Eye on Extremism: November 1, 2018

France 24: US-Backed Syria Force Suspends Anti-IS Attacks After Turkey Hits

“A Kurdish-led force backed by a US-led coalition said Wednesday it was suspending operations against the Islamic State group after Turkey shelled Kurdish militia posts in northern Syria. The Syrian Democratic Forces, joint Arab-Kurdish units led by the Kurds, announced a "temporary halt" to their operation, launched in eastern Syria on September 10, and condemned Turkey's "provocations". On Wednesday, Turkish shelling of Kurdish positions in the Kobane sector of northern Syria killed four fighters, according to Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency. The SDF condemned what it called the "coordination" of Turkey's attacks with a fightback by jihadists and warned of "a prolonged halt to our military operation" against IS if Ankara keeps up its strikes. Backed by coalition air strikes, the SDF aims to expel IS from a holdout on the Iraqi border, but the jihadists staged a vicious fightback last week under the cover of a sand storm, forcing a retreat.”

The Washington Post: A Foiled Assassination Plot In Denmark May Have Just Cost Iran A Partner Against Trump

“Denmark is leading a push for new E.U. sanctions against Iran, after its intelligence agencies blamed Tehran for a foiled plot to assassinate an Iranian dissident on Danish soil. The plot was already uncovered in September and triggered a massive police operation, in which Denmark shut down streets and bridges nationwide. Agencies revealed only this week that the operation probably had prevented what they say was a plan to kill a member of the Arab separatist movement ASMLA, which advocates for carving out an independent Arab state from Iran. A suspect of Iranian origin was arrested two weeks ago. The arrest could play into the hands of President Trump, who unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal but has struggled to persuade European allies to follow suit. The killing of Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 further complicated Trump’s plans to isolate Tehran, as the Saudis are a key ally in those efforts. Despite the setbacks, U.S. sanctions on Iran are expected to have fully begun by Monday. In a darkly ironic twist, Iran has condemned the Saudi killing of dissident Khashoggi even as it has a long track record of pursuing operations against opponents living abroad itself. President Hassan Rouhani called the killing a “heinous murder” and suggested that the United States was complicit.”

The Chicago Tribune: ‘Hipster Terrorist’ Pleads Guilty To Traveling To Syria To Join Precursor To ISIS

“He’s been dubbed the “hipster terrorist” for the glamorous social media shots of him posing in snazzy shirts and designer sunglasses, an iced latte in hand and jacket slung casually over a shoulder. But Aws Mohammed Younis al-Jayab cut a much different profile Wednesday in a federal courtroom in Chicago, where he wore an orange jail jumpsuit and was shackled at the ankles as he pleaded guilty to charges of aiding a terrorist organization and lying to immigration officials. Al-Jayab, 25, a Palestinian native with ties to Wisconsin, admitted in a plea agreement with prosecutors that he flew from O’Hare International Airport to Turkey in November 2013 and then entered Syria. Once there, he joined Ansar Al-Islam, a U.S.-designated terrorist group that was a precursor to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, according to his plea agreement. After al-Jayab returned to the U.S. in 2014 and settled in California, he told immigration officials that he’d been overseas visiting relatives, according to the court filing. “I wanted to do the right thing … to defend the Syrian people,” al-Jayab told U.S. District Judge Sarah Ellis Wednesday in broken English. He acknowledged, however, that he knew the group he was joining was engaged in terrorist activities and that he tried to hide his involvement when he returned. His plea agreement calls for a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.”

Reuters: Saudi-Led Coalition Masses Troops Near Yemen's Hodeidah To Pressure Houthis Into Peace Talks

“The Saudi-led coalition has massed thousands of troops near Yemen's main port city of Hodeidah, local military sources said on Wednesday, in a move to pressure Iranian-aligned Houthi insurgents to return to U.N.-sponsored peace talks. The United States and Britain have called for an end to the 3-1/2-year war that has driven impoverished Yemen to the verge of famine, raising pressure on Saudi Arabia as it faces a global outcry over the murder of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. The military alliance of Sunni Muslim states led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates has deployed forces around 30,000-strong south of Houthi-held Hodeidah and near its eastern entrance, pro-coalition Yemeni military sources told Reuters. "Thousands of Yemeni soldiers trained by the coalition have been sent to the outskirts of Hodeidah in addition to modern weaponry including armored vehicles and tanks... in preparation for a big operation in coming days," said one source. Residents told Reuters the Houthis had also deployed forces in the center of Hodeidah city, at the port and in southern neighborhoods in anticipation of an onslaught. The coalition and the Houthis have not commented on the military movements. The U.N. special envoy to Yemen is trying to salvage peace talks that collapsed in September, raising the risk of a renewed assault on the Red Sea city, the country's main port and a lifeline for millions of Yemenis reliant on humanitarian aid.”

The National: Hezbollah's Role In A New Lebanese Government Causes A Headache For Hari

“News that a new government may soon be formed will cheer many in Lebanon, who are increasingly anxious about the dire economic situation in the country. Until a government takes office, Lebanon will remain in limbo while awaiting urgent policies to address its ballooning public debt. However, a new government could conceivably represent a headache for the Lebanese, at least if the prime minister-designate Saad Hariri chooses to appoint a Hezbollah figure to be health minister, as seems likely. Legislation passed by the US Congress and signed by President Donald Trump last week explains why. The amended legislation threatens to sanction individuals who knowingly assist, support, recruit, or fundraise for Hezbollah. More significantly, it also sanctions “agencies of foreign governments” that provide the party with arms, financial support, or other forms of assistance. And it also increases sanctions on Hezbollah’s criminal networks, including alleged drug trafficking networks.”

The Washington Post: From Silicon Valley Elite To Social Media Hate: The Radicalization That Led To Gab

“Like many young entrepreneurs drawn to California's technological gold rush, Andrew Torba brought a familiar mix of smarts, ambition and big ideas when he arrived nearly four years ago. What few saw was that Torba — an advocate of traditional, Christian values amid secular Silicon Valley — was frustrated and increasingly alienated. Those emotions, he would later say, helped inspire his creation of Gab.ai, the freewheeling social media platform that has become an online hub for racists, anti-Semites and white nationalists. Among them would be a troubled middle-aged trucker, Robert Bowers, whose alleged hateful rants against Jews appeared on the site in the months before he was accused of killing 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue Saturday. Messages on a Gab account bearing Bowers’s name and image have turned a harsh spotlight on the site, which went offline Sunday as some long-standing partner companies such as GoDaddy and PayPal backed away from Torba’s creation. Torba said he and his site are blameless for the alleged actions of Bowers. Torba said that the shooting is a “horrific tragedy” and that he’s working with law enforcement to “see to it that justice is served.”

United States

Daily Beast: ‘Homeland Security’ Ignores White Terror, DHS Veterans Say

“On Tuesday, just days after a white supremacist gunned down 11 people at a synagogue and just a week after a terrorist mailed more than a dozen bombs to critics of the president, the Department of Homeland Security—created after 9/11 to protect the United States from terrorism—had a conference call. Attendees were on the department’s Homeland Security Advisory Council, a group of more than two dozen former government officials and insiders who help guide the Department on its thorniest challenges. The topic: a group of Central American migrants slowly wending their way through Mexico in hopes of seeking asylum in the United States. Some participants were flummoxed: In the face of the most lethal anti-semitic terror attack in American history, was DHS really focused, exclusively, on migrants? “In the world of homeland security, the common practice is to focus on those threats that present the greatest risk,” said John Cohen, a Rutgers professor and former senior official in the Department of Homeland Security focused on counterterror. “So it’s disconcerting that in a call with national law enforcement and homeland security experts, the focus would be on the caravan versus the increasing number of mass casualty attacks the country’s experiencing, including by white extremists.”

Chicago Sun Times: Feds: Bombing Materials Found On Phone Of Man Who Offered New Oath To ISIS

“A Chicago man had photographs of bombing materials on his phone and offered to make a new pledge of allegiance to Islamic State terrorists shortly before his arrest this month, federal prosecutors said Wednesday. The allegation was enough to convince U.S. Magistrate Judge David Weisman to order Ashraf Al Safoo, 34, held in custody at the end of an afternoon hearing. The computer engineer was charged earlier this month with using social media to help ISIS recruit operatives. Al Safoo’s defense attorney insisted there was “no context” for the images on the phone, and the judge acknowledged that photos may appear on a person’s phone uninvited. Still, he pointed to the allegations already leveled against Al Safoo. “It seems strange coincidence that those images happened there by happenstance,” Weisman said. Assistant U.S. Attorney Vikas Didwania said Al Safoo had been told through social media he would need to make a new pledge of allegiance to ISIS. Didwania said Al Safoo replied on Oct. 14 that he “would certainly do so, but would only do so on a secret chat for security reasons.” The prosecutor said the conversation occurred in Arabic but was translated by an FBI linguist. Didwania also said photos on Al Safoo’s phone contained information on how to mass-produce sleeves for ball-bearings explosive devices, as well as the front page of a manual about the creation of cylindrical improvised explosive devices. Defense attorney Geoffrey Meyer insisted that the complaint filed against his client is “wide-open” for a constitutional challenge, and he accused prosecutors of trying to inflame the judge with dramatic allegations. “I’m not inflamed by anything,” Weisman said.”

Syria

National Interest: Iran Relies On Foreign Militias And Young Shia Muslims To Fight Its War In Syria

“In recent weeks, the Trump administration has doubled down on its stance against Iran’s destabilizing role in the Middle East. National Security Advisor John Bolton recently told reporters that the United States will remain in Syria as long as Iran does—to include its proxies and militias—marking a major shift in U.S. policy in Syria. The administration is also ratcheting up its campaign of economic pressure, ending a 1955 treaty with Iran that made exceptions for sanctions on certain products, and warning that after it reinstates some of the United States’ harshest sanctions against Iran in November, it will pursue additional, “tougher” sanctions. The Trump administration has already imposed seventeen rounds of Iran-related sanctions, targeting 147 Iran-related individuals and entities, aimed at coercing the country into abandoning its regional activities.”

Associated Press: Syrian Group Documents Russian Attacks On Civilians

“A Syrian-led human rights group said Wednesday it has documented more than 1,400 incidents in which Russian forces indiscriminately targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure in the three years since Moscow intervened in the civil war in Syria. The Berlin-based Syrian Archive has created a database of more than 3,000 verified videos of the incidents, reported between September 2015, when Russia began its airstrikes on behalf of President Bashar Assad's forces, and September 2018. Hadi al-Khatib of the group said the searchable database is the first visual documentation of alleged Russian airstrikes in Syria and is essential for "advancing justice." The database, which includes more than 700 incidents in which civilian casualties were reported and some 35 hospitals were struck, can help lawyers build cases against perpetrators of violence, he said. The database includes videos from citizens, journalists, humanitarian groups and even the Russian Defense Ministry. Russia denies targeting civilians and has often said the airstrikes are aimed at "terrorist infrastructure." In a recent report on its three-year involvement in Syria, the Russian military lists the number of airstrikes and the types of aircraft and weapons used, but doesn't say anything about casualties.”

Iran

Voice Of America: Bolton: Sanctions Meant To Harm Iran, Not US Friends

“U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said Wednesday the Trump administration wants sanctions on Iran’s crude exports to strain Tehran, but does not want to harm countries that depend on the oil. The United States is preparing to impose the new sanctions on Iran’s oil industry after Washington withdrew from a nuclear deal between Tehran and other global powers earlier this year, but is also considering offering waivers to some allies that rely on Iranian supplies. “We want to achieve maximum pressure but we don’t want to harm friends and allies either,” Bolton said in a talk at the Hamilton Society. Bolton said the administration understands that a number of countries, some close geographically to Iran, which he visited last week, and others “may not be able to go all the way, all the way to zero immediately.” It was a more conciliatory tone about the sanctions from Bolton, a proponent of being tough on Iran and winding down its crude exports to zero.”

BBC News: The Story Behind Iran's 'Murder Plot' In Denmark

“A colossal manhunt, an extradition, and an Arab separatist movement. In an alleged plot that has taken weeks to come to light, Denmark has accused Iran of planning to assassinate an activist on its soil. Iran has dismissed the allegations. But Denmark has recalled its ambassador from Tehran and is speaking to other EU countries about how to respond. Both countries had already clashed this year after a deadly shooting at an Iranian military parade in September. Iran accused Denmark, the Netherlands and Britain of harbouring members of militant opposition groups following the deadly attack, in which more than 25 people were killed. One of those groups is at the centre of Denmark's murder plot allegation. Their claim also comes as the EU tries to save a landmark nuclear deal with Iran, from which the US has already withdrawn. In August, the Trump administration reimposed sanctions on the country, and a second wave comes into force on 5 November. So what does Denmark say happened? What's been the response? And has this happened elsewhere in Europe?”

Iraq

Kurdistan 24: French Team, Peshmerga Kill Three Islamic State Members Near Kirkuk

“In a joint operation on Wednesday, the Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga alongside French forces killed three Islamic State (IS) members near the disputed area district of Tuz Khurmatu in Salahuddin Province. “Peshmerga forces and a French team, backed by coalition aerial support, targeted a Daesh [IS] outpost in Pallkana Village, north of Tuz Khurmatu, and killed three militants,” a security source familiar with the operation told Kurdistan 24. The Kurdish Peshmerga, Iraqi forces, and members of the US-led anti-IS coalition regularly launch operations against the jihadist group as it continues to operate with sleeper cells and targets civilians and security forces. Tuz Khurmatu neighbors the Kurdistan Region province of Sulaimani and Kirkuk, the latter being a territory contested between Erbil and Baghdad. During the operation, the source added, a roadside bomb detonated under a Peshmerga convoy traveling through, lightly injuring three. “Early morning, we were notified that a number of Peshmerga fighters were injured during the clashes,” Hemin Mohammed, director of Kifri Hospital, told Kurdistan 24. “We immediately deployed our teams to the area, tended to and treated the injured,” added Mohammed. “Their conditions are now stable and have been sent to Kalar Hospital for further care.”

Rudaw: Iraq Military Destroys 4 ISIS Tunnels, Kills 4 Militants In Saladin: Coalition

“Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and warplanes launched a series of operations in recent days destroying ISIS earthworks in Saladin province, clearing explosives, and killing several jihadist fighters, according to a spokesman for the US-led coalition. Four tunnels and four caves used by remnants of the jihadist group were destroyed, US Army Colonel Sean Ryan tweeted on Wednesday, without giving exact operational details. Four ISIS fighters were killed in action and 17 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were detonated, he added, sharing an image of the devices. “These were multiple operations launched in the last 72 hours,” Ryan told Rudaw English. #ISF elements launched operations with support of Iraqi AF and under joint operations to destroy 4 ISIS tunnels and 4 caves in the mountains of Salahuddin, also detonating 17 IED’s and 4 ISIS elements KIA, to protect the Iraqi citizens. The raids, coordinated under joint operations command, were launched “to protect the Iraqi citizens,” he tweeted. Since Iraq’s former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the defeat of ISIS militarily in December 2017, analysts and intelligence officials have warned ISIS is returning to its earlier tactics of bombings, kidnappings, and insurgency. By the summer of 2016, ISIS had lost all of its major urban strongholds to Iraqi and Kurdish forces backed by US-led coalition airpower. Remnants of the group remain active in Kirkuk, Saladin, and Diyala provinces, particularly around the Hamrin Mountains. ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack on a Shiite Arbaeen vigil in Khanaqin, Diyala province, on Tuesday, which killed two women and injured one other civilian.”

Turkey

Middle East Monitor: Turkey Refuses To Close Military Base In Qatar

“Turkish Foreign Minister Mouloud Jawish Oglu has rejected a request by Saudi Arabia and its allies to close the Turkish military base in Qatar, calling it “unrealistic”. “The Turkish armed forces are deployed in Qatar under the bilateral military and defence cooperation agreement signed between Turkey and Qatar in 2014, long before the Gulf conflict in 2017,” Jawish Oglu told Al-Watan and the Qatar Tribune newspapers. “Therefore, there is no connection between the deployment of our military forces and the current Gulf conflict … We believe this request is unrealistic,” he said. “Cooperation in the defence industries is an important aspect of bilateral relations between Qatar and Turkey,” the minister added, saying that it “strengthens the military capabilities of the Qatari armed forces and contributes to the security and stability of the Gulf region.”

Afghanistan

Bloomberg: Insider Attacks, Opium And Drought: Afghanistan Gets Even Worse

“Afghanistan’s dire situation 17 years after U.S. intervention is getting even worse, with government control of territory continuing to slide, narcotics output rising and a worsening drought displacing more people than the armed conflict, according to a Pentagon watchdog. President Ashraf Ghani’s government controlled or influenced about 55.5 percent of Afghan districts as of July, the least since November 2015, the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction said late Wednesday in its latest quarterly report. And after $8.9 billion in U.S. counternarcotics appropriations, poppy production surged in 2017 and is now four times higher than in 2002, the year after American forces arrived. “Afghanistan’s narcotics industry helps finance the insurgency, supports criminal networks, fosters public corruption, and undermines the Afghan state,” said John Sopko, whose office is known as SIGAR. Looking over the broader situation facing the country, his report added that “the last few months saw several discouraging developments.” While the report covered the period through Sept. 30, it acknowledged more recent grim setbacks, including an attack on an election-security meeting targeting the top U.S. commander in the country and key police and intelligence officials in Kandahar province. The U.S. commander, General Scott Miller, escaped unharmed, but the province’s intelligence chief and police chief were both killed.”

NBC News: New U.S. Commander In Afghanistan Says We're Going On Offense Against The Taliban

“When Gen. Scott Miller took over the war in Afghanistan on Sept. 2, Afghan soldiers were being killed and wounded at near record numbers. He instituted a more aggressive policy of helping the Afghan military track and defeat the Taliban — what he calls "regaining the tactical initiative" — but in an exclusive interview with NBC News on Tuesday, his first since taking command of U.S. and coalition forces here, he also says he recognizes that the solution in Afghanistan will be political, not military. "This is not going to be won militarily," Miller said. "This is going to a political solution." "My assessment is the Taliban also realizes they cannot win militarily. So if you realize you can't win militarily at some point, fighting is just, people start asking why. So you do not necessarily wait us out, but I think now is the time to start working through the political piece of this conflict." Speaking from the Resolute Support headquarters building in Kabul, Miller said he knew early on that he needed to turn the tables on the Taliban and go after them. "We are more in an offensive mindset and don't wait for the Taliban to come and hit [us]," he said. "So that was an adjustment that we made early on. We needed to because of the amount of casualties that were being absorbed." Afghan Security Forces suffered 1,000 casualties in August and September, according to the Pentagon.”

CNN: Taliban Control More Territory In Afghanistan Than At Any Point Since 2001, US Inspector Says

“The Taliban have strengthened their grip in Afghanistan over the past three years, according to a new report released by the US government's own ombudsman of the war. In its quarterly report for the US Congress, the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said, "The Taliban now controls more territory than at any time since 2001." The Afghan government currently controls or influences only 55.5% of the country's districts, marking the lowest level recorded since SIGAR began tracking district control in November 2015. Translated into layman's terms, the report measures "control" -- in which one side runs an area -- and "influence" -- in which one side has the upper hand. In November 2015, the Afghan government controlled 72% of districts in the country, but now controls just 56% of them. Insurgent influence or control has risen to 12.5% of districts from just 7% and approximately a third of Afghanistan is a "contested" area. The official figures offer a glimpse into the Afghan army's loosening grip in the face of a determined, sustained Taliban insurgency and a bleak outlook for America's involvement in the war -- now in its 17th year.”

Pakistan

The Washington Post: Christian Woman Acquitted In Pakistan To Leave Country

“A Christian woman acquitted in Pakistan after eight years on death row for blasphemy plans to leave the country, her family said Thursday as radical Islamists mounted rallies for a second day against the verdict, blocking roads and burning tires in protest. The developments followed a landmark move by Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Wednesday that overturned the 2010 conviction against Asia Bibi for insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. The charge of blasphemy carries the death penalty in this majority Muslim nation. Bibi’s acquittal immediately raised fears of religious violence — and presented a challenge to the government of new Prime Minister Imran Khan who came to power this summer partly by pursuing the Islamist agenda. Khan warned Islamist protesters on Wednesday night not to “test the patience of the state.” Bibi remained at an undisclosed location Thursday where the 54-year-old mother of five was being held for security reasons, awaiting her formal release, her brother, James Masih told The Associated Press. Masih said his sister simply would not be safe in Pakistan.”

Yemen

Xinhua: Roadside Bombing Kills 4 Yemeni Policemen

“Four Yemeni policemen were killed when a roadside bomb struck their vehicle in the southern province of al-Dhalea on Wednesday, a security official told Xinhua. "An improvised explosive device planted by unknown militants struck a vehicle in Sanah area of al-Dhalea around noon today, killing four police members on the spot," a local security official said on condition of anonymity. The bomb attack was apparently aimed at the 7th Army Battalion Col. Taher Oqla, but he survived the attack unharmed, the source said. "The army official passed through the same road just several minutes after the bomb attack," he said. The local security source blamed militants of the Yemen-based al-Qaida branch saying that terror elements are active in the area. However, terror groups such as al-Qaida and the Islamic State that are largely relying on roadside and suicide bombings are yet to claim responsibility for the attack. Government officials, including high-ranking security commanders and intelligence officers, have been the prime targets in kidnapping incidents as well as armed attacks launched by unknown gunmen in recent days. The impoverished Arab country has been locked into a civil war since the Iran-backed Shiite Houthi rebels overran much of the country militarily and seized all northern provinces, including the capital Sanaa, in 2014. Saudi Arabia leads an Arab military coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to support the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi after Houthi rebels forced him into exile.”

Al Arabiya: Yemen’s Houthi Militias Kidnap Photographer In Sanaa

“The Houthi militias in Yemen kidnapped a photographer, Hamad al-Qaoud, from a public street in Sanaa, local Yemeni news sites reported. Qaoud was kidnapped near the presidential palace in Sanaa and taken to an unknown destination, according to the news publications. Qaoud is the son of prominent Yemeni writer Mohamed al-Qaoud. Yemen’s Minister of Information Moammar al-Eryani condemned the kidnapping on his official Twitter account, stating that the many abductions carried out by the Houthis are “crimes against humanity.” “The crimes and violations committed by militias against journalists, detaining dozens with prosecuting them are crimes against humanity. This requires firm positions from international community and human rights organizations,” Eryani said. Among the abductions by Houthis were that of over 80 students from Sanaa University early October. Armed groups belonging to the Houthis have been carrying out raids and arrests in various neighborhoods of Sanaa, based on a list prepared in advance which includes their targets. The arrests target political and human rights activists, bloggers, and media personalities who speak out against the militias.”

Middle East

Fox News: Why I Left ISIS: Former Baghdadi 'Friend' And Aide, Others Speak Out

“Sheikh Hussam Naji thought his wildest dreams had come true when ISIS and its so-called “caliphate” captured huge swaths of Iraqi and Syrian territory in the summer of 2014. “I believed in the ISIS thoughts, that we were the victory sect, and that we were the sect who would bring justice and the right principles to the world," said   the 28-year-old Iraqi, who recently communicated with Fox News through a security official at an Interior Ministry prison, where Naji is being held. But for the man who served briefly in the top echelon of the brutal terrorist organization - as a tribal leader focused on Iraq’s western Anbar province - before being personally appointed by ISIS boss Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to be his assistant, the dream quickly morphed into a nightmare. In August 2014, while en route to take up the post in the freshly captured city of Mosul, Naji was arrested by Iraqi authorities. He remains behind bars, has been given a death sentence, and is currently awaiting his turn in the appeals process.”

Intelligence & Terrorism Info. Center: Profile Of Ziyad Al-Nakhalah, The New Palestinian Islamic Jihad Leader

“On September 28, 2018, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) spokesman Da’ud Shehab announced the election of Ziyad al-Nakhalah as secretary general. Al-Nakhalah, the organization’s third leader, replaced Ramadan Abdallah Shalah, who has been in a coma for the past six months (following a series of strokes). The PIJ is Iran’s preferred proxy in the internal Palestinian arena. Ziyad al-Nakhalah, who has strong connections with Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Qods Force, plays a central role in foster and promoting the PIJ’s collaboration with Iran. Therefore it can be expected that under al-Nakhalah’s leadership the PIJ will continue to promote Iran’s interests in the Gaza Strip and in the internal Palestinian arena in general; and in return the PIJ will profit from generous Iranian financial and military support, which will help it preserve its status as the second most important terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip (after Hamas). Ziyad al-Nakhalah, who today lives in Lebanon, was one of the founders of the Jerusalem Brigades, the PIJ’s military-terrorist wing. In the past he was sentenced to life imprisonment in Israel because of his involvement with terrorism (and released in the Jibril Deal). He was detained again and exiled by Israel to Lebanon (where he decided to remain).”

Egypt

Sun Sentinel: Egypt’s War On ISIS In The Sinai Making Significant Progress

“With security threats to Israel from Iran and Hezbollah along the northern borders, and Hamas and other terror elements in the Gaza Strip to the south often receiving the lion’s share of public attention, the activities of the Islamic State-affiliated terror group state in the large Sinai Peninsula are often overlooked. However, efforts by Egypt, along with quiet reported Israeli support, to crack down on the group appear to be making significant progress. Although a large-scale counter-terrorism operation has not eliminated the threat, it has greatly reduced it, a senior Israeli defense analyst told JNS. The Sinai Province terrorist group, which is identified with ISIS, continues to launch attacks, such as the deadly roadside bombing on Oct. 25 that claimed the lives of contract workers who were building a security wall in the city of El-Arish in northern Sinai. In recent days, a senior Sinai Province group leader, named by Arab media reports as “Abu Hamza al-Maqdisi,” was killed in an Egyptian airstrike in the northern Sinai town of Sheikh Zuweid. The high-profile assassination is part of a series of firm military steps taken by Egypt, which launched a massive nationwide counter-terrorism operation in February. “The right modus operandi” Dr. Shaul Shay, a former deputy head of the National Security Council of Israel, told JNS that this campaign was helping Egypt make real gains against terrorists. Shay, who today serves as director of research at the Institute for Policy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, said, “I think the Egyptians have the right modus operandi.”

Nigeria

Sahara Reporters: Breaking: 'Dozens Killed' As Boko Haram Attacks Villages, Idp Camp In Maiduguri

“Boko Haram terrorists have attacked four villages and a camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital. According to a source, who spoke to SaharaReporters, several villagers lost their lives during the attack which occurred on Wednesday night. Many people were killed in Kofa, Mallumti, Ngomari, Gozari, just as many villagers fled to the Dalori IDP camp for safety. A statement by the Nigerian Army confirmed the attack, but noted that Kofa Village and the Dalori IDP camp were affected. The Army also claimed that one civilian was "found dead". According to the statement, the terrorists gained access to the area through a bush path behind the village and came in four vehicles and some motorcycles. The statement read: "Troops of 251 Task Force Battalion successfully foiled a BHT attempted Attack on Kofa Village and Dalori IDP camp in Maiduguri on 31 Oct 18 at about 10pm. The terrorists gained access through a bush path behind the village in 4 vehicles and some motorcycles. They ransacked the market in front of the IDP camp. "On sighting own troops that were mobilized to the area, they set some houses and the market ablaze and fled along Maiduguri-Bama Road. However, one civilian was found dead. "Own troops are presently assisting the villagers who ran into the bush back to their homes while the Borno State Fire Service have contained the inferno."

Russia

The Wall Street Journal: Russia’s Security Agency Hit By Terrorist Attack

“A bomb exploded Wednesday at a regional headquarters of Russia’s Federal Security Service, killing the teenager who carried it into the building and injuring three security officers in a rare terrorist attack on the country’s most powerful security agency. Authorities said a 17-year-old male local resident carried the bomb into the lobby of the FSB building, located in the northern province of Arkhangelsk. The device exploded after he took it out of a bag, Russia’s antiterrorism committee said in a statement. Investigators opened a probe into terrorism and illegal possession of ammunition, conducting searches at the suspect’s home and checking his family and social circle, authorities said. According to Russian media reports, the suspect posted a warning on an online anarchist messaging board a few minutes before the blast. Describing himself as a communist and an anarchist, he wrote that he had decided to act because the FSB fabricated cases and tortured people. “Most likely, I’ll die because of the explosion,” the message said, according to the reports.”

The Guardian: Russian Suicide Bomb Kills One And Injures Three In FSB Offices

“A suicide bombing in the offices of Russia’s Federal Security Service in Arkhangelsk in northern Russia has left three injured. Investigators said a 17-year-old local male had been carrying the bomb in a bag and detonated it on Wednesday shortly after entering the FSB’s offices in the city, which is just south of the Arctic circle. A CCTV still published by Russian media showed the suspect in a heavy coat reaching with his right arm into a black backpack shortly before the blast. No motive was given for the attack, but Russia’s Investigative Committee opened a terrorist investigation. The FSB is Russia’s main security agency and manages the country’s border guard service, counterterrorism and counter-intelligence activities. It is viewed as the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB and inherited the Lubyanka headquarters in Moscow. However, there are significant differences between the agencies. While attacks on Russian law enforcement are not unheard of, they have mostly taken place in the North Caucasus region, where the country is battling a diminished Islamist insurgency and previously fought two wars in Chechnya. Islamic State claimed responsibility for a series of coordinated attacks in Chechnya this August that included children as young as 11. They were recruited over social media. The motive for Wednesday’s attack is unclear. Some Russian media pointed to a post on the Telegram messaging service shortly before the blast.”

Europe

The New York Times: On A Tiny Finnish Island, A Helipad, 9 Piers — And The Russian Military?

“Retired to a tiny island in an archipelago between Finland and Sweden, Leo Gastgivar awoke early one morning to visit the outhouse in his bathrobe, only to notice two black speedboats packed with Finnish commandos in camouflage fatigues waiting in the bay near his front door. After an exchange of awkward greetings, Mr. Gastgivar went inside, collected a pair of binoculars and watched aghast as the commandos raced off toward the island of his nearest neighbor, a mysterious Russian businessman he had never met or even seen. “I thought: ‘Wow! That is certainly unusual,’” Mr. Gastgivar recalled of the encounter. “Nobody ever visits that place.” The island, Sakkiluoto, belongs to Pavel Melnikov, a 54-year-old Russian from St. Petersburg, who has dotted the property with security cameras, motion detectors and no-trespassing signs emblazoned with the picture of a fearsome-looking guard in a black balaclava. The island also has nine piers, a helipad, a swimming pool draped in camouflage netting and enough housing — all of it equipped with satellite dishes — to accommodate a small army.”

The Telegraph: Dutch Police Return To Pavement-Pounding In Fight Against Terrorism

“The market square roars with activity as Bart Leget, a 54-year-old Dutch police officer, strides from stall to stall. He is all smiles, grasping the hands of passersby and shaking them vigorously. Elderly men pause on their mobility scooters to exchange warm words and light banter. On his belt, the stocky, bearded policeman wears a 9mm pistol, handcuffs and a can of pepper spray. “We tell them, here is our hand, we can help you. And if they don’t want the hand, they get the fist,” he says. Officer Leget is on patrol in Schilderswijk, a suburb in the Hague which the Dutch police force says is a hotbed for homegrown Islamic extremism.”

Rudaw: Europe Must Not Ignore Foreign ISIS Held By Kurds In Syria: Experts

“For the sake of humanitarian principles and justice, European nations must engage with Kurdish authorities about the hundreds of foreign ISIS fighters and family members detained in northern Syria, said experts in Brussels on Wednesday. “We have to make sure that justice and politics are not mixed up,” Philippe Vansteenkiste told reporters in Brussels. “The longer the situation remains as it is, the more difficult it becomes for all of us.” Vansteenkiste’s sister was killed in an ISIS attack on Brussels airport on March 22, 2016. He now works as an advocate for victims of terror as the co-founder and director of Victims-Europe, Belgium. He was part of a group of researchers and child psychologists who visited Rojava, northern Syria recently to meet with 15 Belgian children and their mothers living in camps run by Kurdish authorities. The Belgians are some of the 790 foreign ISIS fighters, 584 women, and 1,248 children from 46 different countries being held by Kurds, according to figures given by Abdulkarim Omar, co-chair of foreign relations for the Rojava administration at the press conference.”

Channel News Asia: Europe Torn Over Islamic State Children In Syria

For years, they heard little from daughters who went to join Islamic State. Now dozens of families across Europe have received messages from those same women, desperate to return home from detention in Syria.     They are among 650 Europeans, many of them infants, held by U.S.-backed Kurdish militias in three camps since IS was routed last year, according to Kurdish sources. Unwanted by their Kurdish guards, they are also a headache for officials in Europe. In letters sent via the Red Cross and in phone messages, the women plead for their children to be allowed home to be raised in the countries they left behind. In one message played by a woman at a cafe in Antwerp, the chatter of her young grandchildren underscores their mother's pleas. Another woman in Paris wants to care for three grandchildren she has never met, born after her daughter left for Syria in 2014, at the age 18. "They are innocent," she said. "They had no part in any of this." Like other relatives of those held in Syria, the two mothers asked to remain anonymous - afraid of being linked to IS and worried their daughters may face reprisals. The United States has taken custody of some citizens, as have Russia and Indonesia, and wants Europe to do the same - fearing the camps may breed a new generation of militants.”

The Express Tribune: Spain Deports Pakistani Man Over ‘Islamic State Links’

“A Pakistani national was arrested at the Islamabad airport on Wednesday after being deported from Spain for having alleged links to the Islamic State terrorist group. Sources at the New Islamabad Airport told The Express Tribune that Afzal Ahmed, a resident of Kharian city in Gujrat District, was arrested on July 1, 2016 in Spain along with his two brothers over their alleged involvement in terrorist attacks and for ‘spreading extremism’ in the European nation. They were arrested in a raid on their home in the northeastern city of Lleida. The three brothers, aged between 25 and 34, were kept in detention for two years and later released on July 29 this year. Afzal Ahmed, however, was arrested again after being called in at a police station and later deported to Pakistan. According to Spanish police, the brothers operated several social media accounts which they used to upload videos praising group executions carried out by Islamic State, the Taliban and other Pakistani extremist groups. Police said the brothers had gathered a large group of followers in their attempts to spread extremist ideology. The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) arrested the suspect upon arriving at the airport earlier today for interrogation.”

Southeast Asia

The Straits Times: Former Al-Qaeda Man Among Five Terror Suspects Nabbed By Malaysian Police

“Malaysia arrested five terror suspects in October, including a former Al-Qaeda operative who had dealings with the Afghanistan-based terror group's slain leader Osama bin Laden. National police chief Mohamad Fuzi Harun said on Wednesday (Oct 31) the five included two Malaysians, a Pakistani, an Egyptian and a Middle Eastern man.They were detained in Selangor, Perak, Kuala Lumpur and Sabah by counter-terrorism officers during the operation from Oct 13 to Oct 26. The two Malaysians - a man and a woman - had channelled funds to their compatriot Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) recruiter killed in a drone strike in Raqqa last year. The 32-year-old woman arrested in Kuala Lumpur on Oct 25 had moved money to Wanndy between 2014 and 2017. A 40-year-old service manager from Sabah was held on Oct 26, also for channelling funds to Wanndy and the latter's would-be successor Muhamad Fudhail Omar, who was also killed in Syria last year. He is also alleged to have helped fund the Filipino militant group Abu Sayyaf since 2015. Abu Sayyaf is notorious for demanding ransom after abducting people off the coast of Sabah, which faces the southern Philippines. Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi said the Egyptian suspect had worked in Kuala Lumpur. "The first suspect is a 50-year-old Egyptian working as an executive manager in a Kuala Lumpur firm, and was detained in Selangor on Oct 13, 2018. The suspect was a former Al-Qaeda member while in Afghanistan from 1988 to 1993. He had met with Osama bin Laden," he said.”

Counter Terrorism

Arabic People: Secretary-General Of The Council Of Arab Interior Ministers Warns Of 'Lone Wolves'

“In his keynote address on Wednesday at the 21st Arab conference of officials in charge of counter terrorism, Mohammed bin Ali Koman, Secretary-General of the Council of Arab Interior Ministers, warned of the "lone wolf" phenomenon. During the conference, which kicked off in Tunisia, Koman also cautioned {the audience} about the efforts being made by terrorist organizations to recruit women into their ranks. Last Monday's suicide bombing on Habib Bourguiba Avenue in the Tunisian capital deepened the already existing fear of lone wolves, Koman stressed. He went on to say that the Arab counterterrorism agencies continue to face numerous challenges, apart from the lone wolves. The topmost challenges are chemical terror attacks and the movement of militants into the hotbeds of conflict and tension.”

Terrorist Financing

Al-Arab: Iran Lavishly Finances The Islamic Movement In Nigeria

“Media reports maintain that a major portion of Iran's funding for Lebanon's Hezbollah forces, operating in Yemen, and for the Yemeni Houthi rebels, arrives via a number of African sea ports. Iran is obliged to use these marine routes after its traditional funding channels were publicly exposed. Iran's lavish financial aid to the Islamic Movement in Nigeria drove that group to take up arms to confront the Nigerian state. In addition, the Islamic Movement in Nigeria has exploited the generous Iranian support to target its Sunni rivals, who don't enjoy such a substantial flow of funds from abroad. Moreover, the Islamic Movement has received military support and training from Iran, as well as know-how in making grenades, according to reports.”

ISIS

Elbashayer: Documents Divulge ISIS's Funding Sources

“Dozens of documents confiscated from ISIS members and from the organization's headquarters shed light on the terror organization's various funding sources during {the time of} its control of large areas of Iraq. Records of ISIS's so-called "House of Finance" answer many questions surrounding the group's funding sources and how it collected vast quantities of Iraqi dinars worth billions. According to the documents, ISIS after taking control of the city of Mosul in the summer of 2014, took control of state institutions and funds, primarily belonging to banks there. The House of Finance's documents confirm that the terrorist organization enjoyed a flow of foreign aid during its domination of large parts of Iraq. One of the documents shows the receipt of money from the consulate of an unspecified country. ISIS also implemented a series of measures in the territories under its control in order to obtain more funds, including the seizure of properties owned by its opponents, fleeing Christians, Shiites and Yazidis. ISIS also imposed severe taxation and so-called zakat fees on citizens.”

Albawabh News: Iraqi Security Forces Uncover An ISIS-Linked IED Factory

“The Iraqi Ministry of Interior announced on Tuesday the discovery of an ISIS-linked factory for the manufacture of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The facility is located in the "Al-Nabi Sheet" district on the right side of Mosul, according to the ministry's statement. Thanks to precise intelligence information, the Iraqi security forces succeeded in uncovering this workshop, which used various machines to make IEDs. The Iraqi officers destroyed all of the equipment safely.”

Houthi

Alwatan: Acrimonious Disputes Among Houthi Leaders Due To Corruption

“A source close to the Houthis in Sana'a revealed that the rifts between the group's leaders have reached a peak, with a growing exchange of accusations. This comes after revealing thievery of funds, on the part of certain leaders, as well as salary payments to close aides and buying loyalties. The source said that senior Houthi leaders adopted a resolution to calm the current situation amid fears of rebellion by several field leaders. Thus, the President of the so-called Political Council, Mehdi Mashat, issued a decision to hold a number of corrupt ministers and officials accountable. The source pointed out that this decision is merely a pre-arranged ploy, to break out of the impasse. The sources added that there is a deal between Mehdi Mashat and individuals whose names were mentioned in connection with corruption charges. These unnamed parties will discreetly bankroll compensation, in an effort to appease irate Houthi field leaders, who are refusing to stay on the {war} fronts and obey the orders of the senior leadership.”