Eye on Extremism: November 9, 2018

The Washington Post: Trump Administration Considers Naming Yemen’s Houthi Rebels A Terrorist Group

“The Trump administration is considering designating Yemen’s Houthi rebels a terrorist organization, people familiar with the discussions said, as part of a campaign to end that country’s civil war and put pressure on the Houthis’ ally Iran. The terrorist designation, which would inject an unpredictable new element into fragile diplomatic efforts to initiate peace talks, has been discussed periodically since at least 2016, according to several of the individuals. But the matter has received renewed examination in recent months as the White House seeks to stake out a tough stance on Iranian-linked groups across the Middle East, they said. A formal terrorist designation by the State Department could further isolate the rebels, members of a minority Shiite Muslim sect who seized control of Yemen’s capital in late 2014, but critics warn that such a move might also worsen already dire humanitarian conditions without pushing the conflict closer to a conclusion. The individuals, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal deliberations, said the administration has considered an array of potential actions, including lesser measures to punish the rebels, but they said no decision had been made. It was not immediately clear how far deliberations about the terrorist designation, which would be made by the State Department, had progressed.”

Middle East Eye: Syria Government Attack Kills 22 Rebels In Truce Zone: Monitor

“Syrian government forces killed 22 rebels overnight near Idlib province, in the deadliest such attack in an area where a recent truce is to be enforced, a monitor said Friday. Fighting erupted when government troops seized a position in a rural area in the north of neighbouring Hama province that had been held by the Jaish al-Izza group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Idlib and some surrounding areas are the last major rebel bastion in Syria, where the Russian-backed government has in recent months retaken much of the territory it had lost since the civil war erupted in 2011. It had threatened an assault on rebel territory, home to around three million people, but a deal for a de-militarised buffer zone around it was reached in September between Moscow and rebel backer Ankara. Several deadly skirmishes have occurred since the deal but 22 is the highest number of known fatalities in a single incident inside the planned buffer zone, the Observatory said. "This is the highest death toll in the de-militarised zone since it was announced," Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based monitoring group, told AFP. The deaths come less than a week after a four-nation meeting in Istanbul seeking a solution to the crisis in Idlib. Following the meeting on Saturday, leaders of Turkey, Russia, France and Germany called for a political solution to Syria's devastating seven-year civil war and a lasting ceasefire in Idlib.”

Associated Press: Woman Freed In Blasphemy Case Still In Hiding In Pakistan

“A week after Pakistan’s Supreme Court acquitted her of blasphemy, a Christian woman who had been on death row for eight years was freed from detention Thursday, but her whereabouts are a closely guarded secret following demands by extremists that she be hanged in public. The case of Aasia Bibi has become a political minefield for Prime Minister Imran Khan. He is trying to placate the Muslim extremists who have threatened to topple his government, while keeping the 54-year-old mother of five safe from a lynch mob and also finding a way to allow her to leave Pakistan without bringing rioters into the streets. Bibi has been offered asylum by the European Parliament, which championed her case after she was convicted in 2010 under Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy law. There has been sharp worldwide criticism of the law, which remains popular in the Muslim majority country and carries the death penalty for insulting Islam but also has been used as a way to settle scores and pressure minorities. Bibi was with her family under heavy security after being transferred to the Pakistani capital overnight from her detention facility in southern Punjab, triggering expectations of an imminent departure from the country.”

The Washington Post: Lawmakers Raise Alarm About ISIS Attacks Against Syria’s Druze Population

“Despite President Trump’s repeated claims that the Islamic State has been defeated, the militant group remains a deadly threat to minority populations in Syria, causing concern among U.S. lawmakers that recent atrocities are being overlooked. In July, the Islamic State killed more than 200 people and took more than two dozen hostages in a rampage on Sweida, a city in southwestern Syria inhabited by members of the Druze religious minority. The attack was one of the single-biggest massacres of the Syrian civil war and a reminder of the threat posed by the Islamic State despite its loss of territory. Last week, a group of Democratic lawmakers urged Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and national security adviser John Bolton to condemn the attack and keep Washington’s focus on ISIS, rather than expanding its mission to curbing Iran’s presence in the country. “We write to express concerns regarding the administration’s failure to condemn the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) attack against the Druze community in Sweida, Syria on July 25, 2018,” the lawmakers, led by Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), said in a letter obtained by The Washington Post. “We also are concerned about recent reports that the administration has embraced an expanded mission in Syria beyond the complete defeat of ISIS, which may detract from protecting displaced persons and minority populations from ISIS’s continued terrorist threat.”

NBC News: The 'Wild West' No Longer: House Dems Eye Silicon Valley Crackdown

“Democrats’ takeover of the House is likely to result in even more hearings into the power of big tech companies — just on different subjects than Republicans are interested in. Experts in technology policy said that they expect Democratic lawmakers, including incoming House committee chairs, to ramp up questions about data privacy, antitrust enforcement and the role of companies such as Facebook and Google in elections. President Donald Trump signaled he may comply with these hearings, saying at a White House news conference that he would be willing to negotiate on the subject even if he was skeptical about regulations. “When you start regulating, a lot of bad things can happen, but I would certainly talk to the Democrats if they want to do that, and I think they do want to do that,” Trump said. The ongoing drumbeat of scrutiny would mean no letup for tech executives who have faced investigations on multiple fronts in recent years despite the fact that Silicon Valley generally supported the election of more Democrats in Tuesday’s midterm elections.”

United States

The Atlantic: An American Accused Of Joining ISIS Is Free, And A Bigger Story Is Beginning

“A 13-month legal saga ended quietly last week when an American citizen accused of joining ISIS went free. For more than a year, the U.S. military had held him in Iraq without charging him. At one point, the government offered to release him somewhere in Syria with a cellphone and a few thousand dollars, an outcome his lawyers said would amount to a death sentence. In the end, he was transferred to a third country and let go. One case, then, is settled. The larger questions underlying it—the same ones three successive presidents have failed to resolve—are very much not. What, exactly, are the limits on the U.S. government’s authority to detain “enemy combatants,” including U.S. citizens? More fundamentally, what are the limits on America’s wartime powers in a war on terror that never seems to end? The case of the man court documents identify only as John Doe “was a really, really important opportunity for clarification, and it ended after 13 months with none,” said Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas who has followed the case closely. The case began last fall, when, according to a government court filing, a dual American-Saudi citizen turned himself in to Kurdish forces in northern Syria—his lawyers dispute this, saying he was captured fleeing violence. He was carrying around $4,000, two thumb drives, a GPS device, and, oddly, a scuba mask and snorkel.”

Quartz: To Deradicalize Extremists, Former Neo-Nazis Use A Radical Method: Empathy

“After last month’s shootings at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and a grocery store in Louisville, Kentucky, reports revealed that in both cases, the shooters espoused radical, white-supremacist ideologies. According to the Anti-Defamation League, violence by white supremacists is on the rise in the US. The trend raises the questions of how such extremism arises, and what, if anything, can be done to lead them away from it? To think through possible answers to these problems, Quartz spoke with Shannon Martinez, program manager of  Free Radical Project, an Illinois-based non-profit that helps people disengage from extremism. Martinez co-founded the non-profit with Christian Picciolini—both were former white supremacists. Now, Martinez says, they are “working together to build a more equitable and just future. Quartz: How did you get involved with white supremacist groups? Shannon Martinez: I was about 15 when I entered the movement. I grew up always feeling like the black sheep in my family, and I’d come to feel like any sort of mainstream identity wasn’t going to fit me. My first foray into counterculture was when I was 12 or so; I immersed myself into the hippie, 1960s anti-war rhetoric. One of my favorite books at the time was The Autobiography of Malcolm X. That morphed into hanging around skateboarders and punk culture.”

The Washington Post: The State Of Hate

“See that speck there?” retired Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin says, directing my gaze to the ceiling of the Family Research Council’s lobby in Washington. I spy a belly-button-size opening in the plaster. “That’s a bullet hole.” The blemish has been preserved for six years. “See that?” he asks, now indicating a cratered fire alarm panel near the reception desk. “That’s a bullet hole. That’s the first round. The second went through the arm of the building manager. The third round hit the ceiling. … Fired on August 15th, 2012, by Floyd Lee Corkins.” The hero of that day was the building manager, Leo Johnson, who tackled Corkins and was shot in the arm as they scuffled. Asked by an FBI agent how he came to single out the FRC, Corkins replied: “Southern Poverty Law lists anti-gay groups.” The gunman, who was found to be mentally ill, was sentenced to 25 years in prison. “He came in here to kill as many of us as possible because he found us listed as a hate group on the Southern Poverty Law Center website,” continues Boykin, FRC’s executive vice president, who is dressed today in a leather vest over a shirt and tie.”


Time: Syrian Army Liberates 19 Hostages Held By Islamic State Since July

“Syrian troops have liberated 19 women and children hostages held by the Islamic State group since July in a military operation in the country’s center, ending a months-long crisis that has stunned Syria’s Druze religious minority, state media reported Thursday. An opposition war monitor said the release was part of an exchange. SANA news agency said in its report that the operation occurred in the Hamima area east of the historic town of Palmyra. It said all IS fighters in the area where the hostages were held have been killed. The Suwayda 24 activist collective quoted local officials as saying the women and children held by IS have all been freed. “My happiness is huge,” Nashaat Abu Ammar, whose wife, two sons and daughter are among those freed, told The Associated Press by telephone.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Moscow: Signs Of ISIS, Qaeda ‘Imminent Merger’ Detected

“Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) warned of signs of an “imminent merge” between ISIS and al-Qaeda, saying a potential union would create additional terror activity risks for the world. The success of the Syrian regime forces backed by Russian warplanes and the US-led international coalition, has buried ISIS efforts to establish a false Islamic state in the Middle East, FSB Head Alexander Bortnikov said at the opening of the 17th meeting of the of the heads of the country’s special services, security agencies and law enforcement bodies held in Moscow. He pointed out that Qaeda and ISIS “could unite their potentials,” warning of what he described as “negative consequences” that might result from that merge. The Russian official explained despite previous armed clashes between the terrorist organizations, there are many cases of elements joining fighting alongside both groups’ ranks. “There are a number of signs indicating their possible merger,” he reiterated. The defeat of the terrorists on so many fronts forced them to seek new ways to carry out their activities, including expanding their presence and deploying their militants to other countries. Both groups are known to have moved militants to countries in Europe, North Africa, South-East Asia and Afghanistan, increasing tensions in Central Asia. “Both organizations use a similar ideological basis and common manpower for replenishing each other’s units,” Bortnikov stressed.”


The Washington Times: Louis Farrakhan Denies 'Death To America' Chant As He Rips U.S. Foreign Policy In Iran

“He said “death to,” and the Iranian audience responded with “America” and “Israel,” but Nation of Islam minister Louis Farrakhan insists he never led chants of “death to America.” Mr. Farrakhan described as “wrong and shameful” international media reports that he led anti-American and anti-Israel chants last weekend during his ongoing solidarity tour of Iran, which was timed to the reimposing of U.S. economic sanctions. “I never led a chant that called for the death of America or Israel, contrary to misreporting in U.S., British and Jewish publications and the intentional, malicious and false reinterpretation of my words,” said Mr. Farrakhan in a statement posted Thursday. Of course, the first “death to America” news dispatch came from Iranian state television, part of a Tehran media blitz showcasing Mr. Farrakhan’s takedowns of U.S. foreign policy as the Trump administration moves to exit the 2015 nuclear deal brokered by President Barack Obama. Mr. Farrakhan drew more headlines Thursday by comparing President Trump to Satan and warning him not to “pull the trigger of war in the Middle East at the insistence of Israel.”

CTC Sentinel: Qassem Soleimani And Iran’s Unique Regional Strategy

“Despite its ongoing economic woes, today’s Iran has fashioned itself into one of the premier military and diplomatic powers in the Middle East—and Saudi Arabia’s principal rival for hegemony over the entire region. It has achieved this with a mix of policies—among them, deft diplomatic maneuvering; a tactical alliance with Vladimir Putin’s Russia; and the provision of arms, advice, and cash to Shi`a militias across a variety of countries. In the latter case, Iran has pioneered a seemingly unique strategy that combines insurgent and state power in a potent admixture—a strategy that is evident today in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. One man is recognized as the principal architect of each of these policies: Major General Qassem Soleimani, long-time chief of the Quds Force, a crack special forces battalion of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Although revered in his home country and feared on battlefields across the Middle East, Soleimani remains virtually unknown in the West. Yet to say that today’s Iran cannot be fully understood without first understanding Qassem Soleimani would be a considerable understatement. More than anyone else, Soleimani has been responsible for the creation of an arc of influence—which Iran terms its “Axis of Resistance”—extending from the Gulf of Oman through Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon to the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Today, with Assad’s impending victory in his country’s calamitous civil war, this Iranian alliance has become stable enough that Qassem Soleimani, should he be so minded, could drive his car from Tehran to Lebanon’s border with Israel without being stopped.”


The Jerusalem Post: Car Bomb Targets Mosul In Iraq

“More than a year after Mosul was liberated from Islamic State, a bomb exploded next to a restaurant in western Mosul on Thursday evening. It killed several and injured a dozen, according to local reports and the defense ministry in Iraq. It is the second attack in a week in the area and shows that terrorists are increasingly attempting to infiltrate urban areas of Iraq. In the last months there have been numerous attacks in cities between Baghdad and Mosul. Many of these were in rural areas, but car bombs have become common once again, a reminder of the waves of bombings that killed thousands in Iraq after an insurgency broke out in 2004. ISIS was defeated in Iraq last year and the government declared major combat operations at an end. The US-led coalition also has said ISIS has been defeated in Iraq, but the Coalition continues to conduct strikes. On October 27, air strikes targeted ISIS “bed down locations, two caves and one bunker” near Kirkuk and in the Anbar province. On October 25, another strike hit an ISIS tunnel and cave system near Tal Afar. Tal Afar is an hour and a half drive from Mosul, and ISIS members use these areas to continue operations. Despite the existence of dozens of checkpoints on the roads, ISIS is able to continue to attack. Restaurants have been targeted in the past. In February 2017, a well-known restaurant whose name translates as Fair Lady was struck in Mosul.”

Arab News: Two Iraq Ministers Risk Sack Over Saddam-Era Posts

“Two ministers approved by Iraq’s parliament may lose their jobs before the rest of cabinet is agreed, officials said Thursday, after a commission found they were members of Saddam Hussein’s regime. The Accountability and Justice Commission is responsible for the policy of “de-Baathification,” or ensuring no Saddam-era officials or senior members of his Baath party play a role in Iraq’s government. Commission spokesman Fares Abdul Sattar said that the body had sent a letter to parliament over two nominees to the 22-minister government — a third of which has yet to be confirmed by parliament. “Two names will be subject to procedures by the Accountability and Justice Commission,” Abdul Sattar said, without specifying who. A parliamentary source said that the endangered officials were Minister of Youth and Sports Ahmad Al-Obeidi and Minister of Communications Naim Al-Rubaye, who were only approved by lawmakers last month.”


The Washington Post: In A First, Moscow Prepares To Host Afghan Talks Between Taliban And Kabul Envoys

“Members of the Taliban and Afghan envoys backed by Kabul plan to hold talks in Moscow on Friday, showcasing Russia’s entry into peace efforts after failed bids by the United States and others to help negotiate an end to the 17-year war. There are few expectations of significant breakthroughs during the Moscow meeting, which will be opened by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. A Taliban statement described the gathering as a forum to lay out its demands for a peace process, including its objections to the presence of U.S. and other foreign military forces in the country. A representative from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow will attend, but only as an observer, State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said this week. But bringing both sides of the Afghan conflict to Moscow is still a major success for Russia as the Kremlin seeks to reclaim its clout and influence on the world stage. Afghanistan also brings up some painful historic memories. Nearly 40 years have passed since the Red Army invaded Afghanistan, beginning a disastrous decade-long war that ended with the Soviets’ humiliating withdrawal. The talks come after years of back-channel diplomacy between Moscow and the Taliban. The Taliban has spoken to a range of countries in recent years, including the United States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran, but often under the shroud of secrecy. Friday’s meeting in Moscow will be the first of its kind to take place publicly.”

Radio Free Europe: At Least 17 Afghans Killed In Taliban Attacks As U.S. Peace Envoy Heads To Region

“Officials in Afghanistan say Taliban attacks have killed at least 10 soldiers and seven police officers as U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad opens a tour of the region to push for peace negotiations with the militants. Taliban militants attacked an army outpost in the Khwaja Ghar district of the northern province of Takhar early on November 9, provincial police chief Abdul Rashid Bashir said. At least 10 soldiers were killed and 12 were wounded in the hourlong battle before the militants were repulsed, Bashir said. The militants suffered "heavy casualties," Bashir added, but didn't elaborate. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for that attack. Late on November 8, Taliban militants also attacked police forces in Farah, the capital of the western province of the same name. Provincial council member Abdul Samad Salehi said seven police officers were killed and three were wounded there. Khalilzad, who is a former ambassador to Kabul, will visit Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar this month to push for peace negotiations with the Afghan Taliban, the State Department has said. A statement said Khalilzad will travel to the region from November 8 to 20 and meet with Afghan government officials and "other interested parties to advance the goal of an intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations that include the Taliban and lead to a sustainable peace."


Voice Of America: Amnesty International Urges Houthis To Leave Hodeida Hospital In Yemen

“Amnesty International is calling on the pro-Iranian Houthi group to withdraw from the May 22 national hospital in Yemen's Red Sea port city of Hodeida. The Saudi-led coalition, which is gaining ground in the rebel-held city, claims the Houthis are using patients as human shields. The head of Amnesty International's Middle East program, Samah Hadad, said the presence of Houthi forces on the rooftop of the building constitutes a breach of the human rights of the patients inside the hospital. Both the Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition trying to dislodge them from Hodeida are claiming to have inflicted heavy casualties on each other. but the head of the Houthi group, Abdel Malek al-Houthi, admitted his forces had suffered some setbacks. He conceded that Saudi-led forces have mounted a major operation, bringing in large numbers of reinforcements and weaponry to put pressure on the city and advance. But he added that the major part of Hodeida province remains under Houthi control.”

The Wall Street Journal: International Yemen Peace Effort Stumbles Anew

“Plans for talks aimed at halting the conflict in Yemen has faltered again, as the U.N. said its special envoy would convene negotiations by the end of the year—and not within the one-month time frame he previously outlined. The Yemen envoy, Martin Griffiths, is due to brief the Security Council next week. The U.N. spokesman, Farhan Haq, announced the delay on Thursday, saying: “There’s always different challenges to bringing the parties together. What we’re trying to do is clear up any issues so that we can get a successful round of talks as soon as possible.” The U.S., in a sign of growing frustration with the war, last week set a 30-day deadline for Iran-backed Houthi rebels and a pro-government coalition led by Saudi Arabia to reach a cease-fire to end Yemen’s nearly four-year conflict. At the U.N., diplomats have renewed an effort for Security Council action in the form of a resolution or a statement. The United Kingdom drafted a Security Council resolution calling for an end to the conflict and for better access to humanitarian aid. Diplomats are working to secure support for that position. Diplomats said they were negotiating the text of the resolution, including how strongly to criticize the Saudi Arabia-led coalition for strikes against Houthis. A vote is expected within the next few weeks. Kuwait, which is part of the Saudi-led coalition, sits on the Security Council but doesn’t have veto power to block the resolution from passing."

Saudi Arabia

Arab News: Saudi Arabia Calls For United Effort To Defeat Terror

“The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held its second symposium on efforts by member states to combat extremism and terrorism. Three sessions were presented during the symposium, held at the OIC headquarters in Jeddah on Thursday, showing Saudi Arabia’s efforts to combat extremism and terrorism. These included efforts by the Riyadh-based Global Center for Combating Extremism Ideology (Etidal), work by the Prince Khaled Al-Faisal Center for Moderation, and efforts by the Ideological Warfare Center. OIC Secretary General Dr. Yousef bin Ahamad Al-Othaimeen said: “The security situation experienced by some OIC member states, and in light of the continuing terrorist threats, calls for concerted efforts to confront this phenomenon.’’ He pointed out the importance of member states exchanging knowledge and experience. The main objective of the seminars is to develop knowledge to combat terrorism and extremism by reviewing Saudi Arabia’s efforts in this regard, since the Kingdom hosts and supervises the military alliance against terrorism. Sultan Al-Khuzam, director of global collaboration at Etidal, said during the symposium: “Here in Etidal, we know that there is a lot of violence, killing and madness, and combating this is essential. The core problem is the extremist ideology that leads terrorists to commit violence and such activities, so the first way to combat terrorism is to look at these extremist groups in social media and the tools they are using to build certain propaganda.”


Fox News: Egypt Considers Banning Burka In Crackdown Against Islamic Extremists

“A proposal to ban women in Egypt from wearing the burka is being debated by the country’s parliament. MP Ghada Ajam has submitted a bill in the Egyptian parliament calling for a fine of 1,000 Egyptian pounds ($55) for women who defy the proposed ban, it was reported. She said the purpose of the bill is “to support the state’s efforts in fighting terrorism”, Media Line. a Middle East news website reported her as saying. A copy of the draft bill obtained by Media Line says the burka would be prohibited in Egyptian public spaces “at any time and under any circumstances”. These would include hospitals, health clinics, schools, cinemas, theatres, public libraries, museums, and government buildings. Political analyst Ahmad Sharbini said the proposal came through a period of instability because of radical Islamic groups operating within the country and public safety was “more important than anything.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Egypt Convicts 65 Militants With Terrorism

“Egypt convicted on Thursday dozens of suspected militants with terrorism. The Cairo criminal court charged 65 suspects with setting up a terrorist group and declaring allegiance to the ISIS group, sentencing 18 of them to life in prison. It also sentenced 41 people to 15 years in prison and six more to five years. Two defendants were acquitted. Of the 67 defendants, only 43 are in custody, while the rest, who include two women, are fugitives. The prosecutors said the group set up cells in six provinces and members received training on firearms and explosives. Egypt's security forces have for years been battling militants in the turbulent northern Sinai Peninsula. The militants' insurgency, led by a local affiliate of ISIS, have targeted police, army soldiers and Egypt's Christian minority. The military and security forces launched in February an offensive to eradicate the terrorists from northern Sinai.”


Daily Post: Boko Haram: Insurgents Burn Two Military Formations In Yobe

“Two military formations located at Katarko village, including an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) belonging to troops were around 5:15 pm Wednesday razed by suspected Boko Haram insurgents who attacked the community. Yobe Commissioner of Police, Sunmonu Abdulmaliki in an interview, confirmed the attack to DAILY POST, disclosing that, “Yesterday, I received a distress call from the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) Gujba last night that there was an attack in Katarko, that suspected insurgents came with eight Hilux look-alike vehicles and about 14 motorcycles”. He added that briefs received from his officers, indicated that the military camp in Katarko plus an APC were completely razed, including one military vehicle. “Human casualties have not come on for now, however, I am aware that the military are mopping up”, the CP disclosed. DAILY POST correspondent, who visited the village on Thursday, reports that yesterday’s attack has grounded commercial activities as the locals are now gradually returning from near-by bushes where they passed their night. It was also learnt that there is still tension and anxiety among the locals. Hamisu Maigari, a resident of Katarko, while narrating his ordeal, said, “Yesterday at about 5:15 pm suspected Boko Haram insurgents came to our village then we heard sporadic gunshots and we ran to the bush for our lives.”


Xinhua: Blast Kills Somali Regional Lawmaker In Mogadishu

“A Somali lawmaker from a regional parliament was killed on Thursday in a car bombing attack in Hamar-weyne district near Somalia's presidential palace in Mogadishu. Hirshabelle Parliament member Abdukadir Osman Abdisalan confirmed to Xinhua by phone that his colleague was killed by a bomb attached under his vehicle. "Abdiweli Mohamed Ibrahim, Hirshabelle member of parliament was killed in the car bomb explosion in Mogadishu this afternoon, he was an old man and he was my friend in the same state parliament," Abdisalan said. Al-Shabab militants claimed the responsibility for the latest attack against the member of the regional parliament, saying said its fighters killed Ibrahim at an area close to the presidential palace in Mogadishu. The attack came as Somali security forces have intensified operations against al-Shabab militants in key areas in the capital in the last two months."


Africa News: US Agrees On Talks To Remove Sudan From Terrorism List

“Sudan and the US on Thursday reached an agreement on a second phase of talks aimed at removing the country from the US terror list. The move could help the African country to reintegrate with the international community and revive its faltering economy. Sudan’s foreign minister? Al-Dirdiri Mohamed Ahmed recently met with representatives from the state department in Washington during which the two nations agreed to begin formal talks, an official from the department said. The U.S. lifted 20-year-old trade sanctions on Sudan a year ago, but economists say foreign investors and banks are put off by Sudan’s continued designation by Washington as a state sponsor of terrorism, alongside Iran, North Korea and Syria. Sudan has welcomed the launch of the second round of talks between the two parties after the success of the firts round which led to the lifting of economic sanctions.  Sudan’s continued listing as a state sponsor of terrorism, to which Khartoum was added in 1993, makes it difficult for the country to access badly needed debt relief and financing from lenders such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert in a statement said Washington wanted Sudan to make further progress on human rights, religious and press freedoms, improving humanitarian access and expanding counter-terrorism cooperation.”

North Korea

Reuters: North Korea Postponed U.S. Talks Because 'They Weren't Ready': Haley

“North Korea postponed talks with the United States on Thursday “because they weren’t ready,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said as she urged Pyongyang to implement a June deal between the two countries. Speaking to reporters before and after a closed-door U.N. Security Council meeting on North Korea sanctions, Haley said it is now North Korea’s turn to act. She also criticized Russia for trying to lift banking restrictions that are intended to curb the Asian nation’s nuclear program. “There’s no time to stall or no time to delay or try and get past not going through with what was agreed in Singapore,” said Haley, who will step down at the end of the year. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump pledged to work toward denuclearization at their landmark June summit in Singapore. But the agreement was short on specifics and negotiations have made little headway. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had been due to meet North Korean officials in New York on Thursday, but the State Department said on Wednesday it would be postponed to a later date. It gave no reason for the delay. The North Korean mission to the United Nations did not respond to a request for comment. Describing the relationship between Washington and Pyongyang as “cordial,” Haley said she did not think there was a “major issue” and she believed the talks would be rescheduled. The U.N. Security Council met to discuss sanctions on North Korea on Thursday at the request of Russia. Haley has accused Russia of cheating on U.N. sanctions on North Korea.”


The Independent: Melbourne Terror Attack: Gas Canisters Found In Vehicle Belonging To Man Behind Deadly Stabbings In Suspected Terrorism

“Police found gas canisters in a vehicle belonging to a man who stabbed three people in Melbourne before being shot dead by officers, in an attack police are now treating as terrorism. The attacker – and some of his relatives - was known to the police and the Australian intelligence services, but his identity has not yet been released. The chief commissioner of Victoria Police, Graham Ashton, told reporters that an investigation by counter-terrorism officers had been launched.  Police were first called to reports a car was on fire but when they arrived they were attacked by the man, who was armed with a knife.  Videos taken by bystanders show a lengthy confrontation between the police and the attacker, as bewildered shoppers pass by. The man lunges repeatedly at the two officers with his knife, while they attempt to incapacitate him with pepper spray and a taser. One member of the public tries to help the police by hurling a metal shopping trolley at the knifeman as he charges across the street. Eventually one of the officers draws his pistol and shoots the attacker in the chest, who then drops to the ground. Mr Ashton said that the knifeman and three other men who were stabbed by him were taken to the Royal Melbourne Hospital, but he and one of the victims have now died from their injuries. The other two victims are still being treated in hospital but their wounds are not thought to be life-threatening. They are 26 and 58 years-old, while the attacker was 31, police said.”

United Kingdom

Forbes: 'UK Will Be Hit By Category One Cyber-Attack,' Says Government Director

“The UK has not yet faced what would be considered a ‘category one’ cyber-attack, but there is little doubt that it will happen in the years ahead, according to Peter Yapp, the deputy director at the National Cyber Security Centre, which is a core part of the UK government intelligence agency, GCHQ. Speaking at the inaugural Cyber Security Connect UK conference held in Monaco this week, Yapp explained that since the NCSC was launched over two years ago, it had dealt with 1100 cyber security incidents – or more than 10 a week. “The majority of these incidents were from hostile nation states, meaning computer hackers that are directed, sponsored or tolerated by governments of those countries and these are the most acute and direct cyber security threats to our national security,” he said. As a result of these continuing attacks, and the looming prospect of being hit by a devastating category one attack, Yapp suggested that the UK had to be alert to the threat from countries who sought to attack its critical national networks. “That’s why earlier this year, the NCSC joined forces with the US government to publish evidence that Russia had attacked critical parts of our national infrastructure. This was a landmark act – as it called out both unacceptable practices but also provided the tools to clean up that particular attack,” Yapp claimed.”


Agence French-Press: President Warns Against Extremism As Austria Remembers Nazi Pogrom

“Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen warned against "the politics of scapegoating" Thursday as his country marked the 80th anniversary of the Nazis' anti-Semitic Kristallnacht pogrom. "We must see history as an example of where the politics of scapegoating, incitement, and exclusion can lead," Van der Bellen said at a commemorative event at the former site of the Leopoldstadt synagogue, which was Vienna's biggest until it was destroyed in two days of anti-Jewish violence on November 9 and 10, 1938. In Austria, the pogrom lead to the deaths of least 30 Jews, the imprisonment of 7,800 more and the deportation of 4,000 to the Dachau concentration camp. While history never repeats itself exactly, Van der Bellen said, there were situations and political rhetoric that "pointed to similarities". "Let us be vigilant that degradation, persecution, and the stripping away of rights may never again be repeated in our country or in Europe," he insisted. The president, a former leader of the Green Party, has on occasion criticised the hardline stance on immigration taken by the government formed last year between the centre-right People's Party (OeVP) and the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe). The FPOe counted former Nazis among its founders when it was set up after the war. Recently it has vigorously condemned racism, including anti-Semitism, but at the same time has been embroiled in a number of embarrassing controversies over the activities of some of its members.”

Associated Press: Polish PM: No Place For Extremism At Independence Day March

“Poland's prime minister said Thursday that authorities will do everything in their power to crack down on any expressions of extremism at a weekend march marking the centennial of Poland's independence. Mateusz Morawiecki's vow comes a day after the government took over the organization of an annual Independence Day march that in past years saw radical nationalists brandishing racist banners and slogans. Until Wednesday, the event was supposed to be organized by nationalist organizations. "We want the march to be peaceful and not provoke tensions," Morawiecki told foreign correspondents at his chancellery in Warsaw. Groups of extremists from Hungary and farther afield have in past years joined the Nov. 11 march, which is meant to mark Poland's regaining of its independence at the end of World War I after more than a century of foreign rule. Typically the marches feature many flares and firecrackers, and there have been a few cases of violence. Last year's march in Warsaw was cited in a recent European Parliament resolution that called for member states to act decisively against far-right extremism. It noted that some of the 60,000 demonstrators had "xenophobic banners with slogans such as 'white Europe of brotherly nations,' including some depicting the 'falanga', a fascist symbol from the 1930s." With security concerns running high, Warsaw's mayor on Wednesday banned the nationalists' march. President Andrzej Duda and Morawiecki followed with plans for an inclusive state march to take place at the same time and along the same route in the capital.”


The Wall Street Journal: Silicon Valley’s Nemesis Explains Her Philosophy

“ European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has become a household name in Silicon Valley since she ordered Apple Inc. to pay $14.5 billion in alleged unpaid taxes to Ireland and fined Alphabet Inc.’s Google a total of $7.8 billion for allegedly abusing its dominance to clobber rivals. In June, President Donald Trump referred to her as the EU’s “tax lady” and said she “really hates the U.S.” Ms. Vestager—who rejected Mr. Trump’s characterization shortly afterward, saying “I very much like the U.S.”—says in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that she never looks at the nationality of a company when cases are brought to her, and that the only thing that matters is for U.S. tech giants to play by Europe’s rules on competition and privacy. More rules for companies dealing with data in the ever-digitizing economy and the Internet of Things could emerge after a report due in March, she says.”