Eye on Extremism: May 6

The Wall Street Journal: Gaza, Israel Reach Cease-Fire After Days Of Deadly Clashes

“Militant groups in Gaza said Monday they had reached a cease-fire with Israel after two days of the deadliest fighting since the 2014 war. Israel lifted security restrictions in the south near Gaza in a sign that it expected calm, though it didn’t officially confirm the truce. Four Israelis and 27 Palestinians were killed since Friday evening after militants launched nearly 700 rockets, and Israel said it hit more than 350 military targets in Gaza in response. The latest conflagration sparked fears of a wider war after a year of violent flare-ups and periodic cease-fires. But calm descended across Gaza and Israel on Monday after a weekend of rocket fire from the strip, blaring sirens over southern Israeli communities and explosions on both sides of the border. Hamas, which controls Gaza, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another militant group, said the truce began at 4:30 a.m. Monday and included commitments from Israel to lift some restrictions on the strip, such as expanding Gaza’s fishing area, allowing more cash into Gaza for infrastructure and employment and developing Gaza’s power plant.”

ABC News: Aircraft Carrier Sent To Middle East After Indications Iran Planned Attack On US Forces

“The United States is deploying an aircraft carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East on short notice in response to “clear indications” Iran and Iranian proxies were planning an attack on U.S. forces in the region, a U.S. official said. Interested in Iran? Late Sunday night, the White House made a surprise announcement that the USS Abraham Lincoln and a bomber task force were being deployed in response to unspecified “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings.” A statement from National Security Adviser John Bolton said the deployments were intended “to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.” “The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces,” the statement continued. A U.S. official told ABC News the deployments were in response to “clear indications” Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were preparing for a possible attack, and that the decision to send forces was made on Sunday."

The New York Times: Taliban Kill Unarmed Afghan Police Officers Waiting For Pay

“Unarmed police officers were lining up for their monthly pay in northern Afghanistan on Sunday when a Taliban suicide bomber blew up an explosives-laden Humvee next to a police compound, setting off a six-hour siege. At least seven Taliban gunmen wearing police uniforms — some armed with suicide vests — rushed through a hole blown open by the explosion, police officials said. When the siege was eventually quelled, 20 police officers had been killed and 35 wounded, the officials said. Twenty civilians were also hurt, according to the Interior Ministry in Kabul. By nightfall, police commanders said they had killed all attackers in the police headquarters in Pul-i-Kumri, the capital of Baghlan Province, about 150 miles north of Kabul. Bismullah Attash, a member of the Baghlan provincial council, said two of the uniformed attackers drove into the compound in private vehicles. Abdul Qayoum Mubariz, a police officer based at the headquarters, said about 25 police officers — almost all of them unarmed — were waiting in line at a bank in the compound when the Humvee exploded. He said several soldiers were carrying plates of food from a dining hall as the attackers stormed inside.”

The Daily Beast: The Hezbollah Sleeper Agent Busted For Black Ops In America

“Naomi Rodriguez is an emergency medical technician who works 12-hour shifts in the streets of The Bronx, so she immediately recognized the irony when the unremarkable-looking man who lived one floor above her was alleged to be a terrorist sleeper agent. “I save lives, and here’s this one trying to take them,” she remarked this week from the doorway of her apartment on West 238th Street in the borough’s Kingsbridge Heights section.  Neither Ali Kourani’s attire nor demeanor gave any hint of his religion or ideology. “How do you say, it’s just unexpected,” Rodriguez added. “Very unexpected.” She recalled that at the time of his arrest last June, the news called 34-year-old Kourani “the Kingsbridge Heights Terrorist.” But he was not just another lone wolf inspired to Islamic radicalism by internet hate sites and following online instructions to build a bomb in the kitchen of his mom. As will become clear when he goes on trial Monday, this seemingly unremarkable man whom Rodriguez saw in the stairway is alleged to have been a longtime undercover operative for an international terrorist organization.  Kourani had allegedly been recruited as part of a plan to exact revenge for the car-bomb killing of a terror mastermind whom a former CIA agent called “probably the most intelligent, most capable operative we’ve ever run across, including the KGB or anybody else.”

The Wall Street Journal: Islamic State Inspired, But Didn’t Direct, Easter Attacks, Sri Lanka Says

“The devastating Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka were locally planned and executed, without direct guidance from the Islamic State militant group, investigators said.  Two Sri Lankan Muslim extremists learned how to build the explosive devices that killed more than 250 people in churches and hotels by studying Islamic State designs on the internet and conducting trial-and-error tests, including one that cost a bomb maker several fingers last year, people involved in the probe said. One plotter, Ilhan Ibrahim, the radicalized son of a wealthy Colombo spice trader, appears to have financed and organized the six nearly simultaneous attacks largely on his own, these people said. Before the attacks—which were a year in the making—authorities were aware that all but one of the bombers were involved in extremist activities or suspected of other crimes, they said. A lack of coordination between arms of the government hindered action being taken on the information, officials said.  The attacks showed Islamic State’s influence even in decline, and the ability of a small group of self-organized extremists to act on its message in a country not usually considered a target.”

Daily Mail: How Facebook Is STILL Allowing Anti-Christian Fanatics To Peddle Extremism - Despite Claiming Crack Down On Content Promoting 'Violence And Hate'

“Facebook is allowing anti-Christian extremists freedom to peddle hate despite closing down accounts of far-right and anti-Semitic leaders, MailOnline can reveal. The social media giant this week said it had shut down profiles belonging to Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos were thrown off Facebook, along with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and the white nationalist Paul Nehlen, saying they had violated its policies against dangerous individuals and organizations. But the company was today accused of hypocrisy when hordes of anti-Christian fanatics and anti-Semites are allowed to function freely on the site despite a raft complaints. They say hate preachers like the Pakistani cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi – spiritual leader of the extremist group Tehreek-e-Labbaik – spreads anti-Christian rhetoric to thousands of followers on the network. Rizvi was behind massive demonstrations to demand the death penalty for Asia Bibi, a Christian mother-of-five accused of blasphemy by a Pakistani court and was sentenced to death by hanging in 2010, before being acquitted last year.”

United States

The New York Times: Judge To Announce Sentence In Chicago Terrorism Case

“A federal judge will announce her sentence for a 25-year-old who was arrested in a 2012 FBI terrorism string after trying to ignite what he thought was a real car bomb outside a Chicago bar. The judge's sentence Monday for Adel Daoud follows a hearing held last week. Prosecutors want a 40-year prison term. The defense hopes Daoud can be released by 2021. Among the factors that Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman has to consider is whether the FBI improperly manipulated a mentally fragile Daoud. Daoud was 18 when he was arrested after parking a car outside the bar and pushing a button he believed would detonate a powerful bomb. Agents supplied the fake device and made it smell like diesel fuel to convince Daoud thta it was real.”

NBC News: 2 From White Supremacist Group Plead Guilty In Charlottesville Rally Violence

“Two men accused of being members of a white supremacist group and arrested after the deadly "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, pleaded guilty to federal charges Friday, prosecutors said. Benjamin Drake Daley, 26, and Michael Paul Miselis, 30, who prosecutors said are members of the "Rise Above Movement," pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to riot, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia said in a statement. Daley faces 27 months to 42 months in prison, according to a plea agreement filed in the case. Miselis’ agreement does not specify a range, but the charge carries a maximum of five years. They are set to be sentenced this summer. Daley was a founder of the now-defunct, California-based organization known as RAM. Daley, Miselis and two other men — Thomas Gillen and Cole White — were arrested in October in connection with violence at the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville."

The Independent: US Vows To Fight ISIS’ Global Ambitions, But The Jihadists Are Adapting

“At the very end of Abu Baqr al-Baghdadi’s first video appearance in nearly five years, the greying Isis leader is handed folders that bear the names of areas across the world where the jihadi group continues to harbour global visions. “This battle will have a sequel, God willing,” he said.  There are folders for Isis ”wilayat” – meaning provinces – for Somalia, Yemen, the Caucasus, West Africa, Central Africa and Turkey. The self-declared “caliphate” that once stretched for thousands of miles and ruled over millions of people is gone – but it is clear that Isis’s grand ambitions remain. The militants have made significant inroads into sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, as seen in the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka, and are still able to carry out attacks in Afghanistan, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, Iraq and Syria. A top US counterterrorism official this week warned that Isis continues to pose a “dire threat” throughout the world – and said the administration is now looking at how best to next strike the jihadists. “We’ve won great victories in the battlefield,” said ambassador Nathan A Sales, the US State Department’s top counterterrorism coordinator, during a talk at the Brookings Institution. “Now we need to match them with victories in our courtrooms, at our borders, in our banks and online.”

Buzzfeed News: An Alabama “ISIS Bride” Wants To Come Home. Can We Forgive Her Horrifying Social Media Posts?

“I started texting with Hoda Muthana April 5, 2015, when she was 20 and I was 26. We were talking on Kik, a messaging service mostly used by dating app users looking to hook up — and jihadis looking to communicate. Muthana’s first question was how I’d found her. “I’m a journalist,” I told her. “I do my job well.” “No ur not,” she replied. “Don’t get a big head.” So I proved it to her, by sending her a smiling high school graduation photograph of herself. That’s when Muthana threatened me for the first time. “If I see that photo online. I will get someone to kill you,” she texted me back. At the time, Muthana was a curiosity, a shy American college girl turned “ISIS bride.” Now, she’s sitting in a Kurdish refugee camp with her son, Adam, who will turn 2 soon, begging to return to her homeland, the United States. She has become a symbol of a new debate about the young people — and, in particular, the women — who were radicalized by ISIS. Are they monsters, or victims? And more broadly, in this age of online radicalization, who has traveled beyond redemption? Who can be deradicalized, and who can be redeemed? I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I do know Muthana better than most of the reporters asking them.”

The Epoch Times: ‘We Will Chop Off Their Heads’ For Allah, Children In Philadelphia Muslim Society Say: Reports

“Disturbing footage has emerged from an Islamic Center in Philadelphia, showing children reportedly lip-syncing to songs and reading poems saying they would sacrifice themselves and kill for Allah. The Muslim American Society Islamic Center in Philadelphia (MAS Philly) uploaded videos on April 22 to its Facebook page. The videos show children singing lyrics that appear to call on the next generation of Palestinian youth to embrace terrorism and glorify suicide bombers, according to the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT). The boys were shown to be lip-syncing a song, during which several of them held up a copy of the Quran. “The blood of the martyrs is calling us. Paradise, men desire it,” they mouthed to the song, according to IPT. “Revolutionaries, Revolutionaries … Sword and Text, oh free men.” The song continues: “Until we liberate our lands, until we reach our anchorages, and we crush the traitor … Oh, the winds of Paradise. Oh rivers of the martyrs, lads. My Islam calls whoever responds. Stand up, O righteous ones.” The videos were shot on April 17, when MAS Philly held an annual “Ummah Day.” The theme of the event was advertised as focusing on the “Golden age of Islamic science.”


Bloomberg: ISIS Lost The War. Now It’s Dangerous.

“What does a caliph do when he loses his caliphate? Crawl out from under his rock, apparently. Last week, the Islamic State released a video of its evanescent leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, for the first time in five years, in which he warned of “the vengeance that awaits the crusaders and their henchmen.” (I’m probably only the latter, but one can always aspire.) Coming on the heels of the horrific bombings of Christian churches in Sri Lanka, for which ISIS has taken credit, there’s no doubt that losing their geographical foothold in Syria and Iraq was no death blow to the insurgents or their murderous interpretation of Islam.  To understand what to expect from ISIS 2.0, I had a chat with someone who knows as much as anybody about ISIS 1.0, Graeme Wood, author of ”The Way of the Strangers: Encounters with the Islamic State.” Wood, who is also a staff writer at the Atlantic and a lecturer in political science at Yale, has spent years talking  to ISIS recruits and their families about what, exactly, is so enticing about becoming cannon fodder for a group that has raped and pillaged its way across the Middle East.”

Reuters: Syrian Rebels Say Goal Of Russia's Idlib Assault Is To Take Highways

“Syrian rebels backed by Turkey said on Monday that Moscow and its Syrian government ally were trying to wrest control of two major highways in their last enclave in the northwest of the country in a bid to shore up Syria’s sanction-hit economy. The sixth day of the campaign by government forces saw heavy aerial attacks targeting the city of Jisr al-Shughour and the al-Ghab plain, as well as the towns of al-Latamenah and Maarat al-Numan in the south of Idlib province, the rebels said. Taking those areas would bring President Bashar al-Assad close to regaining control over the strategic M5 and M4 highways from Aleppo to Hama and Latakia on the Mediterranean coast, two of Syria’s most important pre-war arteries. The first few days of the assault struck at towns in northern Hama and southern Idlib province inside a buffer zone agreed in September between Russia and Turkey as part of a deal which averted a major offensive on the area, the last major foothold of the Syrian rebellion.”

Al Jazeera: Dozens Killed As Russian, Syrian Air Attacks In Idlib Intensify

“Syrian government forces and their Russian allies have intensified their air offensive on the country's rebel-held northwest for a fifth consecutive day in a widening campaign, killing and wounding dozens and forcing thousands to flee their homes. After an overnight lull, government and Russian warplanes escalated bombings on Saturday hitting rebel areas in Idlib and the neighbouring province of Hama, aid workers in the area said.  The Syrian military sent new reinforcements towards Idlib, including tanks, armoured personnel carriers and hundreds of troops on Saturday. The official SANA news agency said the army had destroyed "jihadist" positions in southern Idlib and nearby Hama province in response to what it called repeated violations of a de-escalation agreement. But the UN humanitarian coordinator said schools, health facilities and residential areas have been hit and the government forces are employing the worst barrel bombing in at least 15 months.”


The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Deploys Forces To Mideast To Deter Iran

“The U.S. is deploying a carrier strike group and a number of bombers to the Middle East to serve as a deterrent to Iran based on new intelligence that suggests allied interests and American forces could be imperiled, multiple U.S. officials said. The Pentagon is sending a carrier and its accompanying ships as well as what is known as a bomber task force to the region in coming days in response to “a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings,” National Security Adviser John Bolton said in a statement Sunday. “The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces,” he said. The move, which comes after top-level discussions over the weekend, is considered a significant deployment of forces to a region from which the U.S. has been gradually drawing down its military footprint as it realigns its security priorities to compete with Russia and China.”

Fox News: Iran Dissidents Call For Tehran’s Embassies In Europe To Be Shut Down Amid Terror Threat

“A top Iran resistance group is calling on European nations to shut down Tehran's embassies in response to the regime's alleged use of embassies to plot terror attacks against its political opponents across the continent -- as the Trump administration ramps up sanctions against the Islamic republic led by President Hassan Rouhani. “What we are calling for is closing the Iranian regime’s embassies,” National Council of Resistance of Iran Deputy Director Alireza Jafarzadeh told reporters at a news conference in Washington, D.C. this week. “These diplomatic relations have allowed the regime to plot terrorist attacks and assassinations in the West.” The news conference was held to discuss the release of the group's new book “Iran’s Emissaries of Terror,” which seeks to highlight Tehran’s use of embassies in plotting terror attacks against political opponents in the U.S. and Europe. Iranian-backed plots have surged in recent years, particularly in 2018, when the NCRI logged 10 instances of terror plots or terror-related arrests against Iranian officials. The most significant was the foiled plot to bomb an annual gathering of Iranian dissident groups (under the umbrella of the NCRI) in Paris last year -- an event that was attended by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. An Iranian diplomat based in Vienna was one of four arrested for the plot.


Iraqi News: Two Islamic State Fighters Apprehended In Mosul — Interior Ministry

“The Iraqi Interior Ministry announced on Sunday that two Islamic State terrorists were arrested in Mosul city, once a capital of the terrorist group’s sprawling self-proclaimed caliphate. “Security forces, in cooperation with intelligence services, arrested two IS militants, who were fighting for the so-called Jund (soldiers) Diwan,” Mawazin News quoted the ministry’s spokesperson, Major General Saad Maan, as saying. The two terrorists were apprehended in al-Resala district in the western side of Mosul, added the spokesman. The Islamic State group appeared on the international scene in 2014 when it seized large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, declaring the establishment of an Islamic “caliphate” from Mosul city. Later on, the group has become notorious for its brutality, including mass killings, abductions and beheadings, prompting the U.S. to lead an international coalition to destroy it. Former Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi declared the end of military operations against Islamic State in Iraq on December 9, 2017 three years after the militant group captured about a third of Iraq’s territory. On July 10 that year, the former premier had formally declared victory over Islamic State extremists in Mosul, which served as the terrorists’ main urban stronghold.”

Xinhua: 8 IS Militants Killed In Operation In Western Iraq Desert

“Eight Islamic State (IS) militants were killed Sunday during a major offensive launched by the Iraqi security forces to hunt down the extremist militants in the desert areas in western Iraq, the Iraqi military said. “The Iraqi army and paramilitary tribal units, backed by the Iraqi and international aircraft, launched in the morning a large-scale operation in western Iraq in coordination between the provincial operations commands of Anbar, Salahudin and Nineveh,” Qassim al-Mohammedi, commander of al-Jazira Operations Command, told Xinhua. Al-Mohammedi, whose command is responsible for the security of western part of Anbar province and the borderline with Syria, said that the operation is designed to search for the hideouts of IS terrorists in the desert and destroy them, in order not to give the extremist militants a chance to regroup in the desert. So far, the troops managed to kill eight IS militants, destroy five hideouts and three of their vehicles, al-Mohammedi said. The operation came a few days after the top IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his first appearance in a video since 2014, in which he recognized the defeat of his militants in the town of al-Baghouz in eastern Syria."


Xinhua: Turkey Kills 28 Kurdish Militants In Retaliation To Attacks

“Turkey killed 28 Kurdish militants on Saturday in retaliation to an attack which left three Turkish soldiers dead, the Defense Ministry said in a statement. Earlier Saturday, three Turkish soldiers were killed and one was injured in a mortar attack by Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Turkey southeastern Hakkari province. The attack targeted a military base in the border province of Hakkari, according to the ministry. Meanwhile, one Turkish soldier was killed and another was wounded after an attack by the Syrian Kurdish militia in the mainly Kurdish-controlled northern Syrian region of Tel Rifaat. Turkish army had responded with aerial bombardments and artillery fire both in Turkey's Hakkari and Syria's Tel Rifaat, the ministry said. The PKK, regarded as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.”

Daily Sabah: PKK Bus Bombing Kills 2 In Southeast Turkey’s Şırnak

“PKK terrorists detonated a bomb as a minibus with civilians passed on a road in southeastern Turkey's Şırnak province, killing two people. The passengers were reportedly on their way to the Silopi town, returning from a picnic on the slopes of Mount Cudi in the Uyanık village, when their minibus was hit by the explosion. The driver, 28-year-old Servet Bilen, and his 13-year-old brother, Diyar Bilen, were killed. Also on Sunday in Şırnak, two Turkish soldiers were killed during a clash with PKK terrorists, the Defense Ministry said in a statement. The attacks come after three soldiers were killed Saturday in the neighboring province of Hakkari by PKK shelling from northern Iraq, and a fourth was killed in clashes with the PKK's Syrian affiliate People's Protection Units (YPG) in Tel Rifaat in northern Syria, the Defense Ministry said. The Turkish military launched a wide-scale air-supported counter-terrorism operation against the terrorists in response to the soldiers' deaths, neutralizing 28 PKK/YPG terrorists, according to the Defense Ministry.”


Fox News: Taliban Says Gap Closing In Talks With US For Troop Withdrawal

“Peace talks between the Taliban and a U.S. peace envoy over a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops in Afghanistan are narrowing a gap between the two sides, a spokesman for the insurgent group said Saturday. Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said both sides have offered proposals for drawing down the presence of U.S. and NATO forces, a major step toward ending a nearly two-decades-long conflict. The two sides continue to meet in Doha, Qatar, where the Taliban has a political office. “There are proposals to lower the gap between the two sides, but (it) still needs negotiation to reach a final agreement,” Shaheen said in an English-language statement. The U.S. was seeking 18 months to withdraw its 14,000 troops while the Taliban wanted it done in six months. Talks between the two sides began last year with the appointment of Washington’s peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad. American officials want a guarantee that the Taliban won’t harbor terrorists and that it will help in the fight against an Islamic State affiliate that has taken root in eastern Afghanistan. The Taliban has waged battles with the group in the past. Khalilzad has laid out four “inter-connected issues: troop withdrawal, counter-terrorism assurances, intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations and reduction in violence leading to a comprehensive cease-fire.”

Voice Of America: Afghan Officials: Airstrikes Kill Up To 50 IS Militants

“Authorities in Afghanistan said Saturday coalition airstrikes in an eastern province have killed up to 50 Islamic State militants, while Taliban insurgents have killed at least seven government forces in a western district. The Defense Ministry said the overnight airstrikes were carried out in coordination with Afghan ground forces and they struck IS training centers in the troubled Chapa Darah district of Kunar province. It asserted foreigners, including Uzbeks and Pakistanis were among the slain militants. The deputy provincial governor, Gul Mohammad Baidar, told VOA that a key IS commander of Uzbek ethnicity also was among the dead. He confirmed there was no letup in clashes in the district involving Taliban insurgents and IS militants. U.N. humanitarian agencies have reported the fighting in Chapa Darah has forced thousands of Afghan families in recent weeks to flee to safety. The Taliban and IS routinely attack each other’s positions in Kunar and parts of neighboring Nangarhar province in their bid to expand their influence. Both of the Afghan provinces border Pakistan. Separately, officials in the western Afghan province of Badghis confirmed Saturday the Taliban late night stormed security check points in the Qadis district, killing seven police officers and injuring several others.”


The National: Six Civilians Killed In Yemen By Suspected Al Qaeda Bomb

“At least six civilians, including a child, were killed in Yemen when a roadside bomb believed to be planted by Al Qaeda went off in the country's south-east. The bomb went off as civilians were trying to dismantle it in Al Khtan district of Hadramawt province, according to a military officer in the area.  “The explosive device is believed to have been planted by Al Qaeda to target the military. It was discovered by some pedestrians who called the police in the area to come deal with it. The police didn’t respond quickly and it went off as citizens tried to dismantle it,” the officer told The National. The source said there had been many instances of bombs being planted in the inland area of the province, known as Wadi Hadramawt, to target a UAE-trained security force raised from residents known as the Elite Force. Al Qaeda is still active in Wadi Hadramawt, which is under the control of the army's First Military Zone, as a result of political parties seeking political in the area, the source said. “These conflicting parties provide the terrorists with shelter to keep targeting the Elite soldiers in a bid to stop them securing Wadi Hadramawt.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Griffiths Exerts Pressure On Houthis In Sanaa

“Griffiths was in Sanaa on Sunday to meet with militia leaders in hopes of removing the obstacles placed by the Houthis on the implementation of the Stockholm Agreement, mainly the redeployment of forces in Hodeidah and its three ports. Informed sources in Sanaa told Asharq Al-Awsat that Griffiths is in a race against time in implementing the first phase of redeployment in Hodeidah, as part of a deal reached during negotiations between the warring parties and Lt. Gen. Michael Lollesgaard, who heads the UN operation monitoring the broader ceasefire reached in Sweden last December. A ministerial meeting of the Yemen quartet held in London on April 26 discussed the need for the Yemeni government and Houthis to implement the Hodeidah agreement by May 15, ahead of a UN Security Council session on Yemen.”


The National: Why There Is No Room For Qatar In Post-Uprising Sudan

“Qatar has lost its influence in Sudan after abandoning Omar Al Bashir to his fate earlier this year and must now look to a potentially risky strategy of backing a civilian candidate in the post-transition elections to restore its sway. The Sudanese president, who was ousted by the military on April 11, visited Doha in late January in hopes of getting financial support to ease economic conditions that had triggered more than a month of protests. He received only an offer of political asylum, according to sources. This was shock to Mr Al Bashir after years political and financial backing from Doha. Qatari support helped him achieve a breakthrough in Sudan's restive western region with the 2011 Doha Document for Peace in Darfur. When protests broke out in 2013 over the removal of fuel subsidies, Qatar deposited US$1 billion (Dh3.67bn) in Sudan's central bank after Mr Al Bashir held talks in Doha with the then emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa.”


I24 News: UN Calls On Lebanon's Hezbollah To Disarm, Stop All Military Activity In Syria

“The UN has said Hezbollah's involvement in Syria breaches Lebanon's policy of neutrality in the region. A United Nations report released Friday again calls on Lebanon's Hezbollah to disarm and stop all military operations, arguing the Shiite militia's activity in Syria endangers regional security and risks pushing Lebanon into conflict with its neighbors. “I again call on Hezbollah and all other concerned parties to refrain from any military activity inside or outside the country, in accordance with the provisions of the Taif Agreement and resolution 1559,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote in the report. “The fact that Hezbollah still has significant military assets beyond the control of the Lebanese State remains very worrying,” he added.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Hezbollah’s Rocket Gift To Lebanese FM Sparks Controversy, Condemnation

“A photo of Lebanese Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil carrying a rocket presented to him by Hezbollah officials during his visit to the city of Jbeil north of Beirut sparked wide controversy and condemnations in the country. The rocket, a remnant of the party’s battle with Al-Nusra Front in the Arsal border region in 2017, was offered to Bassil during a visit to the town of Ras Osta in the Jbeil district. The rocket was carrying the flags of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), which is headed by Bassil, and Hezbollah, along with a phrase that read: “Greetings of appreciation and love to His Excellency the Resistant Minister Jebran Bassil.” The image has been met with condemnation, especially by the opponents of the party and Bassil.”

Al Arabiya: Hezbollah Militia Has Taken Over Army’s Role At Border, Alleges Sami Gemayel

“Hezbollah’s control over Lebanon’s governmental institutions will turn the country into an “axis of resistance”, with Beirut’s foreign policy now being dictated by one party’s views, Sami Gemayel, the head of Lebanon’s Kataeb opposition party, told Al Arabiya in an exclusive interview. Speaking to Al Arabiya’s Reema al-Maktabi, Gemayel said that Lebanon today is “aligned with the Iran Hezbollah-Bashar al-Assad axis”, adding that several political parties “agreed to electing Hezbollah’s candidate as president of the republic and to then manage political life under a clear ceiling which is not to discuss Hezbollah’s weapons.” “It’s become clear that Lebanon’s foreign and defensive strategic decision is in the hands of Hezbollah while other parties are concerned with electricity, waste, economic matters, contracting out,” Gemayel added. Gemayel also said that the problem concerning his party, which he says is the only opposition party in Lebanon’s parliament, is that Hezbollah has taken up the role of defending the country’s borders, which should be the task of the national army. “Kataeb has the problem of all states that respect themselves, states that are supposed to be sovereign and independent. There’s something called the national army whose role is to defend the country’s borders.”

Middle East

The Wall Street Journal: Gaza, Israel Reach Cease-Fire After Days Of Deadly Clashes

“Militant groups in Gaza said Monday they had reached a cease-fire with Israel after two days of the deadliest fighting since the 2014 war. Israel lifted security restrictions in the south near Gaza in a sign that it expected calm, though it didn’t officially confirm the truce. Four Israelis and 27 Palestinians were killed since Friday evening after militants launched nearly 700 rockets, and Israel said it hit more than 350 military targets in Gaza in response. The latest conflagration sparked fears of a wider war after a year of violent flare-ups and periodic cease-fires. But calm descended across Gaza and Israel on Monday after a weekend of rocket fire from the strip, blaring sirens over southern Israeli communities and explosions on both sides of the border. Hamas, which controls Gaza, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another militant group, said the truce began at 4:30 a.m. Monday and included commitments from Israel to lift some restrictions on the strip, such as expanding Gaza’s fishing area, allowing more cash into Gaza for infrastructure and employment and developing Gaza’s power plant.”

The New York Times: Fragile Cease-Fire Takes Hold Between Israel And Gaza After Weekend Attacks

“A tentative cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian militant groups in Gaza appeared to have taken hold Monday morning, bringing a short but deadly bout of cross-border fighting to an end as abruptly as it had started. At least 22 Palestinians, including militants and children, were killed in Gaza over the weekend, and four Israeli civilians died in the fighting. Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the Gaza groups that fired about 600 projectiles at southern Israel on Saturday and Sunday, had indicated a readiness to restore the fragile truce that went into effect nearly five years ago but has been interrupted repeatedly by violence. A Hamas-run television channel reported in the early hours of Monday that a new cease-fire had been reached, and would come into effect at 4:30 a.m.”

The Washington Examiner: ISIS Will Target Christians In Annual Ramadan Offensive, Think Tank Predicts

“The Islamic State will target Christians as part of the terrorist group's offensive during the upcoming Islamic holy month of Ramadan, a new report predicts. ISIS operatives killed more than 250 people in a coordinated Easter Sunday attack on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on April 21. A report published by the Institute for the Study of War says those suicide bombings were this year's opening salvo in the jihadists' annual Ramadan terror campaign. "ISIS will likely attempt to conduct additional external attacks against Christians during Ramadan 2019," wrote ISW researchers Brandon Wallace and Jennifer Cafarella. Ramadan begins Monday. At least two attacks that could be attributable to ISIS were thwarted in Russia in late April, according to the report.”

The New York Times: Gaza Militants Fire 250 Rockets, And Israel Responds With Airstrikes

“Palestinian militants launched about 250 rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel from Gaza on Saturday, and the Israeli military responded with airstrikes and tank fire against targets across the Palestinian territory, as tensions along the volatile border boiled over and a fragile cease-fire faltered again.  Four Palestinians — including one militant, another man, a pregnant woman and her young daughter — were killed in Israeli strikes on Saturday, according to Gaza Health Ministry officials. That would bring the total number of Gazans fatally struck by Israeli fire since Friday to eight. But on Sunday morning, the Israeli military’s chief spokesman, Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis, said on Twitter that the mother and daughter were killed in a Hamas misfire, not from an Israeli strike. The fighting also claimed the life of an Israeli man in the city of Ashkelon who was killed after a rocket launched from Gaza hit a house, the Israeli police said. In addition, one Israeli woman was severely wounded by shrapnel, according to Israel’s emergency services, as Gaza militant groups broadened their range of fire on Saturday afternoon, striking Kiryat Gat, an Israeli city about 20 miles northeast of the Palestinian enclave.”

Radio Farda: Israel Says It Has Killed A Man Who Transferred 'Millions' From Iran To Gaza

“The Israeli government has announced that in a targeted attack a man who had been helping transfer millions of dollars from Iran to Gaza militants was killed. Israeli tweets in Persian and Arabic identified the person as Hammed Ahmad al-Khudari (Ghudari) , who apparently was a senior Hamas military field commander. The Israeli government has also published the photo of a demolished car, in which it said al-Khudari was killed in. Extensive exchange of fire has been going on for three days between the Gaza strip Palestinian groups and Israeli forces in which three Israelis and twelve Palestinians have been killed. Gaza militants have been firing rockets into Israel, which has responded with its own attacks, targeting militants. On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered Israeli forces to conduct all-out attacks against Palestinian militant targets.”


Al Jazeera: Libya: Nine Dead In ISIL-Claimed Attack On Haftar's Forces

“At least nine soldiers have been killed in an attack claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, or ISIS) targeting forces loyal to renegade commander Khalifa Haftar, officials said. ISIL fighters, “backed by criminal groups and mercenaries”, launched on Saturday a dawn assault on a military training camp in the southern city of Sebha, the city's mayor Hamed al-Khayali told AFP. “The attack left nine dead ... some of whom had their throats slit and others who were shot dead,” he said. A spokesman for the Sebha Medical Centre confirmed it had received nine dead bodies. ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement distributed through social media, saying it had targeted “Haftar's heretical militia” and freed prisoners held on the base. Sebha - like much of the south and its oilfields - is controlled by Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA), and is 650km south of the capital, Tripoli, where the renegade general's forces are currently fighting to take control from militias affiliated with a UN-backed government. However, the campaign has not breached the city's southern defences."

The National: ISIS Cannot Be Allowed To Regroup In Libya

“Less than two months ago, ISIS was driven from its last redoubt, the isolated farming area of Baghouz in eastern Syria. With Iraq having declared victory over the group in 2017, this moment marked the end of the so-called caliphate it had once sought to establish across both countries. However, on Saturday, it reared its head once more, claiming responsibility for a horrific attack, in which nine soldiers were killed. The group struck a Libyan National Army training camp located in the south-western city of Sebha, issuing a stark reminder of the threat it poses in this fractured and febrile nation. Since the fall of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, Libya has been divided. The country’s eastern regions are ruled by the perilously weakened UN-backed Government of National Accord, led by Prime Minister Fayez Al Sarraj. The west and parts of the south are in the hands of the Libyan National Army, headed by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. Powerful militias, formed along ethnic and regional lines, operate openly across the country. In Tripoli, the GNA has delegated security to such groups, bringing a culture of fear to the capital.”


The New York Times: Islamic State Claims It Killed 10 Soldiers In Northeastern Nigeria

“Islamic State (IS) killed 10 Nigerian soldiers in an attack on the northeastern town of Magumeri, the group claimed through its news agency AMAQ on Saturday. The jihadist organization said the attack on the soldiers took place in the town in northeastern Borno state on Friday. It published pictures of burned barracks and dead bodies it claimed belonged to the soldiers.    Several sources in Nigeria, including one military source, confirmed the claim. They said the fighters stormed the town at roughly 1745 local time (1645 GMT), overran military personnel and raided local shops. The fighters fled after the military called in air force support and reinforcements from a battalion in Gubio, a neighboring town.  Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) has carried out a string of attacks in Nigeria in recent months.  The group split in 2016 from Nigeria-based Boko Haram, which has waged a decade-long insurgency in northeast Nigeria that has killed some 30,000 people and displaced a further 2 million."

Al Jazeera: Thousands Of Nigerian Refugees Still Fear Boko Haram Violence

“They were out on the streets of Maiduguri, hungry and exposed to the elements seeking temporary shelter before moving to displaced people’s camps. Six years after Shettima Baba-Kura Alkali made room on his property for a group of people fleeing attacks, the refugees still cannot return home. In the Lake Chad region of Nigeria, hundreds of thousands of people have been left displaced by fighting. And a recent increase in attacks by Boko Haram fighters means they may be forced to wait even longer to return home. Al Jazeera's Ahmed Idris reports from the city of Maiduguri.”


Asharq Al-Awsat: Tunisia Announces Killing Three ISIS Militants

“A Tunisian security source revealed that the police killed three terrorist militants in the central city of Sidi Bouzid on Saturday. Police seized weapons in the operation, the source added, without giving details. The Interior Ministry said early on Saturday that the security forces foiled attacks planned in the holy month of Ramadan after they arrested “a dangerous terrorist” this week, Reuters reported. Tunisia suffered three major attacks in 2015, including two against tourists, one at a museum in Tunis and the second on a beach in Sousse.  The third targeted presidential guards in the capital. All three attacks were claimed by ISIS.”

North Korea

Associated Press: Kim Oversees Missile Firing Drills, Tells Troops To Be Alert

“North Korean state media on Sunday showed leader Kim Jong Un observing live-fire drills of long-range multiple rocket launchers and what appeared to be a new short-range ballistic missile, a day after South Korea expressed concern that the launches were a violation of an inter-Korean agreement to cease all hostile acts. Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency said Kim expressed “great satisfaction” over Saturday’s drills and stressed that his front-line troops should keep a “high alert posture” and enhance combat ability to “defend the political sovereignty and economic self-sustenance of the country.” The weapons launches were a likely sign of Pyongyang’s growing frustration at stalled diplomatic talks with Washington meant to provide coveted sanctions relief in return for nuclear disarmament. They also highlighted the fragility of the detente between the Koreas, which in a military agreement reached last September vowed to completely cease “all hostile acts” against each other in land, air and sea.”


Bloomberg: India Voters To Decide On ‘Morals’ Of Terror Suspect Candidate

“Indian law does not prevent the country’s ruling party from fielding a candidate accused of terrorism in the general election, a senior member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party told Bloomberg News. Pragya Singh Thakur, a self-styled Hindu holy woman who has been charged by Indian law enforcement with a bomb blast in a Muslim neighborhood that killed six people and injured 100 in 2008, should be allowed to run for office, the BJP’s national general secretary Ram Madhav said. There is no technical or legal hurdle preventing her from contesting and there is a belief she has been “falsely implicated,” Madhav said in a wide-ranging interview with Bloomberg News Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait in New Delhi on Saturday. “I can understand there are opinions about her candidature, and there are opinions within the party also, I don’t deny that,” he said. “But what we are saying is: by law, technically there’s nothing that goes against her candidature.” “The moral issue should be left to the people,” he added. The controversial candidate has fueled opposition accusations of hypocrisy and political opportunism against the Hindu nationalist BJP, which regularly condemns Pakistan-based groups for launching terrorist attacks on India."

Southeast Asia

Reuters: Sri Lanka Police Discover Suspected Training Camp For Islamist Militants

“Sri Lankan police on Sunday discovered a 10-acre camp in the eastern town of Kattankudy, where Islamist militants linked to the deadly Easter attacks are believed to have practiced shooting and bombmaking.  The walled terrain is nestled in a poor residential area on the outskirts of the home town of Zahran Hashim, who is believed to have been a key player in plotting the April 21 attacks. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the church and hotel bombings that killed more than 250 people.  The narrow, sandy plot is dotted with a cinderblock four-storey watchtower, as well as mango trees, a chicken coop and a goat shed.  “They wanted to show this place was normal. If someone comes to see, it looks like a farm. But what they were doing is terrorism,” said a senior police officer in the Batticaloa area, asking to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak to media.  Police found bullet holes in the wall on one side of the grounds, as well as long tubes suspected of holding bombs, the officer said.  Two owners of the plot of land have been arrested, the officer said.”

Reuters: Sri Lanka President Vows To “Eradicate Terrorism”, Bring Stability Before Election

“Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena said the security forces would “eradicate terrorism” and restore stability before a presidential election due for year-end, vowing to bring to heel all militants linked to the Easter Sunday suicide attacks.  “Elections cannot be postponed, therefore before the elections I will bring about stability and I will eradicate terrorism,” Sirisena told Reuters in an interview on Saturday.  “We have already identified all active members of the group and it’s a case of now arresting them.”  The president said there were a further 25 to 30 “active members” linked to the bombings still at large and that he believed Islamic State was behind the April 21 attacks.”

CNBC: Global Terrorism Entered A New Era With The Bombing In Sri Lanka

“This one is both highly personal and disturbingly global. On Wednesday afternoon this week, fifth grade students of Sidwell Friends Middle School walked down Wisconsin Avenue to the Washington National Cathedral to say goodbye to one of their own. A suicide terrorist’s bomb – at an Easter Sunday brunch at a Sri Lankan hotel – had taken the life of their classmate, Kieran Shafritz de Zoysa, age 11. They gathered in pews with parents to celebrate the life of Kieran, who had died along with more than 250 others in nine coordinated attacks. They heard about his pet ball pythons and the wooden mazes he built for them, about his too-long showers and tendency to misplace things, about his knack for math and science and his gentle spirit and captivating smile. Our daughter Johanna, also 11, had been a classmate and friend of Kieran since pre-kindergarten. Like her classmates, she was looking forward to his return from a year abroad in Sri Lanka. Like the others, she couldn’t fathom why God would take this sweet soul so prematurely, this boy with the biggest heart and the most inventive Halloween costumes.”

The Jakarta Post: Two Alleged Terrorist Killed In Self-Detonated Blast

“Two alleged terrorists were killed in an explosion they had triggered themselves to avoid arrest by antiterror squad Densus 88 in Jatikramat, Bekasi, West Java, on Sunday. Bekasi Police chief Sr. Comr Indarto confirmed the deaths to kompas.com. Densus 88 was led to the alleged terrorists following the capture of three suspected Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) members in Babelan, Bekasi regency, and Tegal, Central Java, on Saturday. One of the three had been wanted for terrorism, while the other two were arrested for aiding and abetting him. National Police spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo told Kompas.com that during their interrogation, they confessed to knowing about a planned attack on police during the general election. Last year, the South Jakarta District Court issued a ruling that declared JAD a “forbidden organization”. The police believe that JAD is linked to Islamic State (IS).”


The Washington Post: Mark Zuckerberg Claims That, At Facebook, ‘The Future Is Private.’ Don’t Believe Him

“Last week, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg used the company’s annual Silicon Valley confab to announce that “the future is private.” In one of the most awkward moments I’ve ever seen captured on video, he smiled broadly as he tried to joke about the supposed change of direction. “I know that we don’t exactly have the strongest reputation on privacy right now, to put it lightly,” he said. No, Zuck, you don’t. Facebook is facing more than a dozen international investigations into its history of privacy violations, Wired magazine has reported — “from its years of willy-nilly data sharing to several recent data breaches.” Zuckerberg seemed to think his lame line would get some good-natured guffaws. The audience of technophiles, though, didn’t find it amusing. The reaction was pained silence with a few cringe-induced laughs.”

The Guardian: The Guardian View On Extremism Online: Who Will Guard The Watchdogs?

“The decision by Facebook to ban six prominent figures of the alt-right movement, along with Louis Farrakhan, from both Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram, is a significant development in the struggle against online extremism. It is also a step on to a wobbly moral tightrope where decisions about censorship are made for the whole world by a few giant American advertising companies. This is not an entirely satisfactory position, but it appears to be the least bad available at the moment. Global social media networks are neither traditional publishers, who can reasonably be held responsible for everything that appears on them, nor wholly neutral carriers, like the telephone companies. Their interests are not entirely aligned with society’s, nor with their individual users’. In particular, the social networks want users to spend as much time as possible with them, so that profiles of their interests and desires can be constructed and sold on to advertisers.”

The New York Times: Europe Is Reining In Tech Giants. But Some Say It’s Going Too Far

“In Spain, activists were convicted for social media posts that violated an expanded antiterrorism law. The Twitter accounts of German citizens were blocked because of rules enacted last year that prohibit hate speech. And a Dutch court determined Google must remove search results about a doctor punished for poor performance, in compliance with a privacy law. Heralded as the world’s toughest watchdog of Silicon Valley technology giants, Europe has clamped down on violent content, hate speech and misinformation online through a thicket of new laws and regulations over the past five years. Now there are questions about whether the region is going too far, with the rules leading to accusations of censorship and potentially providing cover to some governments to stifle dissent. The unintended consequences may be compounded as European governments pursue more laws and policies to restrict what communication can be shared online. Last month, Britain proposed appointing an internet regulator who would be empowered to block websites it considers harmful. The European Union is separately debating a law that would require tech companies to quickly remove terrorist-related content online.”

The New York Times: Facebook Faces A Big Penalty, But Regulators Are Split Over How Big

“Facebook’s announcement in late April that it had set aside $3 billion to $5 billion to settle claims that it mishandled users’ personal data suggested a strong consensus by federal regulators that the social media giant needed to be held accountable. But the reality behind the scenes at the Federal Trade Commission is far more complicated, reflecting the politics and give-and-take of the negotiations. The F.T.C.’s five commissioners agreed months ago that they wanted to pursue a historic penalty that would show the agency’s teeth. But now, the members are split on the size and scope of the tech company’s punishment, according to three people with knowledge of the talks who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The division is complicating the final days of the talks. Along with disagreement about the appropriate financial penalty, one of the most contentious undercurrents throughout the negotiations has been the degree to which Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, should be held personally liable for any violation of a 2011 agreement, according to two of the people.”