Eye on Extremism: November 26

AFP: ISIS Counter-Attacks Kill 47 US-Backed Fighters In East Syria

“Counter-attacks by the Islamic State group have killed at least 47 US-backed fighters over two days as the jihadists struck from their embattled holdout in eastern Syria, a war monitor said Saturday. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Kurdish-led alliance supported by a U.S.-led coalition is battling to expel the jihadists from a pocket in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor on the Iraqi border. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said the jihadists launched "three separate assaults" on Saturday. The monitor said the counter-attacks targeted the villages of Al-Bahra and Gharanij and an area close to the Al-Tanak oilfield, which is commercially active but is also an SDF military position. SDF spokesman Mustefa Bali confirmed "a series of attacks" led by ISIS in these three locations and said fighting had taken place all day, with the Kurdish-led ground forces receiving coalition air support. The fighting on Saturday alone killed 29 SDF fighters, taking its total losses over the last two days to at least 47, said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.”

The Washington Post: Army Ranger Mortally Wounded In Operation Against Al-Qaeda In Afghanistan, Military Says

“A soldier in the Army’s elite 75th Ranger Regiment was mortally wounded by gunfire Saturday during an operation against al-Qaeda fighters in a remote part of southwestern Afghanistan, U.S. military officials said Sunday. Sgt. Leandro Jasso, 25, was wounded in Nimruz province’s Khash Rod district, where the U.S. military is not known to conduct many operations. The operation was carried out with Afghan forces and concluded Sunday morning, said Maj. Bariki Mallya, a spokesman for the U.S. military in Afghanistan. One other U.S. service member was wounded, he said. “The loss of Sgt. Jasso is felt by his family and loved ones, by all who served with him and by all on this mission to protect our country and our allies,” Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller, the top U.S. officer in Afghanistan, said in a statement. Additional details about the operation were not immediately available. U.S. Special Operations troops continue to carry out raids against militant groups in Afghanistan, but Nimruz is typically considered relatively sleepy. However, the area is prone to drug smuggling, which runs from poppy-rich areas of Helmand and Kandahar provinces to porous, desert borders with Pakistan and Iran.”

Euronews: Germany’s New Anti-Hate Speech Law Needs Teeth If It Has Any Hope Of Stamping It Out Online | View

“Critics accuse it of facilitating a draconian censorship regime. Supporters say it will stem the rising tide of online hate speech. As the most ambitious law of its kind, Germany’s new Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG) has become a touchstone for Western democracies struggling to deal with hate speech on the internet. “Online hate must be combatted but will alone is not enough. We must ensure the tools we are using are as optimal as they can be. Failure on either front will mean those who spread hate online win.” The law is designed to force social networks to effectively monitor and remove dangerous content. Online platforms operating in Germany face fines of up to €50 million for failing to systematically delete it. On New Year’s Day 2018 - the moment it came into effect - the critical concern that NetzDG would ultimately act as a censorship tool appeared to come to fruition. Twitter and Facebook took down a post from far-right Alternative For Germany (AfD) politician Beatrix von Storch that mentioned “barbaric, Muslim, rapist hordes of men.” Twitter later suspended the account of Titanic, a German satirical magazine, for mocking von Storch.”

The Arab Weekly: Writing The Book In The Fight Against Radicalisation

“The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) introduced a practical handbook for educators to combat early signs of radicalisation in French youth during a discussion on “Secularism and Prevention of Radicalisation.” An increasing number of young people in France are being radicalised by recruitment campaigns put in place by terrorist organisations. “Adolescents and young adults are the most exposed to this threat and it is to them that priority is given,” CEP’s website stated. “When students become radicalised, teachers often feel helpless.” The handbook is meant to raise educators’ awareness and ensure they recognise when a student shows signs of radicalisation. The signs range from a student putting religious affiliation above his French citizenship when identifying with a group to a student exhibiting “sudden, excessive and exclusive interest” in a religion or ideology. The guide also provides teachers with knowledge and tools to be proactive when faced with sensitive situations and polarising topics.”

News 24: ISIS Claims 118 Killed In 'West Africa Province' After Nigeria Army Bases Attacked

“The Islamic State group has claimed to have killed 118 people in its self-styled West Africa province in the last week, after a series of attacks against military bases in northeast Nigeria that have raised fears of a resurgent Boko Haram. The Islamist militant group said in a video posted online late on Thursday that it conducted five operations in Chad and Nigeria between November 15 and 21, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist activity. No other details were given but the claim follows recent attacks on army bases in Borno state, northeast Nigeria, which has been the epicentre of the deadly nine-year conflict. Security sources said at least 44 soldiers were killed in an attack in Metele village, near the border with Niger, on Sunday, although one soldier who escaped gave a higher toll. "The truth is we lost more than 100 men because we were quickly routed," he said on condition of anonymity from the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, on Friday.”

The Guardian: Parliament Seizes Cache Of Facebook Internal Papers

“Parliament has used its legal powers to seize internal Facebook documents in an extraordinary attempt to hold the US social media giant to account after chief executive Mark Zuckerberg repeatedly refused to answer MPs’ questions. The cache of documents is alleged to contain significant revelations about Facebook decisions on data and privacy controls that led to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. It is claimed they include confidential emails between senior executives, and correspondence with Zuckerberg. Damian Collins, the chair of the culture, media and sport select committee, invoked a rare parliamentary mechanism to compel the founder of a US software company, Six4Three, to hand over the documents during a business trip to London. In another exceptional move, parliament sent a serjeant at arms to his hotel with a final warning and a two-hour deadline to comply with its order. When the software firm founder failed to do so, it’s understood he was escorted to parliament. He was told he risked fines and even imprisonment if he didn’t hand over the documents.”

United States

Reuters: U.S.-Backed Syria Forces Clash With Islamic State, Dozens Dead: Monitor, SANA

“Heavy clashes between Islamic State militants and U.S.-backed forces in eastern Syria killed dozens of civilians and fighters in the past two days, a monitoring group said. With the help of U.S. jets and special forces, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance is battling the remnants of Islamic State in an enclave near the Iraqi border. The SDF restored positions it had lost to attacks in recent days, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Battles raged on the eastern bank of the Euphrates river on Sunday. “The SDF did regain back a lot of territory lost the other day,” Colonel Sean Ryan, spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, told Reuters. “Both sides took casualties.” Iraqi security forces are securing the border so no fighters can escape, he added. The SDF, which the Kurdish YPG militia leads, has seized vast territory from the jihadists across northern and eastern Syria, where some 2,000 U.S. troops are stationed. SDF officials were not immediately available for comment. Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate has crumbled after different offensives in Iraq and Syria, but its fighters still operate in the desert border region and mount attacks. Syrian state news agency SANA said coalition warplanes killed 14 people “in a new massacre” in al-Shaafa village. Air strikes had killed 20 other people, including nine children, in the nearby town of Hajin, it said a day earlier. The U.S.-led coalition says it seeks to avoid civilian casualties and investigates any allegations. Colonel Ryan said on Saturday that strikes were limited and had not affected civilians."

The Washington Post: In The United States, Right-Wing Violence Is On The Rise

“As a Republican, Mitchell Adkins complained of feeling like an outcast at Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky. “Hardcore liberals” made fun of him, he wrote, and he faced “discrimination on a daily basis.” He soon dropped out and enrolled in trade school. But his simmering rage led him back to campus one morning in April 2017, when Adkins pulled out a machete in the campus coffee shop, demanded that patrons state their political affiliation and began slashing at Democrats. “There was never any ambiguity about why he did it,” said Tristan Reynolds, 22, a witness to the attack, which left two women injured. Over the past decade, attackers motivated by right-wing political ideologies have committed dozens of shootings, bombings and other acts of violence, far more than any other category of domestic extremist, according to a Washington Post analysis of data on global terrorism. While the data show a decades-long drop-off in violence by left-wing groups, violence by white supremacists and other far-right attackers has been on the rise since Barack Obama’s presidency — and has surged since President Trump took office. This year has been especially deadly.Just last month, 13 people died in two incidents: A Kentucky gunman attempted to enter a historically black church, police say, then shot and killed two black patrons in a nearby grocery store.”

The Tribune Express: US Puts Aide To Islamic State Leader Baghdadi On Terror Blacklist

The United States on Tuesday put a confidant of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, on its terror blacklist. “ISIS is down but not out,” Nathan Sales, the State Department’s point man on counterterrorism, said in announcing that Haji Abdel Nasir had been named a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist.” “As ISIS continues to lose ground on the battlefield, we must starve it of the resources it uses to commit terrorism around the world,” Sales said in a statement. Seven terrorists killed as army repulses attack on North Waziristan border post. The State Department said the decision was made in conjunction with the UN Security Council, which on Monday put Abdel Nasir on its own sanctions list. The twin listings mean that Abdel Nasir is subject to an international asset freeze, travel ban and arms embargo. US citizens and entities are prohibited from doing business with him. Nasir “has held several leadership positions in the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,” including heading the group’s “Delegated Committee,” which reports to Baghdadi and “exercises administrative control of the terrorist organisation’s affairs,” the State Department said. Pakistan’s fight against terrorism far from over It said the committee Abdel Nasir chaired was “responsible for planning and issuing orders related to ISIS’s military operations, tax collections, religious police, and commercial and security operations.”

Frontline: How DHS Says It’s Responding To Domestic Terrorism

“The Department of Homeland Security offered a written response to FRONTLINE and ProPublica about its efforts to address domestic terrorism threats, and specifically far-right terrorism. It said that for a little more than a decade, the department has been developing terrorism prevention programs to address “all forms” of violent extremism. It also pointed to the White House’s National Strategy to Counter Terrorism, released in October, which noted “racially motivated extremism” —  although not specifically white supremacist extremism — as a form of violent domestic extremism that’s on the rise:  “The United States has long faced a persistent security threat from domestic terrorists who are not motivated by a radical Islamist ideology but are instead motivated by other forms of violent extremism, such as racially motivated extremism, animal rights extremism, environmental extremism, sovereign citizen extremism, and militia extremism. Such extremist groups attempt to advance their agendas through acts of force or violence…[D]omestic terrorism is on the rise, with an increasing number of fatalities and violent nonlethal acts committed by domestic terrorists against people and property in the United States.” In its statement, DHS said that while state and local law enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation is responsible for investigating domestic terrorism, the department conducts training for local law enforcement and outreach to community members to “prevent radicalization and mobilization to violence.”

Syria

The Wall Street Journal: Fragile Syria Cease-Fire Tests Russia-Turkey Ties

“Russia is pressuring Turkey to drive extremists from a Syrian demilitarized zone, testing the countries’ warming ties and a cease-fire they brokered that has protected opponents of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. Turkey and Russia, which are overseeing an agreement that in October set up a buffer zone in northwest Idlib province, have for weeks said the deal is working, in a sign of how Russia and Turkey have accumulated enough clout to act as regional brokers in the Middle East without the involvement of the U.S. or Europe. But in recent days, Russian-backed forces of Mr. Assad have intensified artillery barrages on rebel-held towns in southern Idlib. Meanwhile, militants Turkey has tried to dislodge are digging into the zone, where Ankara holds security responsibility. Russia’s defense ministry said Sunday its warplanes struck rebels it said were responsible for a chemical attack around the regime-held city of Aleppo that left more than 100 people injured. No independent evidence corroborated the claim, but Russia’s defense ministry said it would talk to Turkey.”

CNN: Syrian Radio Host Who Satirized Assad And ISIS Shot Dead

“A Syrian radio host who satirized both President Bashar al-Assad and opposition insurgents including ISIS has been shot dead in Syria's rebel-held Idlib province, the Syrian Journalists Association said Saturday. Raed Al Fares and another activist and journalist, Hamoud Junaid, were killed Friday in the town of Kafr Nabl after being hunted by extremist groups, the journalist group said. "Both of the men who were killed were pioneers of civil society and brought the free voice to the world through the famous banners of Kafr Nabl," a statement from the group said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based human rights group, said unidentified gunmen killed Fares and Junaid in Kafr Nabl, where their US-funded Radio Fresh station was based. No group has claimed responsibility for the killings. Fares set up Radio Fresh in 2013 to provide news on Syria conflict's, specifically to northern provinces. He continued until the United States cut funds to rebel-held areas, including the radio station, in June. The activist saw radio as a way to spread awareness about ideas that he advocated for, including social justice and democracy. Fares, who was born in 1972, often called for protests but stressed they should be peaceful. He was known for famous protest banners in English in Idlib. As the Syrian war progressed, Fares secretly filmed and released footage showing the suffering of people in Kafr Nabl.”

Associated Press: Syria State TV: 41 Injured In Rebel Poison Gas Attack

“At least 41 civilians were being treated Saturday following a suspected poison gas attack by Syrian rebel groups on the government-held Aleppo city in the country’s north, according to Syrian state media. Syrian state TV previously said that 21 people had been injured, but people continued to arrive at a hospital in Aleppo where state TV was airing live. Doctors told state TV that most of those admitted to hospitals suffered from breathing problems and blurred vision. One doctor said two were in critical condition, including a child. State TV showed footage of medical professionals treating men and women on hospital beds. Rami Abdurrahman, the head of Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said there was a stench of gas in Aleppo city after projectiles were fired. Aleppo police chief Essam al-Shali told state TV the projectiles landed in the al-Khalidiya neighborhood and wind conditions caused gas to spread. State TV later said the gas affected two other areas in the city. There are no deaths, al-Shali said. Aleppo Gov. Hussein Diab visited the injured at the hospital. He told state TV that a total of 41 people had been admitted and accused rebels of using poisonous gas in the missiles they lobbed at the Aleppo neighborhood. An unnamed doctor told the same outlet that a poisonous gas was believed to have been used, but tests were needed to determine what kind. Earlier, state media said it was believed to be chlorine. One patient said a foul smell filled the air after projectiles were lobbed.

The Jerusalem Post: Report: Syrian Regime Grants Citizenship To Iranians, Hezbollah Fighters

“The Syrian regime naturalized thousands or even tens of thousands of Iranians, including members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and Iran-backed militias like Hezbollah that are deployed in southern Syria along the border with Israel, according to a report by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). The report explained that “systematic action by the regime to settle [them] throughout Syria” served two purposes: concealing the fighter’s presence and changing the country’s demography. Concealing the presence of Iranian and Hezbollah fighters in southern Syria could be seen as contravening understandings reached between Israel and Russia to keep such groups away from the Jewish state’s northern border. In late October, Moscow agreed to expand a buffer zone along the Golan Heights. Russia had refused the Israeli request for a 40-kilometer (25 mile) buffer zone, but expressed willingness to enforce an off-limits zone of 10-15 km.”

CNN: Dozens Injured In Toxic Gas Attack On Aleppo, Syria, Reports Say

“Around 100 people were injured in toxic gas attack on the government-controlled city of Aleppo Saturday, according to Syrian state media and a British-based human rights group. It's not clear who carried out the attack, but Syria's state news agency quoted a local commander as blaming "terrorist groups," while Russia accused militants of firing mortar rounds containing chlorine on the city's northwestern districts. Nasr al-Hariri, the head of the Syrian opposition negotiation delegation to Geneva, told Saudi owned al-Hadath TV that the attack on Aleppo originated from an area controlled by pro-regime Iranian militias. On Twitter he wrote that "the regime and its allies are using this as an excuse to launch a military operation in north Syria." The reported attack on Aleppo is the first since Russia and Turkey agreed to establish a demilitarized zone in the rebel-controlled Idlib province, according to UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).”

Associated Press: Iraq Says Airstrikes Kill 40 Islamic State Fighters In Syria

“The Iraqi military says it has killed 40 Islamic State militants in airstrikes in Syria. The joint operations command said in a statement its F-16 jets struck IS positions in their pocket in eastern Syria twice on Tuesday, destroying a base and an arms warehouse in the villages of Sousa and Baghous. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group says at least 16 IS fighters were killed in the strikes. Iraqi forces have been firing on IS positions across the border in eastern Syria to support the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in their push against the last IS pocket along the border.”

Press Trust Of India: Bashar Al-Assad's Regime Funds Iran's Proxy Terrorist Groups, Alleges US; Assures Action Against 'Deceptive International Network'

“Charging Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime with funding Iran's proxy terrorist groups, the Trump administration on Tuesday announced that action would be taken against a deceptive international network in which the Iranian regime, together with Russian companies, sends oil to Syria. The US Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated nine targets in an international network through which the Iranian regime, working with Russian companies, provides millions of barrels of oil to the Syrian government. The Assad regime, in turn, facilitates the movement of hundreds of millions of dollars to Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) for onward transfer to Hamas and Hezbollah, it alleged. US sanctions prohibit material support to the Government of Syria, including shipments of oil to Syrian government-controlled ports, as well as material support to designated terrorist groups. The designations include Syrian national Mohammad Amer Alchwiki (Alchwiki) and his Russia-based company, Global Vision Group. Alchwiki and his company are central to the delivery of oil from Iran to Syria, and the transfer of funds to the IRGC-QF's lethal proxies, the Treasury said, adding that the designations also highlight the important role that officials of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) play in facilitating this scheme.”

Iran

The Wall Street Journal: Dissidents Call For United Front Against Iran After Assassination Attempts

“Exiled Iranian dissidents meeting under heavy police protection pushed for an uprising against the government, as tensions with Tehran have erupted into armed attacks and alleged cross-border assassination plots. A two-day weekend conference in Copenhagen attended by nearly 200 people took place against a backdrop of mass arrests by Iranian authorities following a deadly separatist attack in Ahvaz in the country’s southwest. The attack in September killed 25 people at a military parade, and put a spotlight on Iranian separatists made up from the country’s ethnic Arab minority. The U.S. and the United Nations Security Council denounced the attack as terrorism while Iran blamed it on organizers of the Copenhagen conference, Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz, or ASMLA. ASMLA called the attack self defense against an occupying state. Shortly after the attack, an Iranian intelligence agent tried to assassinate the ASMLA leader in Denmark in a foiled plot, according to Danish police.”

The New York Post: Iran’s President Rouhani Calls Israel A ‘Cancerous Tumor’

“Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday called Israel a “cancerous tumor” established by Western countries to advance their interests in the Middle East. Iran’s leaders frequently condemn Israel and predict its demise, but Rouhani, a relative moderate, rarely employs such rhetoric. Addressing an annual Islamic Unity Conference on Saturday, Rouhani said “one of the ominous results of World War II was the formation of a cancerous tumor in the region.” He went on to refer to Israel as a “fake regime” set up by Western countries. Iran supports militant groups like Hezbollah and Hamas that are pledged to Israel’s destruction. Iran has never threatened to attack Israel, but has vowed to retaliate if it is attacked. Israel views Iran as an existential threat. Rouhani said the United States cultivates close ties with “regional Muslim nations” to protect Israel, an apparent reference to Iran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia and the kingdom’s Sunni Arab allies. He said bowing to American pressure amounts to “treason.”

Iraq

Rudaw: US, UN Add Senior Iraqi ISIS Member To Terror List

“The United Nations and United States added an Iraqi aide to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to their terror lists. Hajji ‘Abd al-Nasir, aged between 49 and 53, was born in Tal Afar, Iraq, according to the UN.  “Within the past five years, al-Nasir has served as an ISIS Military Amir in Syria as well as chair of the ISIS Delegated Committee, the council that reports to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and exercises administration control of the terrorist organization’s affairs,” including planning military operations, the US State Department said on Tuesday.  The UN Security Council added Nasir to its sanctions list on Monday. “ISIS is down but not out,” said Ambassador Nathan Sales, the State Department’s counterterror coordinator. “As ISIS continues to lose ground on the battlefield, we must starve it of the resources it uses to commit terrorism around the world. Today’s designation is another step towards ensuring the enduring defeat of ISIS.” Syrian Kurdish and Arabic forces of the SDF working with the US-led coalition are currently battling ISIS in their last major hold out in eastern Syria's Euphrates River valley.”

Turkey

Yeni Safak: Turkey Expects Solid Support From EU Against Terrorism: FM

“Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Ankara expects more support from EU member states in counterterrorism efforts at the High-Level Political Dialogue Meeting in Turkey’s capital Ankara on Thursday. “Counterterrorism is important for both Turkey and the EU. Both Turkey and EU member states have been subjected to terror attacks. It will benefit both sides to have close cooperation in every regard. It is our natural right to expect solid support from the EU,” Çavuşoğlu said. High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, EU Neighborhood Policy Minister Johannes Hahn and Head of European Union Delegation in Turkey Ambassador Christian Berger participated in the meeting. Turkey’s EU accession process The foreign minister also said relations between Turkey and the EU as well as the accession process was discussed. "We highlighted the strategic importance of Turkey-EU ties. It is no use to make statements excluding Turkey in the EU accession process or denying its candidacy," Çavuşoğlu said. “It is in the interest of both parties to update the customs union. There have recently been interruptions in the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance on the EU’s side. These interruptions will not ruin the Turkish economy, but it will negatively impact the image of the European Union,” he added. Turkey applied for membership in the European Economic Community (a precursor to the EU) in 1987. It became eligible for EU membership in 1997 and accession talks began in 2005. High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini welcomed Turkey’s efforts to improve relations with the EU.”

Afghanistan

The Guardian: At Least 20 Police Killed In Taliban Ambush In Afghanistan – Officials

“At least 20 policemen have been killed when the Taliban ambushed a police convoy in western Farah province, according to an Afghan official. Dadullah Qaneh, a member of the provincial council in Farah, said four policemen, including the deputy provincial police chief, were wounded in the attack on Sunday afternoon near Lash wa Juwayn district. Russia hosts talks between Taliban and Afghan peace council Another council member, Abdul Samad Salehi, said the convoy was on its way to the district to introduce newly appointed district police chief when it came under attack. Qaneh said the newly appointed chief was also killed. The Taliban, who in recent years have taken over nearly half of Afghanistan, claimed responsibility for the attack. It was the latest in a series of near-daily Taliban assaults on Afghan military and security forces throughout the country.”

The Washington Post: Protests Over Arrest Of Anti-Taliban Commander Turn Violent In Afghanistan

“Hundreds of ethnic Hazaras rallied in protest here Sunday over the arrest of a rogue anti-Taliban militia commander, resulting in violence that left at least 30 civilians and security forces wounded, police said. While the Western-backed government of Afghanistan has battled Taliban insurgents for years with mixed success, the actions of local anti-Taliban commanders, operating outside central government control, have led to periodic clashes between formal and informal allies. The arrest Sunday in Kabul of Hazara militia commander Alipur, known as “Commander Sword,” spread rapidly among Hazara communities here and other cities, where he was viewed as an ethnic hero of the anti-Taliban conflict. Alipur escaped from central Ghowr province during a government raid in October and is wanted by Kabul for alleged human rights abuses. He had built a reputation as a brutal warrior but maintained strong popular support among fellow ethnic Hazaras, especially those in central Afghan provinces, including Ghazni, that have recently come under Taliban attack.  As news of Alipur’s arrest spread, Hazara protesters flooded the streets of the capital, marching from Hazara-dominated areas toward the presidential palace. The spontaneous rally echoed one a few weeks ago, when Shiite Hazara marchers protested a spate of Taliban attacks across long-peaceful Hazara regions of Ghazni. Kabul police said protesters Sunday attacked a police vehicle and set fire to a police check post, causing authorities to send added security forces to block their march. “They used whatever they had in their hand” including stones and guns, said Basir Mujahid, a Kabul police spokesman. He said that 23 officers were injured by protesters.”

Xinhua: IS Spokesman Killed In E. Afghanistan

“Spokesman of the Islamic State (IS) outfit Sharafat Shafaq was killed in Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar province, said a statement of military website Corps 201 Selab released here on Sunday. According to the statement, the IS propaganda in-charge and spokesman was killed during operations against the insurgent group in Deh Bala district. Without providing more details, the statement said that the government forces would continue to target IS militants from ground and air elsewhere in the country. The hardliner IS outfit has yet to make a comment on the claim.”

Xinhua: Dozens Of Taliban Militants Join Peace-Reintegration Process In E. Afghan Province

“A total of 54 armed Taliban militants, including four of the insurgent commanders, joined peace and reintegration process in Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar province, an official said Thursday. "Up to 54 militants earlier affiliated with the Taliban, including four of their commanders, from several districts of the province handed over their arms and joined peace and reintegration process on Thursday morning," Atallullah Khogyani, provincial government spokesman, told Xinhua. The reintegrated Taliban have also handed over 54 light and heavy arms to security authorities in the province, 120 km east of Kabul, Khogyani added. After six years of distractive activities, the armed Taliban joined peace process by the efforts of the provincial National Directorate of Security, the country's national intelligence agency, said the source.”

Agence France Presse: Islamic State Group Claims Attack On Afghan Army Base

“The Islamic State group on Saturday claimed a suicide attack inside a packed mosque on an Afghan army base that a senior government official said killed at least 27 soldiers. At least 79 military personnel were wounded in the attack on the First Brigade of the 203 Army Corps in the eastern province of Khost during Friday prayers, according to casualty figures from public and private hospitals in the provincial capital. In a statement posted on the IS news site Amaq, the group's Afghan franchise claimed 50 were killed and 110 wounded in the attack. It warned "more devastating and bitter" assaults were ahead. But a government official told AFP on Friday on the condition of anonymity that 27 soldiers had lost their lives and 44 had been wounded. Provincial governor spokesman Taliban Mangal told AFP on Saturday that 13 soldiers had been killed and "about" 40 wounded. Afghan government and military officials are often suspected of downplaying the casualty tolls in militant assaults. The bombing follows a wave of deadly attacks across Afghanistan in recent weeks as militants step up violence amid a flurry of diplomatic efforts to end the 17-year conflict. Presidential spokesman Mohammad Haroon Chakhansuri told reporters Saturday that the Khost attack was similar to the Taliban-claimed assault on a mosque and dining hall inside a military base in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif in April 2017 that killed at least 144 troops.”

The Washington Post: Taliban Deny Involvement In Kabul Bombing That Killed 50

“The Taliban have denied involvement in a suicide bombing in the Afghan capital that killed at least 50 people. Tuesday’s attack, which targeted a gathering of hundreds of clerics at a wedding hall in Kabul, bore the hallmarks of a local Islamic State affiliate, which has carried out mass bombings targeting minority Shiites as well as perceived supporters of the U.S.-backed government. Both the Taliban and the IS affiliate want to overthrow the Afghan government and impose a harsh form of Islamic rule. But they are bitterly divided over leadership, ideology and tactics, with the Taliban mainly targeting security forces and government officials, and IS specializing in sectarian attacks on civilians. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said late Tuesday his group condemns any attack on civilians or religious clerics.”

Reuters: Taliban Say No Pact Struck With U.S. On Deadline To End Afghan War

“A three-day meeting between the Taliban and the U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan to pave the way for peace talks ended with no agreement, the militant group said a day after the diplomat declared a deadline of April 2019 to end a 17-year-long war. Afghanistan’s security situation has worsened since NATO formally ended combat operations in 2014, as Taliban insurgents battle to reimpose strict Islamic law following their overthrow in 2001 by U.S.-led troops. Taliban leaders met U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad at their political headquarters in Qatar last week for the second time in the past month, spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said. “These were preliminary talks and no agreement was reached on any issue,” he said in a statement on Monday. Taliban leaders had not accepted any deadline set by the United States to wrap up talks, according to three Taliban officials. The U.S embassy in Kabul declined to comment. Khalilzad, an Afghan-born diplomat authorized by U.S. President Donald Trump’s government to lead negotiations with the Taliban, on Sunday said he hoped to cut a peace deal by April 20, a deadline that coincides with the date set for presidential elections in Afghanistan. Two senior U.S. officials confirmed that the second round of peace talks ended last week and the Taliban expected Khalilzad to visit Qatar for a meeting before the end of 2018. “The second round of talks went on for three days. This clearly proves that both sides are exercising patience and caution during their diplomatic engagement,” a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity."

Associated Press: At Least 50 Killed In Suicide Bombing In Afghanistan Targeting Religious Clerics

“A suicide bomber targeted a gathering of hundreds of Islamic scholars in the Afghan capital on Tuesday, killing at least 50 people as Muslims marked the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. Another 83 people were wounded in the attack, with 20 of them in critical condition and the toll likely to rise, Public Health Ministry spokesman Wahid Majroh said. The suicide bomber was able to sneak into a wedding hall in Kabul where hundreds of Muslim religious scholars and clerics had gathered to mark the holiday. No one immediately claimed the attack, but both the Taliban and a local Islamic State affiliate have targeted religious scholars aligned with the government in the past. “The victims of the attack unfortunately are all religious scholars who gathered to commemorate the birthday of Prophet Muhammad,” said Basir Mujahid, spokesman for the Kabul police chief. He said police had not been asked to provide security for the event, and that the bomber had easily slipped into the hall. Most wedding halls have private security. Mohammad Muzamil, a waiter at the wedding hall, said he had gone into the back to fetch water for the guests when he heard the explosion. “Everything was covered with smoke and dust,” he said.”

Pakistan

BBC News: Karachi Attack: China Consulate Attack Leaves Four Dead

“Gunmen have killed at least four people in an attack on the Chinese consulate in the Pakistani port city of Karachi. Gunshots were heard at about 09:30 local time (04:30 GMT) outside the consulate in the upmarket Clifton area. Police shot dead three attackers. Separatist militants who oppose Chinese investment projects in western Pakistan say they carried out the attack. In another incident on Friday, at least 30 people were killed in a bomb attack in north-west Pakistan. The blast occurred in a mostly Shia neighbourhood in Orakzai district. Police say a suicide bomber on a motorbike drove into a crowded marketplace. Pakistan's Shia minority has often been targeted by Sunni extremists. What happened in Karachi? Three gunmen tried to enter the consulate but were stopped by guards at a checkpoint, reports said. Two of those killed in the attack were police officers. Eyewitnesses reported seeing a blast, and local TV channels broadcast images of a plume of smoke. There is a heavy police presence in the area which has been cordoned off. All the staff inside the consulate are safe, China said. The government condemned the attack on its mission and the foreign ministry in Beijing called for extra measures to protect Chinese citizens in Pakistan. "At the same time we mourn the deaths of the Pakistani police and think of their families at this time," a spokesman said.”

Reuters: Islamic State Claims Responsibility For Pakistan Market Suicide Bombing

“Islamic State on Saturday claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack a day earlier in northwestern Pakistan, the group's Amaq news agency said. It said the bomber had targeted Shi'ite Muslims in a market in Orakzai and put the death toll at 57. A government official on Friday said at least 25 people had been killed and 20 wounded.”

Yemen

Reuters: Six Suspected Al Qaeda Militants Killed In Yemen Drone Strike

“Six suspected al Qaeda militants were killed in a drone strike in central Yemen on Sunday, local security officials and residents said. The strike hit a suspected al Qaeda site in al-Bayda province, killing two people believed to be local leaders of the group along with four other militants, the officials said. U.S. forces have repeatedly launched drone and air strikes against Yemen’s al Qaeda branch, known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The group has taken advantage of a nearly four year-old war between the Iranian-aligned Houthi movement and President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s Saudi-backed government to try to strengthen its position in the impoverished country.”

The Wall Street Journal: Yemen’s War Opens Way For Al Qaeda’s Revival

“Nearly two years after being driven from its stronghold in Yemen, one of al Qaeda’s most dangerous franchises has entrenched itself in the country’s hinterlands as a devastating war creates the conditions for its comeback. In the provincial capital of Al Mukalla, where al Qaeda governed for a year, some residents are beginning to express nostalgia for the extremist group. Since al Qaeda’s 2016 ouster from the port city by forces backed by the United Arab Emirates, the conflict has stalled much-anticipated development and sparked an economic crisis. Police in Al Mukalla clashed recently with protesters demonstrating against poor conditions under Yemen’s U.A.E.-aligned government. “The economic situation has worsened after al Qaeda left,” said Salem Saeed, a 33-year-old Al Mukalla resident who participated in the protests. “That’s why there are people who believe al Qaeda did a better job when they were in control.”

The New York Times: Houthi Rebels Ready To Negotiate Control Of Key Yemen Port, U.N. Envoy Says

“The Houthi rebels who control the key Yemeni port of Hudaydah have agreed to enter talks about handing some control to the United Nations, its envoy to Yemen said during a visit to the city on Friday. The initiative, although tentative, added to momentum for peace talks expected to start in the coming weeks, when the Saudi-led coalition and its Houthi foes are to meet in Sweden as a humanitarian crisis threatens to tip millions of Yemenis into starvation. Hudaydah has been engulfed in fighting in recent weeks as the Saudi-led coalition has stepped up its assault there, partly surrounding it from three sides. That has prompted fears that the port, a major channel for food and fuel imports, could be cut off. The United Nations sees a deal on Hudaydah as an important first step toward ending the war. But any arrangement to turn the port over to international supervision would also need approval from the United Arab Emirates, the Saudi ally leading the military assault. The Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition did not immediately respond to the United Nations statement. A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition previously described the Hudaydah assault as “a primary humanitarian necessity to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people.” The United Nations has been quietly advocating for months that it could place the port under international supervision, ensuring a constant flow of humanitarian supplies. Now, as international pressure has created an opening for talks, the United Nations has seized an opening to press the proposal. During a visit to Hudaydah on Friday, where fighting has lulled in the past week, Martin Griffiths, a United Nations envoy, said Houthi officials had agreed to talks on the port’s status.”

Arab News: Arab Coalition Destroys 86 Houthi-Planted Naval Mines In Red Sea

“The Arab coalition fighting in support of the legitimate Yemeni government said their forces have discovered and destroyed 86 naval mines since the beginning of military operations. Spokesman Col. Turki Al-Malki said that as part of efforts to maintain the safety of international maritime and commercial lines in the southern Red Sea, 36 recently planted naval mines were destroyed over the past week, and 13 sea mines were destroyed on Sunday. These include two types of naval mines that were planted by the Iranian-backed Houthi militia. Col. Al-Maliki stressed the continued efforts of the coalition’s Joint Command Forces to deal with the threat of these mines on vital coastal installations, fishing boats, beach goers, commercial vessels and giant oil tankers, and effects of regional and international environmental and economic disasters. He added these contributions fall in line with the coalition and the international community’s efforts to maintain regional and international security and stability in Bab Al-Mandab and the southern Red Sea. Col. Al-Maliki said the Houthi militia’s actions threaten the safety of the international maritime and commercial lines of conduct and are a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law. He noted that the Iranian-backed militia’s “acts of terrorism and hostility, including the recent cultivation of these naval mines, is conclusive evidence of the urgency to stop this terrorist group for the interest of regional and international security.”

Al Arabiya: Houthi Militias Strike Residential Neighborhoods In Hodeidah

“Sources confirmed that Houthi militias have taken advantage of a truce they have broken in the city of Hodeidah and sent reinforcements to push further into the strategic Yemeni city. According to local sources, the militias fired tens of rockets towards residential neighborhoods south and east of the city. Additionally, the militias also attacked military concentrated areas in an attempt to regain some of the land it lost in the past few days. Meanwhile, coalition planes launched dozens of raids targeting militants on the northern lines of the city of Hodeidah and areas connecting Hodeidah with the governorates of Hajjah and al-Mahwit and Sanaa through the Directorate of Alduha and al-Qanbar.”

Qatar

Times Of Israel: Qatar Said To Reconsider Gaza Cash Transfers Amid Backlash

“Qatar is reportedly considering whether to continue with cash payments to Gaza, and mulling an alternative method for the transfer of the money, due to internal fears that by paying the salaries of Hamas members, it could be seen to be supporting terrorism. According to a report on the Walla news site, a document circulated internally among Qatari officials argues that the transfer of money to Hamas was a “problematic” move that led to criticism from both Israel and the Palestinians. The document says the cash transfer “only reinforces the negative view of Qatar as a financier of terror acting against the Sunni states.” Last year Saudi Arabia and its allies cut off ties with Qatar after accusing the gas-rich state of supporting extremism across the region. “If the intention was only to pay the salaries of government officials it would have been possible to transfer the money directly to their bank accounts, rather than cash — a method reminiscent of the mafia,” stated the report.”

Middle East

Daily Mail: 'It Sells Itself As A Way Of Being Respected And Making A Difference': Experts Claim ISIS Recruiting Tools Resemble Military Advertisements – And They're 'Dangerously Effective'

“ISIS is mimicking Australian military advertisements to recruit vulnerable men, experts have warned. Professor Greg Barton, chair of Global Islamic Politics at the Alfred Deakin Institute at Deakin University, told news.com.au the techniques being used help brainwash young Australians into thinking they can become part of a greater cause. 'If you look at ISIL (Islamic State) propaganda, disregarding the deliberately provocative stuff like beheadings, a lot of it resembles mainstream military recruitment,' Professor Barton said. 'It sells itself as a way of being respected, learning skills, doing interesting things and making a difference for a so-called important cause.'The Australian Defence Force (ADF) also advertise jobs by showing Australians that there is an important value to 'our way of life'. ‘Working in close cooperation, the Navy, Army and Air Force are tasked with the defence of: our nation, its borders and coastline our people and their values, and our way of life,' their website reads. They explain that life in the ADF is enjoyable, with 'days that are always different.”

Egypt

Egypt Today: Muslim Brotherhood Members Adopt ISIS Ideology In Prison

“Leader of the intellectual reviews of the Muslim Brotherhood youth in prisons, Amr Abdul-Hafiz, revealed on Thursday that many elements of the Muslim Brotherhood group adopted the ideology of ISIS in prison. “After five years of dealing with Muslim Brotherhood in prison since the ousting of Mohamed Morsi, I can divide MB members into four sections,” he said revealing that the first section possesses the same ideas and convictions, the second section tends to be more extreme and more violent, the third one started to accept the fact that the group should handle its situation with the government and the fourth wants to get out of prison after repentance.  He said that prisons repress extremists but do not deal with extremism, adding that " extremists may come out after a while, and prisons should turn into hospitals that deal with extremism.”  On September 23, Egypt’s Court of Cassation upheld a court ruling putting prominent Muslim Brotherhood leader and businessman Hassan Malek and 55 other MB members on the list of terrorist entities. On August 30, Cairo Criminal Court put the MB members on the terrorist list over accusations of damaging the Egyptian economy by smuggling foreign currencies and financially supporting terrorist groups. In 2015, the attorney general referred Malek and other defendants to the Emergency Court after he was arrested by security forces. Several members of Malek’s family were also added to the terror list endorsed by Cairo Criminal Court in December 2017.”

Libya

Reuters: Suspected Islamic State Gunmen Kill Nine In Southern Libya: Resident

“Gunmen on Friday raided a town deep in Libya’s southern desert, killing nine people and kidnapping several others, a resident said, with officials blaming the attack on the militant group Islamic State. A military source said the attackers had occupied a police station in the oasis town of Tazerbo, north of Kufra, until residents expelled them. The source also said the attackers were believed to belong to Islamic State. The town - which was a resting point for tourists going on Sahara camping tours before Libya plunged into chaos in 2011 - listed six residents on its website as having been killed. A resident said nine people had been killed and 10 wounded, adding that the attackers had kidnapped several policemen and civilians. Islamic State has staged several attacks on southern towns since withdrawing into the desert after losing its main stronghold, the coastal city of Sirte, late in 2016.”

Belfast Tribune: Frozen Libyan Assets In UK Worth £12bn Can't Be Paid To IRA Victims, Says Government

“The value of frozen Libyan assets held by the UK has risen to £12 billion but they cannot be used to compensate victims of its support for Irish republican terrorism, the Government has disclosed. Restrictions on how the seized money can be handled means part of the massive fund is in “negative yield”, witnesses told the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster. Ministers were accused by public representatives of treading water on efforts to secure reparation payments to victims of Libyan-sponsored IRA attacks while large sums languished in sealed coffers. That sounds like a Government that is prepared to tread water with no end in sight. Gregory Campbell Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister Alistair Burt said the North African country’s Government was primarily responsible for helping those who had suffered but British ministers were trying to facilitate progress. DUP East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said: “That sounds like a Government that is prepared to tread water with no end in sight.” A previous Libyan regime armed the Provisionals with massive amounts of weaponry, extending the Northern Ireland conflict and causing enormous human suffering, the committee has said. Chairman Andrew Murrison said he was disappointed no progress appeared to have been made on securing financial help for survivors of the violence after Mr Burt faced questioning for more than an hour.”

Nigeria

BBC News: Nigeria Admits Soldiers Were Killed In Metele 'Terror Attack'

“Nigeria's army has acknowledged for the first time that soldiers were killed in a militant attack last Sunday on a base in Borno state, in the north-east. It had been reported that at least 40 soldiers died when an Islamist militant group targeted the base in Metele. The army disputes that death toll but has not given its own figure. With just three months to go to presidential elections, the authorities are keen to show they have the security situation under control. President Muhammadu Buhari, who is running for a second term, came to power in 2015 after promising to defeat Boko Haram militants. The insurgents, who have caused havoc in Nigeria through a wave of attacks, are fighting to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state. 'Trying times' While the army has retaken most of the territory the militants once controlled, they are still able to carry out deadly attacks. In a statement, released on Friday evening, the army admits that it is operating in "trying times", which is a rare if veiled admission that the military is experiencing serious setbacks in the fight against the jihadists, says BBC Africa editor Will Ross. It added that "false casualty figures" and the sharing of inaccurate videos boost the "propaganda intent of the terrorists.”

News 24: Nigerian Soldiers Lash Out In Video After Bloody Boko Haram Attack

“Troops fighting on the frontlines of the Boko Haram conflict in northeastern Nigeria have released a video claiming at least 100 soldiers died in a recent attack and deploring the poor state of their equipment. In the five-minute video seen by AFP on Saturday, a soldier narrating in the background shows the burnt shells of several tanks and vehicles at the Metele base, which was attacked by the IS-affiliated Islamic State West Africa Province on November 18. At least 43 soldiers were killed in the attack according to military and civilian sources, though the army disputes the death toll. The video came as it emerged Saturday that around a dozen girls had been kidnapped by suspected members of Boko Haram in border villages in southeastern Niger. It underscored growing desperation among troops, who in June protested at being redeployed to the remote Lake Chad region after fighting Boko Haram jihadists for years without relief.”

Agence France Presse: Boko Haram Attacks Leave 53 Dead In Pre-Election Show Of Force

“Boko Haram jihadists have killed 53 soldiers and farmers in three days of attacks in northeastern Nigeria, security sources said on Tuesday, in a new show of force ahead of February elections in the West African country. Despite the government's insistence that Boko Haram is near defeat, the group has recently carried out a string of major attacks on military and civilian targets. President Muhammadu Buhari, seeking re-election in February, faces widespread criticism over his security record as soldiers based in the northeast regularly complain of fatigue and insufficient supplies of food and arms. The Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), a Boko Haram splinter group, killed at least 44 soldiers in attacks on three military bases at the weekend, according to security sources. Of those, at least 43 were killed on Sunday in Metele, a remote village near the border with Niger, according to a military officer who requested anonymity. "Our troops were completely routed and the terrorists captured the base after heavy fighting," he told AFP, adding that the base commander and three officers were among the dead. A search was under way for survivors or further victims in the surrounding bush, he said. A pro-government militiaman said the jihadists arrived on around 20 trucks and army air support did not arrive until after they had "invaded the base and looted the weapons". The same day, jihadists also launched a pre-dawn attack on a base in the town of Gajiram, some 80km north of the Borno state capital, Maiduguri. Fighting lasted several hours, local residents told AFP.”

Somalia

Military Times: US Airstrikes In Somalia Kill 6 Al-Shabab Extremists

“The U.S. military on Thursday announced the latest of several deadly airstrikes this week against al-Shabab extremists in Somalia as it targets a region well north of where the al-Qaida-linked fighters control large parts of the country. The U.S. Africa Command statement said two new strikes killed six fighters and destroyed a weapons cache on Wednesday near Harardere. That al-Shabab-controlled community last month was targeted by the deadliest U.S. airstrike in almost a year, with dozens of extremists killed. The U.S. has now carried out 35 airstrikes this year against al-Shabab, Africa’s deadliest Islamic extremist group, which continues to stage deadly attacks in the capital, Mogadishu, and other cities. Somali intelligence officials said the latest airstrikes targeted locations in the rural villages of Jimo-Luqunyar and Adaley, 75 kilometers (46 miles) northeast of Harardere. They said at least four missiles hit a base for over 30 extremists assigned to collect livestock taxes from nomadic communities in the area. The officials requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.”

Capital News: Two US Air Strikes Kill 37 Al-Shabaab In Somalia

“The first air strike left 27 militants dead while 10 others were killed in the second attack. In a statement, the US says the air strikes conducted on Tuesday reduced Al-Shabaab’s ability to plot future attacks, disrupted its leadership networks and degraded its freedom to manoeuvre within the region. No civilian was killed during the two air strikes. The US has committed to continue supporting Somalia and other AMISOM forces by ensuring the militants are flushed out from their safe havens. Reports indicate that the Al-Shabaab has been using portions of Southern and Central Somalia to plot and direct terror attacks, steal humanitarian aid, extort the local populace to fund its operations and shelter radical terrorists. “The desired end state in East Africa is one in which terrorist organisations cannot destabilise Somalia and its neighbouring states nor threaten the interests of the US and its international allies in the region,” reads a statement by the US Africa Command (AFRICOM). “Accordingly, the US Africa Command will continue to work with its partners to transfer the responsibility for long-term security in Somalia from the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) to the Federal Government of Somalia and its member states,” it added. On October 16, a similar air strike killed 60 in Central Somalia. This was the deadliest attack since November 2017 when 100 terrorists were killed. In the past, the US forces have been accused of killing civilians during the air strikes. Since 2007, Al Shabaab has fought to overthrow successive internationally-backed governments in Mogadishu. It was in 2011 that the Al-Qaeda affiliated group was pushed out of Mogadishu, the Somali capital and subsequently from other key towns including the port city of Kismayu.”

Africa

Al Jazeera: Mali: Senior Member Of JNIM Amadou Koufa Killed In French Raid

“A senior Malian member of the Jama'at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) armed group has been killed in a raid led by French forces, according to the Malian army. "I confirm that Amadou Koufa was killed during the operation," Malian army spokesperson Colonel Diarran Kone told Reuters news agency on Saturday. He declined to elaborate. France's army had said on Friday that Koufa may have been killed in the operation in the central Mopti region that "put out of action" about 30 of his group's fighters. General Abdoulaye Cisse told AFP news agency on Saturday that Koufa was killed in the Wagadou forest. "He died of his injuries," he said. "After the military operation the terrorist Koufa was seriously injured and taken away by his supporters before he died," another military official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity. JNIM has not commented on the reports of Koufa's death yet. Koufa, a preacher, was one of the top deputies to Iyad Ag Ghali, the leader of Mali's most prominent armed group JNIM.”

Voice Of America: Al-Shabab Militants Kill 15 In Attack On Religious Center

“Al-Shabab militants have attacked the compound of a controversial cleric in the central Somalia town of Galkayo, killing him and at least 14 other people, officials and witnesses said. Residents in the town said they woke up Monday to huge explosions followed by heavy, sustained gunfire at the compound in the southern half of the town. Witnesses said that at around 6 a.m. local time, a car bomb rammed into the gate followed by suicide infantry who stormed the compound. The compound has been the headquarters of the Sufi cleric Sheikh Abdiweli Ali Elmi and his congregation. Al-Shabab accused him of committing blasphemy last year and threatened to kill him after he posted controversial videos on YouTube. Religious leaders criticized him for posting videos that showed the cleric pointing to a picture some thought represented the Prophet Muhammad. He was also condemned for using music in his worship services.”

Agence France Presse: Islamic State Claims 118 Killed In Self-Styled ‘West Africa Province’

“The Islamic State group has claimed to have killed 118 people in its self-styled West Africa province in the last week, after a series of attacks against military bases in northeast Nigeria that have raised fears of a resurgent Boko Haram. The Islamist militant group said in a video posted online that it conducted five operations in Chad and Nigeria between November 15 and 21, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist activity. No other details were given but the claim follows recent attacks on army bases in Borno state, northeast Nigeria, which has been the epicenter of the deadly nine-year conflict. Security sources said at least 44 soldiers were killed in an attack in Metele village, near the border with Niger, on Sunday, although one soldier who escaped gave a higher toll. “The truth is we lost more than 100 men because we were quickly routed,” he said on condition of anonymity from the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, on Friday. “We were outgunned, so we tried to fight. We realized it was unrealistic so we decided to leave.” Most of the soldiers were killed as the trucks they were in tried to crash through a perimeter fence at the base but got stuck. Senior officers were among the dead, he added. Even a search team that came to find the bodies of fallen soldiers on Tuesday was attacked, the soldier said. Regional threat AFP has reported at least 17 attempts to overrun army bases since July. Many have been claimed by the IS-backed Boko Haram faction, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP). Security analysts said more attacks were expected in the run-up to February 16, when Nigerians go to the polls to elect a new president and parliament.”

United Kingdom

The New York Times: U.K. Panel Finds ‘Litany Of Errors’ In Response To Terrorist Attacks

“A damning parliamentary report released on Thursday raised questions about the way Britain tracked terrorism suspects, accusing the authorities of moving too slowly to forestall one of five major jihadist attacks in 2017 and finding a “litany of errors” in the handling of another. The report by the cross-party Intelligence and Security Committee — titled “The 2017 Attacks: What Needs to Change?” — offered an unusual admission by MI5, the domestic security service, that it had made a mistake in not tracking the suspect in a lethal Manchester bombing. The report also offered a sharp counterpoint over all to the portrait offered by security and policing agencies of their successes in foiling terrorist plots. The conspiracies have proliferated since July 7, 2005, when suicide bombers killed 52 subway and bus travelers in London. The parliamentary report drew some broad conclusions, saying that the police and the security services were not sharing information as efficiently as they should and criticizing official efforts to persuade big technology companies to remove jihadist material from their platforms.”

The Sun: Brit ISIS Hacker Carried Out Cyber Attacks To Leak Identities Of US Military Personnel For Terror Group’s ‘Kill List’

“A british ISIS jihadi carried out a series of cyberattacks that targeted America servicemen and women inside the United States, a new book says. Junaid Hussain rose to become the group’s number three as it embarked on its brutal rampage that saw it occupy huge swathes of Syria and Iraq.  He was married to fellow terrorist “White Widow” Sally Jones and was killed aged 21 in a drone strike in 2015. The Birmingham-born jihadi’s story features in a new book by John P Carlin, a former senior official in the US Department of Justice. Hussain “successfully executed one of the most global cyber plots we’d ever seen”, Carlin writes in Dawn of the Code War: America’s Battle Against Russia, China, and the Rising Global Cyber Threat. “A British terrorist of Pakistani descent, living in Syria, recruited a Kosovar hacker who was studying computer science in Malaysia, to enable attacks on American servicemen and women inside the United States,” says Carlin. Hussain started hacking aged 11 and in 2011 was part of a group of “hacktivists” who hacked Tony Blair’s personal assistant, then released the former Prime Minister's address book online. He was jailed for six months for the stunt but became radicalised and travelled to Syria to join ISIS, soon after marrying Jones, who was herself killed in 2017. Hussain became part of the terrorists’ propaganda war, the so-called the CyberCaliphate, using the name Abu Hussain al-Britani. They defaced websites and seized control of home pages as well as social media accounts.”

France

PM News: French Court Jails Islamic State Returnee For 10 Years

“A French Court has handed a 10-year prison sentence to a man who travelled to Syria and joined the Islamic State Extremist Group, Prosecutors in Paris said on Friday. The Paris Court of Assizes found Mohammed Reda Ouharani guilty of travelling to Syria to join Islamic State, undergoing military and religious training and participating in the group’s activities. Ouharani, a French national born in Algeria in 1991, also travelled to Lebanon with the intention of carrying out a suicide attack against members of the Shiite Muslim community, the court found. After his return to France, he stayed in contact with Islamic State handlers and suggested carrying out an attack in France. Islamic State has claimed credit for most of the terrorist attacks that killed no fewer than 230 people in France in 2015 and 2016. The group, which has now lost almost all the territory it controlled in Syria and Iraq has repeatedly called on its supporters abroad to carry out attacks against civilian and military targets, often singling out France.”

The Express: France Terror Plot: ISIS Planned Attack On French Fuel Tax Protests - ‘It’s Going To BLEED

“The suspected jihadists were placed in pre-trial detention over the weekend after being officially charged with “conspiracy to commit a terrorist act” on the first day of nationwide demonstrations against higher fuel taxes and President Emmanuel Macron’s economic policies. Three of the suspects were arrested near the southeastern French town of Lyon last Tuesday, an anonymous police source told the daily. Two of the men are brothers aged 23 and 35 who are known to police as “radicalised”, according to newspaper Le Parisien. The third is a 52-year-old man who is also believed to be an aspiring jihadist. The fourth suspect is already serving a prison sentence for terrorism offences. The 25-year-old, who has been described by police as “very radicalised” and as the terror group’s “mentor,” communicated with the other men using a mobile phone hidden in his cell.   Although police remain unsure of the precise target, enough evidence was gathered during raids on the suspects’ homes to confirm that the men had planned to take advantage of the chaos caused by anti-fuel tax protesters to launch a violent attack on French soil.”

Australia

Associated Press: Australian Judge Sentences IS Supporter To 38 Years In Jail

“A supporter of the Islamic State group who helped a teenager kill a police accountant in Sydney was sentenced to 38 years in prison on Friday, as Australia's prime minister argued for greater government power to strip extremists of citizenship. Milad Atai had pleaded guilty to assisting and encouraging Iranian-born Farhad Jabar, 15, to shoot Curtis Cheng as he walked from the police building on Oct. 2, 2015. Atai also pleaded guilty to helping Jabar's older sister Shadi Jabar Khalil Mohammed fly to Syria a day earlier. Jabar was shot dead by police, and a year later the sister died with her Sudanese husband in an airstrike in Syria. Justice Peter Johnson of the New South Wales state Supreme Court ordered Atai, 22, to serve a minimum 28 ½ years behind bars before he becomes eligible for parole. Johnson said Atai had supported extreme jihad for several months before the shooting and appeared to still hold radical views. As Atai was led away from court, he raised an index finger in the direction of the judge in an Islamic State salute. A fellow member of his Islamic State cell, Raban Alou, gave the same judge the same salute when he was sentenced in March to 44 years in prison for giving Jabar the .38 revolver used to kill Cheng. The 20-year-old must serve at least 33 years in prison. Talal Alameddine, the 25-year-old who supplied Alou with the gun, was sentenced in May to 17 years in prison and must service at least 13 ½ years. Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday outlined legislation to strip Australian citizenship from any dual national convicted of a terrorism offence.”

Technology

The Telegraph: Social Media Giants ‘Risk Lives’ By Not Helping Police 

“Social media firms failed to alert ­police to any suspicious terrorist activity on their platforms for four years, the UK’s former head of counter-terrorism reveals today, as he demands they face financial penalties. Sir Mark Rowley, who headed Britain’s anti-terror police until earlier this year, said their failure to pass on information had been “wholly irresponsible” and put lives at risk. Sir Mark oversaw police investigations into all recent major terror ­attacks, including the Manchester Arena bombing that claimed 22 lives, the Westminster Bridge attack in which Pc Keith Palmer was stabbed to death by terrorist Khalid Masood, and the London Bridge attack in which eight people died. Writing for The Daily Telegraph ­today, Sir Mark says: “In nearly four years leading police counter-terrorism efforts, I saw zero proactive reports of suspicious behaviour to us by any of these companies. This is irresponsible. “When a social media firm finds someone sharing the most gruesome terrorism material or bomb-making instructions and then cancels their account, they do not tell the p-olice. “This makes the work of police and MI5 more difficult and endangers the public’s safety.” Sir Mark said his time coincided with the rise of Isil which, unlike al-Qaeda or the IRA, operated as an “open-source terror organisation” – which he referred to as a “cult” – that ­radicalised supporters through propaganda on the internet, including via social media. He said the tech and social media companies had been “too late and too slow” in responding to this new threat, which was why he believed it would take a combination of “regulation and financial sanctions, as well as persuasion, to put the public interest at the centre of these companies’ policies.”

CNBC: UK Lawmakers Urge Firms To Boycott Tech Giants Who Fail To Tackle Terrorist

“U.K. lawmakers urged advertisers to boycott internet firms that fail to remove or control the publication of extremist content. In a report published Thursday evening, the U.K. Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee concluded that security agencies needed help from the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Google to curb the "enormous growth" in online extremist material. The committee said online communications service providers (CSPs) had made "little tangible progress over the last four years" to tackle the publication of this content. "Action that affects the CSPs' profits clearly hits home harder than any sense of 'doing the right thing'," the report said. "Encouraging companies who advertise on the CSPs' platforms to put pressure on the CSPs to remove extremist content — with the threat of pulling their adverts if they do not — will have more impact on the CSPs.”

The New York Times: The New Radicalization Of The Internet

“Social media has played a key role in the recent rise of violent right-wing extremism in the United States, including three recent incidents — one in which a man was accused of sending mail bombs to critics of the president, another in which a man shot dead two African-Americans in a Kroger’s grocery store in Kentucky, and a third in which a man is accused of conducting a murderous rampage at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. Each of these attacks falls under the definition of right-wing extremism by the Global Terrorism Database at the University of Maryland: “violence in support of the belief that personal and/or national way of life is under attack and is either already lost or that the threat is imminent." Antiglobalism, racial or ethnic supremacy, nationalism, suspicion of the federal government, obsessions over individual liberty — these are all hallmarks of this network of ideologies, which is, of course, shot through with conspiracy theories.”

The Wall Street Journal: Facebook’s Latest Headache Is A Bikini App That Shut Down In 2015

“When a small app developer sued Facebook Inc. FB -2.29% in 2015 over how it restricts access to user data, the action got little attention, in part because the social-media giant successfully sought to have most of the court records sealed. Now that lawsuit is adding to Facebook’s mounting headaches, with a British lawmaker saying on Sunday that he has obtained documents from the case and is considering releasing them to the public. Damian Collins, chairman of the House of Commons Digital, Media, Culture and Sport Committee, said he had secured the documents from Six4Three LLC, which sued Facebook in 2015 alleging that its data policies were anticompetitive and favored certain companies over others. Mr. Collins, a Conservative member of Parliament, has been in the forefront of British lawmakers voicing concerns about the political abuses of social media. Mr. Collins is due to head an international panel he has convened on Tuesday in London that will question Facebook’s vice president of policy solutions, Richard Allan, on “fake news” and disinformation.”

Terrorist Financing

Erem News: Iraq: Huge Budget Of Popular Mobilization Forces Spurs Anger Amid Terrorist Financing Suspicions

“Entifadh Qanbar, Head of the Iraqi Future Constitutional Party, stated that the budget allotted for the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) is equivalent to 20% of Jordan's overall budget, or 25% of Lebanon's overall budget. The PMF receives funds from the Iraqi state, even though its loyalty belongs to other countries, Qanbar stressed. The Chairman of the Iraqi Future Constitutional Party added that a large portion of the PMF's budget, which is estimated at $1.7 billion {per annum}, is being embezzled by the leaders of this Iran-backed Iraqi Shiite militia. For his part, Sheikh Muzahim al-Hweit, Spokesman for Mosul's Arab Tribes in Nineveh, disclosed that some of the money allotted for the PMF is being sent on to the Houthi rebels in Yemen and to other militias in Syria.”