Eye on Extremism: November 8

The Wall Street Journal: Detained Islamic State Members Turn To Europe’s Courts To Come Home

“Jessie Van Eetvelde was a Belgian supermarket cashier who heard the Muslim call to prayer on a vacation in Morocco 11 years ago and converted to Islam. Back home she married a Dutch Muslim man, and in 2014 the couple headed to Syria to join Islamic State’s self-professed holy war. Today, Ms. Van Eetvelde is detained in a camp in northern Syria, a widow caring for her two toddlers. She says she just wants to go home. But her country doesn’t want her—and is fighting a legal battle to keep her out. “We hope to get back,” she said in a WhatsApp voice recording she made for The Wall Street Journal. “That’s what we all wished from the beginning, but probably nobody cares about us.” European governments have resisted taking back their nationals who joined Islamic State in Syria, despite repeated entreaties from the Trump administration. Now Europe’s courts are weighing in. Cases brought by detainees or family members in German, French, Belgian and Dutch courts are seeking to force governments to bring them home. Most are widowed women and their children, although some cases involve male fighters now being held by Kurdish forces in Syria.”

CBS News: Captured Al-Baghdadi Wife Revealed Lots Of Information About ISIS, Source Says

“One of slain Islamic State of Iraq and Iran (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's wives revealed “a lot of information” about the jihadist group's “inner workings” after she was captured last year, a Turkish official told Agence France-Presse. The official said Baghdadi's spouse identified herself as Rania Mahmoud but was in fact Asma Fawzi Muhammad Al-Qubaysi. She was said to be the “first wife” of the ISIS leader, who was killed in a U.S. special forces raid in Syria last month. Al-Bagdadi was known to have four wives, according to The Associated Press. AFP said the woman was arrested on June 2, 2018, in the Turkish province of Hatay, near the Syrian border, along with 10 others, including Baghdadi's daughter, who identified herself as Leila Jabeer. The official said the family links were confirmed using a DNA sample of Baghdadi provided by Iraqi authorities. “We discovered (the wife's) real identity pretty quickly. At that point, she volunteered a lot of information about Baghdadi and the inner workings of ISIS,” the official said. “We were able to confirm a lot of things that we already knew. We also obtained new information that led to a series of arrests elsewhere.” The detainees are being held at a deportation center in Turkey, a senior Turkish official told CBS News, adding, “There may or may not be other high-value targets in Turkish custody.”

Voice Of America: US Adds Mali Jihadist To Global Terrorist List

“The United States imposed sanctions Thursday on a senior jihadist leader and preacher from Mali for his membership in Jama'at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), an al-Qaida affiliate active in the Sahel region of Africa. Amadou Kouffa led Mali's Macina Liberation Front militant group before announcing its merger with JNIM and three other Islamist groups in March 2017. The U.S. State Department designated JNIM as a terrorist organization in September 2018. Since its formation, JNIM has targeted Malian and French troops, as well as U.N. peacekeepers. The group has been blamed for the deaths of more than 500 civilians and the kidnapping of dozens of others in attacks in the Sahel region, including the June 2017 attack at a resort frequented by Westerners outside Bamako, Mali, and the March 2018 attacks in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. “Earlier this year, Kouffa led an attack against the Malian army in which more than 20 soldiers were killed,” the State Department said in a statement. The State Department said the terrorist designation aims to deny Kouffa the resources to plan and carry out more terrorist attacks.  Among other consequences, it prohibits U.S. nationals from engaging in any transactions with him.”

The New York Times: U.S. Offers Up To $4 Million For Location Of Freed Guantánamo Convict

“The United States government on Thursday offered a $4 million reward for information on the whereabouts of a Sudanese man who was convicted of war crimes at Guantánamo, was repatriated in 2012 and is suspected of recruiting for Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen. It is believed to be the first case of the United States offering a reward for the whereabouts of a prisoner released from Guantánamo by the Obama administration. In 2014, the United States similarly offered a reward for a Saudi man who had been held at Guantánamo but never charged and was released by the Bush administration in 2006. He was killed in a drone strike in 2015. The State Department declined on Thursday to say whether any money was paid. The announcement by the State Department of the new bounty on Thursday offered up to $4 million for information on the location of the Sudanese man, Ibrahim al-Qosi, 59. He pleaded guilty at Guantánamo in 2010 to providing support for terrorism and Al Qaeda in exchange for his repatriation. The reward announcement described Mr. al-Qosi as a member of the leadership team of the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.”

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Accuses Iran Of Intimidating U.N. Nuclear Agency Inspectors

“The U.S. accused Iran of intimidating nuclear inspectors after a woman from the United Nations atomic agency was blocked from entering the country’s main enrichment site and briefly stopped from leaving the country, as tensions mounted over the 2015 nuclear deal. Western diplomats said on Thursday that the inspector had been held by Iranian authorities last week and her papers confiscated after she had been prevented from entering Iran’s enrichment facility at Natanz, some 180 miles south of Tehran. The U.S. ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Jackie Wolcott, called the move an “outrageous provocation” and harassment of the agency’s monitoring work. Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA Kazem Gharib Abadi said that the inspector had been stopped from entering the Natanz nuclear facility after an alarm went off at the entrance, which includes equipment to detect traces of nitrate explosives. He said the procedure was repeated several times and the alarm went off again. The incident is the first flare-up between Iran and the IAEA, which monitors Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal, since it was implemented in January 2016. Before the deal, Iran repeatedly denied IAEA inspectors access to sites and accused the agency of sending in spies.”

Financial Times: Can Facebook Really Rely On Artificial Intelligence To Spot Abuse?

“Facebook faces a monumental challenge: how can its 35,000 moderators watch over billions of posts and comments every day to sift out abusive and dangerous content? Just 18 months ago, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, was confident that rapid advances in artificial intelligence would solve the problem. Computers would spot and stop bullying, hate speech and other violations of Facebook’s policies before they could spread. But while the company has made significant advances, the promise of AI still seems distant. In recent months, Facebook has suffered high-profile failures to prevent illegal content, such as live footage from terrorist shootings, and Mr Zuckerberg has conceded that the company still needs to spend heavily on humans to spot problems. “There’s just so much content flowing through the system that we do need a lot of people looking at this,” he said. In interviews, Facebook’s executives in charge of developing moderation software and outside experts said that there are persistent, and perhaps insurmountable, challenges.” 

United States

The Washington Post: Translator Whose Own Voice Was Intercepted Expected To Plea

“A former FBI translator charged with altering transcripts after his own voice was caught on intercepts with terrorism suspects is expected to enter a guilty plea. Abdirizak Wehelie (wuh-HEEL’-ee) of Burke, Virginia, was arrested earlier this year and pleaded not guilty to charges including false statements and obstructing an investigation. Now, a change-of-plea hearing is scheduled for Friday in federal court in Alexandria. In court papers, prosecutors say Wehelie was tasked with translating phone calls made by an individual under investigation for helping a person join al-Shabab, a militant Somali group designated as terrorists by the U.S. When Wehelie heard his own name on the calls, prosecutors said he marked himself down as “unidentified male.”

The New York Times: Powerful Coalition Pushes Back On Anti-Tech Fervor

“Thomas Lambert, a professor at the University of Missouri’s law school, gave his former colleague Josh Hawley a warning before Mr. Hawley became a senator in January. Mr. Lambert had been wary of Mr. Hawley’s decision in 2017, as Missouri’s attorney general, to open an antitrust investigation into Google, saying he didn’t see the state’s logic for the case. While he wished Mr. Hawley well in Congress, and said he was glad they were friends, Mr. Lambert also noted that he would continue to speak out when he disagreed with the senator’s policy positions. “And he said, ‘I assume you mean on things like tech,’” Mr. Lambert recalled recently. “And I said, ‘Well, mainly.’” Their interaction highlights a deepening divide in Washington and around the country. The rising movement in the United States to consider charging the country’s biggest tech companies with violating antitrust laws is running headlong into powerful and well-funded conservatives and libertarians committed to pushing back on those efforts. They include academics like Mr. Lambert; lawmakers like Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah; and groups like the Koch political network and others that are connected to the tech companies themselves.”

Khaleej Times: US Announces Reward Up To $10 Million For Two Senior Al Qaeda Leaders

“The United States on Thursday offered a reward of up to $10 million for information on two senior leaders of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the State Department said. Michael Evanoff, the assistant secretary for diplomatic security, told reporters in a briefing that the department was offering up to $6 million for information on Saad bin Atef Al Awlaki and up to $4 million for Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud Al Qosi, who he said have encouraged attacks against the United States.” 

Pro Publica: They Are Racist; Some Of Them Have Guns. Inside The White Supremacist Group Hiding In Plain Sight.

“In the hours after the slaughter in El Paso, Texas, on Aug. 3, a final toll emerged: 22 dead, most of them Latinos, some Mexican nationals. A portrait of the gunman accused of killing them soon took shape: a 21-year-old from a suburb of Dallas who had been radicalized as a white supremacist online and who saw immigrants as a threat to the future of white America. While much of the country reacted with a weary sense of sorrow and outrage, word of the mass killing was processed differently by members of Patriot Front, one of the more prominent white supremacist groups in the U.S. In secret chat forums, some Patriot Front members embraced the spirit of the anti-immigrant manifesto left behind by the accused gunman. Others floated false conspiracy theories: the CIA was behind the murders; the accused killer was actually Jewish. Still other members cautioned that the group had its own “loose cannons” to worry about. It would be a bad look if the next mass murderer was one of their own.” 


The Washington Post: Turkish Patrol Kills Protester Amid Shaky Truce In NE Syria

“A Syrian protester was killed after he was run over by a Turkish military vehicle during a joint Turkish-Russian patrol in northeastern Syria on Friday, Kurdish forces and a Syria war monitoring group said. The man was among a group of residents who had chased and pelted the convoy with shoes and stones, prompting Turkish troops to fire tear-gas to disperse the protesters. Ten people were hospitalized, according to the Rojava Information Center, an activist operated group in Kurdish-held areas. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitoring group, said the man was run over in the village of Sarmasakh near the border by a Turkish vehicle which was conducting a joint patrol with the Russians — the third under a cease-fire deal brokered by Moscow that forced Kurdish fighters to withdraw from areas bordering Turkey.”

The New York Times: U.S. Envoy In Syria Says Not Enough Was Done To Avert Turkish Attack

“The top American diplomat on the ground in northern Syria has criticized the Trump administration for not trying harder to prevent Turkey’s military offensive there last month — and said Turkish-backed militia fighters committed “war crimes and ethnic cleansing.” In a searing internal memo, the diplomat, William V. Roebuck, raised the question of whether tougher American diplomacy, blunter threats of economic sanctions and increased military patrols could have deterred Turkey from attacking. Similar measures had dissuaded Turkish military action before. “It’s a tough call, and the answer is probably not,” Mr. Roebuck wrote in the 3,200-word memo. “But we won’t know because we didn’t try.” He did note several reasons the Turks might not have been deterred: the small American military presence at two border outposts, Turkey’s decades-long standing as a NATO ally and its formidable army massing at the Syrian frontier. In an unusually blunt critique, Mr. Roebuck said the political and military turmoil that upended the administration’s policy in northern Syria — and left Syrian Kurdish allies abandoned and opened the door for a possible Islamic State resurgence — was a “sideshow” to the bloody, yearslong upheaval in Syria overall.”

Newsweek: U.S. Official Says New Isis Leader Is 'Not Going To Enjoy His Promotion'

“A senior official within President Donald Trump's administration has issued a new threat against the individual who succeeded Islamic State militant group (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi following his death in Syria during a U.S. Special Operations raid. ISIS announced last week that newly-vacated leadership positions had been filled after Baghdadi detonated his suicide vest in the face of assaulting Delta Team personnel in an Idlib operation first reported by Newsweek and ISIS spokesperson Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir was killed in CIA strikes in Aleppo. In an audio message, new spokesperson Abu Hamza al-Qurashi declared that Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi—both names also sometimes spelled Qurayshi—would take over, but the Trump administration has warned he would meet the same fate. “He is probably not going to enjoy his promotion,” a senior State Department official told reporters Thursday. “We intend to subject him and any other ISIS leader to unrelenting pressure, using all the tools at our disposal,” he added. “That was true of previous ISIS leadership; that's going to be true of future ISIS leadership.”

Washington Examiner: The Future Of The Islamic State 

“Less than a week after Abu Bakr al Baghdadi detonated himself rather than risk capture, the Islamic State named his successor. “We give our obedience to the commander of the faithful, the caliph of the Muslims, Abu Ibrahim al Hashimi al Qurayshi, pledging to listen and obey, in times of delight and dislike, and in times of hardship and ease, and to do so selflessly,” the group’s new spokesman announced. Little is known about al Qurayshi. The announcement omitted any biographic details, so even basics such as nationality, age, and previous role within ISIS are unknown. The demonym al Qurayshi suggests descent from the Prophet Muhammad’s family, but that could easily be a cynical ploy to buy religious legitimacy for a man who might not have arisen from such lofty stock. Such anonymity amplifies the aura of mystery around the new caliph, but is also practical: After Baghdadi’s death, security is paramount. The less external intelligence agencies know about al Qurayshi, assuming he is even a single person rather than a composite, the better for ISIS’s inner circle.”


The New York Times: Iran Downs A Drone Over Southern Port City Of Mahshahr: Report

“A semi-official Iranian website reported on Friday that Iran has shot down a drone over its southern port city of Mahshahr, without providing further details. The Iran Front Page website did not say whether it was a military or a civil drone. Iranian officials were not immediately available to comment.”

The Guardian: Growing Calls In Iran To Abandon Nuclear Treaty, Ambassador Warns

“The Iranian government is under growing domestic pressure to pull out of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty next year, the country’s ambassador to the UK has said. Hamid Baeidinejad said it was government policy to remain in the treaty but there were growing calls to pull out next year, when it is due for renewal, as it required Iran to make one-sided commitments. “There are views by some circles, some personalities, that Iran has not benefited from membership of the [treaty] and it is time to withdraw,” he said, adding that Iran remained committed on religious grounds to not developing nuclear weapons. Iran is a founding member of the treaty, which is aimed at achieving disarmament by nuclear-armed states. Three non-signatories – Israel, India and Pakistan – have nuclear weapons. This week the Iranian government took a fourth step in reducing its adherence to its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which has been unravelling since Donald Trump withdrew the US from the deal last year and reimposed sanctions. Iran announced on Tuesday it was injecting uranium gas into centrifuges at its Fordow plant, a move that dramatically increases its enrichment capacity.”

Arab News: Iran’s Support For Terrorism Has Surged In 2019 

“The US State Department last week released its annual Country Reports on Terrorism document. The report describes the Islamic Republic as the “world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism” in 2018. It also lists Iran’s staunch ally, the Syrian government, as a state sponsor of terrorism. While the report looks at Iran’s activities in 2018, it is important to examine how its behavior has changed this year, as there has been a significant surge in Iran’s support for terrorist activities. The Iranian regime has been involvedin and subsequently sanctioned for numerous terrorist and destabilizing activities in the Middle East in 2019. This has included the harassmentof ships in the Strait of Hormuz, such as the seizing of the UK-flagged Stena Impero by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and attacks against four ships: Two Saudi oil tankers, a Norwegian-flagged vessel and one flagged in Sharjah, which were anchored off the coast of the UAE. The Iranian regime has also continued to smuggleweapons and provide military, financial, intelligence and advisory assistance to proxies such as the Houthis in Yemen, Hezbollah, and Iraqi Shiite militias including Kata’ib Hezbollah.”


Newsweek: Turkey Keeps Capturing Former Isis Leader's Family, But They Have Complicated History In Syria

“Turkey has announced the capture of at least four family members of former Islamic State militant group (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in as many days this week, claiming a resounding victory against a group it's been accused of empowering in the first place. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan first announced Wednesday that his security forces “have captured his wife, sister and brother-in-law” of Baghdadi. The following day, the Turkish president revealed during another speech that a “DNA test has confirmed” that another captured individual was a child of the dead militant leader. Erdogan revealed little about when or how these operations occurred, but Reuters first reported Monday that Baghdadi's older sister, Rasmiya Awad, was caught in the northern Syrian town of Azaz in Aleppo province, citing a senior Turkish official. The news was confirmed that same day by communications director Fahrettin Altun, who called it “yet another example of the success of our counter-terrorism operations” on Twitter. “Much dark propaganda against Turkey has been circulating to raise doubts about our resolve against Daesh. We have been leading in the fight against terrorism in all its forms,” he added, using the Arabic-language acronym for ISIS.” 


Reuters: Three Judges Killed At Taliban Checkpoint In Afghanistan, Officials Say

“Three judges and a court staffer were killed in Afghanistan on Thursday after Taliban militants stopped their car in the latest attack on the judiciary, officials said. Abdullah Hasrat, a spokesman for the governor in eastern Paktia province where the judges worked, told Reuters the incident took place in Mohammad Agha district of neighboring Logar province. “They were traveling in a car but were stopped by the Taliban checkpoint on the road,” Hasrat said. No group has claimed responsibility for attack, which came as the victims were driving to the capital, Kabul. Taliban insurgents fighting to overthrow the foreign-backed Afghan government have long targeted the judiciary in retaliation for harsh sentences given to their fighters. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters he was not aware of the attack but would check with local commanders. The Taliban now controls more territory than at any point since the United States’ invasion of the country in 2001. The United States is trying to end its longest ever war, but peace talks with the Taliban are currently stalled. As Afghan police casualties mounted, the Afghan government this year pulled back from hundreds of checkpoints in isolated areas that acted as a magnet for Taliban attacks.”

Middle East

Al Jazeera: US-Led Coalition Launches Operation To Protect Gulf Waters

“A US-led naval coalition officially launched operations in Bahrain on Thursday to protect shipping in the troubled waters of the Gulf, following a string of attacks that Washington and its allies blamed on Iran. The coalition, aimed at warding off the perceived threat to the world's oil supply, has been in the making since June. Iran, which has denied any responsibility for the mystery attacks, has put forward its own proposals for boosting Gulf security that pointedly exclude outside powers. Bahrain, which hosts the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, joined the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) in August. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) followed suit in September.” 

The New York Times: U.S. Imposes Sanctions On Leader Of Mali Islamist Militant Group

“The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on a leader of an al Qaeda-linked Islamist militant group in Mali and warned the influence of Islamic State in West Africa was on the rise even as it lost territory elsewhere. The U.S. Treasury Department blacklisted Amadou Koufa, a Salafist preacher and a leader of Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), an al Qaeda affiliate in the Sahel region. French officials last year had said the militant leader had died in a raid in the former French colony, but he appeared in a propaganda video in February. U.S. sanctions block any assets Koufa may have under U.S. control and bar any persons or entities in the United States from any dealings or transactions with him. Northern and central Mali saw an increase in "widespread terrorist activity" in 2018, according to the U.S. State Department's annual global terrorism report.”

The Times Of Israel: Shin Bet Thwarted Over 450 Terror Attacks In 2019, Chief Says

“The head of the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security and counterintelligence service, said Thursday that his organization had thwarted over 450 significant terror attacks in the previous year. “In the past year, we have thwarted over 450 significant terror attacks, and we have allowed Israeli citizens to have full and comfortable lives in the day-to-day without knowing what’s going on underground,” Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman said. Argaman credited these successes to specialized technologies used by the service, its cooperation with other Israeli security forces and its “synergy with our counterparts around the world. The Shin Bet chief made his remarks at the UVID International Conference and Exhibition on Unmanned Vehicles in Tel Aviv. “Israeli technology and the [defense] industry are always close to us, close to our hearts. We purchase Israeli technologies before [buying] from anywhere else,” Argaman said. “We are investing in very advanced technology,” he added. In addition to an extensive network of informants and other conventional intelligence-gathering techniques, the Shin Bet has long been known to use advanced algorithms to scan social media and other databases for indications of terrorist activities.”


Egypt Today: Egyptians In Continuous Struggle Against Terrorism: Sisi

“Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on Thursday said he had a “relentless will” to counter terrorism as it had badly affected the image of the religion, adding that Egyptian people were in a continuous struggle against terrorism. Sisi’s remarks came in his speech on the occasion of Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday (Al-Mawlid Al-Nabawi) celebrated by many Muslims in several countries, and is believed by Sunni scholars to be on 12th Rabi' al-awwal, according to the Islamic calendar (November 9th this year). The president affirmed that extremism, terrorism, and physical and moral destruction would not be able to prevent people from moving towards a better future. “We do not pay attention to the attempts of obstruction by our enemies. We respond to them by much more work and a lot of effort, and we look forward with hope and confidence.” “I am absolutely confident that Allah’s (God’s) close help to Egypt and its people, in the fulfillment of our hopes in building an advanced and a modern homeland in which the people enjoy a dignified and safe life.” Sisi referred to the June 30 revolution in 2013, which ousted Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated President Mohamed Morsi, saying that he asked Egyptians to take to streets on July 24 this year to give him the authorization to fight terrorism, as these groups have the belief that they “must rule you or kill.”


African Arguments: What Does The Death Of IS Leader Al-Baghdadi Mean For Boko Haram?

“On 25 October, the “caliph” of so-called Islamic State (IS) Abubakar al-Baghdadi was killed in a US-led military operation in Syria. Soon after, IS spokesperson Abu Hassan al-Muhajir was killed in another raid in the same Syrian province. IS has factored into Nigerian Islamist militancy for several years now. What effect could these deaths have on security in northeast Nigeria and surrounding regions? IS ties to the insurgency in West Africa are complex. They involve material, ideological, strategic, and organisational influences. They have also changed over time with different important individuals and factions. One key figure in this is Abubakar Shekau. Having led Boko Haram since 2009, Shekau pledged loyalty to al-Baghdadi in March 2015 and oversaw the group’s rebranding as Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP). Just over a year later in August 2016, however, Shekau was ejected from ISWAP for ignoring orders from IS and targeting Muslim civilians, including women who he claimed to “enslave”. After his expulsion, Shekau did not renounce his allegiance to al-Baghdadi and his loyalists still emulate IS, but he returned to leading his faction under the old name of Boko Haram.”

Gulf News: 10 Nigerian Troops Killed In Militant Ambush

“At least 10 Nigerian soldiers have been killed and nine severely injured in an ambush by suspected Boko Haram fighters in restive northeast Nigeria, military sources said Thursday. Another 12 soldiers were missing after a column of troops on patrol was ambushed by the extremists on Wednesday in Damboa district of Borno state, a military officer told AFP on condition of anonymity. “We lost 10 troops in the intense fighting with the terrorists who ambushed our soldiers conducting a clearance operation in the area,” said the officer, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorised to speak about the incident. “Nine soldiers were injured and 12 are still missing.” The decade-long extremist insurgency in northeast Nigeria has killed 35,000 people, displaced two million others and spilt into neighbouring countries. The troops came under attack while returning to their base in Damboa, 88km from the state capital Maiduguri, said a second military officer who gave the same casualty toll. The area of the attack is on the edge of the Sambisa Forest which is a stronghold of the Boko Haram faction led by long-time leader Abubakar Shekau. Soldiers were forced to withdraw after an hour-long battle in which nine extremists were also killed, said the second source.”

All Africa: Nigeria: Why Boko Haram Insurgency Persists - Minister

“The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, has blamed the failure to end the Boko Haram war on “poor management” of strategy on the part of the military and other international humanitarian agencies working in North-east Nigeria. Mrs Umar-Farouq said this at the opening of a 3-days international workshop on civil-security cooperation holding in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital. The minister said though all the relevant stakeholders have put in their best to ensure the decade long war comes to an end, lack of “civil-security relations have continued to frustrate and plunge successes being recorded.” Ms Umar-Farouq recalled that the recent banning of two international non-governmental agencies, Action Against Hunger and Mercy Corps, by the Nigeria military was a function of lack of proper synergy amongst the key actors at the frontline. Mercy Corps and Action Against Hunger have since resumed work this week following the temporary lifting of the ban by the Nigerian government last week. The two outfits were accused by the military of “aiding and abetting” the activities of the Boko Haram. Speaking at the opening of the workshop on Wednesday, the minister said: “It is apparent that where civil-security relations are poorly managed, humanitarian action may inadvertently compound other security problems.”


Associated Press: US Targets Al-Qaida Leaders In West Africa And Mideast

“The Trump administration is trying to turn up pressure on three senior al-Qaida leaders in Africa and the Middle East. The State Department placed the head of the main al-Qaida affiliate in Mali on a terrorism blacklist. It also offered rewards for information leading to the location of two top members of al-Qaida’s affiliate in Yemen. The sanctions are against Amadou Kouffa for attacks in Africa’s Sahel region. The action announced Thursday freezes any assets he may have under U.S. jurisdiction. A reward of up to $6 million was also offered for information about the emir of Yemen’s Shabwah province for his role in al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. And the U.S. is offering up to $4 million for a Sudanese AQAP leader who once worked with Osama bin Laden.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Morocco Worried About Return Of ISIS Militants

“Morocco’s Interior Ministry described the return of terrorist militants from hotbeds of tension in Syria, Iraq and Libya as “worrying” for the country and one of the most important challenges facing the concerned countries. It stressed that efforts exerted in the Kingdom has enabled it to uncover 13 terrorist cells until late October that were working on recruiting young Moroccans to fight in areas where militant groups are active. The Ministry issued a report and distributed it to members of its committee and the House of Representatives on the occasion of presenting the sub-budget for 2020. According to the report, terrorism phenomena affects all the regions in the world and threatens the countries’ security and stability, including Morocco. Terrorist organizations are calling on the returning militants to infiltrate their “home countries to carry out terrorist operations, the Ministry explained. This contributes to targeting stability, disrupting the economic movement and encouraging the establishment of sleeper cells to revive the so-called ISIS “caliphate.” The report noted that the Ministry has “continued to work during this year with the highest levels of vigilance and preparedness, contained in the national plan to combat terrorism, both at the level of the territorial administration and security interests.”

Military Times: Countering Lies With Truth: Battling Terrorist Propaganda In East Africa

“Lies, coercion, and deceit. These are a few of the malign tactics, techniques and procedures of terrorist organizations. Al-Shabaab, the al-Qaida affiliate in East Africa, is no exception. Terrorist organizations often spread disinformation and falsities as propaganda to bolster their destructive cause and to aid recruiting efforts. This is particularly true when losses on the battlefield are mounting and their footing is beginning to slip, which is the current case of al-Shabaab in Somalia. For example, the al-Shabaab terrorists recently proclaimed a great victory, which is easy to do when you are not bound by the truth, nor a moral code. The terrorist group even released a 52 minute video earlier this month narrated by al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Omar Abu Ubeyda in which Abu Ubeyda makes false claims and congratulates those who participated in the attack. To be clear, the claims made by al-Shabaab regarding a recent assault on a Somali military compound in Baledogle are simply untrue.  While the terrorists proclaim to have inflicted a significant blow, the truth is that on the morning of Sept. 30, a squad of al-Shabaab extremists attempted to gain access to the base — 15 al-Shabaab fighters were swiftly killed by the Somali and U.S. forces guarding the installation.”

United Kingdom

Al Jazeera: British Army Reject To Be Sentenced For Training To Fight ISIL

“A British army reject who trained to fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) could be facing a jail sentence on Thursday. Aidan James, 28, from Formby, Merseyside, had no previous military knowledge when he set out to join the war in 2017, the Old Bailey heard. Following a landmark trial, James, who was repeatedly turned down by British armed forces due to his mental health, was found guilty of training in weapons with the banned Marxist political organisation the PKK in Iraq. But he was cleared of a second charge of training with Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), across the border in Syria. The defendant, who is in custody, will appear at the Old Bailey - the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales - before Justice Andrew Edis for sentencing. It is the first time a Briton has been put on trial for going to Syria to oppose ISIL, after charges were dropped against ex-soldier James Matthews, 43, from Dalston, east London. The court had heard how James was in contact with the antiterrorism programme Prevent before he left Britain for Iraq in August 2017. While there, he wrote in his diary that sitting on a roof with a 0.50-calibre machinegun was like something out of “Mad Max.”

The Telegraph: Former Counter Terror Chief Warns A Lack Of Integration From Some Communities Is Fuelling Far Right Extremism

“A lack of integration from some communities is fuelling far right extremism, Britain's  former counter terror chief has suggested, despite recent comments from his successor, who has argued that minority groups should not be forced to assimilate. Sir Mark Rowley, who was assistant commissioner at the Metropolitan Police during the terror attacks of 2017, warned that terrorists were preying on grievances caused by a lack of integration. He said those on the far right were exploiting the fact some communities preferred to remain isolated and not mix with other faiths and cultures. Mr Rowley suggested minority communities should do more to integrate in order to prevent these divisions growing. He said: “Extremists including the far right are preying on the grievances and the tension caused by a lack of integration and that enables them to grow their cause and that is a real concern.” He went on: ““We have a country that has one identity, that has one set of laws and pone set of principles underneath that so that is what this country is about and integration is a part of buying into that.” But his comments seemed to be at odds with remarks made by Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, who took over from his following his retirement in 2017.”


The New York Times: Terrorism Financing Charge Upheld Against French Company Lafarge

“A French court on Thursday upheld preliminary criminal charges against one of France’s biggest companies over allegations that it financed the Islamic State and other armed groups in Syria, while putting the lives of its employees there in danger. In its ruling, the Court of Appeal in Paris also said the company, the multinational cement maker Lafarge, had violated international embargoes as it sought to maintain business in Syria despite a civil war. But the court rejected a separate, more serious charge that the company was complicit in crimes against humanity after former employees accused Lafarge of abetting terrorist groups operating in the region by funneling financing to them. The ruling paves the way for a possible future trial over the other charges, which are part of an investigation by the French authorities and were brought last year against Lafarge as well as six former executives, including its former chief executive Bruno Lafont. The case is the first in France to have led to a criminal inquiry into a company’s liability for its activities abroad. The Lafarge plant, on Syria’s northern border with Turkey, was shut down after the Islamic State, known as ISIS, attacked it in 2014 as employees fled the factory.”


Deutsche Welle: Germany: Terror Victims To Recieve Better Compensation 

“Future victims of terror attacks in Germany will get better and speedier compensated after a new law was passed in the Bundestag on Thursday evening. The modernizing move came after criticism of the treatment received by the victims of the 2016 Berlin terror attack and their surviving dependents. The law passed by Labor Minister Hubertus Heil provides for higher cash benefits for surviving dependants and injured parties. Access to vocational reintegration measures and assistance in everyday life will also be improved. Trauma outpatient clinics, which provide fast and targeted care for victims, will be available nationwide in future. Victims will also be assigned case managers during the application process for compensation and in the proceeding events. The new law also opens the possibility of such compensation for the victims of psychological violence such as stalking or passive violence such as the neglect of a child. Victims of human trafficking and sexual violence will also be covered. Widows, widowers and orphans will also rise and witnesses who were psychologically affected by an attack will be eligible for compensation. Most regulations will not take effect until 2024, while some improvements will be applied retroactively, including equal treatment for foreign nationals.”


The Washington Post: Boy Whose Mother Joined IS In Syria Returns To Dad In Italy

“An 11-year-old Albanian boy whose mother took him to Syria five years ago when she joined the Islamic State group returned on Friday to Italy for a joyous reunion with his father and sisters. The boy, Alvin, wearing a red cap, smiled shyly as he was escorted by two policewomen at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci airport to an airport reception where his father, Afrim Berisha, and two older sisters took turns hugging him, long and tightly. Red Cross and Red Crescent staff worked with Albanian and Italian government officials to facilitate his return from the crowded al-Hol detention camp in northeastern Syria where he was living without his family. The father, an Albanian, lives in northern Italy. The boy has an Albanian passport and permission from Italian authorities to reside in Italy.”

The New York Times: Kosovo Charges Man Returned From Syria With Fighting For IS

“Kosovo prosecutors have filed terrorism charges against a man suspected of fighting with the Islamic State group in Syria. A statement Thursday from the prosecutors' office said that, in July 2015, the man identified as A.M. went to neighboring North Macedonia and secured a false passport, then continued to Syria via Greece and Turkey. He is accused of fighting as an IS member until Kurdish forces arrested him in July 2017. He was among 110 Kosovo citizens repatriated from Syria in April with the assistance of the United States. If convicted of terrorist acts, he could face a prison sentence of 10 years or more. Kosovo authorities say 30 of the country's citizens are still actively supporting terror groups in Syria.”

France 24: EU Sees 'Short Window' To Decide IS Repatriations From Syria 

“EU countries have a “short window” to decide whether to repatriate their nationals -- including hundreds of very young children -- held in camps in Syria after the defeat of the Islamic State group, MEPs heard Thursday. A US troop withdrawal and subsequent Turkish military incursion into northeast Syria last month has injected urgency into the issue, the European Parliament lawmakers were told, in a session on the fate of children of foreign fighters. Control of the camps is slipping as Kurdish SDF fighters formerly allied to the US become squeezed between the hostile Turkish and Syrian armies, raising the risk of those in the camps escaping, perhaps to Europe in some cases, or falling into the hands of President Bashar al-Assad's forces, they heard. “There's a short window now, of perhaps one or several months, while the camps with family members of European foreign fighters are still under the control of the SDF,” Christiane Hoehn, a senior EU counter-terrorism official told the committee. The changed battlefield circumstances in Syria “have created new circumstances and this might need to lead to the need to redefine policy,” she said.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Dutch ISIS Militant Involved In Plot To Bomb Russian Aircraft In 2015

“An Australian convicted of terrorism has implicated a Danish national in the plot to blow up a Russian aircraft that crashed in 2015 shortly after taking-off from Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh airport, a Danish newspaper reported on Wednesday. ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombing, which killed 224 people. In a report published on its website, DR Newspaper said its information was based on statements made by Khalid al-Khayat. Khayat was convicted in Australia earlier this year on charges of planning to blow up a passenger plane carrying 400 people during a flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi in 2017. The paper said Danish and other foreign intelligence believe that the Danish, Bassil Hassan, is also involved in 2017’s incident. It noted that the terrorist didn’t succeed to carry out this attack after the Australian police confiscated a meat chopping machine with explosives hidden inside. It also explained that Khayat told the police that those who tried to blow up the plane in Sydney were also behind the bombing of the Russian aircraft above Egypt. The Danish newspaper pointed out that its information is also based on court documents in Australia, adding that it confirms that Hassan was a key figure in ISIS “foreign operations.” 


Reuters: China Says Killing Of Islamic State Leader Is Progress, Much Work Remains

“The United States’ killing of Islamic State’s leader is important progress, but the world should not rest on its laurels in the fight against terrorism, China’s special envoy to the Middle East said on Friday. China has long worried about ethnic Uighurs from China’s far heavily Muslim western region of Xinjiang who have traveled clandestinely to Syria and Iraq to fight with Islamist groups there. Islamic State has killed at least one Chinese hostage and militant groups have issued statements threatening to attack China. Speaking to reporters following a visit to Saudi Arabia, Iran and Egypt last month, Zhai Jun said last month’s killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by U.S. forces was “important progress in the fight against terrorism”. “But that does not mean the Islamic State has been completely wiped out,” Zhai, an Arabic speaker and former Chinese ambassador in Tripoli and Paris, said. “The ideological tide of terrorism lives on,” he added. “We must not lower our vigilance.” Affiliates of Islamic State, as well as other militant organizations were still active in other countries, Zhai said. Zhai’s remarks on Baghdadi’s death were the most high profile to date on the issue from China, which had previously only said it was closely monitoring the situation.” 

Xinhua: Terror Threat To Remain Apparent In Indonesia's 2020 Regional Elections: Analyst

“Indonesia is facing threats of terror attacks which might be perpetrated by homegrown radical groups affiliated to Islamic State (IS) in the 2020 regional elections process, an Indonesian intelligence analyst said here on Thursday. Identifying the threats as part of potential conflicts during the regional elections scheduled nationwide on Sept. 23, 2020, Director of the Indonesia Intelligence Institute Ridlwan Habib said the attacks could occur in areas known as their potential targets and network development basis across the country. “They don't like any election that uses a system totally against their ideology. Their attacks would not be based on their affiliation to any candidate taking part in the regional elections,” Habib said. Currently some 1,200 die-hard radical groups' militants remain on the loose, and continue developing their networks in several areas. Areas identified as prone to possible attacks include cities in Java, southern part of Sumatra, Bali and West Nusa Tenggara province, Habib said. The Indonesian police arrested 68 terrorist suspects from January to May this year. They were identified as militants of the banned radical group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) that had been plotting deadly attacks during the chaotic days in Jakarta related to announcement of Indonesia's April elections winners in May.”


Washington Examiner: 'Speed Of Social Media': Online Terrorist Activity Leaves Little Time To React

“The FBI is investigating about 850 cases involving domestic terrorism and more than 4,000 involving international terrorism. In a breakdown provided to the Washington Examiner, roughly 5,000 open terrorism investigations across the United States and around the world were shown, along with the number of domestic terrorism arrests and international terrorism arrests, which have remained fairly constant over the past three years. In the 2019 fiscal year, the bureau arrested 121 international terrorism suspects and 107 domestic terrorism suspects, compared with 100 international and 115 domestic arrests in 2018 and 110 international and 150 domestic arrests in 2017. “Preventing terrorist attacks remains the FBI’s top priority,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement to both the House and Senate Homeland Security Committees over the last week. “However, the threat posed by terrorism — both international terrorism and domestic violence extremism — has evolved significantly since 9/11.” The threat is shifting and expanding, especially online. Wray warned domestic terrorists and violent extremists are being radicalized and recruited online, such as in recent deadly mass shootings in Pennsylvania, Texas, and Ohio.”