Eye on Extremism: November 29

The Guardian: Taliban Carry Out Deadly Attack On G4S Compound In Kabul

“Gunmen have attacked a British security contractors’ compound in Kabul, killing at least 10 people and wounding 19 hours after the Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, outlined plans for peace in the country. The Taliban claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s attack, which began when a car bomb exploded outside a G4S facility on the main road leading eastwards out of the Afghan capital. “A number of gunmen entered the G4S compound right after the car bomb,” said Najib Danish, a spokesman for the interior ministry. The attack on a well-protected site underlines how insecure Kabul remains despite efforts by the US and the Afghan government to open peace talks with the Taliban to end more than 17 years of war. “It is unfortunate and events like this bolster our resolve for peace,” said Hamdullah Mohib, the Afghan national security adviser, on the sidelines of a UN-sponsored conference in Geneva where Ghani repeated calls for peace with the Taliban. Zabihullah Mujahid, one of the Taliban’s two official spokesmen, said the attack had been launched in retaliation for casualties caused by Afghan security forces in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar. G4S is among a number of foreign security contractors that operate in Afghanistan and provides guards for the area around the British embassy in Kabul. “We can confirm that there has been an incident at one of our locations in Kabul.”

Rudaw: What Is Stalling The Fight Against ISIS In East Syria?

“The Islamic State group has fiercely defended its last holdout in eastern Syria against a more than two-month military offensive by a Kurdish-Arab alliance backed by a US-led coalition. After the Syrian Democratic Forces alliance successfully expelled the jihadists from other parts of war-torn Syria, why is this latest battle in the far east taking so long? Who is inside the holdout? Hundreds of fighters are believed to be inside the pocket, which lies in the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor near the Iraqi border. The US-led coalition has estimated some 2,000 fighters to be present in the holdout, which includes the towns of Hajin, Sousa and Al-Shaafa. According to SDF commanders on the front line, a great number of those combatants are likely to be non-Syrians. The SDF has said it believes "major leaders" of IS are hiding inside the pocket, where most front line commanders are Iraqis. Nicholas Heras, an analyst at the Center for a New American Security, says "a mini army of several hundred fighters... has been assembled by IS there, including some of its best snipers.”

Associated Press: British Diplomat Says Yemen Talks On Next Week In Stockholm

“Britain’s ambassador to Yemen said Thursday he has spoken with representatives from the country’s warring sides and that he expects them to attend peace talks that are to begin next week in Stockholm. However, overnight fighting cast a cloud on efforts to establish a cease-fire in the war-torn Arab country. Peace talks to end Yemen’s three-year war pitting a Saudi-led coalition and rival Iran-aligned Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, have repeatedly fallen through, most recently in September after the rebels did not attend. Ambassador Michael Aron posted on Twitter that he had spoken with Mohammed Abdel-Salam, a spokesman for the rebels, and also met with Khaled al-Yemeni, the foreign minister for Yemen’s internationally recognized government. “I have booked my trip and look forward to seeing you there leading your delegation,” he said in an Arabic message to Abdel-Salam. “The political solution is the way forward and these consultations are a great step forward.” Aron also sent al-Yemeni a similar message, but did not mention where they had met. In the latest sign that de-escalation efforts are failing on the ground, the Houthis said they fired ballistic missiles into Saudi Arabia on Wednesday for the first time since saying they would stop such cross-border attacks on Nov. 18 as a sign of good will.”

The National: Children In Syria's War Being Killed At Higher Rate Than In 2013

“Children are being killed or maimed in Syria's civil war at a rate higher than five years ago, with the regime's barrel bomb attacks and air strikes among the largest cause of fatalities, said a UN Security Council report released Wednesday. In all, investigators verified 12,537 grave violations against children, with all parties to the conflict guilty of breaching international law affecting minors. And with the conflict now in its eighth year boys and girls continue to be recruited for combat roles, including by the government. The report, titled ‘Children and armed conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic’, covered the period between November 16, 2013 and the end of June this year. Intense fighting in that time as well as the plethora of countries and groups involved means the numbers are likely a gross underestimate, the UN said. “All parties to the conflict have flagrantly violated their obligations to protect children under international humanitarian and human rights law,” the report said. “Indiscriminate attacks, including aerial attacks and the use of barrel bombs by government forces were the primary cause of death and maiming among children.”

The Verge: Seized Documents Reveal That Facebook Knew About Russian Data Harvesting As Early As 2014

“Facebook was apparently aware of Russian-linked data harvesting as early as 2014, according to an email from a Facebook engineer. The email was contained in internal documents that were seized by the UK Parliament and revealed at a hearing today by MP Damian Collins, via Bloomberg. It’s the latest blow to Facebook’s inability to protect its users’ data, following breaches like the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the login data hack earlier this year. Facebook didn’t comment on the documents during the UK hearing. Richard Allan, the vice president of policy solutions at Facebook, refused to discuss the email, which had been sealed by courts in California along with other documents from Six4Three, the defunct app developer that was suing Facebook for an unrelated issue in the US and was forced to provide these documents to Parliament earlier this week. This is not the first incident involving Russian influence on Facebook. The company has faced congressional concern regarding Russian ads that appeared during the 2016 US election season, and it has repeatedly banned misinformation accounts from the Russian-based Internet Research Agency over the course of 2018.”

The National Herald: Greek Education Minister Says Golden Dawn Luring High Schoolers

“Greek Education Minister Costas Gavroglou said the ultra-extreme rightist Golden Dawn, whose 15 lawmakers and dozens of members are in the fourth year of a trial on charges of running a criminal gang, is trying to recruit teen students to its ranks. The Counter-Extremism Project said the party is focused on recruiting from Greek’s youth population, using gyms, athletic clubs, and martial arts clubs and especially likes to go after gullible high schoolers and accused by critics of using an indoctrination course called “national awakening,” aimed at children ages 6-10. The Counter Extremism Project said Golden Dawn has a youth club, Galazia Stratia (Blue Army) and tries to bribe young potential recruits and hands out cell phones to students and even uses music to lure them.”

United States

The Hill: Former Navy SEAL Says US Strategy To Defeat ISIS Could Work In Long Term

“Former Navy SEAL Ephraim Mattos said in an interview that aired Wednesday on "Rising" on Hill.TV that he agrees with the current U.S. strategy aimed at defeating an insurgency led by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Iraq, and that the plan could work in the long term. "I personally support our current policy of having small, special operation units in the area to sort of advise and assist," Mattos, who was a combat medic during the battle to retake Mosul from ISIS in 2017, told Hill.TV's Buck Sexton earlier this month.  "Not be directly involved in the front lines fighting, but [to] take a step back, and allow the Iraqis to do it. I think that that was a very, very good policy on our end," he continued.  The terror organization controlled large portions of Syria and Iraq in 2014, however, U.S. and Iraqi-led coalition forces managed to reduce the amount of ISIS-controlled territory drastically.  ISIS currently controls just 1 percent of the territory it used to control, and the militants have resorted to insurgent methods including bombings and kidnappings in an effort to retain what power they have.  "We could have reinvaded and put tons of boots on the ground, but that's not going to fix the problem long-term. So I personally agree with, again, sending in the small advisory, special operations teams, who call in airstrikes, give sniper support, and advise and assist," Mattos said.”

Pacific Standard: 'Hate Is Just Exhausting': Growing Up With—And Running Away From—The Ku Klux Klan

“Earlier this month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released its annual hate crime report, reporting that the number of hate crimes committed in 2017 was 17 percent higher than the previous year. Although the FBI's report does not offer any explanation for this increase, the role of white nationalism is apparent, especially when considering the victims (mostly black and Jewish) and the perpetrators (mostly white and Christian). As appalling as the FBI report is, it's also quite intangible—a mere compilation of statistics. The most lasting and profound insights into white nationalism can be gleaned from those who've experienced its grip firsthand. To that end, Jvonne Hubbard's memoir, White Sheets to Brown Babies, released earlier this year, is a harrowing and invaluable resource. Hubbard's memories of white nationalism date back to when she was five years old. Her father, Joel, began to hold meetings of the Ku Klux Klan at her childhood home outside of Asheville, North Carolina, and would eventually become a "Grand Dragon" (Klan-speak for a local leader). He would also impose his ideology upon Jvonne, dressing her in white robes and Confederate caps and encouraging a hateful disposition toward her black classmates. Ultimately, Jvonne rejected her father and his doctrine, moving out of the house and excommunicating herself from the family.”

Miami Herald: Florida Man Faces Terrorism Charge After He Threatens To Blow Up Sheriff’s Office, Cops Say

“A Bradenton man is facing a terrorism charge after he threatened to blow up the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, according to a probable cause affidavit. The sheriff’s office has been receiving “disturbing” messages via Facebook Messenger since March from someone who identified himself as “Ljameer Muhammad,” according to the report. Detectives eventually identified Jamer Lomant Lawrence, 28, as being the person behind the threats. Last week he was arrested and charged with one count of threatening to commit an act of terrorism. Lawrence is being held at the Manatee County jail on a $20,000 bond. Should he be released, a judge has ordered he be monitored through the supervised release program.  On Nov. 18, three days before his arrest, “the messages became more intense,” according to detectives. Lawrence claimed to be from the Middle East and seeking to complete his mission so that he would be recognized by Allah, according to the charges. “I will see too y’all Hell,” Lawrence allegedly wrote on Nov. 20. “Come get meeeeee I going to Blowww that Too The walking floor .... I’m going to hell today.” Lawrence sent several others messages and made references to the sheriff’s office operations center, 600 U.S. 301 Blvd. W., Bradenton, that were deemed credible by detectives.”

Syria

Business Insider: U.N. Says Astana Meeting On Syria A Missed Opportunity, No Progress

“Russia, Turkey and Iran failed to make any tangible progress in setting up a Syrian constitutional committee at a meeting in the Kazakh capital Astana, the office of U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura said in a statement on Thursday. "Special Envoy de Mistura deeply regrets ... there was no tangible progress in overcoming the ten-month stalemate on the composition of the constitutional committee," it said. "This was the last occasion of an Astana meeting in 2018 and has, sadly for the Syrian people, been a missed opportunity to accelerate the establishment of a credible, balanced and inclusive, Syrian-owned, Syrian-led, UN-facilitated constitutional committee.”

Military.Com: Mattis Orders US Troops To Set Up Observation Posts In Northern Syria

“Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has ordered U.S. troops to set up observation posts in northern Syria with a dual purpose -- to warn Turkey of threats and to stop the Turkish military from attacking U.S.-backed opposition forces. In an informal session with Pentagon reporters last Wednesday, Mattis said the personnel at the observation posts would come from the estimated 2,000 U.S. troops already in Syria on train, advise and assist missions and would not require bringing in additional forces. "We are putting observation posts in several locations up along the northern Syrian border because we want to be the people who call the Turks and warn them if we see something coming out of an area that we're operating in," Mattis said, referring to the U.S. troops working with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to eliminate the last remnants of the Islamic State in Syria around the town of Al-Tanf near the Iraqi border. "We are going to track any threat we can spot going up into Turkey," he said. "That means we'll be talking to Turkish military across the border.”

Al Bawaba: 1,900 Bodies Pulled From Mosul Rubble Following ISIS Carnage - Local NGO

“Around 1,900 bodies have been pulled from the rubble in the northern city of Mosul following Iraq’s three-year conflict (2014-2017) with the ISIS terrorist group, a local civil-defense official said Wednesday. "Civil-defense teams have so far recovered some 1,900 bodies found under the rubble of destroyed buildings in Mosul's Old City district," Fahed al-Abed, a civil-defense official in Iraq’s Nineveh province (of which Mosul is provincial capital), said. In May, Nineveh’s civil-defense directorate began combing the rubble of Mosul -- once a ISIS stronghold -- in an effort to recover the bodies of civilians and slain ISIS fighters. According to al-Abed, most of the recovered bodies are those of unidentified militants. "There are also many bodies of women and children believed to have been the families of ISIS members," he added, without explaining how he had reached this assumption.”

DW: UN Wants Syria To Account For War Dead, Detainees

“The UN has called on the Syrian government to provide information about thousands of detained and missing people. "Now is the moment" to provide the information, not after the war ends, a UN official said. Paulo Pinheiro, the head of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, on Wednesday said "now is the moment" for the Syrian government to provide information and "promptly, thoroughly, transparently, and independently" investigate all deaths in custody or resulting from summary or extrajudicial executions. During a closed, informal meeting of the Security Council on Wednesday, he said the 15 Council members were expected to understand that the issues of detainees and disappeared is not to be dealt with after a peace deal, but that "now is the moment" to consider their fate. "We're saying the families have a right to know what happened, where the bodies are, to get information about them," Pinheiro told reporters after briefing the Security Council. More than 360,000 people have died in the 7-year war, according to estimates from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.”

Associated Press: Russia Says Islamic State Militants Plan Chemical Attack

“The Russian Defense Ministry says militants are preparing a chemical attack on the U.S.-backed fighters in eastern Syria. The ministry said in Wednesday’s statement that it had learned from multiple intelligence sources that militants from the Islamic State group were rigging mortar rounds with combat chemical agents in preparation for the attack on the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. It said the militants in Kishma plan to launch an attack on Hajin in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour. The ministry charged that the militants intend to conduct the shelling from the direction where the Syrian army units are located in the hope of provoking a U.S. counterstrike on the government forces’ positions. The ministry added it would dispatch a chemical weapons protection unit to the area to monitor the situation.”

Iran

Reuters: France, Germany Taking Charge Of EU-Iran Trade Move But Oil Sales In Doubt

“France and Germany are to take joint responsibility for an EU-Iran trade mechanism to minimize the risk of U.S. punishment but few now believe it will cover oil sales, heightening fears for the fate of the landmark international nuclear deal with Iran. Diplomats said the French-German gambit is a “safety-in-numbers” tactic to overcome the refusal of individual EU states to host the mechanism to sidestep the risk of being targeted by the revived U.S. sanctions regime against Iran. But with U.S. threats of retribution for sanctions-busting unrelenting, they told Reuters that the goals of the nascent trade mechanism could be scaled back to encompass only less sensitive items such as humanitarian and food products. That may well fall short of what Iran’s moderates wish for to fend off anti-Western hardliners demanding Tehran ditch the 2015 nuclear deal which they opposed in the first place. “The SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle for trade) is important, but what’s more important to the Iranians is oil and ensuring their exports in the long term,” said a senior French diplomat.”

ABC News: Iran Says It Has Added 2 Mini Submarines To Its Naval Fleet

“Iran's navy has acquired two new mini submarines designed for operations in shallow waters such as the Persian Gulf, the Iranian state TV reported on Thursday. The report said one of the mini submarines — also known as midget submarines — was dubbed Ghadir-955 and was built in 18 months. The other, a previously built Ghadir-942, took 10 months to overhaul. The subs have sonar-evading technology and can launch missiles from under water, as well as fire torpedoes and drop marine mines, the TV said. Iran began manufacturing Ghadir subs in 2005. The first was unveiled in 2007 and by 2012, five such submarines were incorporated into Iran's navy. Midget submarines weigh less than 150 metric tons and are used for short missions, with no living accommodations for a crew of up to nine. The TV broadcast footage of the inauguration of one the submarine in southern port of Bandar Abbas, at the mouth of the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the passageway for nearly a third of all oil traded by sea.”

Iraq

Kurdistan 24: Fight Against Islamic State Harder After Military Defeat: Masoud Barzani

“Former Kurdistan Region President and current leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Masoud Barzani, on Wednesday highlighted the ongoing challenges of fighting the Islamic State (IS) after the groups’ 2017 military defeat in Iraq and strategic turn to an insurgency. “Da’esh (IS) is not defeated and will not be ended easily,” Barzani said in response to a Kurdistan 24 question at a press conference in Erbil’s Pirmam, adding that the fight has become more challenging as the jihadist group’s militants are now “unseen.” The presser comes a day after the Kurdish leader returned from a tour to Iraq’s Baghdad and Najaf where he met with various officials to discuss Erbil-Baghdad relations. After Iraq, Barzani left for the UAE and Kuwait, highlighting Kurdistan’s ties with the Gulf countries. “Then, [IS] was on the ground, now, they are underground,” added Barzani. “Da’esh has returned to a lot of the areas much worse than before.” He gave the provinces of Nineveh, Diyala, and Salahuddin as examples, where attacks by the group continue. “They are back in force as reasons that resulted in the formation of IS and al-Qaeda before it,” Barzani explained, “had not been solved.” “It will not be easy,” he noted, but efforts must be made to uproot those issues, otherwise IS, something similar to it, or worse will come back.”

Al Masdar: Iraqi Hezbollah Demands US Leave Iraq

“Iraq’s Hezbollah Al-Nujaba forces told Iran’s Al-Abna News Agency on Wednesday that the U.S. must leave their country immediately. “We don’t allow even one US soldier on Iraqi territories and holy sites,” Ali Aboud, an Iraqi Hezbollah envoy to Iran Al-Abna, as quoted by Bas News Agency. He reportedly said Iraqi Hezbollah has opposed the U.S.’ presence since they first launched their operation in 2003. The Iraqi Hezbollah official accused the U.S. of working with the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh) in order to destabilize Iraq.”

Afghanistan

Foreign Affairs: The Taliban’s Battle Plan

“Zalmay Khalilzad, the United States’ envoy for Afghan reconciliation, has breathed new life into attempts to conduct peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Having met with Taliban representatives in Qatar and lobbied leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Khalilzad now says he is “cautiously optimistic” about reaching a peace deal by April of next year. Yet as far as Taliban leaders are concerned, the group has little reason to commit to a peace process: it is on a winning streak. The Taliban control key Afghan highways and are conducting targeted assassinations across the country. They have made important territorial gains and now have complete or partial control over some 250 of about 400 districts. These gains are not sufficient to pose an existential threat to an Afghan government with U.S. backing, but they have emboldened the Taliban to keep fighting, in the hope of eventually eroding U.S. resolve. Even if Khalilzad manages to bring the Taliban to the table, don’t expect his efforts to produce a lasting peace anytime soon. On the surface, the balance of power in Afghanistan appears to be shifting in the Taliban’s favor, especially since their annual spring offensive began in April. The insurgents billed the military operation—which they named “Al Khandaq,” after a historic battle fought by the Prophet Muhammad—as a campaign to “crush, kill, and capture” invading U.S. forces and their allies while avoiding harm to civilians.”

Al Jazeera: Afghan President Announces Team To Hold Peace Talks With Taliban

“The Afghan government has formed a 12-member team to hold peace talks with the Taliban, President Ashraf Ghani announced in the Swiss city of Geneva on Wednesday. "I'm pleased to announce today that after several months of intensive consultation with our citizens across the country, we have formulated a road map for peace negotiations," he said at the two-day United Nations conference on Afghanistan to renew a process of development and reform. "The constitutional rights and obligations, of all citizens, especially women, should be ensured," Ghani said. The Afghan leader also announced that the negotiating team will be led by presidential chief of staff Salam Rahimi and will include men and women with the "necessary credentials to deal with the key challenges of peace negotiations". Ghani said he is hoping for a peace agreement in which the Taliban would be included in a democratic and inclusive society, but added that no organisation that has ties with "terrorist networks" will be allowed to join the political process. European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini called the plan "a courageous peace offer to the Taliban", adding that it offered "unique opportunities to break the stalemate and move the country forward". "I underline forward, not backwards, because this is an unconditional offer for peace talks, but it is not unconditional as a result of peace talks that can be started," she said.”

The Economic Times: India Calls For 'Verifiable Actions' To End Terror Safe Havens, Sanctuaries Outside Afghanistan 

“India on Wednesday said that for sustainable peace, prosperity and stability in Afghanistan it is important that the world community continues to support the Afghan government and its defence forces to combat terror and ensure that "verifiable actions" are taken to end safe havens and sanctuaries outside the war-torn country. Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh said here that India supports all efforts for a political settlement in Afghanistan which are inclusive, promote unity, security, democracy and build a self-reliant and prosperous country. He emphasised on the Afghan side having a greater responsibility in running and managing its own affairs. "For sustainable peace, prosperity and stability it is equally important that the international community continue to support the Afghan government, the people and the National Defence Forces of Afghanistan to combat terror and violence imposed on them and ensure that verifiable actions are taken to end safe havens and sanctuaries outside Afghanistan," Singh said in a veiled attack on Pakistan. He was participating in the Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan in Geneva to evaluate and strategise on developmental policy achievements during the "transformation decade" (2015-24) for the war-torn country.”

Pakistan

The Economic Times: Talks Not Possible Unless Pakistan Stops Terrorism: Sushma Swaraj 

“India on Wednesday ruled out dialogue and participation in SAARC Summit based on the Kartarpur initiative and pulled up Pakistan PM Imran Khan for dragging Kashmir issue at the groundbreaking ceremony of the corridor.  “There will be no dialogue with Pakistan unless it desists from terrorist activities against India,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said in Hyderabad on Wednesday, in a rebuff to Pakistan a day after Islamabad said it would invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the SAARC summit.  She also said the Kartarpur corridor initiative was not linked to the dialogue process with Pakistan.  “Unless and until Pakistan stops terrorist activities in India there will be no dialogue and we will not participate in SAARC,” Swaraj told at a press meet in Hyderabad.  India has been asking for a corridor, which will facilitate visa-free travel of Indian Sikh pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, for many years she said. “But that does not mean that bilateral talks will start only on this,” she said, adding terror and talks cannot go together. Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesman Mohammad Faisal had said on Tuesday that prime minister Modi will be invited to that country for the SAARC summit.”

Yemen

Al Monitor: US Floats Idea Of Division In Yemen, Houthis Torpedo Plan

“When hard-liners in Iran succeeded in banning the popular smartphone messaging app Telegram, they were unlikely to have predicted that they would return to the very same platform seven months later. On April 30, the conservative-dominated judiciary ordered internet service providers to block access to Telegram, despite opposition from Iran's moderate government. The messaging app, which has more than 42 million users in Iran, played a major role in the re-election of President Hassan Rouhani in 2017. Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani, the head of Iran's judiciary, said the judiciary acted against the app due to "thousands of lawsuits" against Telegram. "[We] contacted the Telegram authorities through the responsible officials [in Iran] and [we] asked them to help identify and introduce the offenders, but they did not [provide any help] on this matter," claimed Amoli Larijani on May 7. "That a messaging [application] becomes a safe haven for criminal acts and individuals [to] commit any criminal offense, from frauds to crimes against the reputation of persons and terrorist acts, is not acceptable for any country. Is it reasonable and logical to accept that a person, while offering some services in a physical and realistic way, turns that place into a safe haven for criminals? Cyberspace has exactly the same status.”

Voice Of America: Yemen Tribal Leaders Support US-UN Peace Process

“As U.S. officials and members of U.S. Congress debate U.S. support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, some tribal leaders in Yemen are supporting the U.S and U.N. proposed political solution to end the war and urge an active role in the ongoing negotiations. “Both the people and the tribes in Yemen support the American political solution to the conflict in Yemen as long as it welcomes the demands of the tribes and the Yemeni people,” Abdurabuh Al-Shaif, a tribe leader from Daham tribe in al-Jawf province of Yemen, told VOA. On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate delivered a historic rebuke of Saudi Arabia and President Donald Trump’s handling of the fallout over journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s killing last month, as a majority of members voted to advance a measure to end U.S. military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. President Trump and his administration have described Saudi Arabia as a vital ally and resisted calls for sanctions against the kingdom’s leadership over Khashoggi’s death. Al-Shaif voiced concerns over the way U.S has approached the conflict.”

Lebanon

The Jerusalem Post: Why Did Lebanon's Security Chief Praise Terrorism During A Counter-Terror Speech?

“Lebanon’s General Security director praised terrorism during a conference that was supposed to discuss the defeat of terrorism in the Middle East and Africa. Speaking to representatives from a dozen African countries Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim reportedly praised Hezbollah’s “resistance” and distinguished its terrorism from other forms of terror. The two-day event was titled ‘Defeat of Terrorism in the Region and its Impact on Africa’ and was attended by African delegates from a swath of countries affected by terrorism in the Sahel region of Africa. That includes Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, and the Central African Republic. Diplomats from Tunisia, Oman, Egypt and Russia also attended according to the website Arab News. Ibrahim runs Lebanon’s General Security directorate, which makes him the “eyes and ears” of Lebanon according to and gives his agency power over a variety of local and foreign threats to Lebanon. He has praised Hezbollah’s “resistance” in the past and was appointed in 2011 with influence by Amal, a Shi’ite party. At the conference, according to multiple reports at Lebanese websites Aliwaa.com and Aljoumhouria, he distinguished between two types of terrorism. “Terrorism that terrorizes your enemy, and this is not only your right but your duty. Then there is [the second kind of] terrorism that intimidates innocent people. The second kind he said was the “lowest level of moral decline and ideological decline.”

Middle East

Forbes: How We Can End The Exploitation Of Women By Terrorist Groups

“It is about time we face the horrifying fact that men with a history of sexual violence and domestic abuse are attracted to organisations like Islamic State precisely because of its systemic use of rape and slavery as a form of terrorism. Sexual violence by extremist groups is central to recruiting, retaining, and rewarding fighters – as well as punishing disbelievers. The sexual exploitation of girls alongside human trafficking has helped to consolidate Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and Boko Haram in Nigeria. It is used to lure men from deeply conservative Muslim societies, where casual sex is taboo and dating prohibited, into the organisations on the promise of women. Indeed, markets selling sex slaves were frighteningly common in areas under the control of IS. A human slave market in Libya is thought to buy and sell girls for thousands of dollars. We must therefore better highlight this issue and call upon national and international actors to take action against this horrifying practice. One of the most heartbreaking accounts brought to light in a report I published last year describes how Islamic State members would touch the chests of young girls to see whether they had developed breasts. If they had done, they would be raped, and if not, they would be subjected to another examination months later.”

Jewish News Syndicate: EXCLUSIVE: Internal ISIS Documents Sheds Light On Aid Hamas Gave To ISIS In Sinai

“A recently revealed document concerned with religious doctrine penned by an eminent ISIS cleric provides further evidence that the military wing of Hamas has provided significant aid to the ISIS branch in Sinai, Sinai Province, according to a new MEMRI JTTM report shared exclusively with JNS. The short document also sheds light on the relationship between the two organizations and on the internal dispute among ISIS members with respect to that relationship. The document augments the knowledge that Hamas supplied weapons, money and logistic support to ISIS in Sinai, and that this was done with the knowledge of the ISIS leadership. At the same time it reveals another aspect of the opposition that the acceptance of assistance aroused among members of ISIS, both those in Sinai and those in leadership roles across the organization. The 11-page document is a religious opinion penned by the cleric Abu Maram Al-Jazairi, one of the most prominent of ISIS clerics, known for his extremist positions. The date when the document, titled “A Response to the Correspondence between the Brothers in Sinai and the Apostate Hamas,” was composed is unknown, but it is likely that it was written at the height of relations between Hamas and ISIS in Sinai, perhaps sometime during 2015, prior to the crisis between the two organizations in late 2016.”

Nigeria

The Washington Post: Nigeria Tries To Rally Troops As Extremists' Toll Revealed

“Nigeria's military finally revealed a death toll of 39 from a new series of extremist attacks on soldiers, while President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday declared that Boko Haram and Islamic State-linked fighters should be wiped "from the surface of the earth." Another 43 soldiers were wounded in five attacks between Nov. 2 and 18, the army announced after days of silence, blaming "large numbers of Boko Haram terrorists.” Shocked by the deaths, Buhari backed off past declarations that Boko Haram has been defeated and urged the military to "rise to the challenge." He addressed security leaders in the turbulent northeast as he faces growing criticism ahead of next year's election over the failure to end what he called a "must-win war." The Islamic State West Africa Province, the largest IS-linked extremist group in Africa and a recent Boko Haram offshoot, claimed responsibility for the deadliest attack, a Nov. 18 assault on a military base in Metele. Concerns are growing that the group, which has killed two abducted health workers in recent months, is becoming more vicious. Buhari, a former military dictator from the north, seeks re-election after making the defeat of the nearly decade-old Islamic insurgency a central goal of his presidency. He told the military chiefs that "I will do everything within my powers to continue empowering you" and vowed to improve soldiers' welfare, to applause.”

Deutsche Welle: Resurgence Of Terrorist Attacks In Nigeria Ahead Of Elections

“There are reports of at least 17 attempts to overrun army bases since July. Most of them took place in the northeast state of Borno, the epicenter of the nine-year conflict. An attack last weekend on a base in Metele village, near the border with Niger, killed around 100 soldiers. The government concealed the true toll for days, only admitting to the high number of dead after protests by soldiers. Nigerian analyst Kabiru Adamu says there are several reasons for the increase of attacks by Islamist terrorists. A major one is the underfunding of the Chad-based Multinational Joint Task Force against Boko Haram (MNJTF), made up of Cameroon, Chad, Benin, Niger and Nigeria. "Nigeria has been bankrolling the operations of the Multinational Joint Task Force with minimal support from international partners," the analyst told DW. This summer, Chad and Niger pulled out troops they had stationed in Nigeria, allowing the terrorists to "carry out their attacks and then withdraw to their strongholds in the Chad Basin area" – according to Adamu. Ryan Cummings, a director of the South Africa-based political risk management consultancy Signal Risk, agrees.”

News 24: Nigeria's Buhari Says Boko Haram Fight 'A Must-Win War'

“Nigeria's Muhammadu Buhari urged troops to show more commitment in fighting Boko Haram despite scores of losses in a recent assault as he visited the northeastern city of Maiduguri on Wednesday.  The visit came a day before Buhari heads to N'Djamena to hold talks on the Boko Haram conflict with his counterparts from Niger and Chad, his office said.  Addressing delegates at an army conference in Maiduguri, the epicentre of the jihadist insurgency, Buhari acknowledged the military had done a lot to secure the volatile region. "There has been a remarkable improvement in the security situation in the northeast since 2015 when this administration came to power and you are part of it," he said.  But defeating Boko Haram was "a must-win war," insisted the 75-year-old retired general who will seek a second four-year term in February's elections. "Our troops must not be distracted. They should be committed to the task of eliminating Boko Haram from the face of the earth."  The conference had initially been due to take place in Benin City in the south, but it was moved to Maiduguri to honour the soldiers that were killed 10 days ago in an attack on a nearby military base, he said. There has been an upsurge in deadly attacks on both military and civilian targets in recent months, despite government claims the jihadists are on the verge of defeat."

Somalia

Reuters: U.S. Military Says Strikes Kills Three Militants In Somalia

“The U.S. military said on Wednesday it had killed three militants in an air strike targeting the al-Shabaab Islamist group in Somalia the previous day.  The military’s Africa Command (Africom) said the strike was carried out near Somali locations it identified as Quy Cad and Debatscile, an area it said it also struck last week.  “We currently assess this air strike did not injure or kill any civilians,” Africom said in a statement.  The United States carries out periodic air strikes in Somalia in support of a U.N.-backed government there, which has been fighting against an al-Shabaab insurgency for years.”

Africa

Daily Maverick: Is Islamic State In West Africa Becoming More Hardline?

“Recent activities by Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA), the Boko Haram faction that replaced Abubakar Shekau as leader in 2016, have raised questions regarding its position and whether it is becoming more hardened. A few key developments regarding leadership and operations suggest such a shift in outlook for an organisation that is becoming an increasing threat in the Lake Chad Basin region. Although it hasn’t been officially confirmed, it is generally accepted that Mamman Nur, a key ISWA leader, was killed in August by his own commanders. Nur was considered by many to be the real power in the faction, given his status as a veteran jihadist with international connections.  One explanation of Nur’s assassination has been internal discontent with his policies, including the release of about 100 schoolgirls kidnapped from Dapchi earlier this year (the group still holds one Christian student). The Nigerian government claimed the release was part of ongoing negotiations with the faction – negotiations that thus far have not demonstrated any other visible signs of progress. In this sense, Nur may have been seen as relatively moderate, or more willing to engage with the Nigerian government than others in his movement were comfortable with. This raises major questions as to the status of Abu Musab al-Barnawi, the Islamic State-appointed governor of ISWA.”

News 24: West African Leaders Meet To Tackle Boko Haram Upsurge

“Leaders of three West African nations will meet in Chad on Thursday to discuss how to tackle a recent increase in activity by Boko Haram jihadist fighters in the region, the Chadian presidency told AFP. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Niger's Mahamadou Issoufou will meet behind closed doors with their Chadian counterpart Idriss Deby for a "mini summit" after which a statement will be issued. The armies of the three countries, along with Cameroon's, are operating in the Lake Chad region in the Multinational Joint Task Force ( MNJTF) to counter the Islamic State-affiliated Boko Haram,  More than 27 000 people have died since the start of the Boko Haram insurgency, which began in Nigeria's remote northeast in 2009. Some 1.8 million people are still homeless after fleeing the violence. "The increase in activities by Boko Haram elements in Nigeria and Niger in recent days is a concern for the heads of state who must decide on a rigorous plan of action," a Chadian diplomatic source said. Since July there have been at least 17 attacks against military bases. almost all of them in the region around Lake Chad, according to an AFP count. Last week militants raided a base in Nigerian village of Metele, near the border with Niger, leaving at least 44 soldiers dead, although troops who survived put the death toll at more than 100.”

News 24: 'Possible Terrorist Threat' Closes US Embassy In DRC For Fourth Day

“The US embassy in Kinshasa will on Thursday be closed to the public for a fourth day following "credible and precise information" about a possible terrorist threat, a month ahead of the Democratic Republic of Congo's presidential election. In a statement on its website, the embassy urged "US citizens in Kinshasa and throughout DR Congo to maintain a high level of vigilance". "The US embassy in Kinshasa will remain closed to the public on Thursday, November 29" due to "credible and precise information on a possible terrorist threat" targeting "US facilities in Kinshasa", it added. On Monday, after the embassy first closed and warned US nationals to keep a low profile, Congolese authorities described its reaction as "useless psychosis". After two years of setbacks, broken promises and delays, the DR Congo last week kicked off the campaign for a crucial election that could alleviate - or perhaps worsen - the decades-long crisis. Voters on December 23 will choose a successor to outgoing President Joseph Kabila, who has constitutionally remained in power as caretaker leader even though his second and final elected term ended nearly two years ago.”

Russia

The Wall Street Journal: Ukraine Is Moscow’s Guinea Pig

“Russia’s attack Sunday on Ukrainian naval vessels in the Azov Sea shows the Kremlin is ready to take the veil off the conflict. After nearly five years of clandestine war using private armies, proxies and unmarked federal forces, the Russians announced themselves loudly with an open strike on Ukrainian forces. The aggression specifically underscores Russia’s willingness to use naval power to block commerce and restrict trade routes. The attack violated a 2003 treaty that designated the Azov Sea as shared territory between Russia and Ukraine. The Kremlin dared to act in such a brazen way because the West’s response to its campaign in Ukraine so far has been largely feckless. The U.S. and its European allies answered the annexation of Crimea and occupation of the Donbas region with halfhearted rhetoric and meager material aid to the Ukrainian resistance. The Russians this week had little reason to expect that their overt attack would prompt a reaction they couldn’t withstand.”

United Kingdom

ABC News: UK Police Arrest Man On Suspicion Of Encouraging Terrorism

“British police say a man has been arrested in the capital on suspicion of encouraging terrorism. Counterterrorism officers arrested the 18-year-old man in south London on Wednesday, and he was taken to a police station where he remains in custody. Police also searched two addresses in south and southeast London in connection with the investigation. London's official terrorism threat is judged to be severe, indicating that intelligence analysts believe an attack is highly likely. Earlier this month, British police arrested two people, a 57-year-old man and a 20-year-old woman, in north London on suspicion of violating the Terrorism Act.”

The Telegraph: Britain Will Be At Greater Risk Of Terror Attacks With A No-Deal Brexit, Security Minister Warns

“Britain will be at greater risk of terror attacks if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal, the security minister has warned.  A new Government paper warns that the UK will lose access to EU databases used to trace terrorists and criminals if no agreement is struck. UK agencies would no longer be plugged in to systems for exchanging a raft of data including criminal records, alerts on wanted suspects, DNA, fingerprints and airline passenger information. Extradition requests would take longer, while cooperation on counter-terrorism, cyber security and illegal migration would be affected. Speaking in central London, Security Minister Ben Wallace will warn that a no-deal Brexit will have a "real impact" on the UK's ability to co-operate with partners.  He will say: "The UK, through her experience of the last few decades has learnt that at the heart of effective security is close cooperation.   “And we and Europe know, from bitter experience, that often when there is a mistake or when something has been missed that we find, time and time again, that it has been due to a failure of cooperation. “A no-deal situation would have a real impact on our ability to work with our European partners to protect the public. “This deal strikes the right balance to keep everyone safe.”

Germany

The Telegraph: Germany Planning To Bring Home Suspected Isil Fighters

“Angela Merkel’s government is considering plans to bring home German suspected Isil fighters and their families currently being held by Kurdish forces in Syria, it emerged today. The development will add to international pressure on the UK to repatriate British Isil suspects being held under similar circumstances — including two members of the notorious “Beatles” execution cell. “The federal government is examining all options for a possible return of German nationals,” the German foreign ministry said on Wednesday in a written answer to a parliamentary question. Hundreds of European citizens are currently being held by US-backed Kurdish forces in northern Syria after being captured during fighting. They include suspected Isil volunteers and their wives and children. So far the UK and European governments have refused repeated demands from Kurdish forces and pressure from US military commanders to take back their own citizens. Among the detainees are believed to be at least 35 German citizens, 14 of whom are under investigation by the German authorities as suspected Isil fighters. They are believed to include Mohammed Haydar Zammar, a German-Syrian who has been linked to a terror attack in New York last year in which a pick-up truck was driven into cyclists and runners, killing eight people."

The Times: Germany Plans Mosque Tax To Curb Radical Preachers

“Germany may impose a “mosque tax” on its five million Muslims in a measure partly designed to ward off meddling by Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia. The levy would be modelled on the church tax, under which the state raises about €12 billion a year from 46 million Germans, which it gives to various Christian and Jewish organisations. Under the plans, Muslims would be liable to pay an 8 or 9 per cent surcharge on their income tax which would be distributed to German Islamic groups. Horst Seehofer, the interior minister, who said eight months ago that Islam did not belong to his country, wants to root out “foreign influences” that he believes pervade German Islam.”

New Zealand

New Zealand Herald: First Kiwi Jailed For Distributing Extremist Propaganda Granted Parole

“The first New Zealander jailed for possessing and distributing extremist propaganda will be released on parole as he is no longer deemed a risk to public safety. In June 2016 Imran Patel was jailed for three years and nine months after admitting possessing, making and distributing extremist videos. The court heard that he disseminated the videos through text to 52 people and when police raided his home he was found with material showing extreme violence and torture. Earlier this year the Herald on Sunday revealed details of Pate’s decade of dealing with police, including instances where he wasn't arrested or charged, before being jailed. It also came to light that Patel's New Zealand passport was cancelled after he was stopped at Auckland International Airport trying to leave for Syria with a companion. Patel was declined parole last year — not even showing up to the hearing. He was declined again in February. But after hearing on November 21 the Parole Board granted Patel, 29, an early release from prison. His statutory release date - the official date his prison term would end - is September 12 2019. A psychological report was provided to the board stating Patel's overall risk factors.”

Europe

Haaretz: Palestinian Arrested In Italy On Suspicion Of Planning Chemical Attack, Reports Say

“A Palestinian man was arrested on the Italian island of Sardinia on suspicion of being affiliated to the Islamic state. Police suspect he was planning to carry out a chemical attack or poison pipes transporting drinking water, representatives of Italian law-enforcement agencies said during a press conference in Rome. The 38-year old, Alaji Amin, has a residence permit that allows him to legally reside in Italy, but is originally from Lebanon and holds Palestinian documents, police said. He was arrested by an Italian special anti-terrorism unit after he left his home and entered his van in the Sardinian town of Macomer. Amin has reportedly lived in the center of Macomer for several years, but police said he never left his house to work and nevertheless had an income. Amin moved to Sardinia to be with his partner, a Morroccan woman he met on social media. Neither she nor the couple's three sons were aware of Amin's intentions, police said. According to La Repubblica, the suspect tried to buy Methomyl, a highly toxic pesticide, online. Police confirmed that he recently tried to buy poisonous substances online. Amin's cousin, who lives in Lebanon, once tried to poison a water tank used by the Lebanese army, said italian authorities quoting information obtained from a Lebanese police department. The suspect has been described as a lone wolf in initial reports by the media.”

EcoWatch: Tense Atmosphere: Poland Issues Terrorism Alert For Katowice Ahead Of COP24

“Climate campaigners are warning of a tense atmosphere in and around the city of Katowice in southern Poland, where the global climate negotiations, known as COP24, are due to kick off on Monday. Katowice, a city of around 300,000 people—and the smallest city to host the UN climate talks yet—is about to welcome nearly 30,000 people for the climate conference, including heads of state, government representatives and UN officials. Over the weekend, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has signed an order declaring an ALFA alert—the first of four increasing terrorism security levels—across the entire southern province of Silesia, where Katowice is located, and the city of Krakow. In a statement, the government confirmed the heightened security measures had been introduced in connection with COP24 and will remain in force for the entire length of the talks, until Dec. 15. The heightened alert has seen increased controls implemented across the affected areas, with residents are asked to report any suspicious situation or individual. It also means enhanced security forces will be deployed in cases of emergency and that officers can control and check vehicles as well as access private communications.”

Southeast Asia

The Straits Times: International Conference Showcases Singapore's Counter-Terrorism Efforts

“Singapore's counter-terrorism training facilities and programmes may pose interesting learning points for Belgium, said the country's police intelligence unit head. First Commissioner Jean-Pierre Devos was on duty at the Brussels Airport in March 2016 and helped victims after suicide bombers Ibrahim El Bakraoui and Najim Laachraoui struck in the departure hall, killing 16 people. He is in Singapore, along with other law enforcement representatives from 13 countries, for the inaugural Police Specialist Conference. Yesterday, they toured the Home Team Tactical Centre in Mandai. They will visit the Police Coast Guard's Brani base tomorrow. Stressing the need for the authorities to be prepared for terror attacks, First Commissioner Devos told reporters: "Maybe we can implement such infrastructure and training (back home) to improve our skills. That's the key thing for these three days in Singapore." The three-day conference, organised by the Singapore Police Force (SPF), was launched yesterday by Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and Health Amrin Amin at the Amara Hotel.”

Technology

The Wall Street Journal: Facebook Considered Charging For Access To User Data

“Internal emails show Facebook Inc. FB 1.30% considered charging companies for continued access to user data several years ago, a step that would have marked a dramatic shift away from the social-media giant’s policy of not selling that information, according to an unredacted court document viewed by The Wall Street Journal. The emails in the document also indicate that Facebook employees discussed pushing some advertisers to spend more in return for increased access to user information. Taken together, the internal emails show the company discussing how to monetize its user data in ways that are employed by some other tech firms but that Facebook has said it doesn’t do. At a congressional hearing in April, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said, “I can’t be clearer on this topic: We don’t sell data.” The emails—most from about 2012 to 2014—are far from conclusive, lacking context and in some cases truncated. But they provide a window into mostly sealed court filings—which a British lawmaker has pledged to make public next week—from a lawsuit against Facebook filed by a company called Six4Three LLC.”

Counter Extremism

Egysaudi: Non-Certified Preacher-Training Institutes Breed Extremists In Upper Egypt

“The unlicensed institutes for training preachers operating in Egypt remain an effective tool for achieving the malevolent goals of their owners. These institutes' owners use their facilities not only for taking advantage of the trainees by draining their money but also for recruiting new extremists to perpetrate anti-government activities. While the Ministry of Religious Endowments (Awqaf) is fighting all clerics that violate its dictates requiring the uniformity of official Friday sermons, the unlicensed centers for qualifying preachers, which are not recognized by the state, continue to operate secretly, particularly in the Upper Egypt region. These centers illegally certify their trainees in hopes of generating change, whether inside or outside Egypt, and {even} assist some of their graduates to flee the country {heading} towards armed conflict zones such as Syria, Iraq and Libya.”

Counter Terrorism

Albawabh News: Union Of Arab Banks Counters Terror Organizations' Operations

“Wissam Fattouh, Secretary General of the Union of Arab Banks, said that the most prominent money-laundering schemes taking place in the world occur in countries that rely on the confidentiality of the accounts and whose laws have not adopted measures to combat money laundering. This is in addition to countries that suffer from internal chaos, lawlessness and weakness of their judicial entities as well as the absence of centralized information. Fattouh added in press statements that the Union of Arab Banks, in coordination with the various Arab central banks, is striving to strengthen the controls and empower the judiciary authorities to contend with terrorist organizations and organized crime, which exploit financial technology as a tool for committing their crimes. Fattouh asserted that this is one of the main concerns of the Arab banking decision makers.”

Albawabh News: Export Development Bank Of Egypt Adopts Plan For Combating Terrorist Financing

“Dr. Mervat Sultan, President of the Export Development Bank of Egypt (EDBE), stated that her bank has adopted a coherent plan for drying up the sources of suspicious monetary practices, such as terrorist financing and money-laundering. EDBE strictly applies all anti-money laundering and terrorist financing regulations issued by the Central Bank and other domestic and foreign regulatory authorities, Dr. Sultan stressed. She went on to say that the EDBE's counter money-laundering and terrorist financing strategy is based on key elements, including the assessment and detection of risks, the assurance of compliance with the banking regulations issued by the regulators, and follow-up via the periodic compliance report published by the Central Bank. Additionally, EDBE firmly monitors all financial transaction transfers to assure that these deals do not involve locally or internationally designated individuals and entities, she noted.”

Muslim Brotherhood

Akhbarak: Parliamentarian: Muslim Brotherhood Continues Harming The National Economy By Exploiting Egyptians Abroad

“Ghada Agamy, a member of Egypt's Parliament, noted that when living overseas, she had personally witnessed activists of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood lining up in front of the currency exchange bureaus and banks with the aim of buying US dollars and other hard currencies from Egyptians abroad. Those activists, by offering high exchange rates, purchased foreign currencies from Egyptians in exchange for the Egyptian pound. Additionally, the banned Islamist group-affiliated activists conduct monetary transfers from Egyptians abroad to their families in Egypt via the hand-to-hand system instead of through regular banks. As a result, the Central Bank of Egypt suffered a major slump in its foreign currency reserves. MP Agamy warned that these financial practices with their adverse impacts on Egypt's economy, persist, despite increased public awareness of the issue. She called upon all Egyptians to conduct their remittances exclusively through the {traditional} banking system.”

Houthi

Almontasaf Net: Houthi Militants Impose Large Sums On Beverage Factory Owner

“Houthi militants have imposed payment of a large sum of money on Dirham Beverage Factory in Al Marawi`ah district in Al-Hudaydah province. Informed sources said that the Houthi militants forced the factory owners to pay YR70 million ($280K) to remove the barriers and the barricades set up by the Houthi militants near the factory. The sources added that the imposition of these fees came after the owners of the factory demanded the removal of any signs of armaments and heavy weapons from the vicinity of the factory to prevent its being targeted {by Saudi-led coalition forces}, thus exposing the workers inside to grave danger.”