Eye on Extremism: November 6, 2018

The New York Times: Fight Against Last Vestige Of ISIS In Syria Stalls, To Dismay Of U.S.

“An American-backed military offensive has stalled against the Islamic State’s last vestige in eastern Syria — in part because of the enemy that the allied fighting force had expected, and other threats that it very much had not. Booby traps, land mines and a militant counterstrike during a fierce sandstorm after the campaign began in September have knocked the coalition back on its heels. And last week, the Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurdish-led militia that is fighting the Islamic State with American help, suspended operations after Kurdish positions farther north were shelled by Turkey — not far from United States advisers. American diplomats and generals rushed to ease tensions with the Turks, who consider Kurdish fighters terrorists despite their partnership with the United States. But the episode underscores the shifting nature of the fight against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, a still-potent threat as it pivots from its battlefield losses in Iraq and Syria to directing guerrilla insurgencies in the Middle East and beyond.”

Reuters: More Than 200 Mass Graves Of Islamic State Victims Found In Iraq - UN Report

“More than 200 mass graves have been uncovered in Iraq in areas formerly controlled by the Islamic State group, according to a new report released by the United Nations on Tuesday. The dead include women, children, the elderly and disabled, as well as members of Iraq's armed forces and police believed to be the victims of the hardline Sunni militant group, who between June and December 2014 overran large swathes of northern Iraq.”

Foreign Policy: Watchdog Warns Of Islamic State Resurgence

“The U.S. Defense Department’s Office of Inspector General is warning in a new report that conditions could be ripe for the Islamic State to resurge in Iraq and Syria, even as new violence erupts between the Turkish and U.S.-backed forces fighting the militants in the region. The Islamic State has lost all but a fraction of the territory it controlled after it swept Iraq and Syria in 2014. But without improvements to security, stability, and governance in the two countries, the group could soon rise again, the inspector general warned in a report released on Nov. 5. This assessment comes against the backdrop of renewed violence in northern Syria between Turkey and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, which forms the backbone of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces fighting the Islamic State in the war-torn nation. In an attempt to defuse these very tensions, the United States and Turkey agreed several months ago to conduct joint patrols around the town of Manbij on the west bank of the Euphrates River. But as the patrols were set to begin last week, Turkey announced a new offensive against the Kurds on the opposite bank of the river. The attacks forced the Syrian Democratic Forces on Wednesday to temporarily suspend a campaign against the Islamic State near the Iraqi border, Army Col. Sean Ryan, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition fighting the group, wrote on Twitter on Thursday. While there was initially some question as to whether the start of the joint patrols would be delayed due to the attacks, they began on Nov. 1.”

Associated Press: Egypt Says Christian Pilgrims' Killers Are Slain In Shootout

“Egypt said Sunday that security forces have killed 19 militants in a shootout, including the gunmen suspected of killing seven Christians in an attack on pilgrims traveling to a remote desert monastery. The Interior Ministry, which oversees the police, said the militants were tracked to a hideout in the desert west of the central province of Minya, the site of Friday's attack, which also left 19 people wounded. It said the alleged militants opened fire when they realized they were being besieged by security forces. It did not say when the shootout took place or explain how it had determined that the perpetrators of Friday's attack were among the 19 killed. The ministry published photographs purporting to show the bodies of the slain militants, as well as rifles, shotguns and pistols. Other images showed the inside of a tent with the black banner of the Islamic State group — which claimed responsibility for Friday's attack — unfurled on the ground. An IS affiliate centered in the Sinai Peninsula has repeatedly targeted Christians, in part over their support for President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. El-Sissi led the 2013 overthrow of an elected but divisive Islamist president and has since waged a sweeping crackdown on dissent, jailing thousands of Islamists and other activists. Friday's attack was the second in as many years to target pilgrims on their way to the monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor, after a May 2017 assault left 29 dead. Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt's 100 million people and have long complained of discrimination.”

BBC News: Facebook Used To 'Incite Offline Violence' In Myanmar, Says Report

“Facebook has said it agrees with a report that found it had failed to prevent its platform being used to "incite offline violence" in Myanmar. The independent report, commissioned by Facebook, said the platform had created an "enabling environment" for the proliferation of human rights abuse. It comes after widespread violence against the Rohingya minority which the UN has said may amount to genocide. The report said Facebook would have to "get it right" before 2020 elections. Facebook has more than 18 million users in Myanmar. For many, the social media site is their main or only way of getting and sharing news. The network said it had made progress in tackling its problems in Myanmar but that there was "more to do". Last year, the Myanmar military launched a violent crackdown in Rakhine state after Rohingya militants carried out deadly attacks on police posts. Thousands of people died and more than 700,000 Rohingya fled to neighbouring Bangladesh. There are also widespread allegations of human rights abuses, including arbitrary killing, rape and burning of land.”

The Washington Post: Alex Jones Banned From Facebook? His Videos Are Still There — And So Are His Followers

“Infowars is gone from Facebook after a high-profile showdown over the summer between Silicon Valley and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. But another Facebook page, NewsWars, has taken its place — and Jones’s many fans have followed. In the three months since Facebook removed four of Jones’s pages over allegations of hate speech, the NewsWars page has remained intact and surged in posts and page views. The NewsWars Facebook page identifies NewsWars.com, which Jones said his company operates, as the website associated with the page and lists it under “Contact Info.” Jones said he doesn’t run the Facebook page. Videos hosted by the NewsWars Facebook page have totaled 3.9 million views since August, nearly reaching the monthly viewership of Jones’s videos on Infowars and other pages he controlled before they were shut down. These calculations — made by Columbia University social media researcher Jonathan Albright using CrowdTangle, an analytics tool from Facebook — underscore Jones’s agility in navigating his battle with what he calls “Big Tech.” He has claimed to be a victim of Internet “censorship” even as tech platforms help maintain his audience and the visibility of the nutritional supplement business that is key to his earnings.”

United States

The New York Daily News: Accused ISIS Sympathizer Akayed Ullah Awaits Verdict For Failed Port Authority Suicide Bombing

“Armed with a pipe bomb and angry at America, a Bangladeshi Brooklynite attempted to blow himself up in a passageway to the Port Authority in an attempt to “inflict maximum damage” as ISIS instructed, a prosecutor said Monday during closing remarks to a jury in Manhattan Federal Court. Akayed Ullah, 28, faces life in prison for the botched bombing on Dec. 11 of last year. Assistant U.S. Attorney George Turner recounted the evidence against the accused ISIS sympathizer before the jury began deliberations. “‘Oh America, die in your rage.’ That’s what the defendant wrote before he did it. Before he detonated a bomb in the heart of New York City,” Turner said. “He was proud to attack this city in the name of ISIS. And now he must be held responsible. That will be justice.” Ullah injured himself in the explosion during the morning rush in an underground passageway to the bus terminal, but miraculously no one died. Turner pointed to Ullah’s own statements to authorities about how he made the pipe bomb, ISIS propaganda on his laptop and statements he made on social media including “Oh Trump, you fail to protect your nation.” “He never thought he’d be sitting here in the courtroom charged for crimes in his attack,” Turner said. Ullah’s attorney, Amy Gallicchio, argued that Ullah was no ISIS soldier, meaning he could not be guilty of providing material support to a terrorist organization. She asked the jury to only convict Ullah of one count of destruction of property using an explosive, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.”

The Washington Post: We’ve Declared War On Foreign Terrorism. Why Not Do The Same For Domestic Threats?

“In the span of a week, our nation experienced a torrent of hate-fueled attacks: the slaying of two African Americans in a Kentucky supermarket , the  mail-bomb assassination attempts and the mass slaying in a Pittsburgh synagogue . These attacks tragically demonstrate that domestic terrorism is on the rise as political polarization and hateful echo chambers on social media radicalize people. As we mourn those who died in Kentucky and Pittsburgh, we should recognize that such tragedies highlight a dangerous counterterrorism gap that has developed over time: an insufficient focus by the federal government on the threat of domestic terrorism. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the government developed today’s counterterrorism apparatus, which has largely been successful in preventing foreign terrorists from inflicting destruction on our homeland. But the threats we now face are more likely to come from individuals radicalized toward violence here at home. As we did after 9/11 in response to foreign terrorism, we need a strategic approach to this homeland security challenge.”


Foreign Policy: U.S.-Turkish Ties May Be Cut For Good In Syria

“Last week, the United States and Turkey started joint military patrols in the Syrian town of Manbij. The patrols are part of the second phase of the so-called Manbij Roadmap, an agreement the two countries signed this year to try to lessen tensions between them in Syria. Despite some progress, the plan hasn’t really worked, and what happens in the city could further undermine an already strained U.S.-Turkish relationship. Manbij, which lies near the Syrian border with Turkey, has long been a point of contention between the two powers. In 2016, the United States, together with allied Kurdish forces, made a push to oust the Islamic State from the city. The mission was meant to block the militant group from access to the Turkish border, and it came in preparation for a larger campaign to liberate Raqqa slated for the following year. But the operation violated a long-standing Turkish red line against any Kurdish presence west of the Euphrates River. Ankara was none too pleased. It viewed the westward march of Kurdish militias as a threat to its national security. And so, just after the fall of Manbij, in the summer of 2016 Turkish troops invaded northern Aleppo. The Turkish operation, dubbed Euphrates Shield, ousted the Islamic State from its last positions along the border. But it also blocked all potential overland routes for the Kurds to push west toward the isolated canton of Afrin, where they would have joined with another contingent of Kurdish forces holed up there. In early 2018, Ankara followed Euphrates Shield with a second operation, dubbed Olive Branch, through which it took full control of Afrin and drove out the Syrian Kurds.”


Gulf News: Iran Is The Architect Of Its Own Downfall

“Yesterday, the Trump administration reimposed sanctions on Iran’s oil, gas, shipping and banking industries with more on the way. EU states have announced their displeasure while vowing to circumvent existing financial channels “allowing European exporters and importers to pursue legitimate trade”. Iran is demanding European guarantees of business as usual. Theirs is a faint hope. Few international corporations will risk defying Washington’s diktats. The EU defends its position insisting that Iran has abided by the terms of the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) nuclear deal, which, confirmed by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) nuclear watchdog, is not in dispute. The renewal of US sanctions is designed to rein in Iran’s naked hostility towards its neighbours and to curb its ambitions to dominate Arab states via armed proxies. However, rather than seek to change its aggressive ways, the head of the Revolutionary Guard Corps Mohammad Ali Jafari responded to sanctions on its oil exports with threats to close the vital Straits of Hormuz to shipping. “We will make the enemy understand that either everyone can use the Strait of Hormuz or no one,” he said. That statement has been largely written off as hot air because implementation of that threat would result in a major conflict.”

The Wall Street Journal: Watch Out For Soleimani

“Iranian President Hassan Rouhani reacted as expected on Monday to the reimposition of U.S. sanctions, saying that “unfair sanctions are against the law, U.N. resolutions and international accords. Therefore, we will proudly break the sanctions.” He’s wrong about international law because the U.S. is merely reimposing American sanctions. Barack Obama never submitted the Iran nuclear deal to the U.S. Senate as a treaty, so President Trump can withdraw from it as he wishes. But no doubt Mr. Rouhani believes Iran can evade sanctions and wait out the Trump Presidency. The real man to watch in Tehran, however, is Qasem Soleimani, who runs the Quds Force that is responsible for supporting terrorist proxies around the world. He’ll decide how and when to retaliate against U.S. interests, perhaps violently, and the Trump Administration will have to be ready to respond.”

The Wall Street Journal: Iran Vows To ‘Break’ Sanctions As U.S. Reimposes Ban On Oil

“Iran’s leaders lashed out at Washington on Monday as the Trump administration raised economic sanctions to their maximum level, saying the latest punitive actions called for countermeasures to pressure the U.S. in return. The acrimony pointed to a sharp elevation of tensions between Washington and Tehran as the Trump administration put into effect a ban on oil imported from Iran and listed more than 700 Iranian banks, companies and individuals under sanctions in the latest phase of a pressure campaign. President Hassan Rouhani of Iran went on national television to denounce the action and call for unspecified countermeasures. “Unfair sanctions are against the law, U.N. resolutions and international accords. Therefore, we will proudly break the sanctions,” Mr. Rouhani said. “It’s not going to work out only through words,” he added. “Action means putting pressure on the U.S. so it doesn’t dare to continue with its plots.”

Jerusalem Post: Farrakhan Compares Trump To Satan During Visit To Iran

“Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan compared US President Donald Trump to Satan and encouraged Iranians to resist American “plots” against Iran, during a visit to Tehran, according to a report by the semi-official Islamic Republic News Agency. “The Christians say that Satan is a liar, and every day they keep a count of Trump’s lies,” Farrakhan said at a meeting with Mohsen Rezaee, a conservative politician who is secretary of Iran’s Expediency Discernment Council, a body that advises Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. “Only Satan was created by a lie,” Farrakhan said. Farrakhan is leading a group of Nation of Islam members on a tour of Iran as the Islamic Republic celebrates the anniversary of the seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran during the 1979 Islamic Revolution, just days before the Trump administration reimposes sanctions on Iran’s key oil sector.”

Al Arabiya: US Vows ‘Relentless’ Sanctions As It Seeks To Pressure Iran

“US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made his case for President Donald Trump administration’s tough new sanctions on Iran, saying that, “it is completely clear the Islamic Republic of Iran is the destabilizing force in the Middle East today.” Pompeo also said the Trump administration is watching Iran with “laser focus.” “If they try to evade our sanctions, we will take action to disrupt their activity,” Pompeo said. In what the US said was the largest-single sanctions designation, the Treasury imposed penalties on more than 700 Iranian and Iranian-linked individuals, entities, aircraft and vessels. The move brought to more than 900 the number of Iran-related targets sanctioned by the Trump administration in less than two years.”

The New York Times: Important European Financial Firm Bows To Trump’s Iran Sanctions

“An important cog in the global financial system has succumbed to pressure from the Trump administration and severed ties with Iranian banks. Belgian-based Swift, whose messaging service connects more than 11,000 financial institutions as they transfer money around the world, said it was disconnecting from Iranian banks after the United States announced sanctions against 50 of the country’s financial firms on Monday. The service declined to say whether it was cutting off all the targeted banks. But on Friday, Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, said Swift must cut off any Iranian bank on the list. Swift’s decision will help the Trump administration isolate Iran’s government. But the move could deepen the United States’ rifts with the European Union and strengthen the bloc’s resolve to set up a payments system that can operate apart from Washington’s influence. The European Union said this year that it was working on such a system, but it faces big obstacles. Payments channels are complex and need to be secure. No European country has agreed yet to host the entity for fear of American retaliation.”

Newsmax: Iran Reportedly Building Syrian Base For Pro-Regime Militias

“With Hezbollah's help, Iran has started building another military base to serve pro-Iran militias in southwestern Syria, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center reports, citing the Syrian opposition website al-Souria Net. Iran began building the base in Daraa province after the Assad regime took control over the region in July. Hezbollah operatives are taking the lead in the construction process, with help from Iraqi Shi'ite militia fighters. To create space for the military structure, Iran-affiliated terrorists destroyed roughly 650 homes and multiple villages in the Lajat region. Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) oversaw the transfer of weaponry and ammunition to the region. Last month, IRGC officers and local militia commanders reportedly met several times to improve weapon flows and military coordination regarding the new base. In February, satellite imagery exposed another Iranian military base outside of the Syrian capital Damascus. That IRGC-run base reportedly has the ability to host missiles that can strike any part of Israel. Iran already oversees a military compound near the Damascus airport and other high-profile airbases and permanent military sites across the country. Iran continues to invest considerable resources in strengthening relations with local allies in Syria, including Hezbollah and other Shi'a militias."

Al Arabiya: With Hitman On The Loose In Denmark, Iran Shoots Itself In The Foot

News of Iranian regime’s hit man on the loose in Denmark shocked many when Iran is desperately struggling to show good behavior to win over Europe in its battle with stinging US sanctions. Denmark has summoned Iran’s ambassador, Morteza Moradian, following the “assassination” attempt by an Iranian intelligence agency, which the Nordic country’s foreign minister called “completely unacceptable.” It seems foolish ordering a hit on opposition figures on European soil especially now. Bahram Qassemi, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman, tried hard to come up with some excuses to clean up the mess. An Iranian citizen holding Norwegian citizenship was arrested by Swedish security police (Säpo) in Gothenburg and was handed over to Danish authorities. Qassemi called the arrest “spiteful” “media reports” and “its attribution to Iran is a plot by enemies to affect Tehran’s growing relations with European countries.”Reactions to the arrest Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted: “We congratulate the government of #Denmark on its arrest of an Iranian regime assassin.” “For nearly 40 years, Europe has been the target of #Iran-sponsored terrorist attacks. We call on our allies and partners to confront the full range of Iran’s threats to peace and security.” the tweet reads. The key word is actually four decades of Iranian regime’s terrorism abroad.”


Rudaw: Iraqi Counter-Terror Units Round Up 26 Wanted For Plotting Attacks

“In continued efforts to combat extremism in disputed areas, Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Units (ICTS) have arrested 26 wanted persons in Kirkuk who had plans to carry out explosions. “In recent days, a number of people wanted according to Article 4 of terrorism law were arrested in the city of Kirkuk,” stated Brig. Gen. Maan Saad, the commander of the unit. Kirkuk, a disputed area claimed by both Baghdad and Erbil, has been a hotbed of extremist activity in recent months. “At the time of arresting these armed persons, they had carried some weapons with silencers, ammunition, two vehicles laden with explosives, and explosive belts. They had planned to carry out a number of military activities and explosions. They had carried out such acts in the past,” the statement added. The Kurdistan Region Security Council has warned of an ISIS-style resurgence, particularly in the disputed areas where officials have acknowledged a security vacuum. Locals have been killed, kidnapped, and robbed. There were at least four explosions in Baghdad on Sunday resulting in human casualties.”


Associated Press: Turkey Detains 24 As Part Of IS Group Financial Probe

“Turkey's state-run news agency says police detained 24 people as part of an investigation into the Islamic State group's international financial dealings. Anadolu Agency reported on Monday the suspects were detained in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir and 10 other Turkish provinces over alleged money transfers to Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Indonesia and Libya. The agency cited the Diyarbakir prosecutor's office for its report but did not provide the suspects' nationalities. Anadolu says police also seized nearly $580,000, as well as euros, Turkish and Syrian currency. A series of deadly attacks in Turkey has been blamed on IS militants, including a New Year's attack at an Istanbul nightclub in the early hours of 2017 that killed 39 people.”

Al Jazeera: Turkey Warns US Its Iran Sanctions Are 'Dangerous'

“Turkey has warned Washington against its new sanctions on Iran, saying isolating the Islamic Republic is "dangerous", Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday. Washington this week imposed a second set of sanctions on Iran that aim to isolate the country's banking sector and slash its oil exports. Eight countries including Turkey have received a US waiver to continue importing Iranian oil. "While we were asking (for) an exemption from the United States, we have also been very frank with them that cornering Iran is not wise. Isolating Iran is dangerous and punishing the Iranian people is not fair," he said at a press conference during a trip to Japan. "Turkey is against sanctions, we don't believe any results can be achieved through the sanctions," he added. "I think instead of sanctions, meaningful dialogue and engagement is much more useful." Washington has imposed two sets of sanctions this year after pulling out of a nuclear pact agreed between world powers and Iran that President Donald Trump slammed as "defective.”

Kurdistan24: Dutch Intelligence Says IS Using Turkey As Base To Reorganize Threats To Europe

“The Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) says the so-called Islamic State (IS) is using Turkey as a strategic base to reorganize, posing a threat to the security of Europe. In a report published on Monday, the AIVD said that since the start of the Syrian conflict, Turkey “was for a long time a springboard for an unprecedented number of foreign fighters who traveled to Syria from all over the world.” “IS (and also al Qaida) use Turkey as a strategic base,” the report read. “From here, IS can recover, reorganize, and further shape the underground struggle in the region.” The AIVD also said the extremist group was able to exploit “the relative peace in Turkey to forge plans for its still present [again] international ambitions.” According to the Dutch intelligence, the Turkish government does not consider jihadi groups a security threat. “The fact that Turkish interests do not always correspond with European priorities on the field of counter-terrorism is problematic,” the report continued, noting that Turkish authorities do act against both IS and al Qaida but prioritize the fight against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), for instance. “As a result, both organizations have enough breathing space and freedom of movement to be able to maintain themselves.” Ahmet S. Yayla, an Assistant Professor of Homeland Security at DeSales University, highlighted the disparity of PKK fighters to IS members in Turkish prisons.”


Reuters: Taliban Attack Afghan Government Post Near Iran Border, Killing 20 Troops

“Taliban militants attacked a border outpost in western Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing 20 government soldiers in the latest assault likely to compound fears that the security forces are facing an unsustainable casualty toll. Sparsely populated Farah, on the border with Iran, has seen months of heavy fighting, with hundreds police and soldiers killed. The Taliban threatened to seize the provincial capital in May. In the latest violence in the province, the insurgents assaulted the border post manned by about 50 Afghan government soldiers before dawn, officials in the area said. At least 20 soldiers were known to have been killed, several wounded and the others were missing, said a senior military officer who declined to be identified as he is not authorized to speak to media. “Hours after the attack, we lost contact with the base and we still do not know the whereabouts of the remaining soldiers,” the officer said. The Taliban, fighting to oust foreign forces and overthrow the Western-backed Kabul government, claimed responsibility saying they had captured the base, killed 30 soldiers and seized weapons and ammunition. Some officials in Farah have accused Iran, which the United States says is trying to extend its influence in western Afghanistan, of providing the insurgents with money and weapons. Iran denies the accusation. The attack underlined the struggle Afghan security forces face in confronting the insurgents, who have steadily extended their control in the countryside, even though the government holds all provincial centers.”

Radio Free Europe: UN Reports Record Level Of Taliban Violence Against Afghan Elections

“The United Nations says attacks and intimidation by the Taliban against last month's parliamentary elections in Afghanistan resulted in a record number of civilian casualties. In a November 6 report, the UN said militants had waged "a deliberate campaign intended to disrupt and undermine the electoral process." It said at least 435 civilian casualties were recorded -- 56 people killed and 379 wounded -- during the October 20 election and subsequent days when delayed polling took place. The Taliban, fighting to force foreign troops out of Afghanistan and defeat Kabul’s Western-backed government, issued a series of threats against the elections that included three separate warnings in the days leading up to the vote. There also were several attacks on voter-registration centers in the months before the election, some claimed by the Islamic State group. The UN said attacks by antigovernment elements, mostly the Taliban, were carried out with rockets, grenades, mortars, and improvised explosive devices. The United Nations also noted to a campaign of threats, intimidation, and harassment, including abductions before the election.”

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Faces Newly Muscular Taliban In Peace-Talk Efforts

“As it pushes to jump-start an Afghan peace process, the U.S. faces a Taliban stronger than any time since an American-led military coalition deposed them 17 years ago, U.S. and Afghan officials, current and former militants and experts say. The movement’s battlefield successes and territorial gains give the group more sway in talks, in which it seeks the withdrawal of U.S.-led foreign forces from Afghanistan and to forge an ultraconservative Islamic government. Prospects for serious dialogue rose last week when the Taliban appointed five senior members to join their political office in Qatar following two rounds of U.S.-Taliban discussions in recent months. Among the appointments are a top former military commander, Mohammed Fazl, who is expected to prove popular among the Taliban rank-and-file and boost the office’s negotiating clout, people familiar with the rationale for the step say. The Trump administration in September enlisted a high-profile envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, to spearhead U.S. negotiating efforts. The White House hopes to end America’s longest war while ensuring that Afghanistan doesn’t become a base for Islamic State, al Qaeda and other jihadists to carry out terrorist attacks abroad. The U.S. has suggested a phased withdrawal as Afghanistan stabilizes. The Taliban want a deadline for a pullout.”


The National: Houthi Shelling Kills Children In Hodeidah

“Three children were killed on Monday night when Houthi forces shelled densely populated areas in the northeast of the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, local residents who fled fighting told The National. In nearly three hours of intense fighting between pro-government forces and Houthis on Monday night, rebel snipers fired from rooftops around the July 7 area of the city while other Houthi forces fired artillery and mortar shells into civilian neighbourhoods. “Three children were killed by a mortar shell when they were trying to flee out the city with their mother, the mother was severely injured," a resident who fled the city told The National. There have been days of fighting ahead of what many expect will be a major push to recapture the strategically important port city. The announcement of peace talks in Sweden in the coming weeks will likely see major offensive operations halted while a diplomatic solution is pursued. An initial offensive announced in July was put on hold while UN Special Envoy Marin Griffiths led efforts to hold the first peace negotiation in Geneva in two years. The Houthi delegation failed to attend the September talks. Residents who fled the city said they believed Houthi forces had suffered casualties in recent fighting around Hodiedah. "We have seen many Houthi fighters escaping the city on foot, hundreds of them fled the frontlines without guns," said one resident.”


Middle East Monitor: Lebanon Minister: 20 Returning Refugees Killed By Syria Regime

“At least 20 refugees that have returned to Syria from Lebanon have been killed by the regime and their allied forces, Lebanese Caretaker Minister for Refugee Affairs Mouin Merehbi announced on Saturday. The Lebanese minister mentioned a particular case of three Syrians who he said had re-entered the country eight months ago and were killed at the end of October in the Homs countryside. Two of the three were just 13 and 14 years old; the third was their father, who was reportedly around the age of 50. Syrian opposition news agency Zaman Al Wasl stated that the killings were motivated by sectarianism, noting that at least five other members of that same family have been arrested by the Syrian government since 2013. “The information received … also shows they were killed by a senior official in the Syrian regime’s army,” Merehbi said, adding that the total death toll could be even higher, but his ministry had not the ability to corroborate other reports.”


Sahara Reporters: Revealed: Soldiers Took To Their Heels When Boko Haram Attacked Dalori IDP Camp

“Boko Haram succeeded in raiding an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Dalori, Borno State, on Wednesday night because the soldiers manning the place took to their heels the moment the insurgents arrived in their scores, SaharaReporters has been told. For two hours on Saturday, the camp, which hosts 12,600 civilians seeking refuge there after having fled the violence in north-east, came under heavy attack, at the end of which at least eight people were killed and some women abducted. Speaking very briefly with SaharaReporters on Monday, a displaced person who witnessed the attack said the soldiers were outnumbered and would likely have all been killed had they stayed back. “That camp is close to Dalori 1 and it’s on Bama Road. It is not far from Maiduguri even though it’s in Konduga Local Government; it’s still Maiduguri. Therefore, we all thought we were safe,” said the IDP. “There are soldiers, Police, Immigrations and Civil Defence officials all in the camp, yet those Boko Haram guys entered the camp, burnt the tent, burnt the village adjacent the camp and even a checkpoint in that area. Those BH guys ran their operation for two hours, from 7:30pm to about 9:30pm. The Army only showed up after 10:00pm. “The soldiers ran away. Even the Police, Civil Defence and Immigrations officials in that area, they all ran away.”

Daily Post: Boko Haram: Nigerian Army, Customs Join Forces Against Insurgents In Northeast

“The Nigerian Army has resolved to collaborate with the Nigeria Customs Service for optimal performance in its quest to ending the Boko Haram crises in the northeast, Nigeria. The Acting General Officer Commanding (GOC) 7 Division Brigadier General Abdulmalik Bulama Biu, disclosed this yesterday during an operational study tour of participants of senior course 2 of the Nigeria Customs’ Command and Staff College Gwagwalada Abuja, to Headquarters 7 Division Maimalari Cantonment Maiduguri. He informed the team that the Division was the eye of the Army in the fight against insurgency in the North East, stressing that customs had a long-standing mutual working relationship with the Division and is committed to maintaining the ties. General Biu noted the fight against insurgency was not the sole responsibility of one service alone since the war is multidimensional and dynamic in nature. He, therefore, urged the participants to make use of the information provided during the study tour in the production of good research work that will enhance the optimal performance of personnel deployed within the theatre of operations.”


The Guardian: Cameroon: 79 Pupils Kidnapped From Boarding School

“Suspected secessionists in Cameroon have kidnapped dozens of pupils from a boarding school in an attack reminiscent of Boko Haram’s abduction of schoolgirls in Nigeria in 2014. The attackers arrived at Presbyterian secondary school Nkwen in Bamenda, the capital of the English-speaking north-west region, on Sunday night. They kidnapped more than 80 people, including the principal, a teacher and a driver, as well as 79 students, according to the regional administrator. Security guards who usually man the entrance to the school were nowhere to be seen, sources said. One student, who witnessed the attack but was left behind, described being woken up in the middle of the night by about seven armed men who beat and slapped the children as they made them leave their dormitories. “They knocked ​on ​the door and we opened​ it,​​​​ ​even though we did not really know the people who were knocking,” the student told the Guardian. “Some of us were hesitating but others quickly opened [it].​ ​When they came in,​ ​all of us went under our beds.​ ​They asked us to come outside.​ ​As we went outside,​ ​they started beating some of us,​ ​slapping them​.”

The South African: Durban “ISIS Trial”: Everything We Know About The Suspects So Far

“Eleven men accused of plotting terrorist attacks across KZN and Durban face their bail hearing on Tuesday. Dubbed the “ISIS trial” due to the case’s unavoidable link to the extremist group, the Verulam Magistrate’s Court will have to decide what happens to the suspects in the near future. We’ve compiled a quick round-up of what we know about the suspects and the investigation so far, including more about the ringleader and what the defence has to say about their clients. What they are accused of: Back in May, the community of Verulam in KZN was rocked after a local worshipper was murdered at the mosque. A violent knife attack was carried out by multiple assailants, who also left a bomb at the scene – a device which never exploded. However, more bombs began surfacing in public locations across Durban. No more lives were lost, but the group were linked to ISIS by investigating officers as their trial got underway.”

North Korea

The Wall Street Journal: U.S., North Korea Toughen Stance Ahead Of Nuclear Talks

“As the U.S. prepares to resume nuclear negotiations with North Korea this week, both sides are hardening their positions, dimming hopes for a compromise. North Korea says it has made enough concessions on nuclear disarmament and has grown more strident in its demands for the U.S. to reciprocate. Last week, Pyongyang threatened to resume building up its nuclear forces if the U.S. doesn’t remove sanctions or provide other ways to improve relations. Washington credits the sanctions for bringing Pyongyang to negotiations and remains adamant about maintaining pressure, even as its stance causes friction with ally South Korea, which has talked openly about loosening sanctions. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is scheduled to meet his North Korean counterpart Kim Yong Chol in New York on Thursday, said last week that sanctions would stay in place until the complete and verified denuclearization of North Korea.”

United Kingdom

Associated Press: UK Man Charged With Preparation Of 'Terrorist Act'

“British police have charged a south London man with preparing a terrorist act and collecting information likely to be useful to a person preparing an attack. Police said Monday that 40-year-old Steven Bishop has been charged with violating the Terrorism Act and will appear in Westminster Magistrates' Court on Tuesday. Police say he was arrested Oct. 29. The statement also says a 47-year-old south London man arrested on Oct 29 on suspicion of preparing terrorist acts has been released without being charged. British officials have set the official terrorist threat level at "severe," indicating that an attack is judged by intelligence analysts to be highly likely.”


The Telegraph: France Targets Three Top Syrian Security Chiefs With International Arrest Warrants

“France has issued international arrest warrants for three top Syrian security chiefs for alleged collusion in war crimes, according to legal and judicial sources. Among those targeted is Ali Mamlouk, Syria's security chief and among President Bashar al-Assad's most senior advisers. The other high-ranking officials sought are Jamil Hassan, head of the Syrian air force's intelligence agency, and Abdel Salam Mahmoud, in charge of the air force intelligence's investigative branch at the Mezzeh military airport in Damascus. The warrants - which cite charges including collusion in torture, forced disappearances, crimes against humanity and war crimes - were issued on October 8 but made public only on Monday, according to the International Federation for Human Rights advocacy group (FIDH). They stem from a long-running case involving two French-Syrian nationals who were arrested in Syria in November 2013 and had disappeared after being taken to the Mezzeh Investigative Branch in Damascus, run by Mahmoud.”


Politico: Bosnia Struggles With Return Of ISIS Widows

“Like all proud grandparents, the first thing Lejla does when we meet for coffee, at a chain café in a northern suburb of Sarajevo, is pull out her phone to show me photos of her grandchildren. Here’s Muhammad, age 2, blond and blue-eyed, in a teddy bear-print sweater; Ayesha, 4, holding a pet rabbit; their mother, Lejla’s 22-year-old daughter, Sara, in a black veil; and another of Muhammad, shirtless, with a belly distended from hunger. These aren’t ordinary snapshots. Sara is a so-called ISIS widow, one of several thousand women whose husbands have died in the Islamic State, leaving them stranded in the Levant, often with young children. (She has been given a pseudonym, as have the other women identified by first names in this story.) The photos she sent her mother were taken in the Roj Camp for Islamic State refugees in northern Syria, where she and her children have lived for more than a year, in the hope of being repatriated. Sara left Bosnia for Syria in March 2015 with her husband, a fundamentalist Muslim she met on the internet. Lejla begged her not to go. She had been at the frontlines of the Bosnian War in the 1990s as an aid worker and knew what life in a war zone is like. “It was a huge shock when she suddenly messaged me from Syria,” says Lejla. “I had just come around to her marriage, but this was unimaginable.” Lejla, distraught about her daughter’s situation, did not feel she could turn to the Bosnian government for help.”

Southeast Asia

The Defense Post: Philippines: 100 Foreign Fighters Joined ISIS In Mindanao Since The Marawi Battle

“Foreign militants continue to flow into the southern Philippines, with more than 100 entering Mindanao since the end of the battle of Marawi, a Philippine terrorism expert told The Defense Post. A year after Marawi city was recaptured from the clutches of militants, the southern Philippines remains an attractive destination for foreign fighters, and neighboring nations remain concerned that many issues relating to their citizens who were killed in the five-month battle have yet to be resolved. More than 1,200 people, including around 900 militants, were killed in the battle that erupted on May 23, 2017 after Islamic State-affiliated groups took control of the city. Marawi was reduced to an utter ruin in five months of clashes between the Philippine security forces and militant groups, the country’s worst urban conflict. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who announced the official conclusion of the battle on October 23, 2017, later vowed not to let such an endeavor by militants happen again. Last week, The Defense Post exclusively reported that the Armed Forces of the Philippines had identified 32 foreign fighters among militants killed in Marawi. At least two of those appeared to be children.”


The Verge: Sen. Mark Warner On Breaking Up Facebook And Congress’ Plan To Regulate Tech

“For the past two years, Silicon Valley has faced a reckoning in Congress, but there’s been no matching push for regulation. While Mark Zuckerberg has been called before Congress and the inner workings of the tech industry have been put under a microscope, no major federal legislation has been passed, leaving some to wonder whether the US government will step in at all. Over the summer, Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) put out the most comprehensive plan yet for how Congress might regulate Big Tech: his white paper laid out 20 different suggestions, ranging from labeling bots to implementing broader rules like those in the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It was the most comprehensive effort by any lawmaker, and with it, Warner positioned himself as a key voice in the debate over regulating the tech industry. On October 23rd, The Verge met with Warner at his office on Capitol Hill. For someone with eyes dead-set on the Valley, his office feels far more rural. Photos line the walls with landscapes from Virginia, and there’s a framed photo in the waiting area of the senator singing and playing the banjo alongside his colleague, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA). On a bookshelf, tech industry awards, like one from Symantec, sit alongside novelty trinkets, like a wooden nameplate with “Sen. Mark Warner (VA)” etched in Comic Sans.”

Financing of Terrorism

Albawabh News: Expert: Terrorism In Tunisia Worsened After "Renaissance" Party Takeover

“Abdul-Shakur Amer, a former leader of the Islamic Group and currently a researcher on the affairs of Islamic movements, said that terrorism in Tunisia intensified after the Brotherhood-affiliated Ennahda (Renaissance) Party came to power following the 2011 Revolution. He stressed that the Ennahda contributed to the spread of extremist ideology due to its insistence on dissolving the state security apparatus in Tunisia after the revolution. This led to the emergence of numerous extremist movements and groups, against which the state security apparatus played a major role in pursuing and drying up their funding sources. "Tunisia suffered badly after the dissolution of the state security apparatus, which resulted in the proliferation of weapons in many areas of the country. This {in turn} expanded the terrorist operations there, which began with the killing of Chokri Belaid and Mohammed Brahmi, two activists and symbols of the opposition.”

Counter Extremism

Copts-United: Egyptian Columnist: It's Imperative To Counter Extremism In Order To Eradicate Terrorism

“Sahar El Gaara, a secular columnist in several Egyptian dailies, disclosed that various state entities, particularly Egypt's renowned Islamic institution, Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, have been infiltrated by extremist groups including ISIS, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists. During an interview on TEN TV, the prominent Egyptian author and human rights activist noted that an organization that was locally and internationally classified as a "Terrorist Entity" {in reference to the Muslim Brotherhood} continues to deeply infiltrate the pillars of the state. The {power} vacuum, which leads to embracing radical ideologies of the Salafists and other extremist groups, is more dangerous than the terrorism itself, the writer stressed. She added that Salafism persuades young men to carry out suicide bombings against "infidels" in return for such heavenly rewards as virgins (Houri) as wives {in the afterlife}. El Gaara mentioned that Egypt is now witnessing identity-based killings; therefore, it's imperative to counter and root out extremism before being able to eradicate terrorism.”

Muslim Brotherhood

Dostor: Human Rights Activist: Muslim Brotherhood Spends Lavishly To Win Public Support In Europe

“Jean Maher, President of the Franco-Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (OFEDH), urged the Egyptian government to devote greater efforts to highlighting Egypt's vision and stance in Europe and the rest of the Western countries. Accompanied by a {visiting} French delegation, which met with a number of Egyptian parliament members, Maher revealed that the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliate groups continue to enjoy sizeable influence within the European communities. The Islamist movement spends vast sums of money and a great deal of time and effort to gain public support in these states, Maher added. The head of the France-based human rights organization went on to say that the Muslim Brotherhood has adopted diversified methods to explain and promote its dogma in ''the old continent'.”


Alwatan: Houthis Disguise Embezzled Funds In The Form Of Real Estate

“Informed sources reveal that the Houthi rebels in Yemen have recently begun to transfer real estate title deeds to fake names that are not linked to familiar pro-Houthi families and tribes. The so-called Justice Ministry in the Iran-backed Houthi government nominated a special staff to accomplish this mission, the sources added. Over the past few days, in the wake of the military advance by the forces of the internationally recognized government in Yemen, the militants have intensified their property purchases across several Yemeni governorates. Additionally, they have registered these assets under unidentifiable names. The sources described this move as an attempt by the insurgents to conceal their cash holdings. The rebels had obtained these vast sums of money by embezzling them from the Yemeni Central Bank. Moreover, they receive financial support from foreign countries and organizations, the sources added.”


Lebanondebate: The Annual Financial Support From Iran To Hezbollah

"The Iranian regime has spent a great deal of money since 2012 to finance its malicious interventions in the region and to support its terrorist activities in several countries around the world," a US report said on Monday. A report released by the State Department's Global Engagement Center said that "part of the money came from the additional revenues that Iran obtained from the nuclear agreement with the West in 2015." It added: "Since 2012, Iran has spent more than $16 billion on its intervention in Syria and its agents in the region, such as the Houthis in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon and its proxies in Iraq." The report read: "Tehran has supported its groups in Iraq with $100 million, while spending about $6.4 billion to implement its agenda in Syria." The US report pointed out that the Tehran-affiliated groups in Lebanon, especially Hezbollah, have received $700 million per annum from Iran over the past six years.”