Eye on Extremism: November 5

NBC News: Iraq Deploys Up To 30,000 Fighters To Secure Syrian Border From ISIS

“A huge deployment of up to 30,000 fighters has been ordered along Iraq’s western border amid fears that Islamic State could enter from Syria in a repeat of its 2014 offensive. Two Iraqi Army brigades, each with 3,000 to 5,000 troops, have been redeployed to border areas over the past two days in order to prevent extremist fighters crossing over, according to the Iraqi military. In addition, Shiite Muslim militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), announced that 20,000 fighters have been redeployed to the same border “to provide border security after some Syrian villages fell under the control of ISIS.” Iraq is desperate to avoid a repeat of the losses it sustained four years ago when the extremist Sunni Muslim group took over the province of Nineveh and declared a caliphate before spreading farther into Iraq. Many areas of Syria and Iraq were only recently liberated from ISIS control, although Iraq’s western province of Anbar is still home to many of the group’s militants. Ongoing clashes in the region have demonstrated the continuing threat from ISIS, months after authorities on both sides of the frontier declared the militants had been effectively defeated. Last week, militants launched one of this year's fiercest attacks against the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, killing as many as 70 of its fighters. The PMF said Wednesday it had killed two ISIS commanders who were responsible for the attack.”

The National: ISIS Attack Kills 12 US-Backed Fighters In East Syria

“ISIS killed 12 US-backed fighters in a surprise attack Sunday from the militants' holdout in eastern Syria on the Iraqi border. Twelve fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were killed and 20 wounded in a suicide car bombing and subsequent clashes in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. An SDF spokesman, however, denied any members of his Kurdish-led alliance had been killed. "There are counter-attacks every day and the clashes are ongoing, but the talk of martyrs among our ranks is not true," Mustefa Bali said. According to Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman, Sunday's attack "started with a car bomb driven by a suicide attacker against an SDF position between Hajin and Al-Bahra." The attack allowed ISIS to advance towards Al Bahra from its holdout around Hajin, and push back the first lines of defence of the SDF, which is backed by the US-led coalition, the Observatory said. The offensive comes one day after US-led coalition airstrikes on ISIS positions in eastern Syria killed at least 14 civilians. "Fourteen civilians, including five children under the age of 18, were killed in the coalition air raids on the villages of Hajin, Sousa and Al-Shaafa" in eastern Deir Ezzor province, the Observatory said. At least 9 ISIS militants were killed in the raids, Mr Abdel Rahman said. The coalition was not immediately available for comment. The SDF, with the support of coalition air strikes, in September launched an offensive to wrest the Deir Ezzor pocket including Hajin from ISIS, making slow advances.”

USA Today: Utah Mayor Brent Taylor Killed In Latest Afghanistan 'Insider Attack'

“A Utah mayor was killed in Afghanistan during an "insider attack" while serving with the Utah National Guard in Kabul, the second deadly such attack in the war-torn country in less than a month. North Ogden Mayor Brent Taylor, 39, a married father of seven, was killed and another soldier was wounded Saturday by a member of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, Major General Jeff Burton, who leads Utah's National Guard, confirmed Sunday. Initial reports indicated the attacker was killed immediately by other Afghan Forces, Burton said. "Brent typified the citizen soldier who served so diligently in his community as well as felt this call to wear a uniform and serve where ever the nation needed him to go," Burton said. "He's a heavy loss for us." Burton and the Pentagon said the attack was under investigation and released no other details. Last month an Afghan bodyguard opened fire at a meeting in Kandahar province between local leaders and the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. Three senior provincial officials were killed and three Americans were wounded, although Gen. Austin Miller was unharmed.”

Associated Press: Islamic State Attack On Christian Pilgrims In Egypt Kills 7, Wounds 19

“Islamic militants on Friday ambushed three buses carrying Christian pilgrims on their way to a remote desert monastery south of the Egyptian capital of Cairo, killing seven and wounding 19, according to the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Interior Ministry. All but one of those killed were members of the same family, according to a list of the victims’ names released by the church, which said among the dead were a boy and a girl, age 15 and 12 respectively. The local Islamic State affiliate which spearheads militants fighting security forces in the Sinai Peninsula claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement, according to SITE, a U.S.-based group that monitors and translates militants’ statements. It said the attack was revenge for the imprisonment by Egyptian authorities of “our chaste sisters.” It did not elaborate. It said the attack left 13 Christians killed and another 18 wounded, but it was not immediately possible to independently verify the claim or reconcile the discrepancy in the number of dead and wounded given by the group and the church. The Islamic State has repeatedly vowed to go after Egypt’s Christians as punishment for their support of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. As defense minister, el-Sissi led the military’s 2013 ouster of an Islamist president, whose one-year rule proved divisive. It has claimed responsibility for a string of deadly attacks on Christians dating back to December 2016. El-Sissi, who has made the economy and security his top priorities since taking office in 2014, wrote on his Twitter account that Friday’s attack was designed to harm the “nation’s solid fabric” and pledged to continue fighting terrorism.”

Arab News: Why Is Tehran Recruiting Daesh Militants?

“I am constantly astounded at how otherwise-sensible journalists and diplomats are willing to believe Iranian and Russian professions of good faith, despite all evidence to the contrary. Earlier this year, many credulous figures pronounced the end of Iranian expansionism in Syria. Why? Because Russian President Vladimir Putin had promised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in good faith that Iranian proxies would be purged from southern Syrian. Iran has invested tens of billions of dollars in the Syrian meat-grinder, with dozens of Islamic Republican Guard Corps (IRGC) personnel killed. It will not meekly depart Syria with its tail between its legs at the first hint of pressure from Netanyahu. Despite a token withdrawal of some Hezbollah foot soldiers, the group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah defiantly announced that Hezbollah would remain in Syria as long as President Bashar Assad desired — as if Assad is even allowed to sneeze without asking Iran’s permission first.”

The Intercept: Facebook Allowed Advertisers To Target Users Interested In “White Genocide” — Even In Wake Of Pittsburgh Massacre

“Apparently Fueled By anti-Semitism and the bogus narrative that outside forces are scheming to exterminate the white race, Robert Bowers murdered 11 Jewish congregants as they gathered inside their Pittsburgh synagogue, federal prosecutors allege. But despite long-running international efforts to debunk the idea of a “white genocide,” Facebook was still selling advertisers the ability to market to those with an interest in that myth just days after the bloodshed. Earlier this week, The Intercept was able to select “white genocide conspiracy theory” as a pre-defined “detailed targeting” criterion on the social network to promote two articles to an interest group that Facebook pegged at 168,000 users large and defined as “people who have expressed an interest or like pages related to White genocide conspiracy theory.” The paid promotion was approved by Facebook’s advertising wing. After we contacted the company for comment, Facebook promptly deleted the targeting category, apologized, and said it should have never existed in the first place.”

United States

BBC News: US Unleashes Sanctions On Iran, Hitting Oil, Banking And Shipping

“The US unleashed its "toughest ever" sanctions against Iran on Monday, a move that has already sparked mass protests in the oil-rich nation. The Trump administration reinstated all sanctions removed under the 2015 nuclear deal, targeting both Iran and states that trade with it. They will hit oil exports, shipping and banks - all core parts of the economy. Thousands of Iranians chanting "Death to America" rallied on Sunday, rejecting calls for talks. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has vowed to sell oil and break the sanctions. The military was also quoted as saying it would hold air defence drills on Monday and Tuesday to prove the country's capabilities. The demonstrations took place on the 39th anniversary of the occupation of the US embassy in Tehran, which led to four decades of mutual hostility. Before travelling to a campaign rally for the US mid-term elections, President Donald Trump said Iran was already struggling under his administration's policies. He called the sanctions, "very strong", saying: "We'll see what happens with Iran, but they're not doing very well, I can tell you." What started this? Washington re-imposed the sanctions after Mr Trump in May pulled out of a 2015 accord aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions. Washington also says it wants to stop what it calls Tehran's "malign" activities including cyber attacks, ballistic missile tests, and support for violent extremist groups and militias in the Middle East.”

The New York Magazine: What To Know About The Tallahassee Yoga Studio Attack

“Early Friday evening, a gunman opened fire inside a yoga studio in Tallahasse, Florida, and shot six women, killing two, a doctor and a college student, before eventually turning his gun on himself. Authorities have not determined the shooter’s motive, but he had a history of harassing young women and had expressed misogynistic and racist views online, including sympathy for the anti-women “incel” movement. It is thus possible the attack was motivated by far-right extremism, and if so, that would make it the fourth attack — and third deadly attack — perpetrated by a right-wing extremist in the U.S. in less than two weeks. Here’s what we know so far. Just after 5:30 p.m. on Friday, a 40-year-old white man named Scott Beierle entered Hot Yoga Tallahassee, a yoga studio on the second floor of a shopping center in Tallahassee’s Glendale neighborhood. An evening yoga class had just begun, and Beierle, who was carrying a black bag, first posed as a customer. Then, without warning, he pulled out a handgun and began firing on the dozen or so people inside the studio. The gunman shot six women, killing two, and pistol whipped a male yoga student. Beierle shot one of the women six times.”

The New York Times: Utah Mayor Killed In Afghanistan Wanted To Serve ‘However I Can’

“The call had come again. Brent Taylor, the mayor of North Ogden and a major in the Utah National Guard, would be going to Afghanistan for his fourth deployment. He told his constituents about it on Facebook in January, leaning into the camera to explain that he had been called to serve his country “whenever and however I can” and that he would be gone for a year, as part of a team helping to train an Afghan Army commando battalion. “Service is really what leadership is all about,” he told them. He said goodbye to his wife, Jennie, and their seven children, and turned over his municipal duties to his friend Brent Chugg. “You need to keep safe,” Mr. Chugg told him. “I will,” Major Taylor replied. He did not make it home. Major Taylor, 39, was killed on Saturday in an insider attack, apparently by one of the people he was there to help.”

The New York Times: U.S. Law Enforcement Failed To See The Threat Of White Nationalism. Now They Don’t Know How To Stop It.

“The first indication to Lt. Dan Stout that law enforcement’s handling of white supremacy was broken came in September 2017, as he was sitting in an emergency-operations center in Gainesville, Fla., preparing for the onslaught of Hurricane Irma and watching what felt like his thousandth YouTube video of the recent violence in Charlottesville, Va. Jesus Christ, he thought, studying the footage in which crowds of angry men, who had gathered to attend or protest the Unite the Right rally, set upon one another with sticks and flagpole spears and flame throwers and God knows what else. A black man held an aerosol can, igniting the spray, and in retaliation, a white man picked up his gun, pointed it toward the black man and fired it at the ground. The Virginia state troopers, inexplicably, stood by and watched. Stout fixated on this image, wondering what kind of organizational failure had led to the debacle. He had one month to ensure that the same thing didn’t happen in Gainesville. Before that August, Stout, a 24-year veteran of the Gainesville police force, had never heard of Richard Spencer and knew next to nothing about his self-declared alt-right movement, or of their “anti-fascist” archnemesis known as Antifa. Then, on the Monday after deadly violence in Charlottesville, in which a protester was killed when a driver plowed his car into the crowd, Stout learned to his horror that Spencer was planning a speech at the University of Florida.”

Reuters: U.S. Forces Patrol Border Between North Syria And Turkey: SDF

“Syrian Kurdish-led forces said on Friday that U.S. troops have started patrolling the Syrian border with Turkey to defuse tensions after threats from Ankara. In response to questions from Reuters, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition said it carries out regular military visits in the region and had not increased patrols. Turkish forces have shelled positions this week in northern Syria under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which Washington trains and arms. The SDF alliance, which the Kurdish YPG militia spearheads, returned fire and pledged to respond to any more attacks. Ankara has repeatedly warned it would launch a cross-border offensive east of the Euphrates River in Syria if the U.S. military does not ensure the YPG's withdrawal. Washington's support for the YPG has infuriated Ankara, which sees it as an extension of the outlawed Kurdish PKK movement that has waged an insurgency inside Turkey for decades. President Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday vowed to crush Syrian Kurdish fighters east of the Euphrates, where some 2,000 U.S. forces stand alongside the SDF. "This morning, the (U.S.-led) international coalition held patrols monitoring the border between northern Syria and Turkey to reduce tensions," said Mustafa Bali, head of the SDF media office. The SDF put out a video it said showed military vehicles driving along a road in the border town of Kobani. Spokesman Kino Gabriel said new border patrols by U.S. and allied forces sought to ward off any more Turkish attacks. "The situation is still tense, nothing is clear," he told Reuters.”

Syria

The Guardian: Millions Of Syrians At Risk If Idlib Truce Fails, White Helmets Warn

“The head of Syria’s White Helmet volunteers has told Britain’s foreign secretary that the west must do more to protect millions of civilians still in extreme danger, and warned that reconstruction should not begin without justice or accountability. Raed al-Saleh said Moscow’s record of broken promises meant he had little confidence in a ceasefire brokered between Russia and Turkey in September. The agreement halted a planned advance on Idlib, one of the last parts of Syria still outside the control of President Bashar al-Assad, and currently home to more than 3 million people. But similar agreements in other parts of Syria have proved a prelude to siege, brutal bombardment and eventual evacuation, and Saleh said he wanted to remind Jeremy Hunt that western support was vital to save lives. “We would emphasise that we cannot rely on the Russians or trust guarantees provided by them, because we have seen how their commitments were fake in previous de-escalation zones in Homs, in Daraa, in eastern Ghouta,” Saleh said before his meeting with Hunt last week. “So we need more commitment from the western world to protect the Syrian people.”

Reuters: Islamic State Islamic State Claims Responsibility For Car Bomb That Killed One In Syria's Raqqa

“A car bomb exploded near a military position in Syria's Raqqa on Sunday, local authorities and a war monitor said, and Islamic State group said it was behind the blast. The blast came a day after the assassination of a local council leader in the city, the former Syrian capital of the militant group's self-declared caliphate, which was seized a year ago by U.S.-backed Kurdish-led fighters. Raqqa security forces said a civilian had been killed and several people, including civilians and fighters injured. The war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the blast caused "a large number" of casualties. Islamic State said in a statement that it had detonated the bomb, targeting fighters from the Kurdish YPG militia, the strongest element in the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) group that drove the militants from Raqqa last year. The SDF is battling Islamic State fighters in one of their last patches of territory in Syria, along the north bank of the Euphrates river close to the Iraqi border. The militants took advantage of bad weather on Sunday to attack SDF positions, killing a dozen fighters, the Observatory reported. Syrian state television reported on Sunday that the Syrian army was assaulting the jihadists' other remaining pocket of ground in the desert area in Sweida province in southern Syria.”

Iran

The Washington Post: Citing Iran, Military Officials Are Alarmed By Shrinking U.S. Footprint In Middle East

“Military officials are expressing alarm that a shrinking U.S. military presence in the Middle East has undermined their ability to respond to Iranian threats just as the Trump administration’s imposition of oil sanctions increases the potential for confrontation. Concern about the Pentagon’s decision to move ships, combat aircraft and missile defense systems out of the region has intensified in the run-up to Monday’s deadline for reimposing energy sanctions on Iran, the White House’s latest move to pressure Iran and curtail its support for armed proxy groups. Although officials don’t think Iran is capable of sustaining a prolonged large-scale attack on U.S. forces in the region, they are worried that it could lash out by employing its robust arsenal of ballistic missiles or using mines to shut down waterways crucial to global commerce. The U.S. footprint in the region has shrunk as the Pentagon, under President Trump’s strategy for reorienting national security priorities, seeks to direct the military toward competition with China and Russia rather than the insurgent groups that have been the focus of the post-9/11 period.”

The Wall Street Journal: As New Iran Sanctions Loom, U.S. Aims To Plug Gaps

“The Trump administration moved Friday toward its goal of maximum economic pressure against Iran, while granting waivers allowing eight countries to temporarily import Iranian oil without facing U.S. punishment. The waivers, to countries that government advisers say include China, Turkey and India, are designed to give them time to switch to other suppliers while sharply reducing or eliminating their purchases of Iranian oil over time. But with the U.S. economic pressure campaign coming into full force at 12:01 a.m. eastern time Monday, American officials also struggled to plug the holes that have plagued past sanctions plans against Iran. Unlike the global support for the Obama administration’s penalties, broad opposition to the current U.S. policy, including from European allies, is sure to complicate the task. And Iran has pledged to resist the sanctions. Still, the Trump administration is off to a strong start: Iranian oil exports have fallen by more than a million barrels a day since the White House launched its new campaign in May. That decline represents more than a third of international sales.”

The Wall Street Journal: Iranian President Promises To ‘Break’ New U.S. Sanctions

“Iranian President Hassan Rouhani vowed that his country would resist tough new U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil and banks on Monday, as Tehran braced for a new era of political and economic isolation. “Unfair sanctions are against the law, U.N. resolutions and international accords. Therefore, we will proudly break the sanctions,” Mr. Rouhani said on national television after the sanctions took effect at the stroke of midnight in Washington, or 8:30 a.m. in Tehran. The sanctions signaled the end of American involvement in a multinational nuclear accord and punctuated the political realignment in the Middle East, with the U.S. and allies like Saudi Arabia and Israel lining up against Iran. The sanctions threaten to reduce Iran’s exports to the global oil supply and jolt a large regional economy that was already buckling. Oil prices had risen in recent weeks in anticipation of the sanctions, but they fell Monday with Brent crude, the international benchmark, sinking about 0.69% to $72.33. The U.S. has scrambled to ensure a well-supplied oil market in the event of Iranian declines, and Saudi Arabia—the world’s biggest crude exporter—has vowed to step up output to fill the gap.”

The Independent: Iran-Backed Rebels To Blame For Yemen Humanitarian Crisis, UK-Arms Sales Committee Chief Claims

“The chairman of a committee scrutinising British arms sales has blamed Iranian-backed rebels for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, amid an intensifying row over Saudi Arabia’s role in the civil war. MPs from across the political spectrum have criticised the government for continuing to sell weapons to the Saudi-led coalition, which is fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen. Much of the criticism has revolved around Saudi-backed bombing of a bus carrying school children and an attack targeting a wedding. But Labour’s Graham Jones said responsibility for the spiralling emergency in Yemen lay with Tehran-backed Ansar Allah rebels, likening their missile attacks on Saudi targets to Nazi V2 attacks on Britain during the Second World War. Mr Jones, who chairs the Commons Committees on Arms Exports Controls (CAEC), told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that, aside from environmental issues, the well-armed Houthi group “represent the greatest threat on the planet now.”

Iraq

Iraqi News: U.S. Jet Fighters Kill 25 Islamic State Militants In Kirkuk

“Iraqi security forces killed on Sunday 25 Islamic State terrorists and destroyed two of their hotbeds during air raids in northwestern Kirkuk province, a commander of Iraq’s elite counter-terrorism forces said. Speaking to Al Ekhbariya news website, Major General Maan al-Saadi, the commander of the Iraqi Special Forces 2nd Division, said that the U.S.-led international coalition warplanes targeted a hotbed of Islamic State near Dibris heights in northwestern Kirkuk, leaving six militants dead. “Another airstrike by the international coalition killed 19 Islamic State terrorists, who were hiding inside a 500-meter-long tunnel,” al-Saadi said, adding that the two hotbeds were used as hideouts by the slain IS militants. The Islamic State group appeared on the international scene in 2014 when it seized large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, declaring the establishment of an Islamic “caliphate” from Mosul city. Later on, the group has become notorious for its brutality, including mass killings, abductions and beheadings, prompting the U.S. to lead an international coalition to destroy it. Despite the group’s crushing defeat at its main havens across Iraq, Islamic State continues to launch sporadic attacks against troops with security reports warning that the militant group still poses a threat against stability in the country.”

The Washington Post: 4 Bombs Explode In Baghdad, Killing 4, Wounding About 20

“Baghdad police say four people have been killed in four bomb blasts in the Iraqi capital, including two inside commuter minivans. The blasts occurred after Sunday’s evening rush hour and appeared to target Shiite districts around Baghdad, including Sadr City and Kadhimiya. Police officials say the individual blasts were relatively small. They say about 20 people were wounded. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity, in line with police regulations. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility in a statement posted by its Amaq News Agency and circulated on social media. The militant group continues to terrorize Iraqis with kidnappings and bombings despite losing nearly all its territories to Iraqi forces last year. The group promotes violence against Shiites across the Islamic world.”

Turkey

Associated Press: US, Turkey Lift Sanctions Imposed In Case Of Detained Pastor

“Turkey and the U.S. on Friday lifted sanctions on senior government officials that had been imposed during the diplomatic standoff over the arrest of American pastor Andrew Brunson, officially ending a case that had strained relations between the two NATO members. The Treasury Department said it was lifting the sanctions on Turkish Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gul and Minister of Interior Suleyman Soylu, while Turkey removed its retaliatory measures against Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. The moves follow the release last month of Brunson, who spent two years in prison and faced the possibility of a life sentence on terrorism charges that he called "ridiculous." Brunson had lived in Turkey as a missionary for more than two decades when he was arrested as part of a widespread Turkish government crackdown that followed a failed coup against President Recep Erdogan in July 2016. Brunson denied the charges against him, and the U.S. repeatedly called for his release. In August, it imposed sanctions on the two government officials to press Turkey to release the 50-year-old evangelical pastor. Brunson was convicted in October on charges of providing assistance to terrorist groups and sentenced to three years in prison. But he was freed and allowed to leave the country. He is now back in the United States.”

Afghanistan

Reuters: Afghan Shi'ite Militia Battles Taliban, Raising Sectarian Fears

“A week of fighting between Taliban militants and fighters loyal to a commander from the mainly Shi'ite Hazara minority has heightened fears of a dangerous new phase of sectarian violence in Afghanistan. The clashes in the central province of Uruzgan, which have killed at least 21 people, have highlighted concerns that Hazaras, members of a mainly Shi'ite Persian-speaking minority targeted by Islamic State attacks over recent years, may take up arms in frustration at a lack of action by the government. While the Taliban, made up mainly of ethnic Pashtun Sunni Muslims, has not explicitly targeted Hazaras in the past, officials fear the violence could escalate into an ethnic battle. "The fighting is very intense and is now becoming an issue of ethnic violence between Hazara and Pashtun," said Amir Mohammad Barekzai, the provincial council chief. "The government must arrange a truce between them or there will be a massacre." Sectarian violence had until recent years been relatively uncommon in Afghanistan but suicide bombings at Shi'ite mosques and cultural centers by Islamic State as well as attacks on Hazaras traveling on provincial highways have fueled growing anger. Many Hazaras blame Sunni Pashtuns for the attacks. Afghan and Western security officials, fearing the kind of sectarian violence that has devastated Iraq, have been deeply concerned that Hazaras who fought in Iranian-backed militias in Syria could hit Sunni targets.”

Al Jazeera: Russia To Host Talks With Afghan Leaders, Taliban Delegation

“Russia's foreign ministry says Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has agreed to send a group of senior politicians to peace talks in Moscow, at which a delegation representing the Taliban will be present. In a statement on Saturday, Russia's foreign ministry said the talks were confirmed to be held on November 9, after proposed multilateral talks scheduled for August were rejected by the Ghani government. Can the Afghan army defeat the Taliban? "It will be the first time that a delegation from the Taliban's political office in Doha will attend such a high-level international meeting," the foreign ministry said. The ministry added that it had invited several other countries to send representatives, including India, Iran, Pakistan, China and the United States. Back-channel diplomacy between the Taliban and a range of countries - including the US - has taken place over the years to end the latest phase of Afghanistan's decades of war, which began with a US invasion in 2001. Hundreds of people, including scores of civilians, have been killed in Taliban attacks in recent weeks. The group said last month that it would press on with its war despite the Kabul government's offer of a ceasefire. Reports by international aid organisations have suggested the group controls or contests around 40 percent of the country's districts.’”

Pakistan

New York Times: Pakistani Religious Leader Known As ‘Father Of The Taliban’ Is Killed

“A Pakistani Muslim spiritual leader known as the “father of the Taliban” was killed Friday evening by a knife-wielding assailant who sneaked into his bedroom, officials said, further roiling the country’s combustible religious tensions. The leader, Maulana Sami ul-Haq, 81, exerted an overarching influence over the Taliban movement in neighboring Afghanistan and within Pakistan and led his own faction of a religious party, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam. “He has been stabbed to death,” said Fawad Chaudhry, the country’s information minister. There was no immediate claim of responsibility and the circumstances of the killing were unusual. Mr. Haq was resting at home in the city of Rawalpindi adjacent to Islamabad when he was stabbed. Police officials said an unidentified assailant entered the house while Mr. Haq’s personal staff members were at a nearby market. They said the attacker went into Mr. Haq’s bedroom, stabbed him in the chest and shoulder multiple times and left. The religious leader was rushed to a hospital when his personal staff returned, but doctors said he died from blood loss. Police detained his driver and personal assistant for questioning. “We don’t blame anyone at this moment, but he was on the hit list of enemies of Islam,” Syed Yousaf Shah, a senior leader and spokesman of Mr. Haq’s party, said by phone. “The motive for killing him and who is behind it is being investigated.” The killing jolted Pakistan just as the government was grappling with protests by religious hard-liners after the country’s Supreme Court acquitted a Pakistani Christian woman on charges of blasphemy, a capital crime here.”

The Washington Post: After Slaying Of ‘Father Of Taliban’ In Pakistan, Mourners Underscore Complex Legacy

“Several thousand people gathered Saturday near the Afghan border to mourn the death of Maulana Sami ul-Haq, 82, a leading Sunni cleric and “father of the Taliban” who was stabbed to death by unknown assailants. Officials and religious leaders from across the ideological spectrum in Pakistan and Afghanistan joined students from the renowned seminary in Akora Khattak where Haq taught and mentored two generations of Afghan Islamist fighters. A delegation of Afghan leaders came to pay their respects to Haq, whom the Kabul government had asked to help persuade Taliban insurgent leaders to begin negotiations for an end to the 17-year war. Some Pakistani attendees from banned religious groups hid their faces behind turbans. Haq’s mysterious slaying Friday was a shock to the nation, coming amid several days of nationwide violent protests by traditionally moderate Sunni groups in Pakistan enraged by the Supreme Court’s acquittal of a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy. The packed funeral was a momentary pause in the nation’s divisive turmoil as well as a tribute to Haq’s multifaceted influence on the country.”

Yemen

Al Arabiya: Houthi Commander Killed In Clashes With Yemeni Army In Hodeidah

“A senior Houthi field commander was killed along with 15 other militiamen in clashes with the Yemeni army in Hodeidah. Houthi Commander Abdullah Al-Mahtoori was killed in clashes with the Yemeni army near the Kilo 16 area east of Hodeidah. Meanwhile, an Al Arabiya reporter in Hodeidah said the Yemeni army passed the Kilo 16 area, and is fighting fierce battles in the city of Al-Saleh, which lies three kilometers away from Hodeidah. The army said it will continue pushing forward until it rids the city of Houthi militia elements, adding that it is sending reinforcements including artillery, snipers and combat units equipped with sophisticated weapons.”

Al Jazeera: Yemen Troops Make Gains As Air Raids Pound Houthi-Held Hodeidah

“The Saudi-UAE military alliance at war with Yemen's Houthi rebels says it has advanced towards the western city of Hodeidah, hours after residents reported a barrage of air raids targeting the strategic port city. Residents in Hodeidah told Al Jazeera on Saturday that the United States-backed alliance launched more than 25 air raids, targeting rebel-held locations on the city's edges. Yemeni journalist Manal Qaed said the sound of fighter jets dropping bombs pierced through the sky late into the afternoon, with civilians fearing to venture out of their homes. The Houthi-affiliated Al-Masirah news outlet said more than 60 raids targeted Kilo-16 and its surrounding areas, wounding four civilians. Kilo-16 is the main highway linking Hodeidah city with the rebel-held capital, Sanaa. Aid agencies have long warned that fighting in Hodeidah risks escalating the dire humanitarian crisis in Yemen, where about half the population - some 14 million people - could soon be on the verge of famine. "This is not the first time the city has been attacked and sadly residents have grown accustomed to the sounds of air strikes and shelling," Qaed said. "Throughout the day, we've heard the sound of jets in the sky, intense shelling and air strikes," she added. "As for me, I will only leave once clashes flare in the city." Meanwhile, the dpa news agency reported that Yemeni forces, backed by the Saudi-UAE alliance, gained territory on the eastern and southern outskirts of Hodeidah. A military source told dpa on condition of anonymity: "The forces will not stop until they take control of the strategic Hodeidah port." On Tuesday, the alliance sent more than 10,000 troops to Hodeidah in a new offensive aimed at securing the so-called "liberated areas.”

Al Arabiya: Yemeni Tribal Leader Defects From Houthi Militias As Army Advances In Hodeidah

“A senior Yemeni tribal leader in Sanaa has split from the Houthi militias after announcing his dissatisfaction with the situation of Yemeni youth. Sheikh Makhlaf Kamim called on other tribal leaders in Sanaa to not remain silent over Houthi violations in the country. The Houthis had taken further steps in October to hinder the movement of several tribal leaders and pressure them to provide the militias with more fighters, according to sources. The president of the self-proclaimed Houthi Supreme Political Council, Mahdi Mashat, also called for the restructuring of a tribal affairs department within the council. Mashat said that the department would attempt to control tribes, and placing tribal sheikhs loyal to the Houthis as heads of the department so they can mobilize their followers to fight on Houthi fronts. Meanwhile, the Yemeni National Army forces have gained control of the al-Khamseen road northeast of Hodeidah following vicious battles against the Houthi militias. The Giants Brigade’s media center stated that they were able to liberate a major roundabout that is located between the al-Khamseen road and the strategic Kilo 16 area, which is considered a key location in Hodeidah. The media center added that army forces continued to move forward on the eastern fronts of the city, controlling a number of Houthi bases resulting in losses in militiamen and weaponry. The media center added that tense battles are also taking place at the southern entrance of the city and that liberation operations are continuing with the support of the Arab Coalition in several key locations in Hodeidah.”

Saudi Arabia

Arab News: Saudi Air Defense Forces Intercept Ballistic Missile Launched By Houthi Militia Toward Najran

“Saudi Arabia’s air defense forces intercepted a ballistic missile launched by the Iranian-backed Houthi militia from within Yemen territory toward Najran, Arab Coalition Spokesperson Col. Turki Al-Maliki said. The missile was intercepted at 06.17am and was launched from Saada, Yemen, toward the Saudi Arabian city of Najran. Col. Al-Maliki added that the missile was launched toward the southwestern city of Najran and aimed to target civilian and populated areas.”

Lebanon

Al Arabiya: Israel Renews Threats To Lebanon By Striking Hezbollah Rocket Factories

“Israel renewed on Friday its threat and warning to Lebanon during a meeting with a French envoy touring the region. Al Arabiya news channel correspondent in Palestine said on Friday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had passed a threat message through Oman meant for Iran, to spare Lebanon a new war and to stop trying to build precision rockets on its territory. Netanyahu also sent another threat a few days ago, which was delivered by the French National Security Adviser Orléan la-Chevalier, who is said to be one of Macron’s closest confidants, who met with Israeli deputy national security adviser Eitan Ben-David, on Monday to convey to Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri that the Lebanese government must put an end to Hezbollah’s missile factories, otherwise, “Israel will solve it” , in reference to a possible military action. Ben-David said that Israel has a time limit to end this file, and is ready to wait diligently to develop diplomatic solutions to this matter, stressing at the same time that “Israel is not ready to accept this reality.” Netanyahu will meet with French President Emmanuel Macaron in Paris on November 11, where he is expected to repeat the warning message to Lebanon regarding Hezbollah’s rocket factories.”

Middle East

Reuters: Gas And Guns: Crackdown On Smuggling Stirs Dissent In Tunisia

“Zubair Abdel-Moula lost his work selling smuggled fuel on the streets of a poor southern town in Tunisia after the government tightened controls with Libya to stop militants crossing the 460-kilometer (286-mile) border. The 32 year-old, who has never had a full-time job, now sits on a mattress blocking traffic in Remada’s main street with other unemployed protesters, demanding state jobs and aid. Tunisia started digging trenches and setting up monitoring systems provided by Western allies on the Libyan border in 2015. Routes that had been used for decades to smuggle cheap fuel, pasta and wheat from Libya to Tunisia were also being used by Islamic militants and to transport drugs and arms. Officials say shutting the routes has helped prevent a repeat of attacks such as the one in 2015, when a Libyan-trained Tunisian shot dead dozens of tourists on a Tunisian beach. But the crackdown took the livelihood of thousands, many of whom have joined the protests. The growing dissent is a worry for the government, the ninth since the Arab Spring and the 2011 fall of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, as it clings to power. Southern Tunisia sits on the oil and phosphate that drive the overall economy but the good jobs in those sectors rarely go to locals, who often lack engineering skills. The area around Remada is poorer than the capital Tunis, 600 km. to the north. Fellow protester Abdullah used to spend his nights in remote borderlands buying fuel from Libyan truck drivers to sell in Remada. Due to subsidies, the pump price of petrol in Libya is 10 times cheaper than in Tunisia. With the crackdown, the work has become too dangerous.”

The National: Bahrain Foils Escape Of Six Terrorism Suspects

“Bahrain has foiled an attempt to smuggle six terrorism suspects out the country in a plan that was orchestrated from Iran, the state's news agency reported. The fugitives were preparing to leave the country by boat from the Samaheej coast, the Bahrain News Agency said, without identifying the suspects or when they were arrested. Investigators found that one of the suspects had been in contact with another fugitive in Iran who arranged the operation, and also identified and arrested people suspected of giving them shelter and assistance in Bahrain, BNA said. It said the General Directorate of Criminal Investigation and Forensic Science was referring those arrested to the public prosecution while investigation of the case continued. Officials accuse Iran of fomenting the violence by providing training and weapons. Last month the courts convicted seven citizens on terrorism charges over the bombing of an oil pipeline in November 2017. Two of them had received training in the “use and making of weapons and explosives in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard camps for the purpose of committing terrorist crimes in Bahrain”, prosecution officials said. Six of the seven had their citizenship revoked, while five were handed life sentences. The other two were sentenced to jail terms of 10 and five years. They were convicted of establishing a terrorist group, using explosives in a terrorist blast, and receiving financing and training in the use of weapons from terrorist groups.”

Egypt

The New York Times: ISIS Says It Was Behind Deadly Attack On Christians In Egypt

“Islamist gunmen killed at least seven Coptic Christian pilgrims in Egypt on Friday and wounded at least 16 in an attack later claimed by the Islamic State. The attack — an ambush on two buses — ended a nearly yearlong lull in major attacks on Copts in Egypt, and may signal a resumption of the Islamic State’s campaign to sow sectarian divisions in Egyptian society. It was also a setback for President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who has put security concerns at the heart of his autocratic style of rule and has repeatedly vowed to protect Christians, a minority in the country, from attack. The shooting occurred as two buses carrying pilgrims left the Monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor, 85 miles south of Cairo, in Egypt’s Western Desert.”

Nigeria

Daily Post: Boko Haram: Hunters Gun Down 8 Terrorists In Borno Village

“Hunters and members of the civilian vigilante of Gubio, in Gubio local government area of Borno State, on Sunday, engaged members of the dreaded Islamic sect, Boko Haram. DAILY POST reports that the fierce fight resulted in the killing of eight (8) militants in the area. Few days ago, the same hunters in collaboration with some members of the civilian JTF dealt decisively with some terrorists in the area killing several of them in their efforts to rid the local government and surrounding villages of the activities of the Boko Haram. The attack and subsequent engagement of the Boko Haram terrorists today, Sunday evening at Gazabure village, is said to be another effort to clear the Boko Haram elements from the northern part of Borno. Gubio is about 50 km from Maiduguri, which has experienced several attacks by the insurgents in the past, including the attack and abduction of the University of Maiduguri lecturers, who recently regained their freedom after a negotiation with the Federal Government.”

Somalia

Xinhua: U.S. Military Says Kills 4 Al-Shabab Militants In Southern Somalia

“The U.S. military said on Sunday that it conducted an airstrike near Araara, in southern Somalia, on Saturday, killing four al-Shabab militants. The U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) said the air raid was carried out in cooperation with the Somali government. "We currently assess this airstrike killed four terrorists. We currently assess no civilians were injured or killed in this airstrike," AFRICOM said in a statement. The U.S. military said the airstrike was conducted after armed militants were maneuvering to attack partner forces during a patrol. "No U.S. service members were present on the ground during this Somali-led operation," said AFRICOM. U.S. forces, in cooperation with Somali government and African Union peacekeeping mission troops, are conducting operations against al-Shabab in Somalia to degrade the al-Qaida affiliate's ability to recruit, train and plot external terror attacks.”

Mareeg: US-Backed Forces Raid On Al-Shabaab Bases, 10 Killed

“Somali especial forces known as ‘DANAB’ have on Friday launched joint military operation against the major Al Qaeda linked Al Shabaab group’s stronghold near Jamame town. The US-trained especial soldiers came under ambush attack by Al-Shabaab during the operation, according to Somalia’s Jubaland army chief, Aden Mohamud Ibrahim. Ibrahim says the especial forces had killed at least 10 armed fighters belonging to Al-Shabaab group during military operation near the town. He says the operation was meant to flush out the group’s fighters in Juba regions in south of Somalia. There was no immediate comment from Al Shabaab over the military claims. The Al-Qaeda linked Shabaab was pushed out of the Somali capital in 2011 — and subsequently other towns and cities — by soldiers from the African Union Mission in Somalia. Somalia has been mired in violence and lawlessness since early 1990s when dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was toppled.”

Africa

Bloomberg: U.S. Increases Support For West African Force Fighting Jihadists

“The U.S. almost doubled its pledge for the financial support of a West African force that began deploying last year to fight a surge in Islamist militant attacks. Assistance to the force that’s known as G5 Sahel will now total $111 million, from an initial pledge of $60 million made in October 2017, Samantha Reho, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany, said Friday in an emailed response to questions. The additional amount will help “to meet the needs and strengthen the capabilities” of the unit, she said. The 5,000-strong regional force started last year to mobilize troops from member nations -- Niger, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania -- to counter militants linked to al-Qaeda and Islamic State in the Sahel, a semiarid region, stretching across Africa along the southern end of the Sahara. Incidents of extremist violence in the region have tripled over the past year and resulted in the deaths of 895 people, according to a report by the U.S. Defense Department’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies released Oct. 29. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization warned in a report released in July that the shortage of finance to secure long-term operations, provide training and purchase equipment raises concerns over the force’s “future funding and durability.”

The New York Times: An Operation In Niger Went Fatally Awry. Who Is The Army Punishing?

“The Army has punished two members of the Special Forces team ambushed in Niger last October for their decisions before the mission and for insufficient training alongside their Nigerien allies in advance, according to military officials. Four others in their chain of command were also disciplined. Some of those punished in recent weeks included the Green Beret team leader, Capt. Mike Perozeni, and his second in command, a master sergeant. Those absent from the six letters of reprimand include the two senior officers who approved the mission and who then oversaw the operation as it went fatally awry. The punishments appear to run counter to another narrative the Army has pushed in past months: the heroism displayed by the troops under fire. Almost all of the soldiers on the 11-man team, including those who were killed, have been nominated for valor awards, though they have yet to be approved. According to one official, senior officers at Special Operations Command believe that members of the team can be held responsible for failures before the mission and still be awarded commendations for their actions during the ambush.”

United Kingdom

The Telegraph: British ISIL Brides And Their Children Languish In Legal Limbo In Syrian Camps

“The youngest of Nasima Bikom’s four children clutches his mother’s abaya as they queue for their weekly food parcel in a camp in northern Syria. At six years old, he has little memory of the comfortable upbringing the family enjoyed in east London - before his father's decision in 2015 to take the family to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s self-declared caliphate. Now living off handouts in a makeshift detention centre for the wives and widows of foreign Islamic State fighters, it is not clear whether he or his mother and siblings will ever return.”

France

Reuters: France Issues Arrest Warrants For Senior Syrian Officials

“French prosecutors have issued international arrest warrants for three senior Syrian intelligence and government officials, including security chief Ali Mamlouk, for alleged collusion in war crimes, a defense lawyer and a judicial source said on Monday. Mamlouk, one of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s most senior advisers, was targeted by the order alongside Jamil Hassan, the head of Airforce Intelligence who is already the subject of a German warrant, the sources said. Another senior Airforce Intelligence official, Abdel Salam Mahmoud, was also named in the French order, one of the sources said. The warrants stem from a long-running case involving two French-Syrian nationals who were arrested in Syria in November 2013 and had disappeared since.”

Europe

PBS Newshour: Hungary’s Extremism May Be Harbinger Of Europe’s Political Future

“Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban was once thought to be the best person to lead a sphere of former Soviet states toward western-style democracy, but he has instead taken the country on a more populist course, one that's alarmed other European leaders who criticize his treatment of migrants, the media, NGOs and academia. NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Christopher Livesay reports.”

Southeast Asia

Chiang Rai Times: Islamic State Finding A Safe Haven In The Southern Philippines

“Despite Islamic State’s failure last year to establish a caliphate in the southern Philippine city of Marawi, foreign militants continue to flock to the island of Mindanao, waiting in the wings to strike anew. Security analysts and military officials say at least 100 foreign terrorist fighters are now holed up with a range of local armed groups that have pledged their allegiance to Islamic State. Filipino troops needed five months to flush out Islamic State-allied Maute and Abu Sayyaf fighters from their positions in Marawi, which one year later has yet to rise from the ashes of the urban war that left its core in ruins. Rommel Banlaoi, chair of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research, claims in an interview with Asia Times that Islamic State foreign fighters are now streaming into Mindanao and that the situation is “getting worse.” His claim is based on information he collected over several months from state security agencies. “The entry of FTFs (foreign terrorist fighters) to the Philippines continues despite the liberation of Marawi,” Banlaoi told the Asia Times on October 30. He also says that at least 60 have been identified by state agents through their aliases, while nearly 30 others are unidentified. The figure is significantly higher than the 48 foreign fighters that the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ intelligence unit said were operating in Mindanao as of January 2018.”

Associated Press: Thousands Protest Burning Of Islamic Flag In Indonesia

“Thousands of conservative Muslims protested in the Indonesian capital on Friday about the burning of an Islamic flag, sparking criticism from the government's top security minister that the country was in mourning after a plane crash and back-to-back natural disasters. Waving black flags bearing the Islamic declaration of faith, several thousand demonstrators, many wearing white Islamic robes, filled a major thoroughfare in Jakarta after Friday prayers. It was the biggest of scattered protests since last month after a flag linked to a banned Islamic group was burned by members of the country's largest mainstream religious organization. Video of members of Nahdlatul Ulama's youth-wing militia burning the Hizbut Tahrir flag has led to allegations of blasphemy because it was emblazoned with the Islamic declaration of faith. Hizbut Tahrir, which seeks a global caliphate, has been banned by the Indonesian government as a threat to national unity. Shortly before meeting with protest leaders, Indonesia's top security minister, Wiranto, said police had been "neutral and professional" in their response to the flag burning incident. Blasphemy against any of the officially recognized faiths in Muslim-majority Indonesia is a criminal offense though prosecutions overwhelmingly target religious minorities. Wiranto, who uses a single name, emphasized that Indonesia is dealing with the aftermath of a plane crash earlier this week that killed 189 people and earthquakes and a tsunami that claimed thousands of lives.”

Technology

The Hill: Dems Push Facebook To Fix 'Unacceptable' Political Ad Transparency Tools

“A pair of Democratic senators on Friday pressed Facebook to fix its political ad transparency tools that reportedly allow users to make misleading claims about who is purchasing an ad. “The fact that Facebook’s new security tools allow users to intentionally misidentify who placed political ads is unacceptable," Sens. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Mark Warner (Va.) wrote in a letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg. "That Facebook is unable to recognize ads connected to a well-established foreign interference operation is also deeply troubling.” The letter follows reports in which Vice News was able to purchase ads on Facebook and attribute them to being paid for by Vice President Pence, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and all 100 U.S. senators.

The two Senate Democrats also used their letter to promote their legislation, The Honest Ads Act, which aims to create more transparency in political ads by holding social media firms like Facebook to the same standards as traditional media like TV, radio and newspapers. “You have committed to implementing transparency measures similar to those that the Honest Ads Act would require; however, your company is currently failing to carry out the basic disclosure and disclaimer provisions of the legislation,” Klobuchar and Warner wrote.”

Forbes: Facebook's AI Appears To Be So Dumb That It Sells Advertisements To ISIS

“Despite its rhetoric regarding its progress in the fight against fake news, even the most obviously fake placements still seem to be getting through, highlighting once again that at the root of almost all its problems lies its weakness in AI. Tests carried out by Vice News (see here) and Business Insider (see here) were successful in that VICE News was able to post political advertisements paid for Mike Pence (VP USA), Tom Perry (DNC Chairman) and ISIS and Business Insider posted advertisements paid for the now defunct Cambridge Analytica. Ironically, advertisements claiming to be paid for by Hilary Clinton were blocked. Facebook has said that no foreign advertisers are permitted to place political advertisements, but VICE News was still able to re-post exact copies of advertisements allegedly used by Russian agents in 2016. This is yet another indication of just how poor Facebook’s AI is and that anything that is not explicitly programmed for is likely be able to slip through the net. A decent AI would have known that Mike Pence and Tom Perry are active politicians without having to be explicitly told and it probably blocked Hilary Clinton only because it had been explicitly told to do so. Surprisingly, no one at Facebook seems to have told the algorithm that ISIS is a world known terrorist organisation. Furthermore, in AI terms, this is not rocket science. Image recognition, voice recognition and video processing are complex AI problems, but this could have been spotted with a simple text search. For the last 2 years, RFM has ranked Facebook dead last in the AI arms race that is currently being run among the digital ecosystems and these findings indicate that this state of affairs has not changed.”

Buzzfeed News: Twitter Listed A Trending Topic For "Kill All Jews" After A Brooklyn Synagogue Was Vandalized

“On Friday morning, the Twitter trending topic "Kill all Jews" appeared in many New Yorkers' local trending sections. That phrase had been the subject of discussion following the vandalism of Union Temple, a Brooklyn synagogue that was set to host a political event with Broad City star Ilana Glazer on Thursday. The incident was heavily covered by local media, resulting in a number of stories featuring the anti-Semitic phrase that were then shared on Twitter. Some Twitter users started to notice the trending topic on Friday morning and began wondering why the platform was promoting the hateful phrase, which was a violation of the social network's own rules. According to Twitter, it does not permit profanity or words that "incite hate on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease" in its trending section. Topics are set by algorithms but can later be reviewed by human moderators.”

Reuters: Facebook's Cameroon Problem: Stop Online Hate Stoking Conflict

“A video link posted on Facebook on June 20 showed a man cooking human body parts in a pot over a wood fire. In Cameroon, the footage went viral. Some Facebook users said the man was a cannibal and that the video was shot in the country’s English-speaking west, where separatist insurgents are fighting to create a breakaway state. Local websites quickly debunked this notion. The man in the video was not a separatist fighter or cannibal, and the body parts were not real. The clip was taken on a Nigerian film set and uploaded to Instagram on June 17 by make-up artist Hakeem Onilogbo, who uses the platform to showcase his work. But the video’s rapid spread raises questions about Facebook’s ability to police millions of posts each day and crack down on hate speech in a country where internet use is rising fast, social media are used for political ends and the company has no permanent physical presence.”

Financing of Terrorism

Erem News: Central Bank Of Iraq Freezes Assets Of Two Syrian Companies On Charges Of Terrorism Financing

“The Iraqi Central Bank announced the freezing of assets and suspension of all transactions with Syrian Airlines and Cham Wings Airlines. This comes in compliance with the US sanctions imposed on the two companies, on charges of financing and abetting terrorism. The US State Department had previously threatened the Iraqi government that if it refused to abide by US sanctions against countries and groups accused of supporting and financing terrorism, it might itself be subject to sanctions. Terrorist groups are self-financing through the creation of legitimate investment projects, both virtual and real. These investments come in the form of banks or financial entities involved in monetary remittances. The financial organizations of these entities are separated from the countries in which they operate and under other, far-fetched terms.”

Sout Al-Omma: Egypt: Terrorists Exploit Dangerous Criminals To Carry Out Robberies And Abductions To Finance Terrorism

“Sout Al-Omma newspaper has obtained new details surrounding the Public Prosecution's interrogation of 70 Jihadi detainees suspected of establishing armed cells called the Popular Resistance Committees and the Al-Mulathamoon {Masked} Movement. These militant groups carried out terrorist attacks in the areas of Kerdasa Center and Nahya village in the Governorate of Giza. The investigations into this case, referred to as the Kerdasa Center Criminal Case No. 119 of 2016, revealed a huge surprise regarding the work mechanism of these armed groups. {It turns out that} the terrorists had been exploiting classified high-risk offenders by recruiting them {as mercenaries} to perpetrate robbery and kidnapping for ransom. The militants then used the funds generated from these criminal acts to purchase the arms, explosives and munitions needed for their terrorist activities.”

Almasry Alyoum: Egyptian Expert: State Has Cut Off Terrorists' Funding Sources 

“Magdi Bassiouni, a former Deputy of the Egyptian Interior Minister and current faculty member of the Police Academy, claimed that the perpetrators of the recent attack on the bus of Coptic pilgrims in the Minya Governorate were neither trained nor funded, since they assaulted unarmed citizens in the desert. Bassiouni explained that the successive security strikes against the terrorists have forced them to go into hiding. The armed forces had previously launched 65 proactive operations in the same area where the terrorist attack took place, the security expert added. Bassiouni also stressed that the Egyptian state had managed to cut off the funding sources of militant groups, as {illustrated by the fact that} the terrorists from Minya possessed only a "cartouche" {an old-fashioned gun}. Terrorism hasn't yet been eradicated completely; however, terrorist attacks have been very limited of late, Bassiouni pointed out.”

Muslim Brotherhood

Elfagr: Egyptian Parliamentarian: Citizens Donated Lots Of Money To The Muslim Brotherhood In The Past

“Mohammed Abu Hamed, Member of Egypt's Parliament, stated that the banned Muslim Brotherhood currently aims to demoralize the Egyptian people by denigrating the accomplishments of the state. The outlawed Islamist group was originally established to topple the Egyptian state, MP Abu Hamed asserted. During an interview on "Dream" satellite television, the Egypt's MP mentioned that the Muslim Brotherhood regularly attempts to generate negative sentiments among the citizens toward the state. He also said that many Egyptian citizens had traditionally donated lots of money to the group before the 30 June revolution.”

Houthi

Newsyemen: Houthis Persist In The Extortion Of Merchants And Importers

“Commercial sources in Sana'a said that the Houthis continue to extort the merchants and importers in an unprecedented manner and impose unlawful royalties and taxes on them. According to these sources, the Houthis' "Tax Authority" has imposed taxes on merchants and importers worth over five times the taxes paid last year. "Last year I paid YR20 million {$80k) in taxes, and this year I paid YR100 million {$400k} without any justification or advance warning," said one trader in the capital. He pointed out that these increases in taxes and royalties paid to the Houthis have caused an increase in the prices of goods paid by ordinary citizens. The merchant added that many businessmen and importers have moved their businesses out of Yemen, especially to Djibouti and Addis Ababa, against the backdrop of the extortion practices and royalties imposed on them by the militants.”