Eye on Extremism: November 20

TIME: ISIS Fighters Are Gaining Strength After Trump's Syria Pullout, U.S. Spies Say

“The Defense Intelligence Agency says ISIS is resurgent inside Syria and has a greater ability to mount terrorist attacks against the West as a result of President Donald Trump’s decision to hastily withdraw American troops from the war-torn country last month. The assessment, publicly disclosed Tuesday in a Department of Defense Office of Inspector General report, focused on the abrupt decision to remove all 1,000 U.S. troops from northern Syria. The move created a power vacuum and set off a series of violent developments on the ground that risks upending more than five years of progress in the war against the terrorist group. “ISIS exploited the Turkish incursion and subsequent draw-down of U.S. troops to reconstitute capabilities and resources within Syria and strengthen its ability to plan attacks abroad,” the 116-page report says. “The DIA also reported that without counter-terrorism pressure, ISIS will probably be able to more freely build clandestine networks and will attempt to free ISIS members detained in… prisons and family members living in internally displaced persons camps.”

The Wall Street Journal: Israel Strikes Iranian Targets In Syria In Response To Rocket Attack

“Israel’s military said it struck dozens of targets in Syria after four rockets were fired toward the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights on Tuesday. The violence ratcheted up tensions in Israel’s north days after a shaky cease-fire ended fighting with Iran-backed militants in Gaza that had raised concerns of a wider conflict in the country’s south. The rockets fired from Syria were intercepted by Israel’s air-defense systems and caused no harm, Israel’s military said. In response, Israeli jet fighters attacked targets in Syria, including what it described as an Iranian Quds Force site and Syrian military bases. Syrian aerial defense batteries were also struck, the Israeli military said. The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Wednesday said the Israeli strikes had killed 11 people, of which at least seven were foreign nationals, likely Iranians or men in Iranian-backed militias. Several others were injured by the strikes, it said.”

The New York Times: Iran’s ‘Iron Fist’: Rights Group Says More Than 100 Protesters Are Dead

“Protests against the Iranian government erupted for a fifth day across the country on Tuesday, as the authorities scrambled to crush the unrest and reports emerged of mounting injuries and deaths. The rights group Amnesty International said that as many as 106 protesters in 21 cities had been killed over the course of the protests, in what would be a dramatic increase, if confirmed, from the 12 reported killed by semiofficial Iranian news agencies. Hundreds of people have been injured over the last week and more than a thousand arrested, according to official Iranian news agencies. Iran’s security forces said protesters had killed two police officers and at least five members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and the paramilitary force known as the Basij. The protests started last Friday in response to a sudden increase in gasoline prices, which ignited widespread anger amid an economic crisis that Iran’s president has called the worst in 40 years. The country is reeling from economic sanctions reimposed by the Trump administration after it pulled out of the nuclear deal with Iran.” 

The Independent: Gunmen, Bomb Plots And Secret Networks: Inside Iran’s Alleged Campaign Of Terror In Europe

“Everywhere Yaghoub al-Tostari goes, an officer from Denmark’s spy service follows him. Wearing an earpiece and armed with a handgun, the official keeps an eye not just on the Arab-Iranian activist, but on those around him – a man lingering on a street corner, a motorcyclist carrying a passenger stopped next to them at the traffic light. When Tostari has an appointment, his driver circles around seemingly at random before dropping him off. If a stranger stares at him too long at a restaurant or on the street, or appears to be listening in to his conversation, the guard asks them for identification. Tostari’s house in the Copenhagen area is under constant watch. And when Tostari travels to another country, local security services take over. Their worry is that an agent of the Islamic Republic of Iran will try to shoot Tostari dead, as they have other members of his Arab opposition group, the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz (ASMLA), and other opponents of the regime in Tehran living in Europe. “We must never be out of the eye of their security officials,” Tostari says in an interview. “Even if I go to a hotel they book a room next to you. When we go somewhere, we drive around and look before stopping. It’s the highest level of security possible.”

Forbes: Terrorist Targets: The Ten Countries Which Suffer Most From Terrorism

“For the first time since it was invaded by U.S. forces in 2003, Iraq is no longer the country most affected by terrorism, according to new research released today. The latest edition of the Global Terrorism Index, produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), finds the number of deaths caused by terrorism in Iraq fell by 75% between 2017 and 2018, with 3,217 fewer people being killed. Even so, some 1,054 people were killed in the country in terrorist atrocities last year. While the situation in Iraq has improved following the territorial defeat of Islamic State, in other parts of the world things are getting much worse. Last year four countries recorded a large increase in deaths from terrorism. Mali, Mozambique and Nigeria all saw more than 100 additional deaths while Afghanistan, which has overtaken Iraq at the top of the table, suffered 2,700 more fatalities. The Global Terrorism Index ranks 163 countries according to the impact of terrorism, based on factors such as the number of attacks, fatalities, injuries and the extent of property damage. The definition of what is included covers intentional acts of violence by non-state actors but not acts of state-sponsored violence, so it offers only a limited insight into the overall level of violence or political freedom in a country.”

USA Today: Undercover FBI Agents Say Chicago College Student Tried To Write Code For ISIS

“A 20-year-old U.S. college student was arrested Monday for allegedly writing computer code to help the Islamic State spread propaganda online, according to the FBI. Thomas Osadzinski, a student at DePaul University who lives in the city's northside neighborhood of Buena Park, was charged in a federal criminal complaint with one count of attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization — a charge punishable by up to 20 years. Osadzinski appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole in Chicago Tuesday and was ordered held without bond. According to the complaint, Osadzinski designed a process that uses a computer script to make ISIS propaganda easier to access and disseminate on a social media platform, bypassing preventive code which routinely removes ISIS content due to the violent nature of the materials. The complaint, however, did not identify the social media platform, saying only that it was a mobile and desktop messaging application. Osadzinski earlier this year shared his script — and instructions for how to use it — with individuals whom he believed to be ISIS supporters and members of pro-ISIS media organizations, the complaint says. Those individuals were actually covert FBI employees and a person working with them.”

United States 

The Hill: Dem Lawmaker Introduces Bill To Tackle Online Terrorist Activity

“Rep. Max Rose (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday introduced a bill that could help reduce the amount of terrorist content circulating across the country's top social media platforms. The Raising the Bar Act would create a government-backed program to help tech companies eliminate the scourge of posts, images and videos from terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda on their social networks. "The social media companies have established standards for themselves that everybody agrees on for terrorist content ... it should have no place on their platforms," Rose told The Hill in a phone interview on Tuesday. "This bill is about establishing a public-private partnership that holds the social media companies to their own standards."  The legislation would direct the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to designate a lead institution – such as a research center to think tank – to administer a voluntary exercise program that would score how well tech companies handle terrorist content. The program, run by a team of terrorism and social media experts, would assess how well companies like Facebook and Twitter are adhering to their own anti-terrorism policies.”

Voice Of America: Pompeo Heads To NATO Ministerial Meeting With Counterterrorism Topping Agenda 

“The United States and NATO are pledging unity in tackling challenges, including fighting terrorism, cyber threats and boosting energy security, seven decades after the establishment of the transatlantic partnership. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo departs for Brussels Tuesday to attend a NATO foreign ministerial and meet with key NATO allies. “Emerging security challenges and threats such as terrorism and energy security” will top the agenda when Pompeo holds talks with allies ahead of the December summit of NATO Leaders in London, according to the State Department. “We are now living in a totally new time where we have terrorism. We have a shifting balance of power globally and we have cyber and many other things,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told VOA's Serbian service last week in an interview. ‘That is the reason why we need an agile NATO ready to be able to react when a new crisis occurs.’ All NATO allies are part of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, focused on the Islamic State terror group that is also known as IS or Daesh. The talks come days after Stoltenberg and more than 30 members of the U.S.-led coalition gathered in Washington to reaffirm what leaders say is a full commitment to ensure the enduring defeat of IS.”

Deutsche Welle: How The US And EU Could Facilitate A Free Internet For Iran

“Richard Grenell, the US ambassador to Germany, tweeted that the United States and EU could "turn the internet on" for Iran after the regime shut it down during protests against fuel price hikes. Here's how it could work. Grenell followed up with a tweet to cellphone manufacturers and social media companies, encouraging them to join in the task. In order for the World Wide Web to work well, it requires a constant connection through which data can be sent and received. If the state or the provider cuts off the connection, nothing works. It's nearly impossible for ordinary users with computers and routers to quickly access familiar internet services if a regime blocks network connections. However, limited communication may still be possible with a fair amount of effort. The World Wide Web, with its web browsers, is one of many technologies that use the internet. The internet can be used just as well without the World Wide Web. Before the World Wide Web got going in the 1990s, plenty of people already used the internet to communicate without being online all the time.”

NBC News: 16-Year-Old Girl Allegedly Plotted To Attack Black Church In Georgia 

“A 16-year-old white girl has been arrested after police said classmates reported she had a plot to attack a black church in Gainesville, Georgia. The unidentified student allegedly had a notebook with plans to murder parishioners at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, which has a predominantly black congregation, according to a release from the Gainesville Police Department. Police were contacted Nov. 15 after the girl's classmates at the Gainesville High School alerted counselors about the alleged plot. She was charged with criminal attempt to commit murder and is being held at a youth detention center, police said. Bishop Reginald Jackson, presiding prelate of the Sixth Episcopal District of the AME Church, told reporters Tuesday that the girl was inspired by Dylan Roof, the man who was convicted of killing nine black worshipers at the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, four years ago in an effort to start a race war. “Idealizing him and sharing the same ideology, she plotted to accomplish the same at Bethel church in Gainesville,” Jackson said. “This incident raises very serious issues and also raises questions that need to be answered.”

Miami Herald: He Pledged Loyalty To ISIS. He Then Taught An FBI Agent How To Make Bombs, Cops Say

“A St. Augustine man was arrested on a federal charge for helping to better arm the ISIS terrorist organization through producing and disseminating instructional explosive videos, according to a court documents. Romeo Xavier Langhorne, 30, is charged with providing material support or resources to terrorists as first reported by the Florida Times Union. Under federal law, he faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Law enforcement first became aware of Langhorne’s allegiance to ISIS in 2014 after a Facebook post supporting the terrorist organization, investigators say. That’s when they began monitoring his presence on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The complaint affidavit alleges Langhorne and an undercover FBI agent communicated with one another from Feb. 14 until Nov. 7. During that time, Langhorne made and published a video on how to manufacture triacetone triperoxide (TATP), the same explosive used in both the 2016 Manchester Arena and 2019 Sri Lanka Easter bombings . “Although the video includes disclaimers about education purposes, Langhorne’s true purpose is to arm ISIS adherents and others with knowledge of how to make TATP,” the FBI agent wrote.”  

Newsweek: Far-Right Terrorism Has Increased 320 Percent In Just 4 Years, Extremism Watchdog Warns

“The annual report from conflict watchdog the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) has found that while the number of deaths from terrorism is falling, more countries were affected by terrorist violence in 2018 than in 2017. The 2019 Global Terrorism Index showed a general downwards trend in the number of attacks, deaths and economic damage wrought by terrorism worldwide. However, the report also noted that terrorist activity remains significant, adding that increasing activity among right-wing terrorist groups is particular cause for concern. The number of deaths from terrorism fell by 15.2 percent from 2017 to 2018, to a total of 15,952 people worldwide. This represents the fourth consecutive year-on-year reduction for fatalities, with the number of deaths having dropped 52 percent since 2014. Ninety-eight nations recorded an improvement in the number of deaths, which is the highest number posting an annual improvement since 2004, the report noted. Forty countries recorded an increase in the number of terrorist deaths. Seventy-one countries recorded at least one terrorism-related death in 2018. Terrorism remains a global threat, the report said, with 71 nations recording at least one related death in 2018—the second-highest number since 2002 and four more than the year before.”

Washington Examiner: US Charity Accused Of Funding Palestinian Terrorist Organizations

“A United States nonprofit group is being accused in a federal lawsuit of funneling charitable donations to Palestinian terrorist organizations, including Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia last week by a group of U.S. citizens living in Israel and an Israeli environmental group against the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights. It also claims that the defendant funded arson attacks against Israelis that have led to deforestation. It seeks to recover damages for pain and suffering on behalf of the U.S. plaintiffs. “With this lawsuit, we’re exposing the link between organizations masquerading as human rights organizations but who use donations to advance the campaign of terror against Israel,” said Daniel Atar, chairman of the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund, the Israeli group that helped file the lawsuit. The complaint claims the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights violated the Anti-Terrorism Act by collecting donations on behalf of the Boycott National Committee, an umbrella group that includes at least five designated terrorist organizations, including Hamas, as members.”

Syria

Fox News: Israel And Syria Exchange Fire, Syrian Aerial Defense Batteries Destroyed, Israeli Military Says

“The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that the Israeli military carried out “wide-scale strikes” of targets in Syria belonging to Iranian forces and the Syrian regime on Wednesday, in response to the four rockets launched into Israel in the overnight hours. In a series of tweets on Tuesday night the IDF wrote, “We just carried out wide-scale strikes of Iranian Quds Force & Syrian Armed Forces targets in Syria in response to the rockets fired at Israel by an Iranian force in Syria last night.” “During our strike of Iranian & Syrian terror targets, a Syrian air defense missile was fired despite clear warnings to refrain from such fire. As a result, a number of Syrian aerial defense batteries were destroyed,” another IDF tweet said. Syria's state SANA news agency said the two people were killed by shrapnel when an Israeli missile hit a house in the town of Saasaa, southwest of Damascus. The report also said several others were wounded in the airstrikes near the capital, Damascus. It claimed that Syrian air defenses destroyed most of the Israeli missiles before they reached their targets. A Britain-based war monitoring group reported that 11 civilians, including seven non-Syrians who were likely Iranians, were killed in the attack.”

CNN: New Pentagon Report Says Turkey's Syria Incursion Is Helping ISIS Mount A Comeback

“Turkey's decision to launch a military operation targeting America's Kurdish partners in northern Syria and the Trump administration's subsequent retreat has allowed ISIS to rebuild itself and boosted its ability to launch attacks abroad, the Pentagon's Inspector General said in a new report. The Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency said in the report “that ISIS has exploited the Turkish incursion and subsequent drawdown of US troops from northeastern Syria to reconstitute its capabilities and resources both within Syria in the short term and globally in the longer term.” “The withdrawal and redeployment of US troops has also affected the fight against ISIS, which remains a threat in the region and globally,” Glenn Fine, the principal deputy inspector general, wrote in an introduction to the report. Referring to Kurdish-led forces, Fine said that “with SDF and US operations against ISIS in Syria diminished, ISIS was likely to exploit the reduction in counterterrorism pressure to reconstitute its operations in Syria and expand its ability to conduct transnational attacks. The report, published Tuesday and covering July 1 to Oct. 25, paints a damaging picture of the fallout from the Trump administration's decision to pull back from northeastern Syria and Turkey's attack on America's Kurdish allies.”  

Iran

The New York Times: The Ayatollah Comes For The Internet

“Authoritarian governments have increasingly sought to use internet disruptions and blockades as weapons to crush dissent. Reports of internet shutdowns have recently come from Hong Kong, Iraq and Indian-controlled Kashmir, where access to the internet has been cut off for more than three months now. Now it’s Iran’s turn. Over the weekend, the government imposed a nationwide internet blackout to suppress news of anti-government protests. The country’s internet access was disrupted during the protests in 2017 and 2018 — but this almost complete shutdown sets a new oppressive benchmark. On Saturday morning, I spoke to a relative in Tehran who was trying to beat the city’s notorious traffic, looking for the best route to run an errand. She went on Waze, a popular navigation app that crowdsources traffic information. Within moments, she realized that a number of Tehran residents were using the app to coordinate “car protests” — where Iranians park their cars on the city’s roads to create roadblocks — against the government’s decision to raise gasoline prices by 50 percent. Protests erupted across the country.”

Iraq

The New York Times: ‘Our Patience Is Over’: Why Iraqis Are Protesting

“In the morning, the squarely built father of four wore flowing tribal robes to receive visitors in his garden, but by early afternoon he was in jeans, traveling light, his cellphone in one hand and his to-do list in his head. He had a half dozen stops before he reached Tahrir Square in Baghdad, ground zero for the demonstrations now shaking Iraq. The man, Bassim al-Kaabi, 41, is one of scores of people organizing the protests from Sadr City, a vast, impoverished neighborhood of Baghdad with a history of defying the government. “Let us be frank, we are poor people in Sadr City and we need many things: schools, health clinics, jobs,” said Mr. al-Kaabi, who drives a taxi to support his family. “What is a pity is that we believed the politicians who said, ‘vote for us and we will do our best for you,’” he said. “But then we found they were liars and so now we are saying, ‘enough.’”

Los Angeles Times: Russia Repatriates 32 Children Of Islamic State Members From Iraq

“Russia says it has repatriated another 32 children of members of the Islamic State group from Iraq. Russia’s state TV on Tuesday showed footage of the children arriving at Zhukovsky airport outside Moscow. It said the children ranging from age 1 to 9 will undergo extensive medical checkups before relatives take them home. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said the children had been held in asylum centers in Iraq or in prisons with their mothers. Their arrival represents the fourth group of Russian children to be repatriated from Iraq. The Foreign Ministry said a total of 122 children have been brought home. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that over 4,000 Russian citizens and some 5,000 citizens of other ex-Soviet nations have joined the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.”

Turkey

Al Jazeera: Turkey To Send Most ISIL Detainees Home By Year-End

“Turkey plans to repatriate most of its ISIL detainees to their home countries by the end of the year. Turkish Minister of Interior Suleyman Soylu said on Tuesday that Ankara aims to send six or seven fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) armed group home, including to Ireland and the Netherlands, this week alone. His remarks came a week after Turkish authorities began the repatriation programme. Ankara said it captured 287 fighters in northeast Syria, where Turkish troops launched an offensive against the Kurdish Syrian forces, the People's Protection Units (YPG), last month and has hundreds more ISIL suspects in detention. “The number of detainees to be repatriated by the year-end depends on how long the processes take, but especially for Europe, the process is under way,” Soylu said, adding that countries that revoked the citizenship of their nationals were violating international law. “They do not have the right to leave their citizens without a nationality. They have no such right,” he said. “This is why we held evaluations with certain countries on this and they are taking them back.” Turkey has accused its European allies of being too slow to take back their citizens who travelled to the Middle East to join ISIL.” 

The Telegraph: Isil Leaders With 'Vast Amounts Of Cash' Planning Comeback In Turkey, Iraq Spy Chief Claims

“Senior Islamic State members with access to “huge” amounts of money are in Turkey and plotting a comeback, an Iraqi spy chief has warned. Lieutenant General Saad al-Allaq, head of Iraq’s Military Intelligence, claimed in an interview with CNN that Iraq has given Ankara dossiers on nine alleged leaders of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), including top financiers for the terror group. The general said senior Isil figures known as “emirs” have access to vast reserves of cash and were forming new cells in Turkey. He claimed many of them had managed to escape from Isil’s final patch of territory in Baghouz, eastern Syria, after bribing Western-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to reach Idlib in the north-west. From there, he said, they crossed the border to Gaziantep in southern Turkey. “Some of its important leadership fled north, I mean in the direction of neighbouring countries and into border areas like Gazientep,” Lt. Gen. Allaq said. “They have secretly crossed into these areas from the Syrian-Turkish border - top leaders who have money. They crossed with the help of smugglers by paying large amount of money and have secretly entered Turkish territory.” He added: “Those elements who are right now in Turkey play a key role in the recruitment of fighters and terrorists.”

Afghanistan

Reuters: Afghanistan's President Claims Victory Over Islamic State

“Security forces have “obliterated” Islamic State (IS) militants in Afghanistan, President Ashraf Ghani said on Tuesday, hours after a prisoner swap with Taliban insurgents raised hopes of a lull in violence in the country. More than 600 fighters from IS, locally known as Daesh, have surrendered with their families to the Afghan government in past weeks. Officials say air strikes by Afghan and coalition forces, lack of funds and low morale have forced the group to give up. “No one believed one year ago that we would stand up and today be saying we have obliterated Daesh,” Ghani told a gathering of elders and officials in Jalalabad, the main city of eastern Nangarhar province that saw a wave of suicide attacks in past years claimed by the jihadists. “Now that Daesh militants have surrendered, I ask authorities to treat their families humanely,” Ghani added. The government says among fighters in its custody are foreign nationals from Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and the Maldives. However, the Afghan Taliban, which has been battling IS and the government for control of the country, disputed that. Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s official spokesman, described Ghani’s announcement as “absurd.”

CNN: Report Finds The Taliban Were Deadlier Than ISIS In 2018

“Attacks by the Taliban were deadlier than those committed by any other group in 2018, according to a report released by an international think tank on Wednesday. The 2019 Global Terrorism Index found that the militant group took significantly more lives than ISIS did last year. Although the overall number of deaths by terrorism declined in 2018, according to the report, 71 countries recorded at least one death by terrorism. Afghanistan was most affected, with more than 7,000 deaths. The index also identified a sharp rise in far-right terrorism globally, particularly in Europe and North America. The report was produced by the Institute for Economics & Peace, a nonpartisan think tank that develops metrics to study peace and its economic impact. It pulls its data from the Global Terrorism Database of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. The database includes the deaths of assailants in its fatality numbers. According to Steve Killelea, the executive chairman of the Institute for Economics & Peace, the Taliban “now account for 38 per cent of all terrorist deaths globally,” which he believes “underscores the difficulty with the current conflict” in Afghanistan.”

Bloomberg: Afghan Decision To Free Taliban Members Can Help Foster Peace

“The Taliban said the release of three of its senior members by the Afghan government could help President Ashraf Ghani’s efforts to find peace with the militant group, which has battled U.S. and Afghan forces since 2001. The release is “a step forward in goodwill and confidence-building measures that can aid the peace process,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed said in a statement sent by WhatsApp to reporters. Ghani last week had announced the release in the hope of starting direct talks with the militants and end the 18-year old conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of Afghan lives, killed more than 2,400 U.S. soldiers and cost the U.S. about a trillion dollars.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: US Service Members Killed In Afghanistan Helicopter Crash, Taliban Claims Responsibility

“Two US service members were killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan on Wednesday, the US military said in a statement. “The cause of the crash is under investigation, however preliminary reports do not indicate it was caused by enemy fire,” the statement said. The Afghan Taliban claimed responsibility for downing the helicopter, which it said crashed in Logar province south of the capital Kabul, Reuters reported. “US Chinook helicopter shot down and completely destroyed last night while trying to raid Mujahideen (Taliban) position in Pangram area of Sarkh, Logar,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a tweet. It was not possible to independently verify the group’s claim. The Taliban often claims responsibility for accidental crashes, and the Afghan government ruled out their involvement. “There was no involvement of the enemy fire in the helicopter crash and no Afghan security force member is hurt,” said Fawad Aman, a spokesman for the Afghan defense ministry. The crash comes a day after the Taliban swapped two Western hostages for three of its commanders held by the Afghan government, raising hopes of a thaw in relations between the militant group and coalition forces.”

Stars And Stripes: Islamic State’s ‘Backbone Was Broken’ In Afghanistan As Hundreds Surrender

“Hundreds of Islamic State fighters have surrendered after separate operations by government forces and the Taliban hemmed them into the mountainside in the country’s south, Afghan officials said Tuesday. During the past two weeks, 243 ISIS fighters and nearly 400 family members have surrendered, Nangarhar provincial governor Shahmahmood Miakhel said Tuesday. In total, 2,000 fighters and their families are expected to surrender, Miakhel said. Afghan officials said their forces, aided by U.S. personnel, starved the ISIS fighters by cutting off their supply lines in Nangarhar, Miakhel said. “The result is Daesh’s backbone was broken,” Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said in a speech Tuesday, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS that the group dislikes. Some ISIS fighters from Afghanistan who have surrendered will be investigated through the justice system, while others will be released without punishment to “start their normal life,” Nangarhar province spokesman Attaullah Khogyani said. Those from Pakistan and other countries — about a third of the group — will be sent to Kabul for questioning, he said. While the Pentagon said there were fewer than 2,000 ISIS fighters in July, the United Nations the same month said there were between 2,500 and 4,000 fighters.”

Yemen

Asharq Al-Awsat: Yemen Denounces Iran's Recognition Of Houthis' Envoy

“Yemen’s Foreign Affairs Ministry denounced Iran's recognition of Houthi militia's representative in Tehran. In a statement, the Yemeni Foreign Ministry expressed its strong condemnation of Iran’s recognition of Houthi representative and considered Tehran's approach a clear violation of UN Charter, Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and Security Council's relevant resolutions on Yemen, mainly Resolution 2216. The ministry held the Iranian regime accountable for the repercussions of this blatant violation, which confirmed Tehran's involvement in supporting Houthi militias and recognizing them. The ministry also said Iran is accountable for not protecting the diplomatic premises and the ministry's possessions, confirming that it will take legal action against this approach. It called on the international community and the Security Council to condemn this behavior, considering it irresponsible. Houthi media in Sanaa reported that the group's top commander Ibrahim Mohammed al-Dailami presented his credentials to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in his capacity as ambassador to Yemen.”

Lebanon

The Christian Science Monitor: ‘Without A Shot’: How A Local Warlord Aims To Break Hezbollah’s Hold 

“Al-Hajj Mohamed Ja’afar looks more like an unassuming businessman than a powerful Lebanese Shiite tribal warlord hunting for an infusion of cash to challenge Hezbollah in his native Bekaa Valley. Interviewed in Qasr – a village on the northeast edge of Lebanon overlooking farms, orchards, and Syrian battlefields – Mr. Ja’afar is clean shaven and dressed in a dark blue windbreaker, dress trousers, and sensible shoes. But from their homes in a region of Lebanon known more for smuggling and lethal tribal disputes he led 1,000 armed members of his Ja’afar tribe into battle in Syria. His militia fought as a unit of Syria’s Russia-backed V Corps. With Russian air support, they helped oust Islamic State jihadists from Palmyra in 2016, and later fought in Deir Ezzor. All told, Mr. Ja’afar lost 47 men in Syria, and says he “won many awards” from Russian commanders and kudos from President Vladimir Putin. Video footage on his phone shows him in Syria – wearing the same Everyman windbreaker – inspecting military hardware and meeting Russian commanders.”

Middle East

The Middle East Media Research Institute: Qatar's Role In 9/11 And Hosting Jihadi Commanders; Afghan Taliban's Hideouts Move To Safe Haven Of Doha

“This report examines Qatar's relationships with jihadi organizations. Right through the 1980s, Afghan mujahideen – backed by the U.S., Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Arab donors – fought against the Soviet troops from their hideouts in the mountainous terrains of Afghanistan. Since the 9/11 attacks on New York, the Pentagon, and other American targets, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Afghan Taliban, especially its Haqqani Network) has been fighting and killing American and NATO soldiers from its shelters in Afghanistan and in Pakistani cities such as Abbottabad, Rawalpindi, Karachi, and Quetta. While this situation has not changed, a new dimension has been added since 2013: As part of a highly ingenious plot, which the world is yet to realize, the Afghan Taliban leaders' hideouts have moved to the safe haven of Doha, the capital of Qatar, from where the senior-most Taliban commanders plot, direct, and execute terror attacks on U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan. These jihadi leaders execute such anti-U.S. activities while dining with American officials in Qatar's luxurious hotels in the name of peace talks.”

The Daily Wire: HAMMER: Terror-Funding Qatar Once Again Proves It Is Not America’s Friend

“The enigmatic Gulf emirate of Qatar, which is obscenely wealthy due to its fortuitous location above the world’s largest natural gas field, has a longstanding problem with Sunni jihadism. The wealthy petrochemical sheikh minority of the majority slave state Qatari populace is, along with Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey, disproportionately responsible for funding and exporting more radical Sunni Islamism than any other cloistered clerisy the world over. The Qatari ruling class proudly hosts Islamist cleric Yusuf Al Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood‘s de facto global caliph, and has long been the preeminent state bankroller of Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Pro-terror network Al Jazeera also serves as a state-run Qatari propaganda outfit, and it is the evil bile spewing from Al Jazeera’s airwaves that led more moderate Sunni Gulf states, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, to boycott and embargo Qatar in 2017.”

CNN: Report Finds The Taliban Were Deadlier Than ISIS In 2018

“Attacks by the Taliban were deadlier than those committed by any other group in 2018, according to a report released by an international think tank on Wednesday. The 2019 Global Terrorism Index found that the militant group took significantly more lives than ISIS did last year. Although the overall number of deaths by terrorism declined in 2018, according to the report, 71 countries recorded at least one death by terrorism. Afghanistan was most affected, with more than 7,000 deaths. The index also identified a sharp rise in far-right terrorism globally, particularly in Europe and North America. The report was produced by the Institute for Economics & Peace, a nonpartisan think tank that develops metrics to study peace and its economic impact. It pulls its data from the Global Terrorism Database of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. The database includes the deaths of assailants in its fatality numbers.” 

Associated Press: Israel Strikes Iranian Targets In Syria; 11 Reported Killed

“The Israeli military said it struck dozens of Iranian targets in Syria on Wednesday, carrying out a “wide-scale” strike in response to rocket fire on the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights the day before. A Britain-based war monitoring group said the Israeli airstrikes killed 11 people, including seven non-Syrians who are most likely Iranians. Syrian state media only reported that two civilians were killed. The Israeli military said its fighter jets hit multiple targets belonging to Iran’s elite Quds force, including surface-to-air missiles, weapons warehouses and military bases. After the Syrian military fired an air defense missile, the Israeli military said a number of Syrian aerial defense batteries were also destroyed. The death toll of 11 was reported by Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition activist group with a network of activists across Syria. The Observatory said the airstrikes targeted arms depots belonging to the Quds Force in the Damascus suburbs of Kisweh and Qudsaya. Abdurrahman added that several other areas were targeted in Wednesday’s strikes, including the Mazzeh airbase in western Damascus where air defense units are stationed. Syria’s state SANA news agency said the two civilians were killed by shrapnel when an Israeli missile hit a house in the town of Saasaa, southwest of Damascus. It said several others were wounded, including a girl in a residential building in the suburb of Qudsaya, also west of the Syrian capital.”

Deutsche Welle: Fewer Terror Victims Globally, Far-Right Attacks On The Rise

“The number of deaths caused by terrorist attacks has fallen globally, but the number of countries experiencing terror has increased, largely as a result of the rise in far-right attacks, according to the Global Terrorism Index 2019, published Wednesday by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) think tank. Global deaths from terrorism totaled 15,952, a 15.2% decrease in 2018. The number has more than halved when compared with a high of 33,555 deaths in 2014, according to the think tank's report. The report attributed the fall in terrorism-related deaths to the fall of Islamic State in Iraq and victories in Somalia over al-Shabab insurgents. "The collapse of ISIL in Syria and Iraq was one of the factors allowing Western Europe to record its lowest number of incidents since 2012, with no deaths attributed to the group in 2018," IEP executive chairman Steve Killelea wrote in a statement, referring to Islamic State by an alternate acronym. Western Europe also saw numbers of deaths from all terrorist incidents fall for the second year in a row, down from 200 in 2017 to 62 deaths in 2018. The region also recorded its lowest number of incidents since 2012.”

Nigeria

Xinhua: Nigerian Troops Overcome Boko Haram Ambush In Northern State

“Nigerian troops in the northeast region of the country on Monday encountered an ambush by terror group Boko Haram but overcame the attack, the army said on Tuesday. In a statement reaching Xinhua in Abuja, the army said the troops who were on fighting patrol to hunt the militants were ambushed in the Dikwa local government area of Borno State. The ambush was reinforced with a crudely prepared improvised explosive device planted by the militants against the troops along the patrol route at Ala village, 7 km away from the town of New Marte, according to the statement by Aminu Iliyasu, a spokesman for the army in the northeast region of Nigeria. “In a rare display of boldness, resilience and faithful service to their fatherland, the troops, turned around the initial setback and dealt a devastating blow on the criminals,” the statement said. Most of the Boko Haram militants fled with gunshot wounds, the statement said, adding the troops had further embarked on a pursuit of the scampering militants who abandoned some of their fighting equipment in utter confusion. Two gun trucks and anti-aircraft guns each, as well as one motorcycle, some clothes, foodstuffs and mechanical tools belonging to the Boko Haram group, were, among other items, recovered from the fleeing militants, the statement said.”

Somalia

Yahoo News: US Military Drone Strike Kills Senior Al-Shabab Official

“A Somali intelligence official says a U.S. drone strike has killed a senior officer with the al-Shabab extremist group. The official says the unidentified officer had maintained links with foreign extremist groups with the aim of coordinating future attacks. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters. Residents said the officer’s vehicle was struck Tuesday outside the al-Shabab-held town of Kunya Barow in southern Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region. The U.S. military in a statement confirms the strike and says the al-Shabab member had direct ties to al-Qaida. The U.S. says the strike was carried out in coordination with Somalia’s government. A United Nations expert report released this month says al-Shabab remains a potent regional threat and now makes its own explosives.”

Africa

The New York Times: Death Toll In Mali Attack Rises To 30 Soldiers: Army

“The death toll from an attack against an army patrol in northern Mali has risen to 30 from an earlier count of 24, army spokesman Diarran Kone told Reuters on Tuesday. The attack on Monday in the Gao region was the third large-scale strike against Malian forces in the last two months in parts of the country where jihadist groups are mounting increasingly sophisticated operations. No one has yet claimed responsibility for Monday's attack. An attack on an army post in early November, which killed at least 53 soldiers, was claimed by an Islamic State affiliate, while coordinated raids in late September that killed 38 soldiers were claimed by al Qaeda's West Africa affiliate.”

Reuters: Jihadist Violence Putting 'Generation At Risk' In Africa's Sahel-WFP

“Jihadist violence in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso has forced nearly 1 million people to flee their homes, destroyed fragile agricultural economies and hobbled humanitarian aid efforts, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday. Groups with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State, once confined to lawless areas of northern Mali, have in recent years spread across the arid scrublands of the Sahel, to the south of the Sahara, into Burkina Faso and Niger, stoking local ethnic conflicts and attacking security forces wherever they go. “The world does not yet fully grasp the extent of the mounting humanitarian crisis in the central Sahel region,” said WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel. “If we do not act now to tackle hunger in the Sahel, a whole generation are at risk.” In all, 860,000 people have been displaced across the three countries and 2.4 million are in need of urgent food assistance, the WFP said. But a lack of security stops most of the aid reaching those in need. Despite the presence of growing ranks of international troops, the violence continues to spread. On Monday, unidentified gunmen killed 24 Malian soldiers and wounded 29 in an ambush that bore the hallmarks of a jihadist attack. It was the third major attack against the army in less than two months that together have killed over 100 soldiers.”

The Independent: UN Warns Of Growing Humanitarian Crisis In Africa’s Sahel As Extremist Attacks Rise

“Ousmane Sawadogo, his wives and children recently fled their village in northern Burkina Faso because of growing extremist violence. After walking 124 miles to the regional city of Kaya, they now forage for wild leaves to survive. “What we need now is food. Everything else can wait,” Ms Sawadogo told the United Nations World Food Program. “Once we get food then we will worry about clothes.” The UN on Tuesday said a humanitarian crisis is growing in West Africa's arid Sahel region where insecurity linked to growing extremist attacks has forced more than 860,000 people in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger to flee their homes. Nearly half a million people have been displaced this year in Burkina Faso alone as the landlocked country becomes the new hunting ground for extremists linked to the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda. Burkina Faso saw more attacks in the first half of this year than it did in all of 2018. “A dramatic human crisis is unfolding in Burkina Faso that has disrupted the lives of millions,” the WFP's executive director, David Beasley, said in a statement. “A third of the country is now a conflict zone.” WFP teams are seeing malnutrition levels “pushed well past emergency thresholds”, he said.”

United Kingdom

The Telegraph: Britain Is Country Worst Affected By Terrorism In EU, Study Reveals

“Britain is the country worst affected by terrorism in the EU, according to an authoritative study of the its impact worldwide. The Global Terrorism Index puts the UK in the top 30 of the world’s 168 nations, ahead of France, Germany, Belgium and Spain as well as Sri Lanka, Iran, Russia and Israel. Afghanistan has overtaken Iraq as the nation worst affected by terrorism followed by Nigeria, Syria and Pakistan, according to the analysis of a database logging 170,000 terrorist incidents worldwide. Turkey is 16th and the USA 22nd. The UK - at 28th - is the highest placed in the EU, based on the analysis of the data by the think tank Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). It cites the rising threat from the new IRA as a key contributor to Britain’s high ranking as well as Islamic terrorism although it also warns of a significant rise in right-wing terrorism and a growing threat from women radicalised by Isil. “There has been a growing trend of increased female participation in terrorism, although still a small percentage of all attacks,” says the report.”

Germany 

Associated Press: Son Of Former German President Stabbed To Death In Berlin

“The son of former German president Richard von Weizsaecker was stabbed to death while he was giving a lecture at a hospital in Berlin where he worked as a head physician, police said Wednesday. A 57-year-old German man is in custody after he jumped up from the audience at the Schlosspark-Klinik and attacked Fritz von Weizsaecker with a knife on Tuesday evening. An off-duty police officer in the audience who tried to stop the attack was seriously wounded and had to undergo surgery. Von Weizsaecker died at the scene despite immediate attention from colleagues. “We cannot yet say anything about the attacker’s motive,” said police spokesman Michael Gassen. Police said later that the man, who was not a patient at the hospital, had been questioned overnight. Police were also investigating if von Weizsaecker or his family had received threats in the past. The 59-year-old was the son of one of Germany’s most esteemed presidents. Richard von Weizsaecker became West Germany’s head of state in 1984 and when the country was unified, became the first president of the new nation, serving until 1994. He died in 2015. Fritz von Weizsaecker was one of the ex-president’s four children. His sister Beatrice posted a picture of Jesus on the cross on Instagram after the killing of her brother and wrote, “Take care of my brother ...” Both politicians and colleagues expressed shock over the brazen murder.”

Reuters: German Police Arrest Syrian Suspected Of Planning Attack

“German police on Tuesday arrested a 37-year old Syrian man suspected of exchanging bomb building material through an Islamist messenger group with the aim of planning an attack, police and prosecutors said. Police special forces searched the apartment of the suspect in Berlin who had started to buy chemicals and other materials needed to build an explosive device, the general prosecutors’ office said. “This (device) was meant to be detonated at an unknown time at an unknown location in Germany to kill as many people as possible,” prosecutors said. German police last Tuesday detained three people in the western city of Offenbach on suspicion of planning a bomb attack for the Islamic State militant group.”

The Hill: US Tip Helped Thwart Terror Attack In Germany: Report

“A U.S. tip helped thwart a terror attack in Germany, helping German special police forces arrested a Syrian man Tuesday who was planning an extremist attack, The Associated Press reported. Federal prosecutors described the man as a 26-year-old “radical Islamist” who was organizing an attack designed to “kill and injure a maximum number of people,” in a statement obtained by the AP. Martin Steltner, a spokesman for Berlin state prosecutors, said the man had entered Germany in 2014 as an asylum seeker and resided under “protected” status. Steltner would not comment on where the tip came from, according to the AP. A U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity told the AP that the tip came from an American and German partnership and cooperation in law enforcement and intelligence efforts.  The suspect reportedly looked up online how to build bombs and discuss plans for an attack in internet chats, which Berlin’s top security official Andreas Geisel told the dpa news agency came from an “allied foreign intelligence service.”  He had allegedly gathered supplies since January, including chemicals like acetone and hydrogen peroxide, for a bomb. The timing and location of the reported planned attack is unknown.”

Europe

The Washington Post: Woman And Man Charged With Terror Offenses In Kosovo

“Kosovo prosecutors have filed terrorism charges against two people suspected of supporting or fighting with the Islamic State group in Syria. A prosecutors’ statement Tuesday said they had accused a woman, identified only as F.Z., as fighting with the Islamic State group in Syria. She was among 110 Kosovo citizens repatriated from Syria in April. A man identified as F.Ll. was accused Wednesday of using his Facebook page to encourage people to join terror groups, downloading hate speeches from IS and hailing a recent murderous attack in Sri Lanka. If convicted, the woman could face a prison sentence of more than 15 years and the man up to five years. Kosovo authorities say 30 of the country’s citizens are still actively supporting terror groups in Syria.”

Technology

The New York Times: What Is End-To-End Encryption? Another Bull’s-Eye On Big Tech

“A Justice Department official hinted on Monday that a yearslong fight over encrypted communications could become part of a sweeping investigation of big tech companies. While a department spokesman declined to discuss specifics, a speech Monday by the deputy attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, pointed toward heightened interest in technology called end-to-end encryption, which makes it nearly impossible for law enforcement and spy agencies to get access to people’s digital communications. Law enforcement and technologists have been arguing over encryption controls for more than two decades. On one side are privacy advocates and tech bosses like Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, who believe people should be able to have online communications free of snooping. On the other side are law enforcement and some lawmakers, who believe tough encryption makes it impossible to track child predators, terrorists and other criminals.”