Eye on Extremism: November 5

The New York Times: White Supremacist Plotted To Bomb Colorado Synagogue, F.B.I. Says

“Federal authorities in Colorado have arrested a man they accused of plotting to blow up a synagogue in Pueblo, a city two hours south of Denver, according to federal court documents. The man, identified as Richard Holzer, 27, used several Facebook accounts to promote violence and show support for the Holocaust, writing in July in a private message, for example, that he was “getting ready to cap people,” the documents said. The message included a picture of him aiming a long gun while dressed in clothing displaying white supremacy symbols. He told another Facebook user, “I wish the Holocaust really did happen” and, speaking of Jews, “they need to die.”

The Guardian: Sister Of Killed Isis Leader Captured, Says Turkish Official

“Turkey claims to have captured the sister of killed Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and is interrogating her and her husband and daughter-in-law, who were also detained. A senior Turkish official told Reuters that Rasmiya Awad, 65, was seized on Monday during a raid near the Turkish-controlled northern Syrian town of Azaz. When captured, she was also accompanied by five children. “We hope to gather a trove of intelligence from Baghdadi’s sister on the inner workings of Isis,” the official said. Picture provided by Turkish officials of who they say is Rasmiya Awad, the sister of slain Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Little independent information is available on Baghdadi’s sister and Reuters was not immediately able to verify if the captured individual was her. Fahrettin Altun, the communications director of Turkish president Tayyip Erdoğan, called the arrest “yet another example of the success of our counter-terrorism operations”. “Our determination to bring justice to those who seek to terrorize our people and destabilize our region cannot be questioned,” he wrote on Twitter. “We have been leading in the fight against terrorism in all its forms.”

Voice Of America: IS Media Aims To Build Momentum Behind Newly Appointed Caliph

“The Islamic State terror group appears to be trying to show that momentum is building in support of its new leader, distributing photographs of fighters from various provinces and affiliates swearing allegiance. Since Saturday, IS media officials have posted a series of photos showing fighters from five of the group's affiliates gathering to pledge bay'ah (allegiance) to Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi. The first of the pledges came from IS-Sinai of IS distributing three photographs of about 25 masked fighters gathering in a sparsely wooded area in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, with guns raised. That release was followed hours later by a series of photographs showing a group of about seven or eight masked fighters, allegedly from Bangladesh, pledging their loyalty. IS media officials have since distributed more photographs, similarly showing masked gunmen from Yemen and Pakistan pledging allegiance. “Some of this is, we're seeing some of the weaker affiliates rapidly realign with Islamic State,” said Katherine Zimmerman, project manager with the American Enterprise Institute's Critical Threats Project. “Four of the five are actually pretty small affiliates — Yemen, Somalia, Bangladesh and Pakistan — that haven't really had a massive presence on the ground and don't seem to have the sort of global pull that other ISIS branches have had,” she added.”

NBC News: ‘Defeated' ISIS Has Found Safe Haven In An Ungoverned Part Of Iraq

“Just months after the Islamic State militant group lost the last of its territory in Syria, and days after its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed in a U.S.-led raid, the group has found safe haven in a remote, ungoverned space in Iraq, as foreign fighters move across the border from Syria, military officials tell NBC news. “The fight against ISIS is continuous,” said U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. William Seely, commander of Task Force-Iraq. “We're seeing ISIS fighters move from Syria across hundreds of miles of desert.” Their goal, Seely says, is to re-establish their physical caliphate in the region. In 2014, ISIS controlled vast areas of land across Syria and Iraq, with more than 34,000 square miles and 10 million people living under its control, in what the group referred to as its caliphate. U.S.-backed fighters in Syria declared victory over ISIS in March, and amid Turkey's invasion into northeast Syria last month, President Donald Trump tweeted that the U.S. had defeated “100% of the ISIS Caliphate.” But in its most recent quarterly annual report on U.S. operations in Syria, released in August, the Defense Department's inspector general said that “ISIS remains a threat in Iraq and Syria.”

The New York Times: Russia Dominated Syria’s War. Now It’s Sending Mercenaries To Libya.

“The casualties at the Aziziya field hospital south of Tripoli used to arrive with gaping wounds and shattered limbs, victims of the haphazard artillery fire that has defined battles among Libyan militias. But now medics say they are seeing something new: narrow holes in a head or a torso left by bullets that kill instantly and never exit the body. It is the work, Libyan fighters say, of Russian mercenaries, including skilled snipers. The lack of an exit wound is a signature of the ammunition used by the same Russian mercenaries elsewhere. The snipers are among about 200 Russian fighters who have arrived in Libya in the last six weeks, part of a broad campaign by the Kremlin to reassert its influence across the Middle East and Africa.”

The Washington Post: Iran’s Hostage Factory

“In 2016, British national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, with her daughter Gabriella, traveled to her native Iran to spend the holidays with relatives. She planned to stay for two weeks. Instead, her vacation turned into a nightmare in an Iranian prison that has already robbed her of more than three years of her life. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a charity worker, was arrested at the airport, blocked from flying home to London, and eventually charged with plotting to overthrow the Iranian government. She is one of at least 50 foreign nationals — many of them with Iranian citizenship — arrested in Iran on unsubstantiated charges over the past decade. Zaghari-Ratcliffe is an example of the latest iteration of a foreign policy tactic that began on Nov. 4, 1979, when radical Iranian students stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, taking dozens of Americans captive. The episode ended after 444 days, when the hostages were released in 1981. But the seeds were already planted: using hostages to achieve political goals. Now these cases are growing in frequency.”

United States

National Post: After Al-Baghdadi: Who Are The FBI's Next Most-Wanted Terrorists, And How Much Are They Willing To Pay For Them?

“On Sunday the search for notorious ISIL leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi drew to a close, and as a result one informant is in for a massive payday. For years, the ISIL leader had sat atop the FBI’s list of most wanted terrorists, with the agency offering a payout of $25 million to anyone who could provide information on his whereabouts. The reward matched that previously placed on Osama Bin Laden, and also matches that of Bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda successor, Ayman Al-Zawahiri. The money — which had been boosted from the initial $10 million offered in 2016 — is expected to be paid soon. The mole in line for the cash is said to be a former ISIL security official who turned on Al-Baghdadi. The FBI’s practice of offering bounties for information on wanted terrorists, known as the Rewards for Justice program, is a long-established one, dating back to 1984’s Act to Combat International Terrorism. As of 2019, it has seen more than $150 million paid to informants worldwide.”

The New York Times: Facebook Isn’t Just Allowing Lies, It’s Prioritizing Them

“First, do no harm,” a doctrine typically associated with the practice of medicine, is the right ethic when it comes to decisions surrounding Silicon Valley’s paid promotion technologies and their effects on elections and democracy. A desire to avoid harm — in particular, the spread of misinformation — is part of what persuaded Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, to announce that his company will no longer run political ads. And Twitter is not alone: LinkedIn, Pinterest, Microsoft and Twitch also refuse political ads, while Google accepts them in some states but not others. Facebook is now the outlier, and it is increasingly hard to understand why it is insisting on accepting not only political advertising, but even deliberate and malicious lies if they are in the form of paid advertisements.”

CBS News: Alleged White Supremacist Arrested In Thwarted Synagogue Attack In Colorado, FBI Says

“A man who repeatedly espoused anti-Semitic views has been arrested in a plot to bomb a historic Colorado synagogue, federal officials said Monday. The co-conspirators turned out to be undercover agents. Court documents say Richard Holzer was arrested Friday in Pueblo just after the agents brought him what were supposedly two pipe bombs along with dynamite to blow up Temple Emanuel. In fact, the undercover agents had phony bombs incapable of causing damage, authorities said. The agents said Holzer described the inert explosives as "absolutely gorgeous" and said they should go ahead with the attack overnight to avoid police. He had allegedly earlier made threatening comments about Pueblo's Jewish community and said he wanted to plot "something that tells them they are not welcome in this town," according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court.”

The Washington Post: 8chan Is Back Online, This Time As 8kun

“8chan, the anonymous message board known for propelling white-supremacist and extremist content, is up and running after being knocked offline in August. The site, rebranded as 8kun, claims anything deemed illegal in the United States will be removed. Though it isn’t clear how many of the millions of 8chan users tried the new incarnation Sunday, site administrator Ron Watkins — the son of 8chan owner Jim Watkins — said surging traffic combined with cyberattacks caused some initial disturbance. But, he added, “we are alive." 8chan vowed to fight on, saying its ‘heartbeat is strong.’ Then a tech firm knocked it offline. 8chan became known for promoting online hate and extremism, including during mass shootings. This year, the platform was used to announce deadly attacks at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand; a synagogue in Poway, Calif., and a Walmart in El Paso. It has also been widely condemned for fueling the spread of such violence. In March, as the New Zealand gunman live-streamed his rampage on Facebook, fewer than 200 people watched before the social media site took it down. But 8chan, where the gunman had announced his “attack against the invaders” with a link to the live footage, allowed the grisly footage to reach millions.”

DW: What Is The Atomwaffen Division?

“The Atomwaffen Division (AWD) is made up of a series of leaderless terror cells, drawing on the structure of other US-based neo-Nazi terror organizations such as the National Socialist Liberation Front from the 1970s and The Order, which followed it in the 1980s. It sees violence and degeneracy as the only way of bringing about the lawless, apocalyptic conditions needed for it to wipe out non-white races and those who do not conform to its values. According to the Hague-based International Center for Counterterrorism (ICCT), the group is "but one subsection of a rising American radical right that is growing in size, viciousness of message, and acceptance of violence." However, the group has been remarkably effective in attracting young violence-prone men to join it.”

ABC News: Suspected White Supremacist Arrested In Thwarted Synagogue Attack, FBI Says 

“FBI officials said they have arrested a 27-year-old suspected white supremacist who was allegedly planning a bombing at a Colorado synagogue. The suspect, identified as Richard Holzer, was allegedly planning to target Temple Emanuel in Pueblo, which is the state's second-oldest synagogue, the FBI said Monday. Holzer is charged with attempting to obstruct religious exercise by force using explosives and fire. He allegedly told an undercover FBI agent that he hoped to poison members of the synagogue and claimed he had paid off a “Mexican cook to hex and poison” attendees by putting arsenic in the water pipes, according to an arrest affidavit. The undercover agent connected with Holzer through a Facebook account that portrayed her as a white female who is supportive of white supremacy ideology. Holzer allegedly told her that he was “a skinhead” and former member of the Ku Klux Klan and sent her images of himself wearing clothing that featured symbols related to white supremacy. Richard Holzer was arrested for was allegedly planning to bomb a synagogue in Pueblo, Colorado. The FBI said the account was one of several that Holzer allegedly used to “promote white supremacy ideology” and racially-motivated acts of violence.”


France24: US Troop Level In Syria Stable Despite Announced Withdrawal

“The number of US troops in Syria remains roughly stable at just under 1,000 three weeks after President Donald Trump announced their withdrawal, a US official said Monday. The withdrawal of American troops from Syria's northern border opened the way for Turkey's military incursion against Kurdish forces in the country. Trump's decision to protect oil fields in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor led the Pentagon to send reinforcements to that area while US troops move away from areas close to the Syrian border with Turkey, the US official said on condition of anonymity. Reinforcements have started to arrive in Deir Ezzor, while some troops have been sent to the north to help secure the withdrawal from that area and others have moved from Syria to northern Iraq. But overall, the number of American troops in Syria is similar to that before the announcement of the withdrawal in mid-October.”

Foreign Policy: No Cease-Fire In Syria As Joint Russian-Turkish Patrols Begin

“Russian and Turkish troops, drones, and armored vehicles began joint patrols in northeastern Syria on Friday, as part of an agreement designed to halt a violent Turkish offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters that has so far killed almost a thousand civilians and soldiers and wounded hundreds more. Turkey looks to expand its gains. Under the agreement, brokered by Russian President Vladimir Putin last month, Moscow and Ankara will jointly patrol two sections of the Syrian border to the west and the east of the Turkish incursion. But though Syrian Kurdish fighters completed their withdrawal to 20 miles from the border last week, clashes continued throughout the region as Turkey sought to expand the planned “safe zone” deeper into Kurdish territory.”

The Wall Street Journal: Battle For Syrian Town Pits Turkey Against Assad Regime

“Turkey’s weekslong efforts to seize Kurdish-held territories in Syria have put the Turkish military on a collision course with the army of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad despite a recent agreement between Moscow and Ankara to prevent hostilities. The Turks and the Assad regime are battling to control the Syrian town of Tal Tamar and surrounding villages, located at a strategic highway intersection. Fighting intensified over the weekend, with Turkish troops reaching the eastern side of Tal Tamar, the Assad regime sending reinforcements to shore up Kurdish positions, and U.S. officials saying a U.S. convoy witnessed artillery strikes landing close to its position. The battle for Tal Tamar is emblematic of a volatile race under way in northeastern Syria as rival forces seek to fill the void created by President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from areas Turkey covets.”

The Washington Post: The Death Of Baghdadi Isn’t The End Of ISIS.

“On Oct. 26, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, arguably the most wanted terrorist in the world, detonated a suicide belt to avoid capture by U.S. forces. His death, an important and symbolic event in the fight against the Islamic State, was soon followed by the announcement of a successor last Thursday. ISIS has suffered significant setbacks over the past two years, losing most of its territorial control, and has returned to its roots as an insurgent organization. Although the group no longer operates as a proto-state governing vast amounts of land, it remains active with estimates of between 10,000 and 15,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria. According to the Global Terrorism Database, ISIS has carried out thousands of attacks since 2014. Given the recent successes in the fight against ISIS, many analysts and government officials are optimistic that Baghdadi’s death will result in substantial weakening and perhaps the demise of ISIS. Advocates of this view argue that Baghdadi is irreplaceable, given his claim of lineage to the prophet Muhammad, religious credentials and education in Koranic studies, and operational success in creating an Islamic state. Despite this belief in Baghdadi’s authority and legitimacy as a leader of the caliphate, however, ISIS is not a cult of personality.”


CNBC: US Sanctions 9 People With Ties To Iran’s Top Leader

“The United States imposed sanctions on nine people with ties to Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, including his chief of staff, one of his sons and the head of Iran’s judiciary, the U.S. Treasury Department said on Monday. The United States also sanctioned Iran’s Armed Forces General Staff, the department said in the statement, which came 40 years after Iran seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran, taking more than 50 Americans hostage. “Today the Treasury Department is targeting the unelected officials who surround Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, and implement his destabilizing policies,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “These individuals are linked to a wide range of malign behaviors by the regime, including bombings of the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut in 1983 and the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association in 1994, as well as torture, extrajudicial killings, and repression of civilians,” Mnuchin added.”

The Guardian: Iran To Begin Injecting Uranium Gas Into 1,044 Centrifuges

“Iran’s president has announced that Tehran will begin injecting uranium gas into 1,044 centrifuges, in the latest step away from its nuclear deal with world powers since the US president, Donald Trump, withdrew from the accord over a year ago. The development is significant as the centrifuges previously spun empty, without gas injection, under the terms of the landmark 2015 accord known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). It also increases pressure on European nations that remain in the accord, which at this point has all but collapsed. Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, did not clarify in his announcement whether the centrifuges, which are at its nuclear facility in Fordow, would be used to produce enriched uranium. The centrifuges would be injected with the uranium gas as of Wednesday, Rouhani said.”

The Wall Street Journal: Iran Finds Itself In Crosshairs Of Arab Protesters

“The largest mass protests to hit Iraq and Lebanon in decades are posing a direct challenge to the influence Iran has gained in both countries as demonstrators seek to overturn the political order. Late Sunday, protesters in the holy Shiite city of Karbala torched the Iranian consulate with Molotov cocktails, hauling an Iraqi flag up on the compound walls. Security forces killed three people when dispersing the crowd with live ammunition, according to Iraq’s human-rights commission. Over the past decade, Iran has leveraged instability in the Middle East to expand its footprint in the region. But as paramilitary groups backed by the Islamic Republic have gained political clout, protesters are holding Tehran and its local allies just as accountable as their own political classes for poor governance and state violence.”

The New York Times: Iran Steps Further From Nuclear Deal With Move On Centrifuges

“In an effort to counter American sanctions, Iran will pull further away from a landmark nuclear accord signed four years ago, President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday, announcing that the country would inject uranium gas into more than 1,000 centrifuges. Injecting the gas is a step toward uranium enrichment, which in turn moves Iran closer to being able to build a nuclear weapon, though it has denied harboring such ambitions. The country has taken several steps this year to exceed the limits the agreement had put on its nuclear program, after President Trump withdrew from the accord last year and imposed economic sanctions in an effort to put pressure on the government in Tehran.”

The Wall Street Journal: Iran Plans To Breach Nuclear Deal Again

“Iran plans to step up work at its Fordow nuclear facility from Wednesday, raising concerns of a significant breach of the 2015 nuclear deal as Tehran intensifies pressure on Europe to provide relief from U.S. sanctions. The Islamic Republic first began to breach limits imposed by the multilateral deal in early July, warning it would take further steps every two months. Tehran is pushing European countries to do more to offset the impact of harsh sanctions the U.S. reimposed after it pulled out of the accord in 2018. On Monday, Washington sanctioned Iranian officials viewed as close to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. On Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran would start injecting gas into the machines that produce uranium at the underground Fordow nuclear plant. He didn’t say what gas Iran would be using, but renewed activity at the site is expected to raise concerns in the West.”

U.S. Department Of Defense: 40 Years After Hostage Crisis, Iran Remains Hotbed Of Terrorism

“Forty years ago today, a crowd of college students broke into the housing complex at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran, and took 66 Americans hostage, including 26 service members. Some of the hostages were released two weeks later, but the majority — 52 in all — were held for 444 days. They were released on Jan. 20, 1981. As part of U.S. efforts to free the hostages, eight U.S. service members were killed during a failed military operation called Operation Eagle Claw. The White House says the political climate in Iran hasn't changed much since then. The Iranian regime has a choice. Instead of being the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, it can put the Iranian people first.” “The Iranian regime continues to target innocent civilians for use as pawns in its failed foreign relations,” according to a statement from the White House press secretary. “Until Iran changes this and its other hostile behavior, we will continue to impose crippling sanctions. “The Iranian regime has a choice,” the statement continues. “Instead of being the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, it can put the Iranian people first. It can choose peace over hostage taking, assassinations, sabotage, maritime hijacking and attacks on global oil markets. The United States seeks peace, and we support the Iranian people. It is time for the Iranian regime to do the same.”


The New York Times: Iraqis Rise Against A Reviled Occupier: Iran

“It started quietly a month or so ago with scattered protests. Those steadily expanded until last week more than 200,000 Iraqis marched in Baghdad, raging against the Iraqi government and a foreign occupier — not the United States this time, but Iran. While the current leaders of the Iraqi government cower inside the Green Zone, where officials running the American occupation once sheltered, the protesters outside direct their anger against the Islamic Republic of Iran, which they now see as having too much influence. “Free, free Iraq,” they shout, “Iran get out, get out.” On the streets and in the squares of Iraq’s capital, in the shrine city of Karbala — where protesters on Sunday threw gasoline bombs at the Iranian Consulate — in back alleys and university hallways, a struggle is taking place over who will shape the country’s future. Iraq, along with Lebanon, another heavily Shiite country that has been roiled by protests, is part of a developing revolt against efforts by Shiite-dominated Iran to project its power throughout the Middle East.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Government: Dutch Airstrike Killed Dozens Of Civilians, ISIS Militants In 2015

“A Dutch airstrike against an alleged ISIS bomb factory in northern Iraq in 2015 killed about 70 people, including civilians and militants, the Dutch Defense Ministry said on Monday. The government of the Netherlands had not previously provided a detailed estimate of the number of deaths in Hawija, near the city of Kirkuk. A bomb dropped by a Dutch F-16 fighter jet taking part in US-led counter-terrorism operations on the night of June 2 “resulted in around 70 victims, including ISIS militants and civilians,” Defense Minister Anna Bijleveld-Schouten wrote in a letter to parliament. It was unclear precisely how many civilians were killed, the letter said, but the number of victims was higher than had been anticipated in the night-time raid, partly due to a series of blasts from explosives stored at the building, it said. The facility was on an industrial site and “intelligence available to the Netherlands did not anticipate civilians deaths because there were no civilians living in the area near the target,” it said. “After the raid there were a number of secondary and larger explosions that could not have been anticipated from earlier strikes on similar targets,” it said, according to Reuters. “This caused the destruction of a large number of other buildings.”


Al Jazeera: Turkey Captures Sister Of Slain ISIL Leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi 

“Turkey captured the sister of slain Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Monday in the northern Syrian town of Azaz, a senior Turkish official told Reuters, and is interrogating her and her husband and daughter-in-law who were also detained. “Rasmiya Awad was captured in a raid on a container near Azaz,” the official said. “We hope to gather a trove of intelligence from Baghdadi’s sister on the inner workings of ISIS,” he added. US President Donald Trump announced in late October that American forces carried out an operation killing Baghdadi in Syria's Idlib province.”

Yahoo News: Turkey Releases Journalists Convicted Of Aiding Terror Group

“A court on Monday convicted two journalists of aiding a terror group but ordered both released from prison, where they had served more than three years in a case that has severely tested press freedom in Turkey. The court in Istanbul convicted Ahmet Altan and Nazli Ilicak of aiding the network of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkish officials have identified as the mastermind of a failed coup in 2016. The charge was aiding a terror network without being members of that network. The journalists — along with Altan's brother, columnist Mehmet Altan, and two others — were previously sentenced to life in prison without parole in 2018 for attempting to overthrow the government. The Supreme court overturned those convictions in July. After Monday's retrial and new convictions, Ahmet Altan was sentenced to 10 ½ years and Ilicak to nearly nine. Mehmet Altan was acquitted of charges of attempting to overthrow the government. He previously had been convicted on that charge and sentenced to life but was released from prison in June 2018 pending his appeal.”

Stars And Stripes: Foreign Fighters Transiting Through Turkey Could Help Islamic State To Regenerate, US Report Warns

“Turkey remains a transit point for foreign fighters looking to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which could help the terrorist group to reorganize and regain influence, a U.S. report on global terrorism says. The annual U.S. State Department country reports on terrorism released Friday trumpeted how “the United States and its partners made major strides to defeat and degrade international terrorist organizations in 2018,” including liberating nearly all the territory previously held by ISIS in Syria and Iraq. But the section on Turkey warned that country could serve as a corridor for militants looking to replenish the radical group’s ranks and allow ISIS to regenerate. “Turkey is a source and transit country for FTFs (foreign terrorist fighters) seeking to join ISIS and other terrorist groups fighting in Syria and Iraq,” the report stated. The U.S. has emphasized to Turkey the importance of ensuring its borders are secure, the State Department’s counterterrorism coordinator Nathan A. Sales told reporters Friday. “We don’t want other fighters flooding into Syria to provide a shot in the arm to an ISIS that is seeking to reconstitute itself,” Sales said.”


The New York Times: Afghan President, Chinese Fm Discuss Dialogue With Taliban

“Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi have discussed a planned meeting in Beijing that would include Afghan figures and Taliban representatives. That meeting — known as “intra-Afghan dialogue” —was to take place last month but has been postponed. No new date has been set. The last time it was held was in July in Qatar. The dialogue is a separate process from the U.S.-Taliban talks that collapsed in September. Tuesday's Afghan statement says Ghani and Wang underscored the Afghan government and people's role in the peace process. Ghani insists his government must lead any dialogue with the Taliban, though the insurgents refuse to talk to government representatives. The future of his office is also uncertain as Afghanistan awaits the long overdue results of September presidential elections.”


The Defense Post: Grenade Blast In Kashmir Market Kills 1, Injures 17

“At least one person was killed and 17 wounded in a grenade blast at a crowded market in Indian-administered Kashmir’s main city Srinagar, police and doctors said on Monday, November 4. Kashmir has been on a knife-edge since August 5 when the Indian government moved to strip the region of its autonomy, imposed a lockdown, cut telecommunications and detained thousands. No one claimed Monday’s blast but authorities have in the past accused militants backed by Pakistan of intimidating people in Kashmir into resisting Indian attempts to return life to normal. Doctors at the main hospital told AFP that the deceased was a resident of northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. “Two people are critical,” a doctor said on condition of anonymity. Srinagar police chief Haseeb Mughal told AFP that 18 people were injured out of whom one died at the hospital. Kashmir is divided between India and its arch-foe Pakistan, and both claim it in full. Militants seeking independence or a merger with Pakistan have waged an armed rebellion against India since 1989. Around half of mobile phones remain cut off, as does the internet, while hundreds of local political leaders are still in detention, mostly without charge.”

Radio Free Europe: Bomb Blasts Kill Four Soldiers In Northwestern Pakistan

“Four Pakistani soldiers have been killed in two separate bomb explosions in the North Waziristan tribal district, local officials say. Local administration officials told RFE/RL on November 4 that two soldiers were killed and another was wounded in a roadside bomb blast in the Razmak area. The soldiers were on a routine patrol, the officials said. Two more soldiers died in a second roadside bomb explosion in the town of Mir Ali. Militants of Hizbul Ahrar, a splinter group from the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed responsibility for the attacks. Pakistan launch a massive military operation in North Waziristan in 2014 to cleanse the region of Islamic militants.”


The National: Yemen's Houthi Rebels Jeopardise Hodeidah Ceasefire By Fortifying Positions

“Yemeni government forces say Houthi rebels have started digging defensive trenches in Hodeidah, threatening recent progress on implementing a UN-brokered ceasefire and troop withdrawal in the port city. The UN-chaired Redeployment and Co-ordination Committee was given the task of implementing the ceasefire and set up joint monitoring posts on the eastern and southern outskirts of Hodeidah last month. The UN special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, welcomed the move as “remarkable and tangible progress” that could lead to the full implementation of the ceasefire agreed to at talks in Sweden last December. But the rebels soon started fortifying their positions by digging 19 trenches in areas under their control in the city centre, a spokesman for the government’s Joint Forces in Hodeidah told The National. “The new channels were dug a few days after the UN put the local monitors in place to observe any new violations,” Col Wathah Al Dubaish said.”

The National: Arab Parliament Calls On Yemen's Houthis To Complete Stockholm Agreement

“The Arab Parliament on Monday called for the implementation of the UN-brokered Stockholm agreement by the warring parties in Yemen almost a year ago, but is yet to be fully executed. The Parliament, part of the Arab League, repeated its endorsement of the December 13 ceasefire agreement between Yemen’s government and the Houthi rebels. It calls for the “rapid mutual withdrawal” of fighters from Hodeidah and its three ports. It also includes agreements on a prisoner swap and the formation of a committee to negotiate the future of Taez city. Neither has yet come to fruition. Hodeidah is the international entry point for nearly 70 per cent of imports and humanitarian aid to Yemen, where five years of war have spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”


Foreign Policy: Hezbollah’s Old Tricks Won’t Work In Lebanon

“Expectations were high for Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s speech on Nov. 1, which arrived at the end of a tumultuous week in Lebanon that included widespread street violence in Beirut and Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s resignation after two weeks of nationwide protests. But the militant group’s leader had little to say. Like in his previous speech on Oct. 25, Nasrallah stressed pragmatism over idealism and delivered bland criticisms of Lebanon’s politicians while echoing their calls for a speedy government formation process following Hariri’s departure. “We call for dialogue between political parties, parliamentarians, and honest leaders of the protests,” Nasrallah said. “We must all get past the wounds that were created in the last two weeks.” For the leader of a party that has branded itself as the vanguard of Lebanon’s grassroots resistance for decades, Nasrallah’s backing of the country’s corrupt establishment might seem odd. Yet for now—struggling to adapt to the sudden changes in the political system around it and on the ground beneath it—the group has left itself with few alternatives other than backing the current order and betting on the power of its brand and its ability to dispense violence and threats to keep its supporters in line.”

Middle East

The Algemeiner: How Hezbollah Recruits Palestinian Terrorists

“A lot of attention has been devoted to the Islamic State’s use of the Internet to inspire or direct international terrorist attacks. But little has been written about how Hezbollah uses similar approaches to recruit and execute attacks. A new study published this month in the CTC Sentinel explores this development by analyzing several cases of Hezbollah’s alleged social media efforts to recruit Israeli Arabs and Palestinians to kill Israelis. From the end of 2015 through 2017, both the Islamic State and Hezbollah recruited terrorists outside their base countries using social media and encrypted communications platforms to help people form cells and conduct terrorist attacks abroad. Several high-profile Islamic State virtual plots were carried out successfully, killing people in Europe and beyond during this period.”


Al Jazeera: Egypt Forces Kill 83 Fighters In Sinai, Military Says

“Egypt's security forces have killed 83 suspected fighters in operations in central and North Sinai over the past month, the military said on Monday. It also said 61 criminal suspects were detained and it found and detonated 376 explosive devices during the period, which it dated from September 28. One officer and two soldiers died or were wounded, it added. The military did not say what armed groups those killed belonged to. Conflict in the Sinai escalated after then-president Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was toppled by the military in 2013. In late 2017, North Sinai was the scene of the deadliest attack in Egypt's modern history when fighters killed more than 300 worshippers at a mosque, without any group claiming responsibility. In February 2018, the army launched a military operation aimed at defeating Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) or related armed groups in the Sinai Peninsula. Hundreds of fighters and dozens of soldiers have been killed since the start of the offensive, according to the armed forces. Access to North Sinai has been restricted for years, making it difficult to independently verify what is happening on the ground. In a 134-page report published in May, Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Egyptian security forces of committing widespread abuse against civilians, some of which amounted to war crimes, it said.”


Xinhua: Boko Haram Militants Kills 3 Farmers, Abduct 6 Women In Nigeria

“At least three local farmers were killed following a raid by terror group Boko Haram at a village in Nigeria's northeastern state of Borno, an official source confirmed on Monday. The source told Xinhua six women were also abducted during the same attack which lasted a few hours in Rann, a village in Kalabalge local government area of the state on Sunday. The victims were working on their farm in the village, near Nigeria's border with Cameroon, when the Boko Haram militants attacked them. While the men were shot dead, the female farmers were taken away by the militants, the source said. Umar Gamaye, a witness who fled the attack scene, said the Boko Haram militants carried out the raid on motorbikes. Gamaye said the bodies of his colleagues were recovered during a search by locals. Rann and some nearby villages had been frequently targeted in a number of attacks by Boko Haram in the past, though successes recently recorded by the Nigerian military had pushed the militants out of some areas to nearby bushes. Boko Haram, which launched attacks in Nigeria's northeast region a decade ago, is known for its agenda to maintain a virtual caliphate in the most populous African country.”


Xinhua: Al-Shabab Militants Ambush Somali Forces, Killing 2 Government Soldiers

“Members of al-Shabab extremist group on Sunday night ambushed and killed two Somali government soldiers in Bula Burde town in the central region of Hiiraan, an official said on Monday. Liban Abdi, the governor of Bula Burde town told journalists that government soldiers were attacked by al-Shabab militants, sparking a confrontation between the army and the militants. “Two of our soldiers were killed in the gunfight and the militants finally turned back to their bases in the outskirt of the town,” Abdi said, adding that the army is now conducting intense operations following the ambush. “We heard an exchange of firefight last night and we later learned al-Shabab militants ambushed government forces in the town, but the forces are now manning the town,” Fahim Salad, a resident told Xinhua by phone. The latest incident came barely four days after Somali forces killed 7 al-Shabab extremists and injured 8 others in Lower Juba region in southern Somalia. Somali forces backed by African Union forces have heightened operations against Al-Shabab in southern parts of the country pushing the militants out of major strongholds.”


Voice Of America: US Helps Senegal Defend Against Sahel Extremists

“The West African country of Senegal is known for its stable democracy and peaceful culture. But as terrorist activity expands across the Sahel, the threat of extremism has grown in the country – so much so that the United States government is ramping up efforts to help Senegal secure its borders. While Islamic State and al-Qaida factions have wreaked havoc across West Africa, Senegal has managed to maintain peace and security within its borders. But as conflicts surround the country — where 95 percent of the population practices Islam — experts warn the unrest could spill over and end the country’s tradition of religious and ethnic pluralism. The United States and other countries are taking steps to help Senegal implement security measures. Ambassador Nathan Sales is the United States coordinator for counterterrorism. “We think that the situation has become increasingly fraught. And that's exactly why the counterterrorism bureau in particular in the State Department and generally have been surging resources into the region. We're trying to stand up the capabilities of these governments to confront these terrorist threats on their own… we want to make sure that the terrorist threats in the region don't destabilize and disrupt a government and an economy that had been really on the leading edge in the region,” he said.”

All Africa: Kenya: Police Target Most Wanted Terror Suspect In Crackdown

“Police have zeroed in on most wanted terror suspect Abdullahi Banati as the mastermind of a group targeting security forces in parts of the North Eastern region. According to a security brief seen by the Sunday Nation, the group's operations include an intelligence wing that shares information on potential targets. Mr Banati is not a new name to the police, but he has remained elusive. despite efforts to locate him. He is thought to be part of a group that operates between Somalia and Kenya carrying out attacks using Improvised Explosive Devices (IED's) targeting the police. A source within the security agencies this week told the Sunday Nation that it is suspected Mr Banati led the group of terrorists that planted the IEDs which killed 11 police officers last month in Garissa County. “Our officers traced his activities and his team to the border, and we believe they escaped to Somalia immediately the attack took place, but we shall get him,” said the source who spoke in confidence. Our source further revealed that Mr Banati has been receiving aid from a some refugees who reside within the vast Dadaab Camp who police are also tracking down. His name has featured in all the three deadliest attacks that have taken place in Kenya over the years.”

North Korea

Associated Press: N. Korea Says US Terrorism Blacklist Hinders Nuke Diplomacy

“North Korea said Tuesday the U.S. redesignation of Pyongyang as a sponsor of terrorism is dimming prospects for nuclear diplomacy between the countries. The North’s statement comes as North Korea is escalating its pressures on the United States over a stalemate in nuclear negotiations. Last week, North Korea test-fired projectiles from what it called a newly developed “super-large” multiple rocket launcher in the country’s first weapons test in about a month. The North’s Foreign Ministry said Tuesday the State Department’s terrorism blacklist report released last week proves again the United States maintains a “hostile policy” and “inveterate repugnancy” toward North Korea. “This is an insult to and perfidy against a dialogue partner,” said the statement carried by state media. “The channel of the dialogue between (North Korea) and the U.S. is more and more narrowing” due to the U.S. stance. North Korea had been on the terrorism blacklist for two decades after its agents were blamed for the bombing of a South Korean airliner that killed 115 people in 1987. It was delisted in 2008 as Washington tried to entice North Korea into a nuclear deal. But the Trump administration relisted it in 2017, saying the North repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism.”

United Kingdom

BBC News: UK Terrorism Threat Downgraded To 'Substantial'

“The UK's terrorism threat level has been downgraded from “severe” to “substantial”, the Home Office says. Home Secretary Priti Patel said the UK was still at “a high level of threat” and an attack could “occur without further warning”. The terrorism threat is now at its lowest since August 2014. Substantial is the third of five ratings at which the threat level can stand. The separate terrorism threat level for Northern Ireland remains “severe”. Ms Patel said in a statement on Monday that terrorism remained a “direct and immediate” risk to the UK's national security. Assessments determining the country's threat level are taken by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) - part of MI5 - which makes its recommendations independently from the government. There was a surge in terror attacks in 2017, including in London Bridge where eight people were killed “Government, police and intelligence agencies will continue to work tirelessly to address the threat posed by terrorism in all its forms,” Ms Patel said. The threat level is kept under “constant review”, she added. Neil Basu, head of counter terrorism policing, said there had been “positive developments” in the fight against terrorism but it was “vital that we all maintain a high level of vigilance.”

The National: British Politicians Must Do More To Tackle Extremism, Says Top Adviser

“The British government’s extremism adviser has called on leaders of the country’s three main political parties to commit to challenging hateful acts. Sara Khan has written to Conservative leader and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Jo Swinson, head of the Liberal Democrats, accusing politicians of not doing enough to counter extremism. The letter, which follows the recent release of the Commission for Countering Extremism’s report Challenging Hateful Extremism, said: “Our country’s response to hateful extremism is weak, insufficient and often ineffective. In the interests of our country, we need to do better. “Hateful extremism is undermining the social fabric of our country and is having a devastating impact on the lives of individuals, communities and the country as a whole.” In the letter, the commission puts forward some recommendations for the British government to adopt. These include a clear vision and definition for a whole-society effort to counter hateful extremism that is proportionate, based on human rights and focuses on victims, and a review of existing legal powers to ensure they are being used effectively.”


Deutsche Welle: Germany's Angela Merkel Vows To Fight Right-Wing Extremist Terrorism

“As a nation we have to ensure that these things don't repeat themselves,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters in the eastern German town of Zwickau, where a new memorial in honor of the victims of the right-wing extremist cell National Socialist Underground (NSU) was erected. The memorial consisted of 10 trees planted across a sprawling field in the city center, one for each of the group's 10 victims. Between 2000 and 2007, the group's three leaders were based in Zwickau, where they evaded authorities and orchestrated attacks across the nation with the help of underlings. Police largely ignored the crimes, directed at immigrants, and failed to trace connections between them for years until a policewoman was also killed by the group. “It's our mission that something like this never happens again so that these families are not always portrayed as victims, but rather can once again lead a good life in Germany, just as we all wish to,” she said. The NSU's racially motivated attacks still resonate today, Michael Kretschmer, state premier of Saxony, said in his remarks in Zwickau. Over the past week, high-level politicians from parties representing the entirety of the German political spectrum have fielded death threats.”

Deutsche Welle: Germany: Vigilante Patrols Pose Far-Right 'Terror Threat'

“Self-proclaimed citizen militias patrolling German towns are the “beginnings of right-wing terrorist potential,” according to the German Interior Ministry. The ministry's statement, published by the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung newspaper on Monday, came in response to a question from the Left Party's parliamentary group. The ministry said there was a natural transition from vigilantism to “advocacy of security and order separate from the state monopoly on the use of force, or even to a violent act.” Vigilante groups attempt to justify their existence by claiming that state security forces cannot guarantee public safety, the ministry said. It added that the real goal, however, was something else: for “foreigners and political opponents to feel intimidated by the presence of right-wing patrols on the ground.” The ministry did not provide information about how many people are involved in German vigilante groups. But according to government estimates, there are now self-appointed patrols of this kind in just about every state across the country. Left Party politician Ulla Jelpke called for authorities to do more to combat their activities, the Neue Osnabrücker reported.”

Southeast Asia

Philippines Lifestyle: 2 Suspected ISIS Members Planning To Terrorize SEA Games Arrested

“Two suspected members of the ISIS who allegedly plan to sow violence in the upcoming 30th SEA Games have been arrested by Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon) operatives. The police seized various weapons, bombs, and equipment from the suspects in separate raids in Quezon and Laguna provinces. The suspected ISIS members were arrested three weeks before SEA Games would kick off in the country. According to Calabarzon Police Director Brig Gen. Vicente Danao Jr., police arrested a suspected terrorist Saidie Saro, a businessman, in Matungo, Lanao del Sur, Friday afternoon. A black ISIS flag was confiscated from Saro during the raid in Tayabas City. Saro was arrested following on a warrant of arrest issued by a court at his rented store in Tayabas City. Police confiscated a hand grenade, improvised explosive device (IED), pipe bombs and ammunition from Saro. Despite this, Saro vehemently denied that he was a member of the international terrorist group ISIS. According to the PNP’s Explosive Ordinance Division, it is possible to cause significant damage if the recovered pipe bomb, which is the cellphone detonator of the recovered IED, explodes.”


The Wall Street Journal: Twitter Suspends Accounts Linked To Hamas, Hezbollah

“Twitter Inc. has suspended accounts linked to Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah and Palestinian group Hamas after U.S. lawmakers criticized the social-media company for allowing those entities to remain active on the platform even though the State Department has designated both as terrorist organizations. Twitter, on its messaging platform, shows that accounts including Hamas’s English and Arabic language accounts had been suspended for violating its rules. “There is no place on Twitter for illegal terrorist organizations and violent extremist groups,” Twitter said Monday. The company’s move is an apparent about-face after previously telling a bipartisan group of lawmakers that it distinguished between the military and political arms of the two groups, effectively allowing those organizations and their affiliates to use the site. House members sent a letter in September to the chief executives of Twitter, Facebook Inc., and Google’s YouTube requesting information on the number of accounts that groups deemed as foreign terrorist organizations have active and provide a timeline for removing such content. The letter also asked how companies distinguish content from Hamas and Hezbollah from other organizations deemed terrorist groups.”