Eye on Extremism: May 7

The Washington Post: Escalating Syrian And Russian Airstrikes In Rebel-Held Idlib Stoke Fears Of A Final Showdown

“Syrian government and allied Russian warplanes on Monday intensified a week-long bombardment of Idlib province, targeting hospitals and other civilian infrastructure as tens of thousands of residents fled toward the border with Turkey, activists and monitors in the rebel-held region said. The aerial campaign has killed about 100 civilians and put at least 10 hospitals out of service. It has raised fears that Syrian government forces, supported by Russia and Iranian-backed fighters, are preparing an all-out offensive in Idlib — the last area in the country controlled by rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad. The airstrikes represent the latest and fiercest challenge to a pact brokered by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last year that was designed to avert all-out conflict in the northwestern province.”

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Deployment Triggered By Intelligence Warning Of Iranian Attack Plans

“U.S. intelligence showed that Iran has made plans to target U.S. forces in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East, triggering a decision to reinforce the American military presence in the region in an effort to deter any possible moves by Tehran, U.S. officials said Monday. The escalation in tensions came as European diplomats said Monday that Iran appeared poised to breach portions of the 2015 international nuclear pact that restricted Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. That followed a rocket barrage fired into Israel by an Iranian-backed militia in Gaza over the weekend. Washington has been stepping up pressure on Iran. Last month, the U.S. said it was ending waivers for Iran to export oil to a handful of its largest buyers in a bid to push Iran’s oil exports to zero, and designated Iran’s ideological military arm, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, as a foreign terrorist organization.”

USA Today: ISIS Has Suffered Defeats, But The Fight Isn't Over. Here's How We Keep Up The Pressure

“On March 23, President Donald Trump announced the liberation of the last territory held by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. This important milestone in our fight against global terrorism was made possible by this administration’s decision over two years ago to take the gloves off. ISIS has suffered a crushing defeat. We’ve freed millions from slavery, ended organized rapes, halted the genocide of religious minorities, and stopped the slaughter of innocents in the about 40,000 square miles ISIS controlled at the peak of its power. But ISIS is evolving to stay alive. It hopes to recover from its territorial defeat by continuing the fight from its international networks. We saw a horrific example of this on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka, when terrorists apparently inspired by ISIS’s vile ideology bombed churches and hotels across the country, killing at least 253 people. ISIS’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, resurfaced in a new video to say the attack was retaliation for our victory in Syria. Last year, ISIS conducted at least 36 attacks in Afghanistan, and ISIS West Africa killed hundreds of Nigerian soldiers. In the Philippines in January, an ISIS attack on a cathedral claimed 23 lives. And in Europe, the December 2018 Christmas Market attack in Strasbourg left five dead and 13 wounded.”

The Wall Street Journal: As Diplomacy Shifts, U.S. Expands Military-Style Counterterrorism Training

“The U.S. State Department is opening new, military-style training facilities around the world, expanding plans to prop up local forces battling terrorism as the Trump administration seeks cutbacks in conventional diplomacy and development programs. Three new State Department training centers—in Africa and Southeast Asia—are joining two centers in the Middle East that train and equip forces responding to terrorist attacks in their home countries. While the U.S. Defense Department conducts training programs for foreign military forces around the world, including Africa, the State Department works with local law-enforcement agencies and counterterrorism authorities in a fast-growing and steadily spreading war against jihadist groups in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere. The State Department’s Antiterrorism Assistance, or ATA, program runs the centers and is carrying out the expansion, details of which haven't been previously reported. Officials opened the newest training center in 2018 in Senegal, in West Africa, as a first step toward broadening the program’s role in training and equipping forces around the world. New centers also are scheduled to open later this year in Kenya and the Philippines, to serve as regional hubs in East Africa and Southeast Asia, respectively.”

The Chicago Tribune: Suburban Man Given 16 Years In Prison For Terrorism Plot To Blow Up Crowded Downtown Chicago Bar

“Suburban teenager Adel Daoud could have faced the rest of his life in prison after he attempted to detonate a 1,000-pound car bomb outside a crowded Chicago bar, then solicited the murder of the FBI agent who had posed as a terrorist to catch him. Instead, more than 6 ½ years after his arrest, Daoud caught a break from a federal judge — one that potentially gives him his life back. U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman on Monday sentenced Daoud, 25, to 16 years in prison following a marathon three-day hearing last week at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse. In handing down a sentence less than half of the 40-year term requested by prosecutors, Coleman said she was essentially dealing with a different person from the “awkward” and giggly teen who first appeared before her in 2012. Daoud, who was found mentally unfit for trial before being sent to a federal facility for treatment, had been prone to frequent outbursts in court and once accused the judge of being a reptilian overlord. “It seems, with medication, he has come to understand the seriousness of the situation he faces,” Coleman said. U.S. Attorney John Lausch later said he was “disappointed” by the sentence and that his office would consider an appeal.”

CNBC: $5 billion Fine Is A ‘Bargain’ For Facebook, Top US Senators Say

“Facebook’s expected settlement of between $3 billion to $5 billion with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is a “bargain” that does not go far enough in holding the social media company accountable, two top U.S. senators said in a letter Monday. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), both members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, criticized the FTC’s investigation of Facebook, saying it’s time for the agency to learn from “a history of broken and under-enforced consent orders.” The bipartisan letter puts additional pressure on the regulator as it weighs steps to punish Facebook for mishandling users’ personal information. “The public is rightly asking whether Facebook is too big to be held accountable,” the senators wrote. “The FTC must set a resounding precedent that is heard by Facebook and any other tech company that disregards the law in a rapacious quest for growth.”

United States

The Wall Street Journal: FBI Translator Had Close Relationship With Terrorism Suspect, Documents Show

“A translator working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation had a personal relationship with a terrorism suspect whose calls he translated as part of his duties for the bureau, according to documents from federal prosecutors made public Monday. Abdirizak Jaji Raghe Wehelie, who was arrested over the weekend, is alleged to have covered up the fact that a person under surveillance by the U.S. government left him a voice mail on his phone—which he later translated as part of his FBI duties without noting he was the call’s recipient. Mr. Wehelie, 66 years old, is charged with several counts of making false statements and one count of obstructing a federal investigation. He was scheduled for an appearance in federal court in Virginia on Monday. Mr. Wehelie, a resident of northern Virginia, at the time was a federal contractor who provided translation and linguistic services to the FBI. He had a longstanding relationship with the unidentified person under surveillance, called “Person A” in court papers. As part of his FBI work, he provided more than 250 summaries or notes about Person A’s cellphone calls as part of a major terrorism investigation being conducted by prosecutors in northern Virginia, according to court documents.”

The Times Record News: Dallas Man Found Guilty Of Conspiring To Support ISIS

“Following a three-and-a-half-day trial, a Dallas man was found guilty of multiple terror charges, according to an announcement Monday by John C. Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, and Erin Nealy Cox, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. The federal jury convicted 42-year-old Said Azzam Mohamad Rahim, a U.S. citizen, of one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization (FTO), one count of attempting to provide material support to an FTO, and six counts of making false statements involving international terrorism to federal authorities. “Said Azzam Mohamad Rahim operated online to spread ISIS’s poisonous message of hate and violence,” said Demers. “Then he attempted to travel to support ISIS and he lied to the FBI when questioned about his activities. With the jury’s guilty verdicts, he is being held accountable for his crimes. I want to thank the prosecutors, agents, and analysts who are responsible for this result.”

The Washington Post: Loophole Could Keep Young Terror Suspects Out Of US Court

“The Justice Department’s ability to charge minors for supporting terrorist groups has been hampered by a 2018 Supreme Court decision, forcing prosecutors to hand off at least one such case to local authorities in a state without anti-terrorism laws. The court’s decision in a case unrelated to terrorism opened a loophole that could allow young supporters of groups like the Islamic State to skate on charges from the federal government. The legal gap was highlighted by the case of Matin Azizi-Yarand , who was sentenced in a Texas state court last month after plotting to shoot police officers and civilians at a suburban shopping mall in an Islamic State-inspired rampage planned to coincide with the Muslim holiday of Ramadan. In most cases like this, federal prosecutors would have brought terrorism charges. But U.S. prosecutors in Texas didn’t charge Azizi-Yarand because he was 17 at the time and considered a minor under federal law. Federal law allows prosecutors to charge anyone supporting or working with a State Department-designated terror group, even if the person was not in contact with the group. But to charge a juvenile with providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, the attorney general would have to determine that the suspect committed what’s known as a “crime of violence” under federal law.”

The Washington Post: Terrorism, Immigration Efforts Hampered By Homeland Security Vacancies

“Teenagers, known for their immaturity, need stable adult guidance. The Department of Homeland Security is no different. But like children shuffled among a succession of foster parents, the department, still in its teens, has been hampered by a chronic lack of steady leadership. Currently, numerous top positions — including secretary, deputy secretary and three of four undersecretary slots — have no confirmed appointees. Vacancies among the political appointees who set policy for the third-largest department is an old and continuing story. What a House hearing revealed is just how damaging the many openings can be for the department’s work and its employees. Just 47 percent of key department slots are filled with confirmed appointees, according to the Political Appointee Tracker published by The Washington Post and the Partnership for Public Service. Only Interior is worse, at 41 percent, among Cabinet-level agencies. The Department of Homeland Security started as a jumbled mess when it began operations in 2003, in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It was forged from 22 separate agencies “into a unified, integrated Department,” at least according to its website. A more realistic view comes from John Roth, the department’s former inspector general.”

The San Francisco Chronicle: Man Pleads Not Guilty Over Talks To Avenge Mosque Attacks

“A New York man pleaded not guilty Monday to federal charges in Montana that he lied to authorities about discussions he had about joining ISIS and attacking random people to avenge shootings at two New Zealand mosques. Fabjan Alameti also pleaded not guilty to a firearm charge during his arraignment Monday in U.S. District Court in Missoula. The charges carry a combined maximum penalty of 18 years in prison $500,000 in fines if he is convicted. Alameti, 21, is being held in Missoula County jail. U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah Lynch scheduled a hearing next week on whether he should continue to be detained. Authorities said Alameti used electronic communications to tell others, including an informant working for the FBI, that he wanted to fight for ISIS overseas, that he was willing to carry out an attack in the U.S. and that he wanted revenge for Muslims killed in New Zealand. Alameti was traveling to Montana by bus on March 15 when a gunman killed 50 people in Christchurch. Alameti told the informant that he would, “attack random people to avenge the blood,” FBI Special Agent Matthew Duermeier said in a sworn statement to the court. Alameti said he was traveling from New York to Montana where it was easier to buy a gun, an indictment filed earlier this month said.”

Fox News: Trump Pardons Ex-Army Lieutenant Convicted Of Killing Suspected Al Qaeda Terrorist In 2009

“President Trump has pardoned a former Army lieutenant who was convicted in 2009 of killing an Iraqi prisoner suspected of being an Al Qaeda terrorist, the White House announced Monday evening. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders cited “broad support” for Michael Behenna, of Edmond, Okla., “from the military, Oklahoma elected officials, and the public” -- including 37 generals and admirals, along with a former Pentagon inspector general -- as the reason for Trump's clemency grant. Sanders also said Behenna had been a “model prisoner” while serving his sentence. “In light of these facts, Mr. Behenna is entirely deserving of this Grant of Executive Clemency,” Sanders concluded. A military court originally sentenced Behenna to 25 years for unpremeditated murder in a combat zone. However, the Army's highest appellate court noted concern about how the trial court had handled Behenna's claim of self-defense, Sanders said. The Army Clemency and Parole Board reduced his sentence to 15 years and paroled him in 2014, as soon as he was eligible.”


The New York Times: New Tensions With Iran Threaten Nuclear Deal And, White House Says, U.S. Troops

“Tensions escalated between the United States and Iran on Monday as the Trump administration accused Iran and militias that it backs of threatening American troops, and Iran signaled it might soon violate part of the 2015 nuclear deal it reached under former President Barack Obama. European diplomats in touch with senior officials in Tehran said Iran would most likely resume research on high-performance centrifuges used to produce nuclear fuel and put restrictions on nuclear inspections in Iran. It would be Iran’s most significant reaction to date as President Trump has steadily increased sanctions. At the same time, three United States officials cited new intelligence that Iran or its proxies were preparing to attack American troops in Iraq and Syria, leading the Pentagon to send an aircraft carrier strike group and Air Force bombers to the Persian Gulf as a warning to Tehran. “What we’ve been trying to do is to get Iran to behave like a normal nation,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters in Finland. Taken together, the moves by both sides have brought relations between President Trump and Iran to a new low after a period of rapprochement that began in 2013 during the Obama administration. The Trump administration has consistently sought to isolate Iran’s clerical government.”

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Deployment Triggered By Intelligence Warning Of Iranian Attack Plans

“U.S. intelligence showed that Iran has made plans to target U.S. forces in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East, triggering a decision to reinforce the American military presence in the region in an effort to deter any possible moves by Tehran, U.S. officials said Monday. The escalation in tensions came as European diplomats said Monday that Iran appeared poised to breach portions of the 2015 international nuclear pact that restricted Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. That followed a rocket barrage fired into Israel by an Iranian-backed militia in Gaza over the weekend. Washington has been stepping up pressure on Iran. Last month, the U.S. said it was ending waivers for Iran to export oil to a handful of its largest buyers in a bid to push Iran’s oil exports to zero, and designated Iran’s ideological military arm, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, as a foreign terrorist organization. The new U.S. intelligence showed that Iran drew up plans to target U.S. forces in Iraq and possibly Syria, to orchestrate attacks in the Bab el-Mandeb strait near Yemen through proxies and in the Persian Gulf with its own armed drones, the U.S. officials said. There has also been intelligence that Iran may be seeking to target U.S. forces in Kuwait.”

Fox News: Israeli Ambassador To UN Says Iran Sponsoring Terrorism In Middle East

“Israel's ambassador to the United Nations said on Monday that Iran is sponsoring terrorism in the Middle East. “When we hear the words coming from Tehran, threatening the U.S., threatening Israel, it shows that they're panicking because the sanctions are working,” said Ambassador Danny Danon on “America's Newsroom.” “But we are committed,” Danon said. ”We are committed to fighting terrorism, to fighting the proxies of Iran in our region.” He condemned Gaza’s ruling Hamas militant group, saying it is responsible for instability and violence in the area. “Hamas is using the funds that they get from the international community to dig tunnels and to produce rockets against Israel,” Danon said, adding that the militant group is causing suffering to Palestinians. Israel and Hamas are bitter enemies and have fought three wars and numerous smaller battles since the militant group seized Gaza from Western-backed Palestinian forces in 2007. In the latest fighting, which erupted over the weekend, Palestinian militants fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, while the Israeli military responded with airstrikes on some 350 militant targets inside Gaza, including weapons storage, attack tunnels and rocket launching and production facilities.”

Fox News: US-Iran Tensions Rise Ahead Of Anniversary Of Deal Pullout

“A sudden White House announcement that a U.S. aircraft carrier and a bomber wing would be deployed in the Persian Gulf to counter Iran comes just days ahead of the anniversary of President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw America from Tehran's nuclear deal. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is said to be planning a speech Wednesday on the anniversary to discuss the next steps Tehran will take in confronting the U.S. Officials in the Islamic Republic previously warned that Iran might increase its uranium enrichment, potentially pulling away from a deal it has sought to salvage for months. The military has almost always had an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf as part of its sprawling military presence in the strategic region, but had begun to scale back its presence as the air campaign against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria wound down.”


Al Arabiya: Gunmen Kill Three Policemen Near Iraq’s Kirkuk

“Gunmen killed three Iraqi policemen during an attack on a guard post near the city of Kirkuk late on Monday, officials said. Another federal police officer was wounded in the assault in the town of Altun Kupri, on the boundary between the northern provinces of Kirkuk and Erbil, the interior ministry added. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but ISIS militants are active in the area and a security source said it was likely they were involved. Iraq declared victory over the group, which once held large swathes of the country, in December 2017. But ISIS has switched to hit-and-run attacks aimed at undermining the Baghdad government. Its fighters have regrouped in the Hamrin mountain range in the northeast, which extends from Diyala province, on the border with Iran, crossing northern Salahuddin province and southern Kirkuk. Security forces killed eight militants in the western Anbar province, the military said in a statement late on Monday.”

Voice Of America: Iraq To Demand Cash For Islamic State Detainees

“Iraq is expected to make a formal request to Paris for financial support for the incarceration of French Islamic State suspects sent to Baghdad from Kurdish-controlled camps in northern Syria, say diplomats. Fourteen alleged French jihadists have been sent to Baghdad for trial — they are likely to be joined by dozens of other French detainees. Other Western countries are also expected to take up the option to have their nationals, currently held by U.S.-backed Kurdish-led forces, sent to Iraq, thus avoiding having to repatriate them. The Iraqi government hopes to get up to $2 billion in compensation from Western countries for trying their nationals, say analysts. An estimated 1,000 Western fighters are thought to be in the custody of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, who have been urging, along with U.S. officials, for Western states to repatriate them and to put them on trial in their home countries. French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged more political and financial assistance to Iraq. The French leader announced a “new strategic roadmap” after meeting Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi at the Elysee Palace, saying at a press conference Friday that France is ready to assist Iraq in reconstruction. “The French development agency will soon set up in Baghdad with increased resources to help you,” Macron announced.”


Associated Press: Turkey’s Electoral Board Orders Re-Run Of Istanbul Vote

“Turkey’s top election authority voided the Istanbul mayoral election won by an opposition candidate and ordered a do-over, ruling Monday in favor of a request by the president’s party to throw out the vote it narrowly lost. Opposition leaders said the Supreme Electoral Board’s decision to invalidate the results from Istanbul’s election raises concerns about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s grip on power and Turkish democracy in general. A top aide for Erdogan told The Associated Press that the voiding of the mayoral election in Turkey’s biggest city amounts to “a victory for Turkish democracy” by ensuring the results reflect the voters’ choice. Ekrem Imamoglu of the opposition Republican People’s Party placed first by a slim margin in the March 31 mayoral election, defeating the ruling party candidate, former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim. Erdogan’s conservative and Islamic-based Justice and Development Party then charged that a series of election irregularities made the results illegitimate.”


The Washington Post: Taliban Kill 12 Afghan Policemen, Troops In Separate Attacks

“The Taliban targeted the police on Tuesday in Afghanistan’s eastern Laghman province, killing four police officers, including a district police chief, provincial officials said. The attack came just hours after the insurgents struck security checkpoints in northeastern Takhar province’s Khwaja Bahaudin district late on Monday night, killing eight members of the security forces — three soldiers and five policemen. In the Laghman attack, Arif Sadat, district police chief in Alingar district, was killed along with three others when his vehicle exploded near the district police headquarters, said Asadullah Dawlatzai, the provincial governor’s spokesman. Four other officers were wounded in the attack, said Dawlatzai. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing but Dawlatzai blamed the Taliban who are active in the province and especially in Alingar district. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the Takhar attack, which took place in Khwaja Bahaudin district, according to Wafiullah Rahmani, head of the provincial council. The insurgents stage near-daily attacks on Afghan forces, even as peace efforts have accelerated to find an end to the country’s 17-year war.”


The New York Times: Kashmiri Militants Attack Polls After Call For India Election Boycott

“Violence disrupted the Indian election in the disputed Kashmir region on Monday, as separatist militants attacked two polling stations and the police responded with what residents called excessive force. Militants in the Pulwama district hurled grenades at the polling stations, the police said, and protesters threw stones at security forces, hoping to shut down the voting, which is being conducted over five weeks throughout India. The police fired pellet guns in response, injuring at least a dozen people, according to residents. The mountainous Kashmir region, whose people are mostly Muslim, has a history of contentious voting. It has been caught up in a longstanding, often brutal territorial dispute between Hindu-majority India, which controls much of the region, and Muslim-majority Pakistan. Last week, the Indian police arrested or detained hundreds of people in southern Kashmir after separatist leaders called for the polls to be boycotted. Syed Ali Geelani, the chairman of a separatist organization, said in a statement that the elections were a “vast military exercise” and that the Indian state had overseen “ruthless killings” in Kashmir. For the first time, the Election Commission of India divided voting in south Kashmir into three phases this year, hoping to blunt expected protests and violence.”

The Washington Post: Pakistani Officials: 4 Soldiers Killed In 2 Attacks In North

“Pakistani security officials say suspected militants have launched two separate gun attacks on security convoys in the country’s northwest, killing four soldiers and wounding 10 others. The officials say the ambushes came hours apart Monday in North Waziristan district, a former Taliban stronghold. The attackers then fled toward the border with Afghanistan. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to media on the record. There was no claim of responsibility, but the twin attacks came days after a cross-border attack by dozens of militants killed three soldiers in North Waziristan. Pakistan and Afghanistan share a rugged 2,400 kilometer (1,500 mile) border. The two nations routinely accuse each other of not taking enough steps to curb the flow of militants within the border region.”


Asharq Al-Awsat: Griffiths Confronted With Houthi Intransigence As Militias Threaten ‘Painful’ Measures

“UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths’ truce efforts suffered a new disappointment as the Iran-backed Houthi militias continued to refuse to implement the Sweden deal and redeploy from the Hodeidah province, informed political sources in Sanaa said Monday. “Houthi leader (Abdul Malek al-Houthi) told Griffiths that he agrees to implement the first phase of the redeployment plan in the two ports of Ras Isa and Saleef on condition that the Houthis are allowed to keep their militias in control of security and administrative affairs there,” the sources added. Griffiths has traveled to Houthi-held Sanaa on Sunday to meet with militia leaders with hopes to overcome obstacles set by the Houthis in the implementation of the deal, particularly items related to the redeployment of forces in Hodeidah and its three ports.”

Middle East

Middle East Monitor: Bahrain Court Jails 19 Over Iran, Hezbollah Links

“Bahrain’s highest court slapped 19 people with jail terms after they were convicted of maintaining links with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps and Lebanon’s Hezbollah group, as reported on Anadolu Agency. According to the Bahraini News Agency (BNA), the Court of Cassation sentenced eight of those convicted to 25 years each in prison, nine to 15 years, and two to ten years for “communicating with a foreign country and a terrorist organisation”. The court also ruled to strip 15 of the 19 people sentenced of their Bahraini citizenship. The defendants were initially convicted of the charges in late 2017, but had later managed to appeal the sentences. According to the BNA, investigations had proven that the convicts – all of them members of Bahrain’s Al-Wafaa group – had “plotted to form a secret cell with a view to inciting the Bahraini public against the regime”. A Bahraini Shia movement, Al-Wafaa has been designated a “terrorist group” by the Bahraini authorities.”

The National: Shebaa Farms: Why Hezbollah Uses Israel's Occupation Of A Tiny Strip Of Land To Justify Its Arsenal

“For two decades, the Shebaa farms have been the epicentre of region influencing conflict, remained part of the reason Hezbollah says it cannot disarm and given Lebanese politicians of all stripes – but particularly from the Iran-backed paramilitary group – the opportunity to burnish their nationalist credentials. Those in Beirut says the area is Lebanese territory occupied by Israel. Hezbollah says it must continue to carry arms to complete the total liberation of Lebanese lands from their archival to the south. Israel, and others including the UN, disagree over the true ownership. But the controversy over a small strip of land just 28 square kilometres in size that houses just over a dozen abandoned farms raises and fades but continues to endure. A final settlement is, it seems, unlikely before there is a wider agreement to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

The Washington Post: Israel And Gaza Militants Agree To Cease-Fire After Weekend Of Violence

“An uneasy cease-fire settled over the cities of southern Israel on Monday after a weekend that brought a rain of 600 rockets from the Gaza Strip, but not all residents thought the truce was a good thing.   Near the explosion-scarred house of Moshe Agadi, 58, who became the first Israeli since 2014 to die in rocket fire from Gaza, mothers took their children to play in a park after 48 hours of sheltering indoors. “Israel needs to stop this once and for all,” said Inna Kraysberg, 34, as her two young children played on a nearby slide. ”We can’t just let them carry on and lie down for them to kill us. Hamas decides when it starts and when it stops.” Four Israelis died in the violence, the worst round of fighting between Israel and militant factions in Gaza since Israel’s 2014 war with Hamas. In Gaza, 25 people were killed as Israel responded with airstrikes, bringing multistory buildings thundering to the ground.  However, efforts by Egypt and the United Nations to broker a cease-fire bore fruit by the early hours of Monday, as armed factions in Gaza said they had agreed to a truce.  Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the two largest militant groups in Gaza, confirmed that a cease-fire was in place.”


Xinhua: 11 Al-Shabab Militants Killed In Southern Somalia

“The Somali National Army (SNA) killed 11 al-Shabab fighters in clashes between government soldiers and the militants on Monday evening in the country's southern region of Middle Shabelle, officials said Tuesday. Mohamed Kulmiye, general manager of information for Hir-Shabelle State, said the Somali forces launched an attack on al-Shabab extremists in Yaqle village, a location between Jowhar and Bal'ad in the Middle Shabelle region. “Our forces inflicted heavy casualties on the militants in the fierce battle. I can confirm that we killed 11 militants,” said Kulmiye, adding that the SNA's unit 27 commander sustained injuries during the battle. Abdulkadir Aden Jelle, minister of internal security and rehabilitation for Hir-Shabelle State, also confirmed the battle, saying there were casualties on the government side. “We lost one soldier in the offensive and four others got injured,” said Jelle. Residents said a fierce battle erupted between government forces and al-Shabab militants in Yaqle on Monday evening. “Government forces attacked al-Shabab militants in the village, the two forces engaged a fierce fight that lasted for several hours,” Hassan Mo'alim, a resident told Xinhua via phone.”

Xinhua: Somalia Arrests 4 Al-Shabab Militants In Mogadishu

“Somali security forces apprehended four al-Shabab militants in an operation conducted last week in the capital, Mogadishu, officials said. Zakia Hussein Ahmed, deputy police commander, said the arrests were made in an offensive conducted in two different districts in the capital. “Our forces detained on May 1 two militants who killed Abdullahi Ali Ma'ow, a government soldier, in Waberi District,” Zakia told journalists in Mogadishu on Sunday evening. “They also apprehended two other militants in Mogadishu's Heliwa District.” She said that Somali forces also seized weapons like anti-tank mines and bombs that the militants intended to carry out attacks during Ramadan. Mogadishu is on high alert as police forces blocked the main roads of the capital to prevent possible militant attacks. Somali security forces, backed by African Union Mission in Somalia, chased al-Shabab militants from the capital in August 2011, but the militants are still able to conduct attacks targeting government installations, hotels, restaurants and public places.”


The Washington Times: Africa's Sahel Region Grows As Breeding Ground For Terror, Posing Critical Danger To U.S. And Allies

“The Sahel is fast becoming the world’s newest terror hot spot. A vast transition zone between Africa’s Saharan north and savanna south, the region holds a toxic stew of al Qaeda- and Islamic State-affiliated groups that are expanding their operations and becoming deadlier, even as communal violence surges. Sahelian governments and militaries are generally weak and overmatched, and international interventions have failed to curb the bloodshed. If swaths of this critical region slip further into chaos — or worse, under Islamist control — then the U.S. and its allies will suffer the consequences into the foreseeable future. The spike in Sahelian violence is stark. Reported Islamist-linked violent acts and related fatalities have doubled every year since 2016. In the past five months in Burkina Faso, civilian fatalities have risen more than 7,000% compared with the same period the previous year. At least 10 Islamist terrorist groups now operate in the West African Sahel, where only a short time ago al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb was the sole Islamist predator. Libya’s meltdown after the 2011 overthrow of dictator Moammar Gadhafi accelerated the process of instability.” 

United Kingdom

BBC News: Former Manchester Extremist Warns Of Far-Right Attack

“A former right-wing extremist has warned racist groups are becoming more violent and pose a “dangerous threat” to the UK. The man, from near Manchester and who asked to be identified only as John, told the BBC he expected “the far-right will do an attack”.  He had since been steered away from violence by the Government's Prevent anti-terrorism programme, he said. Police said the “threat from right-wing terrorism remains relatively small”. John, who is 19, said he became involved in right-wing extremism four years ago, a time when he was worried about his lack of job prospects. “They're saying 'Oh, well, if we ever get in power we'll kick everyone out and what we'll do is give all the jobs to the working class British people'. “They kind of see that as a solution to their problems,” he said. In the weeks after the 2017 Manchester Arena attack, in which Salman Abedi carried out a suicide bombing killing 22 people, John joined other right-wing extremists in marches through the city centre. “Seventy per cent of me was there because of the adrenalin sort of buzz but there was 30% of me there because I genuinely believed in what people were saying,” he said. “People would often kind of say 'I'm going to be the first white suicide bomber.’”


France 24: France Faces Legal Challenge For Refusing To Allow Jihadists' Children To Return

“The grandparents of two children stranded with their French jihadist mother at a camp in Kurdish-held Syria filed a lawsuit at Europe’s top rights court Monday over France’s refusal to allow them home, lawyers said. It was the latest challenge to the French government’s opposition to returning the children of suspected jihadists in Syria or Iraq. The four-year-old boy and three-year-old girl, who were born in Syria, are among an estimated 500 children of French citizens who joined the Islamic State’s so-called “caliphate” before the jihadists’ last Syrian redoubt was overrun in March. France has said it will consider requests for their return on a case-by-case basis only. Since March it has repatriated just five orphans and a three-year-old girl whose mother was sentenced to life in prison in Iraq. Critics say the policy exposes innocent victims of the war, many of whom have suffered serious trauma during the fighting and coalition bombardments, to inhumane living conditions and long-term psychological risks. The grandparents of the two children, whose mother had joined jihadists in Syria, filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, eastern France, their lawyers told AFP.”

Southeast Asia

The Straits Times: Indonesia Nabs ISIS-Linked Militants Plotting Suicide Attacks During Election Results Announcement

“The anti-terror squad of the Indonesian police has arrested eight militants belonging to Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)-affiliated cells who had plotted to stage suicide bombings during the announcement of the results of the presidential polls this month, police said on Monday (May 6). The squad captured the eight alleged terrorists between last Thursday and Sunday. Some of them were bomb-makers based in the outskirts of Jakarta, Lampung province and North Sulawesi province, national police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said. The eight alleged militants were members of the outlawed Jemaah Anshurat Daulah (JAD) group, which has pledged allegiance to ISIS, the spokesman said. “The cells will take advantage... (of poll announcement) by launching suicide bombing strikes,” he told a press conference at the national police headquarters. The strikes were aimed at encouraging other militants' cells in other areas to stage similar attacks, the spokesman said. Brigadier-General Prasetyo said the militants will use the planned huge rally during the upcoming announcement slated on May 22, aiming at creating chaos. The spokesman added the militants planned to disguise themselves as protesters.”

The Wall Street Journal: Easter Attacks Leave Muslims Shaken And In Fear Of Reprisals

“In the days after the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka, a group of local men gathered outside the home here of one of the bombers to establish what they called a neighborhood watch—and prevent the Muslim family inside from committing more terrorist acts. Inside, the bomber’s family grappled with grief over what one of their own had done and fear that his actions could bring reprisals against their Muslim minority. “It is very hard to face people because of what he did, even just going outside is difficult,” said a sister of the bomber, 22-year-old law-school graduate Ahamed Muath Alawudeen. As she spoke, cries of her distraught mother echoed off the tile floors of the spacious home in an upscale Colombo neighborhood. Since the Islamic State-linked attacks killed more than 250 people at Sri Lankan churches and hotels, Muslims have reported getting detained in security sweeps for simply carrying the Quran. In other cases, they have been refused access to public buses and taxis. On Sunday night, an apparent car accident in the city of Negombo, the scene of one of the bombings, led to a clash between Muslims and non-Muslims, news reports showed.”