Eye on Extremism: November 20, 2018

The Express: Brussels Attack: Terror As Police Officer Stabbed By Knifeman ‘Screaming Allahu Akbar’

“Brussels city centre is on lockdown after a policeman was stabbed near the Belgian capital's main tourist area. Witnesses heard the knife-wielding attacker screamed “allahu akbar” as he threw himself at two policemen, according to local newspaper La Derniere. The attack took place in front of a city centre police station a short walk from the Belgian capital’s Grand place, a world renowned tourist attraction. The attacker wounded one police officer outside the city’s main police station on Rue du Marché au Charbon at around 5.30am local time on Tuesday morning, Ilse Van De Keere, a police spokesman, said. The suspect was shot and wounded by another officer, she added. Ms Van De Keere said there are no current confirmation of the attack being a terror incident and investigations are going. Police would not confirm witness reports the suspect said "Allahu Akbar" when he attacked.  She said: “A police officer was stabbed and slightly wounded. “His colleagues retaliated by firing shots at the attack who was subdued.” The police officer was rushed to hospital but she confirmed the attacker’s injuries are not life threatening, adding: “It is too early to say now what the motives of the attacker is. “The investigation is underway.” Belgian justice minister Koen Geens also announced investigators were looking at all possible motivations including links to extremist groups but that there were no clear indications as yet. According to reports by Belgian news website RTL, the attacker may have recently been sectioned.”

The Jerusalem Post: Mossad Reportedly Provides Intelligence To Thwart Hezbollah Plot In Argentina

“The Mossad allegedly provided intelligence to Argentina which helped successfully thwart a Hezbollah plot to attack Jewish community centers in Buenos Aires, according to Channel 2. Two citizens from Argentina were arrested on Thursday because they had suspected links to Lebanon’s Hezbollah, according to Al Jazeera. The two men, 23 and 25, were arrested in Buenos Aires after police found they had a cache of weapons including a rifle, shotgun and a number of other weapons, a report stated. Police said they found an image of a Hezbollah flag, credentials in Arabic and proof that the two had traveled abroad. On Tuesday, the US State Department designated as a terrorist Jawad Nasrallah, the son of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. The department also accused him of carrying out attacks against Israel in the West Bank. In 1992, Iran bombed the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29 people and injuring 242. Two years later, Hezbollah bombed the AMIA Jewish community center in the city, an attack that killed 85 people and injured hundreds.”

The Hill: Trump Administration To Accuse Iran Of Chemical Weapons Violations: Report

“The Trump administration reportedly intends to accuse Iran of violating an international treaty that bars the use of chemical weapons because it has maintained the facilities and equipment needed to produce such weapons. CNN and The Washington Free Beacon reported that the White House told lawmakers on Friday that the administration plans to accuse Iran of violating the Chemical Weapons Convention. The 1997 treaty bars the production and use of chemical weapons. The claim will not lead to immediate repercussions, CNN reported, but could provide justification for the U.S. to implement additional penalties or seek action with international organizations. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Trump administration has taken a hard-line stance toward Iran, reimposing sanctions in recent months that had been lifted under the Obama-era Iran nuclear pact. That agreement offered Tehran sanctions relief in exchange for curbing its nuclear program. The president's decision to pull out of the deal, despite international allies urging him not to, has reignited long-simmering tensions between Washington and Tehran. France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the European Union, all of which remained in the deal, have sought to skirt U.S. sanctions reimposed after Trump's withdrawal from the pact.”

USA Today: Report: FBI Classifies Far-Right Proud Boys As 'Extremist,' Linked To White Nationalism

“The FBI considers the far-right hate group the Proud Boys “an extremist group with ties to White Nationalism,” according to a report from a Washington State sheriff’s office. The designation appeared in an August internal affairs report from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office in Vancouver, posted online Monday by the government transparency non-profit Property of the People. The Proud Boys, a group of self-described “western chauvinists,” were established by VICE Media co-founder Gavin McInnes in 2016, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Although the SPLC lists them as a hate group, they have repeatedly denied any connection to the “alt-right.” The document, written by Commander Michael McCabe, states that the Proud Boys were “publically (sic) categorized as an extremist group by the FBI in 2018.” According to The Guardian, the report marks the first time the group has been publicly labelled as “extremist” by the FBI. McCabe told the British newspaper that the FBI revealed the classification of the Proud Boys as an extremist group during an Aug. 2 briefing at Clark County’s west precinct. According to the report, the FBI warned local law enforcement that the group is recruiting in the Pacific Northwest and that they have “contributed to the recent escalation of violence at political rallies held on college campuses, and in cities like Charlottesville, Virginia, Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington.”

The New York Post: Ex-NYPD Police Chief On How To Fight Surge In Anti-Semitic Crimes

“From Paris to Pittsburgh, Jews are under siege as the scourge of violent anti-Semitism reaches depths not seen since World War II. Just this week, new FBI Hate Crime data showed that Jewish Americans were subject to 60 percent of religiously motivated hate crimes in 2017, despite being just 2 percent of the US population, a 37 percent increase over 2016.”

The Express: Britain Threatens To Sue Facebook Founder Over Videos Glorifying Terror

“Britain has threatened Mr Zuckerberg, 34, with legal action if Facebook - with two billion users - fails to take down content glorifying Islamic State terrorists, as politicians grow increasingly impatient with the lawless nature of the internet. He has refused to appear before a special Grand Committee convened by MP Damian Collins, chairman of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee in London next week. Mr Collins wanted assurances about breaches of data protection and to ask why the Californian tech giant, worth £105 billion, did not do more to act against "disinformation" posts - especially from Russia. Mr Collins also wanted to give Mr Zuckerberg the dossier of depravity the Daily Express passed to him last week. Facebook said it was taking unprecedented steps to remove hate posts and had taken down a billion fake accounts. But David Ibsen, executive director of the international Counter Extremism Project (CEP), said: "Facebook's smokescreen is window dressing."Just the same as the claims Mr Zuckerberg made before the US Congress that the company's algorithms remove 99 per cent of Isis and al-Qaeda online content." The Daily Express and the CEP compiled a dossier of hatefilled material found on Facebook - which is only meant to be used by those aged 13 and over.”

United States

Reuters: U.S. Considers Adding Venezuela To Terrorism Sponsors List: Source

“The United States is considering adding Venezuela to its list of state sponsors of terrorism but no final decision has been made, a person familiar with the deliberations said on Monday. Adding Venezuela to the list could limit U.S. economic assistance and impose financial restrictions on a country already suffering from hyperinflation, mass migration and shortages of food and medicine.  Discussions on the issue have moved forward in recent days with strong lobbying from Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who has long pressed the administration to take a tougher stand against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, the source said. A time frame for a decision on whether to add Venezuela to the terrorism list had not yet been determined, the source said.  A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it would be a challenge for the Trump administration to provide concrete proof linking the Maduro government to terrorism if it decides to put Venezuela on the list.  The four countries currently on the list - North Korea, Iran, Sudan and Syria - have been found to “have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.”  Rubio and two other Republican senators sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in September urging him to name Venezuela a state sponsor of terrorism and accusing it of links to Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, but they offered no proof.”

Real Clear Life: Terror In Paradise? How U.S. Is Fighting Extremism In Island Tourist Destination

“From the daydream-inducing photos, the nation of Trinidad and Tobago looks like an island paradise, complete with lush green hills, aqua clear ocean water and long, gently curving beaches. But the island off Venezuela’s northern coast that draws tens of thousands of tourists every year has also been developing a less public and less idyllic reputation — as a foothold for Islamic extremism in the Western Hemisphere. Though the island population is only 1.3 million — roughly the size of Dallas, Texas — it has seen an estimated 130 individuals travel to Iraq or Syria to join up with extremist groups. To put that in perspective, the entirety of the United States, which has a population of approximately 330 million, has seen about the same number. That threat, in turn, has attracted U.S. counter-terrorism experts who have partnered with the local government to try and stop the problem at its source, through countering violent extremism (CVE) programs that have historically been used in the U.S. A recent State Department Magazine report detailed the effort, and revealed that a major component is a “dynamic campaign” known as the SafeCommuniTT Initiative. The idea is to be the “next generation of CVE work and model for confronting post-Caliphate ISIS recruitment by leveraging both Public Affairs Section (PAS) and Department of Defense resources,” Irfan Saeed, the director of the Office of Countering Violent Extremism in the State Department’s counter-terrorism department, said.”


Reuters: Syrian Army Says Islamic State Cleared From Southeastern Desert

“The Syrian army said on Monday Islamic State militants had been cleared from a rugged area in southeastern Syria, where they had been holding out for months against a campaign to defeat them.  In a statement, Syria’s army high command said it had taken full control of the Tulul al-Safa heights, a volcanic plateau east of Sweida province.  The area was Islamic State’s last stronghold in southern Syria and the Syrian armed forces recovered a large amount of light and medium weaponry, the statement said.  Local sources told Reuters on Sunday hundreds of Islamic State insurgents had withdrawn from that area after holding out for over three months against an offensive.  The jihadist group, which lost most of its territory in Syria last year, rampaged through the city of Sweida in July from the direction of desert east of the city, killing more than 200 people and detonating suicide vests. Islamic State is still present in eastern Syria in a pocket east of the Euphrates River near the border with Iraq.”

The Express: ISIS On Brink Of Defeat? Syrian Forces Expel Savage Militants From Final Stronghold

“The brutal militants were expelled from the as-Suwayda province. It was one of the last remaining ISIS strongholds in the beleaguered Middle Eastern nation. The news was announced by the Syrian army. All terrorists entrenched in the al-Safa volcanic plateau deep within as-Suwayda (Sweida) province have been exterminated, according to a Syrian Army General Command statement published by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA). The Command said: “Following a string of accurate and focused military operations, our valiant armed forces have established complete control over Tuloul al-Safa area, which is of a complex volcanic nature, eliminating ISIS terrorists positioned there, and confiscated large amounts of light and medium weapons.” The statement added: “Liberating Tuloul al-Safa area confirms the high combat efficiency of the Syrian army personnel and their insistence to chase and eliminate terrorists anywhere and everywhere across Syria.”


Yahoo News: On Patrol With The Iraqi Militia Hunting The Last Remnants Of The Islamic State Group

“Although the Islamic State group has been defeated militarily in Iraq, members ofthe militia group still find areas to hide. Some parts of the Sunni population give them shelter. They also find cover in the mountains around Hawija. From their hiding places, they set up attacks: Suddenly popping up at improvised checkpoints in the winding roads that lead through the hills, they arrest or kill those passing, or take hostages and blackmail the government for possible prisoner exchanges. They also place IEDs and send suicide attackers into cities in the region. Iraqi federal police have outposts in the region, but their patrols only operate during the day. At night, they retreat to their bases, when the caliphate of terror becomes a guerrilla terror group. The Islamic State group’s favorite targets are members of the Shia militia al-Hashd al-Shaabi. Also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, are Shia-dominated militia was created in 2014 following a fatwa issued by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most influential Shiite cleric. Victory over the Islamic State group in Iraq would be inconceivable without al-Hashd al-Shaabi, which filled the gap left by the Iraqi Army. But they are also an Iran-supported force operating in a traditional Sunni area in Iraq.  And members of the Shia-dominated militia have been accused of massacring Iraqi Sunnis. Today, al-Hashd al-Shaabi is fighting sleeper cells and defending against Islamic State group attacks.”


Voice Of America: Reports: Turkey-Backed Rebels Battle In Afrin

“Clashes in the Syrian town of Afrin are intensifying as Turkish-backed Syrian rebel factions continue fighting each other over influence in the northwestern town. The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a rights group monitoring developments in Syria, reported that fighting, which started Saturday night in several districts of the Kurdish-majority region, had left at least 25 dead. Local residents in Afrin were caught in the crossfire, local sources said. "This fighting is greatly impacting civilians in the region," Redwan Bezar, a Syrian reporter who closely follows the events in Afrin, told VOA. "For a few days now people have been stranded inside their homes because of fierce fighting and shelling. They can't even get food and other daily needs," Bezar added. Bezar said that some houses were hit in Sunday's clashes, but no civilian casualties have been reported. Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army soldiers celebrate around a statue of Kawa, a mythology figure in Kurdish culture as they prepare to destroy it in city center of Afrin, northwestern Syria, March 18, 2018. Turkey military and several rebel groups carried out an operation Sunday against another rebel group in Afrin that has been involved in criminal activities including extortion and civilian kidnapping, Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency said. The operation targeted Abu Khawla, leader of Shuhada' al-Sharqiya rebel group, as the Turkish military imposed a curfew throughout the city, Anadolu reported.”


The Washington Post: These Afghan Villages Had Been Safe From Insurgents. Then A Deadly Taliban Assault Forced Hundreds To Flee.

“It was 3 a.m. when the loudspeaker at the village mosque crackled to life. An elder was calling everyone to come quickly. Taliban forces had just attacked a neighboring village, he said, and there was no time to lose. Murtaza Nasiri, 23, recalled later that he was among those who immediately volunteered to help defend their village, Haider, located in the long-peaceful ethnic ­Shiite Hazara heartland of Ghazni province. Nasiri had grown up there, and he was studying to be an economist.  He had never held a gun in his life. But suddenly he found himself being handed a Kalashnikov automatic rifle and following a group of men up the forested hills, where they began firing toward the insurgents. He had no idea how to handle the weapon, so someone else grabbed it. “I had never experienced anything like this before,” Nasiri said, bursting into tears as he recounted the harrowing Nov. 6 attack. Nasiri’s family and at least 1,000 others have fled to Bamian, a city 200 miles to the north, from a ferocious assault on their villages across Jaghori and Malistan — two Hazara-dominated districts in Ghazni — as well as a third in next-door Uruzgan province. The violence, which continued for two weeks and left more than 100 dead, took residents and police by surprise.”

The Guardian: Afghan Wrestling Coach Re-Opens Gym Despite Losing Arm In ISIS Attack

“To perform the “saltur”, an Afghan wrestling term, a fighter spins behind their opponent, then lifts them a few inches off the floor and slams the victim backwards overhead and into a pin. It is a technique that coach Ghulam Abbas has taught students for more than 30 years, and one he dearly loves to see. “I forget my troubles when a student takes the opportunity,” says the 57-year-old coach of the Maiwand wrestling club in west Kabul. But he can no longer demonstrate the move. As he strolls among his 40 teenage students, grappling and grunting, his left sleeve hangs conspicuously loose over where his arm should be. Two months ago, Isis suicide bombers attacked the wrestling club. At around 6pm on 5 September, Abbas heard gunfire and a cry of “suicider!”. He charged to the door, slamming it shut onto the foot of the attacker, who promptly detonated a bomb held in a sports-bag. Another detonated a car-bomb just outside as help was arriving.”

Global News: U.S. Making Little Progress In Afghanistan As Taliban, ISIS Remain Active: Assessment

“The situation in Afghanistan stagnated and may even have deteriorated during the second half of 2018, despite U.S. military leaders and diplomats insisting that progress is being made. That’s the assessment not of some international critics of the U.S., but of watchdog offices from the Pentagon, State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. In its quarterly report of the U.S.-led war against terrorism in Afghanistan, the Pentagon’s independent inspector general said few gains were made between July 1 and Sept. 30, 2018 despite the U.S. increasing strikes against the Taliban, expanding training for Afghan forces and pressuring Pakistan to act against terrorist safe havens. “In public statements, diplomatic and military leaders emphasized that progress towards the goals of the South Asia strategy is being made,” the report stated. “However, available measures of security in Afghanistan, including total security incidents, population control, and civilian casualties, showed little change.” Civilian casualties and casualties among Afghan security forces were higher than they were during the same time last year, the report pointed out. Furthermore, ISIS-K — the Islamic State’s Khorasan Province branch, active in Afghanistan and Pakistan — has continued to mount deadly attacks.”


Voice Of America: Khan Slams Trump’s Denunciation Of Pakistan’s Anti-Terror Efforts

“Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan sharply criticized President Donald Trump Monday for questioning Pakistan's anti-terror efforts, saying Washington is making Islamabad “a scapegoat” for U.S. “failures” in Afghanistan. In an interview that aired Sunday on the U.S. network Fox News, Trump defended his decision to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Pakistan, saying the country doesn't "do a damn thing for us.” The president went on to accuse Pakistan of sheltering al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden before he was tracked and killed by U.S. Special Forces in 2011 during a unilateral daring night helicopter raid deep inside the country. Khan rejected Trump’s tirade against his country in a series of tweets, saying Pakistan participated in the U.S. “war on terror” even though no Pakistani was involved in the September 2001 attacks on America that prompted the military invasion of Afghanistan. Khan noted that Pakistan has since suffered 75,000 casualties in the war and suffered economic losses to of more than $123 billion. He added that "U.S. "aid" was what he called a "minuscule" $20 billion. “The war drastically impacted lives of ordinary Pakistanis. Pak continues to provide free lines of ground & air communications (GLOCs/ALOCs). Can Mr Trump name another ally that gave such sacrifices?,” asked Prime Minister Khan.”


Al Jazeera: Yemen Peace Prospects Rise As Government, Houthis Closer To Talks

“Yemen's internationally-recognised government has announced it will take part in proposed peace talks in Sweden, hours after a senior Houthi leader said the rebels will halt drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and their Yemeni allies. The moves on Monday came amid a renewed push by UN envoy Martin Griffiths to get Yemen's warring parties around the negotiating table. Yemen's foreign ministry said it has informed Griffiths of its decision to send "a government delegation to the talks with the aim of reaching a political solution", according to the government-run Saba news agency. Earlier in the day, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, head of the Houthi Higher Revolutionary Committee and an influential political figure, announced the group's "readiness to suspend and halt all military operations" - provided that the Saudi-UAE alliance battling his movement is prepared to do the same.”


Asia Times: US Pledges Strong Backing, Missile Defense For Israel Against Hezbollah

“Israel can expect unqualified support from the Trump Administration in the event of a rocket bombardment from Hezbollah forces in Lebanon, according to a senior Administration official. The official was asked how the Trump Administration would respond in the event of a war between Israel and Hezbollah in which Israel was compelled to attack Hezbollah rockets behind human shields and inflict a very large number of civilian casualties. The answer was that the Administration’s unqualified support for Israel’s right to defend itself in Gaza would apply to Hezbollah as well. Not only would the US support Israel diplomatically, but the US would contribute to Israel’s missile defense along the lines of this year’s Operation Juniper Cobra exercise. Presumably, Iran and Hezbollah know this, which makes a war on the northern front unlikely. According to the Israel Defense Forces website, “Hezbollah militants and arms are systematically embedded in civilian areas and urban population centers. Hundreds of arms depots, thousands of militants, and tens of thousands of rockets are distributed throughout Southern Lebanon alone, an area characterized by its dense Shiite population.” Juniper Cobra is a five-day joint military exercise, which has in recent years provided training for the potential event of a ballistic missile attack from Iran.”


The Jerusalem Post: Report: Gaza Terrorist Groups Preparing For Israeli Military Operation Despite Ceasefire

“Palestinian terror organizations in the Gaza Strip are preparing for a possible military operation by Israel, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported on Tuesday, following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's hints at what he called the "second stage of the last round in the Gaza Strip."  Meanwhile, Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders were invited to Cairo to discuss several issues. According to reports from the coastal enclave, a Hamas delegation is scheduled to arrive in Cairo today, while an Islamic Jihad delegation will arrive in the Egyptian capital tomorrow to meet with intelligence chiefs in the country and discuss further understandings of the ceasefire between Israel and the Gaza Strip. Last week, violence between Gaza and Israel escalated after a botched Israeli operation in the Strip led to an exchange of fire and the death of a senior Israeli officer.  Hamas subsequently fired more than 500 rockets and mortars into Israel killing one person and wounding dozens of others. Israel in turn struck hundreds of targets in Gaza. A ceasefire agreed upon by Israel and Hamas the next day led to the resignation of Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and a shake-up in Israel's coalition.  Netanyahu is under considerable pressure by his voter base and coalition partners to show a strong hand in dealing with the terror groups.”

Middle East

The National: Tunis Bomber Had Sworn Allegiance To ISIS, Minister Says

“An unemployed graduate who blew herself up in Tunisia's capital last month had sworn allegiance to the Islamic State group, the interior minister said Monday. Mna Guebla detonated a bomb near police cars on the busy upmarket Avenue Habib Bourguiba in central Tunis on October 29, killing herself and wounding 26 people, mostly police officers, Hichem Fourati told parliament. Guebla had used "secret communication channels" to make contact with "terrorist leaders inside and outside the country" and to swear allegiance to ISIS, he added. Mr Fourati said the 30-year-old had received online instructions on bomb-making from "terrorist elements" based in the country's mountainous east, the epicentre of a long-running jihadist campaign of attacks targeting Tunisian security forces. The attack was the first to rock the Tunisian capital since 2015. Police sources said the assailant appeared to have used a homemade bomb rather than an explosive belt. Guebla, who lived in a marginalised rural area in the eastern Mahdia region, was studying for a doctorate and spent hours on the computer locked in her room, but her family said there was no indication she was being radicalised. After her death, authorities found "a quantity of raw materials used in the manufacture of explosives" at her house, Fourati said. Local media have reported that her distraught family refused to receive the body and did not attend her burial.”

Arab News: Conference Focuses On Women’s Rights, Fight Against Extremism

“Women’s rights, extremism and the importance of journalism were addressed at the 15th Arab Media Conference, which began in Amman on Saturday. The two-day conference, organized by the Arab Media Center, was held under the patronage of Princess Basma bin Talal, honorary chairperson of the Arab Media Women’s Center (AMWC). During the opening, Jordanian Minister of Political and Parliamentary Affairs Musa Maaytah said that the most prominent violation of human rights in the Arab world centers on the right to life itself. At a time when intolerance and terrorism have increased, he said, “the first right is usually violated, and that is the right to live. We must stand against this violation,” Maaytah said. “With the new technologies brought upon us, the truth is now harder to portray than ever, and we have witnessed this.” He said the positive energy between Jordanian and Arab women journalists needed to be enhanced, and women empowered to transform challenges into opportunities to strengthen their positions in the media. The conference aimed to raise awareness about violations of freedom of expression, and to highlight the work of the media in exceptional circumstances given the conflicts in many Arab countries. Mahasin Imam, director of the AMWC, said: “We shall never give up, even through pain (in seeking) the truth and facts.”


News 24: Boko Haram Attacks Three Military Bases In NE Nigeria

“Boko Haram jihadists at the weekend attacked three military bases in northeast Nigeria, putting the spotlight on insecurity in Nigeria just three months before presidential polls.  On Sunday, fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) faction attacked a base in Metele, a remote village in northeast Borno state, near the Niger border.  Troops were "dislodged" from the base before it was reclaimed with aerial support, a military officer in the northeast told AFP. "There are still no details of human or material losses," said the officer, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorised to speak on the incident. The same day, jihadists also launched a pre-dawn attack on another base in the town of Gajiram, some 80km north of the Borno state capital, Maiduguri. "Soldiers fought off the insurgents after hours of fighting which lasted up to 0430 GMT," said Kulo Gana, who lives 60km away in the garrison town of Monguno. On Saturday, ISWAP fighters attacked a base in the town of Mainok, killing a soldier and seizing a truck from civilian militia fighting the jihadists. "They faced stiff resistance from soldiers who fought them for an hour before the terrorists withdrew," said a militia member in the town. "We lost a soldier in that Mainok attack," the military officer said.”

The Whistler: ISIS In Nigeria A ‘Growing Threat’ To Britain – UK Defence Secretary

“The U.K Defense Secretary, Gavin Williamson has warned that ISIS terrorists in Nigeria, pose a ‘growing threat’ to the security of Britain. The U.K Daily Mail revealed Monday that the British troops were currently training local forces in a push to crush a wave of terror in the region which could directly spread to Europe. Williamson, who visited British troops deployed on a counter-terror training mission in Nigeria’s north-eastern Borno state where Boko Haram has unleashed attacks, said that there were fears that if terrorism was left to fester, the Islamic extremists could establish a caliphate across the region, as IS did in parts of Iraq and Syria and plot attacks on the West. “When we look at it more broadly, when we look at the greater threat, organisations such as Boko Haram or Daesh [the Arabic acronym for IS] do not respect international borders. “We see that as a potential and growing threat to the United Kingdom. “By dealing with the threat here in Nigeria, it keeps the streets of Britain safe as well,” Williamson said. The statement of the U.K Defence Secretary could be said to contradict the earlier comments made by Nigeria’s Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed who had maintained that the President Muhammadu Buhari led government has defeated Boko Haram. The Minister while speaking with journalists after a media tour in the United States in April said under the present government, the insurgents were no longer in control of any territory, hence the declaration that they have been defeated.”


Voice Of America: Military Official Worries Terrorism Could Spill Into Liberia

“The acting Sergeant Major for Armed Forces Liberia says he is concerned about terrorists in neighboring countries spilling into his homeland. Speaking in an exclusive interview with VOA, Command Sgt. Maj. Karmoh Duke Freeman said the "worrisome" terrorism developments outside Liberia must be deterred with additional forces. "We asked our partners to get involved immediately so that we'll curtail the situation," Freeman said, "because we need more than what we have at our border points." The Liberian army of about 2,000 was built "from scratch," Freeman explained, after the Second Liberian Civil War ended in 2003.  The U.N. peacekeeping mission that helped develop Liberia's military formally withdrew earlier this year, potentially leaving the nation vulnerable to threats. Freeman recommended routine military patrols around the border, along with recruitment expansions for military, police and immigration officers. Liberia also receives support from the United States and African countries such as Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ghana and Benin. "We're there to help coach, teach, assist, advise and let them know we have their back. We're not going away. We're going to be there even in crisis," U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Michael Stone, the commanding general for the Michigan National Guard's military police, told a small group of reporters Friday at the Pentagon. Michigan National Guard has partnered with Liberian forces since 2009, as part of the National Guard's State Partnership Program.”

United Kingdom

Daily Mail: ISIS's First Executioner Who Shot Victim In The Back Of The Head Is Revealed To Be Former London Trainee Bricklayer Who Still Lives In Syria Despite Stories He Was Killed In 2013

“A west London bricklayer thought to have been killed while fighting for ISIS in Syria has been outed as one of the death cult's most famous executioners. Ali Almanasfi, 28, who was assumed dead after an ambush by Syrian government forces back in 2013, is still alive and living in the war-torn country - according to his family. Scores of his friends and relatives also told ITV News that the Almanasfi was the man responsible for a brutal execution tape released by the Islamic State in 2014. In the propaganda clip filmed in the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, the masked killer can be seen firing his pistol into the head of a hostage, before shooting his dying body more than a dozen times. The clip is notable for being the first ever in a series of gory propaganda beheadings released by ISIS and is thought to be the first killing by a British citizen during the Syrian conflict. The footage was posted online in the spring of 2014 by a group of British fighters in Syria called Rayat al Tawheed, or 'Banner of God' – an affiliate of Islamic State group.  A year before the clip was released, Almanasfi was reported dead by Syrian state TV after government forces discovered his passport in a jihadi vehicle after an ambush six years ago. But the former trainee bricklayer from west London is thought to have survived the attack and is now married with children in Syria - according to his brother.”


CNN: Three Arrested In Australia After 'ISIS-Inspired' Terror Plot Foiled

“Police in Australia said they have foiled a terror plot "inspired by ISIS" in which assailants were planning to target a prominent public places in Melbourne, a city still reeling from a deadly attack two weeks ago. Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said Tuesday that three people had been arrested in connection with the plot. Their planned attack hadn't been finalized, but the men had been intending to target a prominent public place. "There was a view towards a crowded place, a place where maximum people would be attending to be able to kill, we allege, kill a maximum amount of people as possible," Ashton told reporters at a news conference Tuesday. The three men, aged 21, 26 and 30, were Australian nationals of Turkish background, Ashton said, all of whom had had their passports canceled by federal agencies in the past year. He said the three men had been under investigation since March but in recent days they'd attempted to buy a .22 semi-automatic rifle for use in the alleged plot. "Certainly, inspired by ISIS, we know that and recently over about the last week we've become a lot more energized," Ashton said. Two of the suspects had no criminal history, while a third had only been cited for a minor offense, CNN affiliate Nine News Australia reported. The arrests come as scores of Victorians gathered to mourn Sisto Malaspina, who was stabbed to death in a terror attack two weeks ago in Melbourne's central business district.”


The Independent: Brussels Attack: Police Officer Stabbed In Belgium's Capital Before Attacker Shot

“A policeman has been stabbed near the Grand Place in Brussels’ historic centre before the attacker was shot and wounded, officials have said. Belgium’s interior minister, Jan Jambon, described the pre-dawn attack as a “cowardly act against our policemen.” The victim was taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries while the attacker was seriously hurt. Local media said it was an apparent Islamist attack, but police have said the motive was unclear. Belgian newspaper DH cited unnamed sources as saying the attacker shouted “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest). The country’s justice minister, Koen Geens, said investigators were looking at all possible motivations, including links to extremist groups, but there were no clear indications yet.”

Southeast Asia

Philstar Global: Recruiter During Marawi Siege Convicted For Terrorism

“A Taguig court on Tuesday convicted Nur Supian, who was accused of recruiting members to reinforce the Maute group during the siege of Marawi City, for terrorism. Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that Taguig Regional Trial Court Branch 70 found Supian guilty of terrorism. The court “meted a penalty of 40 years of imprisonment,” Guevarra added. The court also found Araji Samindih and Umad Harun guilty of the same charge. The two were sentenced to imprisonment for from 8 years and a day to 14 years, 8 months and a day. Guevarra said that Supian is the first to be convicted in violation of the Human Security Act of 2007 or the Anti-Terrorism Law. According to the decision penned by President Judge Felix Reyes, the prosecution presented Sgt. Johnson Malavega as its witness. He said that his team was deployed to Mindanao to conduct operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group and other lawless armed groups, including the Maute group.”

The Straits Times: S-E Asia Survey Sheds Light On Attitude Towards Extremism

“Muslims in the Philippines are far more receptive to violent methods to defend their religion as compared with those in Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia, according to a regional survey on susceptibility to extremism conducted between September last year and February this year. Malaysia-based opinion research house Merdeka Center released the findings yesterday on the four countries which showed that support for local militant groups in the Philippines and Indonesia far outstripped that for foreign terror groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). But in Thailand, the "enormous economic bounty" handed by the government was cited by experts as a reason why groups in its restive south saw lower levels of support. "The Thai government was much more successful under Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra in conceding autonomy," said Dataluminescence Research social psychologist Ananthi Al Ramiah, referring to the siblings who were former premiers. Dr Ananthi and National University of Malaysia (UKM) Professor Faisal Hazis were lead researchers in the study. Dr Ananthi added the Philippine findings reflect abject poverty and that where "life seems to have less value", it results in violent extremism being more acceptable. The survey of over 5,000 respondents, which also included non-Muslims, found that Filipinos had the highest tendency to dehumanise those of other faiths as compared with counterparts from other countries.”

Singapore Business: Singapore Toughens Penalties For Money Laundering And Terrorism Financing

“Singapore toughens penalties for money laundering and terrorism financing. Those caught in the act will need to pay over $1m or twice the value of the suspicious transaction. Entities engaged in money laundering and terrorism financing will be now subject to tighter penalties after the Parliament completed the second reading of the amendments to the Serious Crimes and Counter-Terrorism Bill. According to Josephine Teo, second minister for Home Affairs, the number of Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) filed increased significantly from 22,000 to 35,000 in 2013-2017. In the same period, there were about 70 convictions annually for money laundering. In 2016, there were six convictions for terrorism financing.  The maximum penalty for money laundering and terrorism financing offence as defined by the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act, or TSOFA, will be raised from $1m to over $1m or twice the value of the property, financial service, or financial transaction. The penalties for not reporting suspicious transactions will also be raised. Persons required to report such transactions under the Corruption, Drug, Trafficking and other serious crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act (CDSA) but fail to do so are previously hit by a maximum fine of $20,000.”


The Guardian: Russian Twitter Trolls Stoking Anti-Islamic Sentiment In Australia, Experts Warn

“Russian Twitter trolls have targeted Australia’s democracy primarily through attempts to stoke anti-Islamic sentiment and have begun to advocate on behalf of Julian Assange, researchers have warned. On Tuesday academics from the University of Canberra’s News and Media Research Centre told a parliamentary inquiry that tweets identified by Twitter as belonging to an “organised influence operation” from Russian troll-farm the Internet Research Agency were playing on fears around Islam. Senior research fellow Michael Jensen told the joint standing committee on electoral matters his analysis of the Russian tweets suggested there was “little evidence” of direct influence on Australian elections. However, Russia-linked accounts seem “interested in amplifying social divisions, in particular distinctions between Muslims and the rest of the population” and they “emphasise links to terrorism extensively”, he said. Jensen explained that amplifying “fears and anxieties make it easier to move people to new political identifications” because they help convince targets they can “no longer trust the institutions and political figures that have kept them safe in the past”. Jensen noted that the accounts had “advocated strongly on behalf of Julian Assange asking for Australia’s intercession regarding his cause to help free him.”

News Australia: ‘Unacceptable Risk’: The Secret Way Terrorists And Criminals Are Communicating

“Every time you use Apple’s iMessage, WhatsApp or Wickr to text your friends and family, every word you send is hidden via encryption. Police and counter-terrorism officials say that exact encryption is letting everyone from terrorists to paedophiles to various criminals plan horror attacks right under their eyes. Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton again called for federal parliament to pass new laws allowing police to access encrypted messages. “The technology now has got ahead of where the law is and we are finding ourselves in a particular black spot where the police are blind to the telecommunications across these messaging apps,” Mr Dutton told reporters. The Home Affairs minister said he has been in touch with ASIO and AFP officials, who claim “something like nine in ten of their high profile terrorism cases are being hampered because of encrypted messages”. Even something as little as a four-digit passcode on your iPhone could be stopping police, AFP commissioner Andrew Colvin admitted. “Sometimes a simple passcode on a phone is all it takes to thwart police from accessing evidence that might save lives,” he said. Earlier today, three Melbourne men — Hanifi Halis, 21, and brothers Ertunc Eriklioglu, 30 and Samed Eriklioglu, 26 — were charged with allegedly plotting to carry out a terrorism attack in a “crowded area” of the city. The three men, who were being monitored by the Joint Counter Terrorism team since March, allegedly became “energised” in the past week, leaving police no choice but to swoop in.”

CBS News: 3 More Countries Join "International Grand Committee" Targeting Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg

“An international coalition of elected officials investigating disinformation and election meddling has grown to include politicians from eight countries, according to a letter they sent to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, reiterating calls for him to address their "international grand committee." Legislators from Brazil, Latvia and Singapore said in the letter that they will join officials from Britain, Canada, Australia, Ireland and Argentina in conducting the unprecedented hearing on Nov. 27. Zuckerberg initially turned down an invitation by Damian Collins, a member of Britain's Parliament, and Bob Zimmer, a Canadian lawmaker. He turned down a renewed offer last week after the committee expanded to include lawmakers from Argentina, Australia and Ireland. A representative of Facebook UK wrote at the time that Zuckerberg would be unable to get to London for the hearing. "Thank you for the invitation to appear before your Grand Committee. As we explained in our letter of November 2nd, Mr. Zuckerberg is not able to be in London on November 27th for your hearing and sends his apologies," Stimson wrote.”

NBC News: Inside Facebook, Denial, Tension And Finger-Pointing As Sense Of Crisis Builds

“As challenges to Facebook mount from consumer organizations, politicians and journalists, the company's leadership remains convinced that its recent crises are primarily public relations problems, according to people at the company. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief executive officer, and Sheryl Sandberg, the company's chief operating officer, believe Facebook's negative image is a public relations problem that stems from a bungled press strategy and sensational media coverage, not a structural or philosophical shortcoming that requires a wholesale course correction, six Facebook sources familiar with their thinking told NBC News. The sources asked not be identified because they were not authorized to speak publicly. As a result, some inside Facebook believe the company's leaders are likely to respond to the current controversy in the near-term by revamping their communications strategy, not by making drastic changes to personnel or the platform. To critics from Silicon Valley to Capitol Hill, that is likely to be seen as a continuation of the "delay, deny and deflect" strategy covered by The New York Times that got them into hot water in the first place.”

CNN: Family Auctions Off Child Bride On Facebook

“Facebook is facing backlash after the social network was used by a family in South Sudan to auction off a child bride, even though it is illegal in South Sudan to be married before age 18.”

Counter Extremism

El-Aosboa: Egyptian Dar Al-Iftaa Employs Creative Means Of Countering Extremist Ideologies

“The "animation unit" of the Egyptian Dar Al-Iftaa {the House of Fatwas (religious rulings)} recently aired a new cartoon in a series of motion-picture graphics intended to combat extremist ideologies through creative and attractive {youth-friendly} techniques. The latest animated film serves as a response to those who advocate hiding, or offering safe haven to, terrorists and extremists. It warns that those militants might either be fugitives from justice or planning attacks against innocent people. The new cartoon aims to reply in an innovative and attractive way to Jihadists, who have recently urged Egyptian citizens to aid militants, describing such support as "Jihad for the sake of God." The cartoon shows that God and the Islamic faith prohibit targeting innocent people and that killing one human being is like killing the whole of humanity.”


Al Quds Al Arabi: Concerns About The Revival Of ISIS In Iraq

“Several media outlets in the past few weeks have reported that Iraqi military and political officials have expressed fears of a resurgence of ISIS's activities in several parts of western and northwestern Iraq. A security expert specializing in armed groups, Hisham al-Hashemi, said that these statements "are not the outcome of the past days or weeks, but have been {the gist of} the talk since the announcement of victory over ISIS at the end of last year. This talk is prevalent among the residents of western and northwestern Iraq, and is boosted by rumors circulating on social media. However, there is no information to confirm this." According to the source, ISIS "is constantly launching attacks on certain villages and sites, using roving groups, ambushes and fake checkpoints on public roads, as well as roadblocks, especially south of Mosul." The reason for the return of ISIS remnants, according to al-Hashemi, is "laxness, laziness and a lack of government support for the intelligence and information effort at the various levels.”

Muslim Brotherhood

Al-Sharq Times: Egypt: Inventory Of Repossessed Muslim Brotherhood Companies Begins

“Egypt's governmental committee tasked with confiscating and managing the funds and assets of the entities and persons classified as "terrorist" completed the stock-taking process of 19 Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated companies. The inventory check was ordered by Dr. Mohamed Yasser Abu El-Fotouh, chairman of the committee. It's noteworthy that Dr. Abu El-Fotouh issued a decision last month to appropriate the funds and assets of the said 19 companies on suspicions of belonging to the outlawed Islamist group.”

Maspero: Trial Of Prominent Muslim Brotherhood Businessman Charged With Harming National Economy Postponed

“Presided over by Counsellor Mohammed Sherin Fahmy, the State Supreme Security Criminal Emergency Court ruled to postpone till November 27th the trial of prominent Muslim Brotherhood businessman Hassan Malek. The notorious financier of the outlawed Islamist group, along with his son and another 22 co-defendants, including businessman Abdel-Rahman Al-Seoudi, face charges of belonging to and financing the banned Muslim Brotherhood, attempting to topple the Egyptian regime, assaulting police, army personnel and public utilities, and harming the national economy. The court delayed the trial of Malek and his accomplices until it completes its hearing of the General Prosecution's arguments in relation to the case.”


Al-Ittihad: Houthis Spend Huge Sums On Sectarian Festivals And Rituals

“The Houthis are ignoring the suffering of {the Yemeni} people who are forced to cope with the lack of fuel, cooking gas, high prices and wage cuts, spending their immense financial resources on sectarian activities and festivals. In recent days, Houthi militants have stepped up sectarian activities in Sanaa and the rest of their controlled provinces in preparation for celebrations marking the birthday of the Prophet. Militants are spending huge sums on their sectarian rituals, aggravating the sentiments of state employees who have received no salary for 20 months. "The Houthi authorities have allocated YR65 billion ($ 260 million) to revive the sectarian rites they have imported from Tehran," Yemeni Information Minister Muammar al-Iryani wrote via his Twitter account.”