Africa

“Sitting cross-legged with a Kalashnikov rifle by his side, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of Islamic State, used his first video appearance in five years to reassure his followers that he was far from defeated. Recorded in a secret location and released at the end of April, the video showed the jihadi leader calmly reflecting on the loss of Islamic State’s last swath of Middle Eastern territory in March, largely to a coalition of U.S. and Kurdish forces. He spoke about the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka that killed more than 250 people, which were claimed by the Sunni group, and said Islamic State would now take its battle across the world. Shortly before, Islamic State had claimed its first attack in Congo, where three soldiers were shot dead by what the group said was a new Central African wilayat, or province. He also praised Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), which operates in the part of the Sahel region that overlaps Mali and Niger. Africa, he said, would be a land of rebirth. “The loss of the core, the caliphate, was a huge blow to them,” says Thomas Abi-Hanna, a security analyst with Stratfor. “They are really trying to play up the gains they’ve made elsewhere, and Africa’s arguably the place where they’ve made the most gains.” 

United Kingdom

BBC News: London Bridge Attack Inquests: US Tourist 'Flatlined Twice' After Being Stabbed

“An American tourist who was stabbed in the head, face and back in the London Bridge attack has paid tribute to those who saved him after “flatlining twice”.  Speaking at the inquests into deaths of eight victims, Robert Piersant singled out a Metropolitan Police officer. He said PC Sam Philpot “never left my side” after the attack on 3 June 2017. He told the Old Bailey: “The doctors did great things putting me back together but if it wasn't for that PC I would not have got to the hospital.”  Mr Piersant and his wife Joyce, who was stabbed but also survived, were among the 48 people injured when Khuram Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, launched a van and knife attack in 2017. The first 10 days of the inquests focused on the eight people killed in the first few minutes of the attack. The hearing has now begun to look into the next phase of the attack - as Redouane, Butt and Zaghba continued stabbing people in bars, restaurants and on streets in the Borough Market area. Returning to London to give evidence at the inquests, Mr Piersant explained that when he was first approached by an attacker, he initially thought he had been barged into by a drunk - but then he saw a knife.”


Newsweek: Russia Spy Chief Warns 5,000 Isis Foreign Fighters Threaten Borders Of Former Soviet Union

“The director of Russia’s most prevalent intelligence agency warned that as many as 5,000 members of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) posed a threat on the borders of the former Soviet Union. In statements carried by Russian government-owned news agency Tass, Alexander Bortnikov, head of the Federal Security Service, warned that 5,000 ISIS fighters had been deployed in northern Afghanistan and now threatened former Soviet nations along the border. Bortnikov, who made the comments at a meeting of security chiefs from nations formerly within the Soviet Union, outlined how citizens of the former Soviet socialist republics, who had fought with ISIS in Syria, had been deployed as part of the so-called Wilayat Khorosan, ISIS's branch in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Russian spy chief said the buildup of terrorists in the region had led to an escalation of tensions in central Asia as the ISIS fighters exploited porous borders. “Members of international terrorist organizations use refugee and labor migration flows for covert movement from combat zones and countries bordering them to other regions,” the FSB head said. He added that ISIS operatives could take advantage of migration patterns to spread ideology, embed sleeper cells and ultimately carry out acts of domestic terrorism.”

Southeast Asia

The New York Times: For Sri Lanka’s Bickering Leaders, Election Hopes Dim After Terrorist Attack

“Even before the coordinated bombings that killed 250 people last month, Sri Lanka’s president and prime minister were in trouble — largely of their own making. Now calls for President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to step aside when their terms are over, if not before, are mounting from opposition groups as well as from the ranks of their own parties. A member of Mr. Wickremesinghe’s party issued a public letter last week, asking the prime minister to make way for new leadership. Then, on Tuesday, a small opposition group in Parliament initiated no-confidence votes against both leaders, citing their failure to act on intelligence warning that an attack was imminent as well as their leadership in the aftermath. The calls for accountability coincide with jostling for an upcoming presidential election, and they seem to have all but crushed the chances for both men, senior officials, party members and analysts said in interviews. The decline of a coalition that had promised a Sri Lanka free from the shackles of its long civil war has created an opening for the former ruling family, the Rajapaksas, who ended the war but did so with a heavy hand.” 


Business Insider: Facebook's Former Security Chief Says Mark Zuckerberg Has Too Much Power And Needs To Step Down As CEO

“Mark Zuckerberg should step aside for a new CEO at Facebook, Alex Stamos, the company's former chief security officer, said on Tuesday. The move would curtail Zuckerberg's power and allow him to focus on what he likes best — developing the company's products, Stamos said at the Collision conference in Toronto. It would also be a sign that he's serious about changing the culture at Facebook, he said. "There is a legitimate argument that he has too much power," Stamos said. "He needs to give up some of that power. And if I was him, I would go hire a new CEO for the company." Stamos has a candidate in mind for whom Zuckerberg should choose to replace him: Microsoft President Brad Smith. Smith helped the software giant make peace with government regulators when it was under similar scrutiny in the early 2000s over its business practices, as Facebook is now.”