Eye on Extremism: November 14

The New York Times: ISIS Suspect Trapped At Turkish-Greek Border Is To Be Deported To U.S.

“Turkey announced on Thursday that it would repatriate an American suspected of being a member of the Islamic State, after a commitment from the United States that his entry would not be blocked. The American, Muhammad Darwish Bassam, 39, had been stranded on a strip of land at the Turkish-Greek border for the past four days after Turkey had tried to deport him to Greece, but Greek officials refused him entry. The announcement by the Interior Ministry came a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey met with President Trump in Washington. Turkey has used Mr. Bassam’s case to highlight its demand that Western countries take back their citizens who joined the Islamic State and have been detained by Turkish forces.”

The Wall Street Journal: Gaza, Israel Reach Tentative Cease-Fire After Two Days Of Fighting

“Gaza’s second-largest militant group declared a cease-fire with Israel, after two days of rocket-fire from the Palestinian territory and strikes from Israel raised concerns of an imminent wider conflict. Palestinian Islamic Jihad spokesman Musab al-Berim said the Egypt-brokered deal went into effect at 5:30 a.m. local time Thursday. Israel didn’t confirm an official truce, officials said the country would only respond to attacks. However, just hours after the cease-fire was announced, the Israeli military said five rockets were fired into Israeli towns near Gaza, two of which were intercepted. It wasn’t immediately clear if Islamic Jihad or rogue actors in Gaza fired the rockets. Islamic Jihad said it is committed to the cease-fire deal. Israel has yet to respond to the attack. A tense calm took hold after an intense bout of fighting that began early Tuesday, triggered by the killing of Islamic Jihad’s senior leader, Baha Abu Al-Ata, in a targeted Israeli airstrike. Israel struck scores of targets in the Gaza Strip, while militants in the Palestinian territory fired more than 450 rockets into Israel over two days.”

The New York Times: U.S. Struggles To Keep Allies In Fight Against ISIS In Syria 

“As Trump administration officials try to convince allies that the United States remains committed to the fight against the Islamic State in Syria they are facing a significant roadblock: President Trump’s own policy reversals. At a high-level State Department meeting scheduled for Thursday, diplomats from 35 nations and international organizations will be asked to stick with the campaign to eradicate the extremist group even after its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed in an American raid last month. But confusion over the Trump administration’s policy in northeast Syria has discouraged allies, according to several diplomats, who said it has fomented doubt that whatever agreements are struck could be reversed by the president. Mr. Trump said on Wednesday that hundreds of American troops remain in northeast Syria, but only to secure oil-rich territory there. “We’re keeping the oil,” Mr. Trump said at the White House ahead of a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. “We have the oil. The oil is secure. We left troops behind only for the oil.” A day earlier, a senior State Department official said the primary role of the relatively small deployment of American military personnel in northeast Syria was to counter the Islamic State.”

Reuters: Afghan Prisoner Swap For American, Australian Did Not Occur: Diplomat

“The planned exchange of two senior Taliban commanders and a leader of the Haqqani militant group for an American and an Australian kidnapped in Afghanistan in 2016 has not taken place, a diplomat and a former Afghan official said on Wednesday. The diplomat, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, declined to provide any details about why the planned exchange, which Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced on Tuesday, did not occur. The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did the Afghan embassy in Washington. “We hope the Taliban immediately releases the hostages,” a spokesman for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said. He said Australia appreciated Ghani’s concern for the hostages - Australian citizen Timothy Weeks and U.S. citizen Kevin King, professors kidnapped by the Taliban in August 2016 from the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul. The Afghan government’s decision to free Anas Haqqani and two other Taliban commanders, Haji Mali Khan and Hafiz Rashid, was taken in the hope of securing direct talks with the Taliban, which has refused to engage with what it calls an illegitimate “puppet” regime in Kabul. All three were captured in 2014.”

The Washington Post: FBI Says ‘Lone Offender Terrorism’ In U.S. Follows Histories Of Violence, Concerning Behaviors

“A new FBI study of “lone offender terrorism” in the United States painted a grimly familiar picture of the people who carry out these attacks. The report, released Wednesday, described men with histories of physical violence and people who nursed grievances and wanted to publicize their viewpoints. Rather than erupting without warning, the attackers had worried the people around them, the study found. And in many cases, someone in the attacker’s life knew they endorsed violence to further their ideology. “While the attackers in this report were ideologically-motivated offenders, they were rarely completely isolated and alone, and they traveled down the same observable and discernible pathways to violence as other attackers,” FBI Director Christopher A. Wray wrote in a message accompanying the report. The FBI study, which was released Wednesday, examined dozens of attacks over more than four decades. It is the latest in a growing body of research examining the mass attacks, typically carried out by lone individuals. These violent rampages — at churches, synagogues, schools, movie theaters and other public spaces — have become agonizingly familiar for Americans. Law enforcement officials have worked to reassure the public in the wake of such violence. For the new study, the FBI looked at 52 cases from between 1972 and 2015, covering attempted or successful acts “of lethal violence in furtherance of an identified social, political, or ideological goal.”

Vice: The Christchurch Terror Attack Video Is Still Spreading On Facebook

“Facebook is still trying to track down versions of the Christchurch shooter’s live stream, months after the tech giant began frantically removing the gory content. In the first 24 hours after the video of the March mosque attack went viral, Facebook removed 1.5 million related posts. But a significant number at least initially evaded the Silicon Valley giant’s defenses, and users have continued to try to share the content. Some versions even remain live. The company announced Wednesday that it took down at least 3 million more posts by the end of September. “When people are sharing billions of things a day, even a tiny fraction is too much,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a conference call on content moderation. Facebook previously reported that at least 300,000 of those posts initially made it onto the platform, where they could be copied and tweaked to avoid censors. By Sept. 30, Facebook had removed a total of 4.5 million pieces of content related to the massacre. The initial lapse appears to have helped fuel yet more attempted uploads — and potentially hundreds of thousands more successful shares — over time. The company is still trying to track them down.”

United States 

The Wall Street Journal: Facebook Reports Gains In Removing Objectionable Content

“Facebook Inc. reported gains in detecting hate speech, child-abuse imagery and terrorist propaganda on its platforms, arguing that its willingness to publish statistics on the removal of objectionable content shows its commitment to transparency. “The systems we’ve built for addressing these issues are more advanced than what any other company has,” Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said Wednesday, adding that other internet companies have avoided making similar disclosures because “they don’t want to admit they have a problem too.” The Facebook co-founder was unusually blunt in his criticism of other internet and social-media platforms on a call with reporters, but he didn’t specifically name any competitors nor say where their detection efforts and disclosure fall short. Facebook, Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Twitter Inc. are among large social-media companies that release reports aimed at giving the public a window into their businesses.”

The Wall Street Journal: Trump-Erdogan Meeting Yields Little Progress

“A long-awaited meeting between President Trump and Turkey’s leader ended Wednesday without a resolution of key issues on which the two sides have been divided, including Ankara’s purchase of a Russian air-defense system and the U.S. partnership with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. The chemistry between Mr. Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dominated the visit. Mr. Trump volunteered that he was a “big fan” of Mr. Erdogan. The Turkish leader called for a new chapter in relations between the two countries. But there was no indication of headway on Turkey’s purchase of the sophisticated S-400 air-defense missile system from Russia, which has been a major concern for the Pentagon, or on other issues that have led to a deteriorating view of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally among most U.S. lawmakers.”

Syria

Fox News: Baghdadi's Compound In Syria Had Internet Until Day Of Deadly US Raid, Report Says

“The compound in northern Syria where the former leader of the Islamic State terror group was holed up until U.S. special operations forces stormed it last month was reportedly connected to the Internet until the day of the fateful raid. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi took his own life last month after he fled down a dead-end tunnel with three children, where he was found "whimpering" and trapped. Documents obtained by Al-Aan TV's Jenan Moussa on Tuesday showed that Baghdadi's compound, near the Turkish border in northwest Syria’s Idlib Province, had Internet connection since February of this year and it remained active until 12 hours before the U.S. raid on Oct. 26. Moussa tweeted that the documents she obtained showed the Internet subscription started at the compound on Feb. 1 and that the owner of the site paid a monthly fee in cash to the regional Internet provider.”

NPR: In Syria, U.S. Military Says Fight Will Continue Against Isis

“At a military base in Hasakah province in northeastern Syria, a Bradley armored fighting vehicle churns up sand as it speeds past a TV camera, an American flag flying behind its turret. The Bradley, airlifted in from Kuwait, was demonstrated for a small group of journalists, the first group of reporters taken by the U.S. military to Syria since President Trump announced late last month that he would leave troops there to protect oil installations. The mechanized National Guard brigade combat team that is tasked with protecting infrastructure has been in Syria for a little over a week now, a key part of the U.S. military's repositioning of forces. While Pentagon officials will not put an exact figure on the number of troops expected to remain in Syria, they have said it is likely to be a few hundred fewer than the roughly 1,000 troops deployed there before October. The policy changes have shaken up an already volatile region and severely tested the relationship between the U.S. and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, one of Washington's closest allies in the fight against ISIS. The National Guard troops who have landed in Hasakah from Kuwait so far have seen none of that in encounters with the region's residents, though.”

Newsweek: West Can Expect Major ISIS Attacks Thanks To Syria Failure, Kurdish General Warns

“Syrian Democratic Forces General Mazloum Kobani has warned that Turkey's recent invasion of northeastern Syria makes major attacks by the Islamic State militant group more likely, suggesting the West should brace for the possibility. Speaking with Sky News at an undisclosed location in northern Syria, Kobani said the Turkish offensive into SDF-held territory—also known as Rojava—had taken the pressure off ISIS fighters who survived the Western-backed campaign to destroy their so-called caliphate in Syria. “The danger of the resurgence of ISIS is very big. And it's a serious danger,” he warned. “I think there are many people who don't know this but it's true. The Turkish aggression opened the space and provided hope for ISIS members.” The SDF had been holding more than 10,000 prisoners when Turkey's “Operation Peace Spring” began on October 9. SDF forces were already stretched to breaking point, and the incursion meant troops had to be deployed to the front lines rather than guard ISIS prisoners and civilians who had been living in areas under the group's control. The U.S. government took custody of a handful of prisoners before they could escape, but officials have also admitted they do not know exactly how many detainees have been freed, nor where they are.”

Iran

POLITICO: While You Weren’t Paying Attention, Iran Was Ratcheting Up Tensions In The Persian Gulf

“With public impeachment hearings underway, Washington has reached a much higher than normal level of self-absorption. But as the combatants take their places on the political battlefield, the possibility of an honest-to-God military confrontation might be taking shape 7,000 miles away in the Persian Gulf. In the age of Trumpian hyperdistraction, Iran probably penetrated most Americans’ consciousness eons ago, before attention was diverted by Ukraine and quid pro quos or Syria and the abandonment of the Kurds. Last week, however, Iran took its boldest step yet to rattle the international community over the fate of the Iran nuclear deal: Tehran announced that it had begun operating 60 advanced centrifuges, which are essential to separating out the uranium isotope used in atomic bombs, and that it was planning to install more. In doing so, Iran doubled the number of the more efficient centrifuges it started running in April, though the total number still remains small compared with the many thousands needed to acquire the fissile material necessary to make a nuclear weapon.”

Forbes: Secret Iranian Network Behind ‘Aggressive’ U.S. Cyberattacks Exposed In New Report

“The Iranian hacking group behind a Microsoft Outlook attack earlier this year that prompted a U.S. Cyber Command warning is back in the news. The U.S. government has warned of an increasing threat from Iran as tensions escalate in the Gulf. Iran doesn’t have the same level of cyber weaponry used by threat groups in Russia and China, but it has proven very adept at attacks on civilian and critical infrastructure—targets that are less hardened than government or military agencies. Now a report from Trend Micro has exposed the use of a dedicated virtual private network by one “aggressive” Iranian hacking group to hit targets while keeping its activities secret. The group in question is APT33, also referred to as Elfin. Best known for the Shamoon attack on Saudi Aramco, APT33 is responsible for other targeted attacks on the oil and gas industry in the U.S. and Middle East, as well as hacks on various parts of the security industry.”

The Jerusalem Post: IDF, Iranian-Led PIJ Battle Was Limited, Will Not Be The Last – Analysis

“Forty-eight hours of fighting between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad was monitored by Iran and its proxies in the region, including Hezbollah. IRGC commander Hossein Salami spoke at a ceremony on Thursday, warning that the Islamic world would soon see the “fall of the Zionist regime.” He said that Iran’s military industry has greatly improved and that advanced weapons were being deployed. They were so advanced that the Iranian media would not even be allowed to see them. What he is hinting at is precision-guided missiles, cruise missiles and drones – the same kind of threat that Iran used against Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq facility in September. “We assure the Iranian nation that the armed forces and the IRGC are so great that they can cope with the enemy, and our people will live comfortably with the knowledge that we can crush our enemies,” Salami said, according to Tasnim and Fars News in Iran. “We will never stop or retreat due to sanctions.”

Iraq

Voice Of America: Life Under Islamic State: Abducted, Trained And Forced To Fight

“As Islamic State militants lost their territorial holdings in Iraq and Syria, VOA chronicled the events through the words of the victims, in a 12-part series called “Life Under Islamic State.” Now we bring you voices of victims who were silenced until recently. Officials estimate nearly 3,000 Yazidi people remain missing after being captured and enslaved by IS. When Daoud was 15, he was kidnapped, trained and forced to fight for the militant group. He was imprisoned after the final battles. These are his words, told to us in the tent where he lives with his brother in an informal refugee camp. They are are translated into English and edited for clarity. It was August 3, 2014 and we were preparing to flee when the militants captured us. My sister, mother, father and five of my brothers are still missing. The IS fighters told my father and older brothers that they must convert to Islam. Then, they took my family away and sent me to a school in Tal Afar, Iraq. It was called the Sharia Institute, and it mostly taught religion. But there were other classes. One class was called “The Aim of Jihad.” It was lessons in terrorism. They taught us who to kill, how to kill and how to identify infidels that should be killed.”

Xinhua: 4 IS Militants Killed In Military Operations In Iraq 

“A total of four Islamic State (IS) militants were killed on Wednesday in military operations in the Iraqi provinces of Kirkuk and Salahudin, a security source and a military statement said. A joint force from the Iraqi federal police and paramilitary Hashd Shaabi force killed three IS militants in a raid on their hideout near the town of Hawijah in the western part of the northern province of Kirkuk, Hashim al-Obeidi from Hawijah police told Xinhua. In the central province of Salahudin, an IS militant was killed in the city of Shirqat, some 280 km north of the capital Baghdad, during a security operation, an Iraqi Defense Ministry statement said. Also in Salahudin Province, a security unit carried out a search operation in Himreen mountain range and the nearby Allas oilfield, and managed to destroy five tunnels and three hideouts for IS militants in addition to controlled detonations of some 20 roadside bombs, according to the statement. The security situation in Iraq was dramatically improved after Iraqi security forces fully defeated the extremist IS militants across the country late in 2017.”

Turkey 

BBC News: Islamic State: What Happens To Those Expelled By Turkey?

“Turkey has begun deporting foreign nationals alleged to be linked to the Islamic State group, even though some European countries are reluctant to take back their citizens. Germany, Denmark and the UK have stripped people of citizenship for allegedly joining jihadist groups abroad so as to prevent their return. But Turkey says it's in the process of sending back more than 20 Europeans, including Germans, Danes, French and Irish nationals. So what happens to these people once they are expelled from Turkey? What is Turkey's position? Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says many hundreds of foreign fighters are currently being held in prisons in Turkey. Earlier this month, the government in Ankara indicated that it would send back these militants even if their citizenship had been revoked in their countries of origin. “The world has come up with a new method now: revoking their citizenships,” Turkey's Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said. “They are saying they should be tried where they have been caught. This is a new form of international law, I guess. It is not possible to accept this.” Foreign nationals abroad are entitled to consular assistance and this would normally require direct contact with the individuals involved.”

Afghanistan

Al Jazeera: Afghanistan: Kabul Car Bomb Kills 12, Including Kids

“A car bombing in Kabul during morning rush hour on Wednesday targeted a private security company's convoy with officials saying 12 people were killed, including children. The attack also wounded 20 people, including four of the company's foreign staff, but their nationalities were not released. Reports in the immediate aftermath of the attack said seven died but a new death toll was later released. The explosion occurred in the Qasaba area in the Afghan capital. The GardaWorld security company - based in Montreal, Canada - was the apparent target, according to Nasrat Rahimi, an interior ministry spokesman.  A vehicle belonging to the security company and two private cars were damaged in the attack, Rahimi added. Ambulance sirens were heard shortly after the car bomb went off and a large plume of smoke rose from the area - scenes all too familiar for Kabul and other cities and towns across Afghanistan. Among those killed were 12-year-old Dunya and her 7-year old brother who were on their way to school. The two children were walking with their father when the car-bomb detonated. The father, who was severely wounded and lost a leg and a hand, was in hospital, according to reports on social media.”

The Guardian: What Happens To Afghanistan’s Left-Behind Women As The Taliban Rises? 

“On a bitterly cold day, Tahira* sits in her rented room in Kabul. She has a husband and three young children, but the last time the family were all together was in 2018 – the day they tried to escape Afghanistan. Insecurity in their town in Maidan Wardak province led Tahira, 27, to try to flee to Turkey, via Iran, with her family. But when the time came, only her husband, son and seven-year-old daughter made it. Tahira and her six-year-old daughter weren’t so lucky. They were caught and arrested by Iranian police on the Iran–Turkey border, and sent back to Afghanistan. “My daughter’s clothes got stuck on the fence. We then weren’t fast enough to make it past in time,” Tahira says. “It was heartbreaking to see my family split up. It was especially hard to part with my three-year-old son, who needed his mum the most.” Countless Afghan men have now fled the country, seeking work and safety. But the lives of the women left behind deteriorate without male protection, particularly as the Taliban continue to tighten their grip on Afghanistan. A recent poll found 41% of Afghans want to leave the country – a record high. This rises to nearly 50% among women, reflecting Afghanistan’s status as one of the toughest countries in the world to be female.”

Yemen

Al Jazeera: Saudi, Yemen's Houthis Hold 'Indirect Talks' In Oman To End War

“Saudi Arabia and Yemen's Houthi rebels are holding indirect, behind-the-scenes talks to end the devastating five-year war in Yemen, officials from the two warring sides have said. The negotiations are taking place with Oman, a Gulf Arab country that borders both Yemen and Saudi Arabia, as the mediator. The two sides have communicated via video conference over the past two months, Gamal Amer, a negotiator for the Houthis, told the Associated Press news agency.”
 

Lebanon

Reuters: Lebanon Slides Deeper Into Turmoil, No Sign Of New Government

“A new wave of protests paralyzed Lebanon on Wednesday after President Michel Aoun enraged demonstrators by urging them to end their revolt against corruption and cronyism in the political establishment. One month after the eruption of nationwide protests, Lebanon is in deep political and economic crisis with no sign of its leaders agreeing on a new government to replace the outgoing cabinet of Saad al-Hariri, who quit as premier on Oct. 29. Banks, which were shut for half of October, closed again this week over staff security concerns. Most transfers out of the country have been blocked and, with U.S. dollars scarce, the pegged Lebanese pound is weakening on a black market. Though the protests have been overwhelmingly peaceful, tensions have surfaced since Tuesday evening when Aoun gave a televised interview in which he said Lebanon faced “catastrophe” if the revolt did not stop. After he spoke, protesters took to the streets across Lebanon and one was shot and killed after an altercation with Lebanese soldiers at a roadblock south of Beirut.”

The National: Hezbollah Could Be Hastening The Demise Of The System It Is Trying So Hard To Preserve 

“On Tuesday, Lebanese president Michel Aoun sat down with two journalists to speak about the worst crisis his country has seen since the end of the civil war in 1990. For nearly a month, nationwide protests have taken place because of deteriorating economic conditions and the pervasive corruption of the ruling class. The protesters have been demanding a government free of politicking, clientelism and sectarianism. It has been more than two weeks since prime minister Saad Hariri resigned. Despite a worsening financial crisis, the political forces seem no closer to forming a government. Mr Hariri would like to form a government made up of technocrats. Not only is that what the protesters are demanding but the prime minister believes this is a prerequisite for outside assistance to Lebanon. A government filled with career politicians – or even one mixing politicians and technocrats – is not one that would generate confidence at home or internationally. Yet Mr Aoun, who is apparently tone deaf, repeated in his interview that he backed a mixed cabinet and that he could not prevent the return of his son-in-law Gebran Bassil as a minister. Mr Bassil, whom protesters consider highly corrupt, is among the most reviled of Lebanese politicians.”

Middle East

Fox News: Cease-Fire Reached With Israel To End Gaza Fighting, Islamic Jihad Says

“The Islamic Jihad militant group early Thursday announced it had reached a cease-fire with Israel. The deal, brokered by Egyptian mediaries, took effect at 5:30 a.m. local time, Islamic Jihad spokesman Musab al-Berim said. The reported truce followed two days of violence that left at least 32 Palestinians dead, according to the Associated Press. Berim said the cease-fire came after his group submitted a list of demands late Wednesday, including a halt to Israeli targeted killings of the group’s leaders and an easing of Israel’s 12-year blockade of Gaza. Earlier Wednesday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it was “raining rockets” across the country, with Islamic Jihad firing one projectile every seven minutes since a senior commander of the terror group was killed by the Israeli military in a targeted airstrike Tuesday morning.”

The New York Times: As Islamic Jihad And Israel Battled, Hamas, In A Twist, Sat On The Sidelines

“Hamas, the militant group that runs the Gaza Strip, has been trying for over a year to keep a lid on its conflict with Israel, to improve the abysmal quality of life for the two million Palestinians under its control, and to keep millions of dollars in cash coming in each month from its generous allies in Qatar. But a nettlesome, unruly and heavily armed little group called Palestinian Islamic Jihad has repeatedly sabotaged those plans by firing rockets at Israel, which more often than not has responded by raining down destruction on Hamas’s own installations and men. On Tuesday, impatient with Hamas’s failure to curtail the group, Israel assassinated a top Islamic Jihad commander, a maverick said to be responsible for nearly every instance in the past year in which an incipient cease-fire on the Gaza-Israeli border was wrecked by violence from the Palestinian side.”

Libya

France 24: Exclusive: Inside Libya's Notorious Gernada Prison, Home To Radical Islamists

“In the fourth of FRANCE 24’s special reports from Libya, Eric de Laverne and Wissam Charaf take us on a tour inside the notorious Gernada prison. Located 250 kilometres north east of Benghazi, this high security prison is home to several hundred radical Islamist fighters. They were mainly caught between 2014 and 2019 in a focussed campaign on the east of Libya. Many are accused of belonging to the Islamic State group and have already spent years waiting for their trial. For the first time, forces loyal to General Khalifar Haftar, who run the facility, have opened the prison's door to foreign media. “We lock them up to stop the gangrene from reaching the rest of our country,” says prison governor General Jalal Abdel Akim. “We have to stop their brutal attacks against our society.”

Nigeria

Sahara Reporters: 5,475 Boko Haram Members In Custody, Says Buratai

“Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen Tukur Buratai, has said while 5,475 suspected Boko Haram members have been arrested, over tens of thousands have been killed. Burutai said this while speaking at the 16th annual conference and awards of the Security Watch Africa Initiatives held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Buratai, who was represented by the Chief of Policy and Plans, Lt.-Gen. Lamidi Adeosun, also revealed that 32 bomb-making factories had been destroyed by troops. He said, “Tens of thousands of the terrorists were killed, 5,475 were arrested and 32 bomb-making facilities/ factories have been destroyed. “In addition, the number of Boko Haram fighters have been reduced significantly to less than 5,000 from the initial estimate of over 35,000 persons.”In admittance that the Nigerian military had also lost troops to the insurgent group, Buratia added, “It is equally acknowledged that the army had lost officers and soldiers in the course of containing this internal security threat to the state. “Clearly, through the efforts of the Nigerian Army, we are winning the war against Boko Haram.”

The Africa Report: Nigeria: How Boko Haram Has Evolved Over The Past Ten Years 

“Last month marked ten years since Mohammed Yusuf, founder of Boko Haram, died in police detention. His death led to the radicalisation of the sect and a declaration of Jihad against the Nigerian state. In an earlier paper on the sect I argued that before 2009, its operations were more or less peaceful, but that it was radicalised in 2009 after a confrontation with Nigerian security agencies. The police cracked down on the group setting off an armed uprising in Bauchi State, Northern Nigeria. Opinions differ on the reasons for the government clampdown. But some believe that the government intervened based on intelligence that the group was arming itself. The crackdown led to an uprising that soon spread to other parts of northeastern Nigeria and 800 members of the group were killed by the Nigerian security services. Yusuf was arrested during this period but died in police detention. The police claimed that he died while trying to escape. Yusuf’s successor, Abubakar Shekau, vowed to exact revenge on the Nigerian government. A violent campaign against the state was launched. A year later in 2010, Shekau sought to make it a Jihad against Christians.”

Somalia

The New York Times: UN: Al-Shabab Remains 'Potent Threat' In Somalia And Region 

“Al-Shabab extremists in Somalia remain “a potent threat” to regional peace and are now manufacturing home-made explosives, expanding their revenue sources and infiltrating government institutions, U.N. experts say. The panel of experts’ report to the Security Council, circulated Tuesday, said a significant escalation of U.S. airstrikes targeting al-Shabab militants and leaders has kept the al-Qaida-linked group “off-balance” but has had “little effect on its ability to launch regular asymmetric attacks throughout Somalia.” The report said al-Shabab’s assault on Jan. 15 on a commercial business complex in Nairobi, Kenya, containing the DusitD2 Hotel “illustrates the danger the group continues to pose to regional peace and security.” That attack killed 21 people as well as four gunmen. The experts also cited “an unprecedented number” of attacks across the Kenya-Somalia border by al-Shabab in June and July, “possibly in an effort to exploit strained relations between the two countries.” The panel, which monitors sanctions against Somalia, also reported on the arrest last Dec. 17 of a Somali national linked to the Islamic State extremist group in Bari, Italy, in connection with a planned attack on the Vatican and other targets to coincide with Christmas celebrations.”

Xinhua: Al-Shabab Militants Kill 2 Gov't Officials In Southern Somalia

“Al-Shabab militants on Wednesday killed two government officials during an ambush in the outskirts of Bal'ad town in the southern Middle Shabelle region, an officer confirmed. According to an officer who declined to be named, the militants launched an attack in Adayga village and there was an exchange of fire between the army and the militants. “Abdullahi Hassan Haji, the district chief and his deputy Elmi Qoje Hassan died in the gunfight and the militants withdrew from the town,” the officer said, adding that government soldiers are now pursuing the attackers.”Some hooded men attacked the village targeting the district chief's house, we could hear the sound of fire. People said the chief and his deputy were killed in the attack,” Garad Dhaqane, a resident told Xinhua via phone. This came after al-Shabab extremists killed two soldiers on Nov. 4 in another ambush in Bule Burde town in the central region of Hiraan. Somali army backed by African Union Mission in Somalia chased al-Shabab extremists from the capital Mogadishu in August 2011, but the militants still hold swathes of rural areas in the central and southern regions, conducting ambushes and planting land mines.”

Africa

The New York Times: UN Chief: Terrorists Strengthen Foothold In Africa’s Sahel

“Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is warning that terrorist groups have strengthened their foothold across Africa’s Sahel region, which is experiencing escalating violence. The U.N. chief said in a report to the U.N. Security Council circulated Wednesday that the expanding foothold is “making large swaths of territory unstable and stoking ethnic, violence, especially in Burkina Faso and Mali.” Guterres said combatting terrorism in the Sahel “cannot be outsourced” to the G5 Sahel Force established by Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Chad and Mauritania, or to the region or to the African continent. “Terrorism is a global issue, and the entire international community has a responsibility to contribute to the collective effort of tackling extremist violence in the Sahel, along with other cross-border challenges, including trafficking in persons, illicit goods, weapons and drugs, and migration and displacement,” he said. The secretary-general said the challenges the Sahel is facing are caused by poverty, marginalization, impunity and weakened government presence, “and are compounded by the impact of climate change and the scarcity of natural resources.” Civilians are bearing the brunt of the violence, Guterres said, calling the numbers “shocking.”

Bloomberg: How The Jihadists Are Advancing In Western Africa: Quicktake

“Islamist militant attacks are wreaking havoc in West Africa. An insurgency that began in northern Mali in 2012 has spread to neighboring Burkina Faso and is threatening coastal states including Benin, Ghana and Ivory Coast. Hundreds have died in recent months. Increased defense spending weighs heavily on the budgets of some of the world’s poorest countries. Gold mining, a crucial source of income for Mali and Burkina Faso, is also being affected. What’s the source of the trouble? Mainly continuing instability in Mali and, further afield, in Libya, where turmoil has opened up smuggling routes and access to weapons. A French military intervention in 2013 dealt a heavy blow to jihadist groups that partnered with ethnic Tuareg rebels to seize control of northern Mali a year earlier. Deprived of their urban bases, the jihadists resorted to bombings and hit-and-run attacks, targeting army posts and the 15,000-person United Nations peacekeeping mission. They extended their operations to Burkina Faso, where a state of emergency in several border regions has done little to improve security. There have also been intermittent attacks in Niger, including a high-profile ambush in 2017 that claimed the lives of four American soldiers.”

France

Stars And Stripes: Islamic State Returnees Cloud Anniversary Of Paris Attacks

“France commemorated the fourth anniversary of the Islamic State attacks that struck the heart of Paris with a solemn reading Wednesday of the names of 131 dead, and the growing certainty that the group’s recruits will return home in increasing numbers. Three squads made up almost entirely of French and Belgian fighters for the Islamic State attacked the country’s national stadium, the Bataclan concert hall, and bars and restaurants in the city center, in the deadliest attack committed by the group in Europe. All but one of the attackers died. Wednesday’s commemorations of the Nov. 13, 2015, attacks were clouded by the impending return of more European recruits for the Islamic State — many of them women and their children. Turkey’s president has promised to deport foreign supporters of the group, even if their home countries don’t want them. “These gates will open and these IS members who have started to be sent to you will continue to be sent. Then you can take care of your own problem,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said ahead of a trip to Washington. Since 2015, Turkey has returned around 250 French citizens, including many children born in Iraq and Syria.”

Germany 

Asharq Al-Awsat: ISIS Returnees To Be Placed Under Close Monitoring In Germany

“Nine German nationals suspected of supporting ISIS who are being deported from Turkey this week will not face immediate arrest when they return, German security sources have said. The sources said Wednesday there was insufficient evidence for warrants to be issued against the nine, prompting criticism from opposition politicians who said the deportations have caught the government unprepared. The deportees, who are due to arrive on Thursday or Friday, include a family of seven from Hildesheim -- a town in central Germany that has in the past been a focus of police raids against extremists. The father is a German of Iraqi origin referred to by the sources only by his first name, Kanan, and is known to be a radical, the sources said. The other two are the wives of ISIS militants, they said. The sources said Kanan was intending to travel from Turkey to Syria earlier this year with his family. They have been in prison in Turkey since March. The two women are being investigated in Germany for membership or support of a terrorist organization. They fled from a Syrian camp for ISIS supporters and were arrested by Turkish soldiers, the sources told Agence France Presse.”

The Local: Islamic State Returnees 'Will Not Face Arrest In Germany'

“Nine German nationals suspected of supporting the Islamic State group who are being deported from Turkey this week will not face immediate arrest when they return, German security sources said Wednesday. The sources said there was insufficent evidence for warrants to be issued against the nine, prompting criticism from opposition politicians who said the deportations have caught the government unprepared. The deportees, who are due to arrive on Thursday or Friday, include a family of seven from Hildesheim – a town in central Germany that has in the past been a focus of police raids against Islamist extremists. The father is a German of Iraqi origin referred to by the sources only by his first name, Kanan, and is known to be an Islamist radical, the sources said. The other two are the wives of IS fighters, they said. The sources said Kanan was intending to travel from Turkey to Syria earlier this year with his family. They have been in prison in Turkey since March. The two women are being investigated in Germany for membership or support of a terrorist organization. They fled from a Syrian camp for IS supporters and were arrested by Turkish soldiers, the sources said.”

Europe

Associated Press: Swedes Arrest Iranian Suspect In ’88 Crimes Against Humanity

“An Iranian citizen has been jailed in Sweden on suspicion of carrying out crimes against humanity and murder in the late 1980s in Iran, a Swedish prosecutor said Wednesday, the same time period of mass executions by Tehran. Prosecutor Karolina Wieslander said the unidentified man is suspected is of committing the crimes between July 28, 1988, and Aug. 31, 1988, in Tehran. The prosecutor did not elaborate. His lawyer Lars Hultgren told the Swedish news agency TT that the man insists he is innocent, adding “they have taken the wrong guy.” TT said the 58-year-old man was arrested Saturday at Stockholm’s international airport. The news agency said authorities suspect the man worked in a prison where many prisoners were hanged, without elaborating. The man’s alleged crimes correspond with the end of Iran’s long war with Iraq, which began when Saddam Hussein invaded Iran in 1980. By 1988, 1 million people had been killed in a conflict that featured trench warfare, Iranian human-wave attacks and chemical weapons assaults launched by Iraq. In July 1988, then-Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini accepted a United Nations-brokered cease-fire in the conflict, calling it “more deadly to me than poison.”

The Independent: ‘Isis Leader Who Beheaded Imam And Ordered Dozens Of Killings’ On Trial In Hungary

“A suspected Isis military leader is on trial in a Hungarian court, accused of terrorism and crimes against humanity. The 27-year-old Syrian, identified as F Hassan, was charged in September after an international investigation led to his capture in Budapest’s main airport at the end of last year. Mr Hassan deserted from the Syrian army in 2011, then joined Isis sometime before 2014, prosecutor Andras Urbanyi told the court. He became commander of an Isis unit and actively recruited members, Mr Urbanyi said. He allegedly participated in the murder of dozens of people near the city of Homs in 2015. “In May 2015 Hassan’s unit was ordered to capture an area rich in artefacts near Homs,” Mr Urbanyi said. “Hassan was to draw up a death list, naming those to be executed out of revenge or to intimidate locals. The list was approved by Isis leaders.” His brigade went door to door, pulling and murdering individuals on the list either with gunshots or knifing, Mr Urbanyi said. Others were forced to gather at the town’s main square. “At the square they were forced to witness an execution. The local imam was beheaded. Hassan and an accomplice severed the imam’s head with long, seesawing motions, then held up his head to the crowd.”

7News: Accused Vic Terror Trio 'Wanted Rifle'

“A Melbourne trio accused of planning a terror attack allegedly tried to buy a semi-automatic rife to gun down people in a populated area of the city. Ertunc Eriklioglu, 31, his 27-year-old brother Samed and their friend Hanifi Halis, 22, are charged with preparing or planning for a terrorist act. The trio were negotiating and paying a deposit to get hold of an unregistered .22 calibre rifle for an attack between November 12 and 19 last year, court documents reveal. "The terrorist act was ... namely an attack on members of the public with firearms in a well populated area of the city of Melbourne," documents released in court show. They had planned to shoot members of the public in support of "violent jihad" to intimidate the public. Witnesses earlier told Melbourne Magistrates Court the group had listened to an the teachings of al-Qaeda preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, wanted to go to Syria and had watched Islamic State propaganda.”

Southeast Asia

CNN Philippines: DNA Test Confirms Sulu Suicide Bomber’s Link To ISIS – Military

“A DNA test has confirmed that the foreign national behind the planned suicide bombing incident in Sulu had “links” to the ISIS group, the military said. In a statement dated November 10 and released Wednesday, the Joint Task Force Sulu said the young foreign suicide bomber—who was killed in an encounter with government troops on November 5— was the son of the female suicide bomber who targeted a military detachment in Indanan last September.  According to the military, the female suicide bomber, identified as “Reda Mohammad Mahmud”, was involved in the 2017 Egyptian Churches attacks that killed 92 people and injured dozens. “She together with Abduracman and her son Abduramil traveled to Mindanao via backdoor channel to seek refuge with the ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) in Sulu with the help of ISIS connections in Southeast Asia,” Sulu police director PCol Pablo Labra said. The Task Force added “Abduramil”—the young suicide bomber—was not related to the other adult foreign national (Abduracman) killed in the November 5 operation. Abduramil and Abduracman, together with another unidentified suspect, were killed in a shootout earlier this month after the military received reports that they had planned to attack Jolo. Their nationalities were not revealed.”

Fox News: Hong Kong Violence Forces Students To Flee, City ‘Slipping Into The Abyss Of Terrorism,’ Chinese Officials Say

“Protests have paralyzed Hong Kong for a third consecutive day as clashes with police turned increasingly violent, having forced an exodus of mainland Chinese and other students from the city that Chinese officials said was “slipping into the abyss of terrorism.” The Chinese University of Hong Kong remained barricaded Wednesday as students and other demonstrators readied for another possible battle with police. Gasoline bombs and fires had lit up parts of the campus Tuesday night, as police battled back with tear gas and rubber bullets. The former British colony was “slipping into the abyss of terrorism,” the Chinese government's liaison office in Hong Kong said as anti-government demonstrators continued to cripple train services, barricade streets and occupy universities. Marine police evacuated many of the university’s mainland Chinese students by boat. Others packed onto a high-speed train out of the city, one Chinese finance student, who asked not to be named, told the Financial Times. Exchange students from Europe and America were also told to pack up and leave the university over concerns for their safety as anti-government unrest gripped the city for the fifth month.”