Eye on Extremism: October 1

ABC News: Afghan Officials: Taliban Attack Kills At Least 11 Policemen

“The Taliban launched a multi-pronged attack on a district headquarters in a remote district in northern Afghanistan early on Tuesday, killing at least 11 policemen and triggering a gunbattle that was still underway hours later, officials said. The attack on the Shortepa district headquarters in northern Balkh province started early in the morning, according to Munir Ahmad Farhad, spokesman for the provincial governor. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the insurgents had overran the compound. Farhad denied the claim, saying Afghan security forces were still in control of the district headquarters and that reinforcements were on their way to Shortepa. The district is very remote, said Mohammad Afzel Hadid, head of the Balkh provincial council, adding that he fears the casualty toll could rise further unless reinforcement arrives promptly. “I hope reinforcements arrive sooner rather than later, it is a remote area with very poor communications,” he said. Taliban attacks have continued unabated even as Afghanistan held presidential elections on Saturday and the U.S.-Taliban talks over a peace deal collapsed last month. There were at least 68 attacks by the Taliban across the country during election day, most of them rockets fired from distant outposts.”

The Times: Time Bomb Jail Packed With 5,000 ISIS Fighters

“The cells smelt of stale sweat, prison grime and something that could have been the death of hope. On the crowded floors thin, shaven-headed men in orange suits lay on their sides crammed together, the chest of each pressed into the back of the next, so that no other phrase than “tinned sardines” could better describe the wretchedness of their situation. These are the vanquished of Islamic State: 5,000 men in a single improvised prison, citizens of Britain, France, Belgium and the United States among them. All had heeded the call of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and flocked to join the caliphate in Syria and Iraq before it was finally crushed this year. Another 7,000 men languish in similar conditions near by, in six other prisons…”

CNN: Saudi-Led Coalition In Yemen Denies 'Theatrical' Houthi Ambush Claims

“The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has dismissed claims by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels that they carried out a large-scale ambush that led to hundreds of deaths and the capture of thousands of prisoners of war. In a Monday news conference, coalition spokesman Col. Turki al-Malki called the Houthi announcement "theatrical," describing it as part of "attempts to mislead" international and regional media. On Sunday, Houthi rebels released video purporting to show the apparent aftermath of an August attack that they said killed hundreds of Saudi-backed troops and led to the capture of 2,000 others.”

Independent: Iran-US Tensions Threaten Fragile Stability In Iraq, Amid Army Dismissals And Restructuring

“Lieutenant General Abdul Wahab al-Saadi was the great Iraqi military hero of the war against Isis, leading the assault on Mosul which recaptured the de facto Isis capital after a nine-month siege in 2017. But at the weekend he was suddenly removed as the commander of the Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) shock troops, the elite corps of the Iraqi armed forces, by Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi. He was instead given what the general considered to be a non-job at the Defence Ministry.”

Fox News: Iran’s Top General Says Wiping Israel Off Map Is An ‘Achievable Goal’

“Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander on Monday said that wiping Israel off the map is now an “achievable goal” thanks to the country’s technological advances. Gen. Hossein Salami’s comments, delivered before an audience of IRGC leaders, were carried by multiple news outlets, including the state-funded IRNA agency. “This sinister regime must be wiped off the map and this is no longer … a dream (but) it is an achievable goal,” Salami said. He added that the country has “managed to obtain the capacity to destroy the imposter Zionist regime,” four decades after the Iranian Revolution. “The second step of the revolution is the step that rearranges the constellation of power in favor of the revolution. Iran’s Islamic evolution will be on top of this constellation,” Salami said, adding, “In the second step, we will be thinking of the global mobilization of Islam.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: US Demands Release Of 128,000 Prisoners Held By Syrian Regime

“The United States demanded on Monday the release of nearly 128,000 people who have been arbitrarily detained by the Syrian regime. “This practice is unacceptable,” US Ambassador Kelly Craft told the UN Security Council at its monthly meeting on the conflict in Syria. “The Assad regime must release detainees and provide international monitors access to detention centers,” she said. Syrian regime leader Bashar Assad has declared several amnesties of prisoners since the conflict began in 2011 -- notably in 2014, 2018, and in mid-September.”

United States

New York Post: Chicagoland Mall ‘Terrorist’ Did Obsessive Research Before Attack: Prosecutors

“The driver of an SUV that plowed through a Chicagoland mall obsessively researched the center online prior to the mayhem that sparked more than 100 terrified calls to 911, prosecutors said. Javier Garcia, 22, has been charged with terrorism and held without bond for the Sept. 20 carnage that was caught on a now-viral video viewed more than 10 million times. In the day before his attack, Garcia conducted 124 internet searches on Woodfield Mall in suburban Schaumburg, including the stores inside and street and aerial views, prosecutors said in Leighton Criminal Court on Sunday. The bipolar suspect also searched a former teacher at least 21 times, although no further explanation was given in court, according to the Chicago Tribune. Garcia had smashed his black Chevrolet Trailblazer through double doors into a Sears — prompting more than 100 calls to 911, according to the reports. “The shattering of the glass sounded like multiple gunshots, causing patrons to initially believe that there was an active shooter in the mall,” Assistant State’s Attorney Annalee McGlone told the court. “Hysterical patrons were running and jumping in attempts to evade the vehicle’s path. Stores were locking their gates and sheltering people in the rear of stores for safety purposes.”

CBS Chicago: Do Terrorism Charges Fit The Crime Of Driving Through A Mall?

“Police said the man who caused chaos inside Woodfield Mall earlier this month when he stormed through Sears and into the concourse faces a judge Tuesday. But when 22-year-old Javier Garcia stands in court, he’ll face a charge some experts are confused by: terror charges. CBS 2’s Chris Tye reports why some aren’t so sure the charges fit the crime. It’s not a shock that his attorney said there’s no terror connection to his client. But independent experts CBS 2 sought out also think it’s a stretch. It’s the rarely used state law that helps prosecutors attach terror charges where you’d least expect them. Six hours after police said Javier Garcia gave Woodfield Mall its scariest day in years, Schaumburg police quickly ruled one thing out. “There is no indication that this incident is related to any type of terrorist act.” That’s according to Schaumburg Police Chief Bill Wolf on September 20. So when Garcia was charged over the weekend with terrorism, it left some questions. “This doesn’t fit any reasonable definiution of terrorism,” said Tom Mockaitis of DePaul University. He wrote a book this summer on violent extremism. He said terror charges typically attach to those with extreme ideas.”

Truthout: Why Haven’t Police Departments Investigated Cops In Extremist Facebook Groups?

“Prison guard Geoffery Crosby was a member of more than 50 extremist groups on Facebook, including scores of racist groups dedicated to the Confederacy. Missouri Sheriff’s Deputy Richard Crites was — and still is — posting anti-Muslim rants on his personal Facebook page. In Georgia, despite warnings from his chief, Abbeville police Officer Joel Quinn continues to post a steady stream of conspiracy theories and right-wing memes on Facebook, including recently sharing an anti-Semitic meme. In June, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting identified hundreds of police officers across the country who were members of closed racist, Islamophobic, misogynistic or anti-government militia groups on Facebook. We sought reaction from more than 150 law enforcement departments about their officers’ involvement in these extremist groups. Yet only one department — the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, which fired a detective for racist posts — has publicly taken any significant action. More than 50 departments promised investigations, but few have taken any other steps. The Portland Police Bureau said “no jurisdiction existed” for it to take any action against an officer whose Islamophobic comments were posted before he joined the agency.”

Tulsa World: Man Arrested On Terrorism Complaint After Allegedly Threatening To Blow Up Midtown Apartment

“A Tulsa man was arrested on a terrorism complaint early Monday after he reportedly threatened to blow up his midtown apartment Sunday night with a propane tank from an outdoor grill. Tulsa police initially responded to the French Villa Apartments, 4752 S. Harvard Ave., about 11:45 p.m. on a report of a domestic assault in progress. The victim told police Charles Fox was “very intoxicated” and assaulted her before grabbing a propane tank from an outdoor grill and bringing it inside, saying he was going “to blow the apartment up,” according to a news release. Officers evacuated nearby apartments, but when firefighters detected a high level of propane gas in the area, all apartments in the affected building were evacuated, the release states. The bomb team and Special Operations Team commander responded to the scene and breached the apartment’s back sliding-glass door with 12-gauge beanbag rounds. Fox came outside about 3:50 a.m. Monday and was taken into custody. Other residents were allowed back into their apartments about 4 a.m. Upon a search of the apartment, officers found two propane tanks modified to release with a handheld nozzle and an air hose and sprayer.”

Des Moines Register: 14-Year-Old Charged With Threat Of Terrorism Over Job Posting For 'School Shooter'

“A 14-year-old male faces a terrorism felony after creating a job posting in Fort Dodge for a “school shooter.” Fort Dodge police were made aware of the “concerning online job” on Indeed.com, a search engine for job postings, according to a news release. Though the post offered little content to identify the poster, police eventually contacted Indeed for records that led them to the Fort Dodge teen. Police discovered the post had been public since Friday afternoon, according to the release. Police charged the boy with threat of terrorism, a class “D” felony. He is in custody at the Central Iowa Juvenile Detention facility in Eldora. “With student safety being of utmost importance, we always are working in collaboration with the Fort Dodge Community School District anytime a potential threat or concern is raised,” the release states. “This incident was no different. Once information was gathered, we worked closely with the school staff to identify the individual involved and hold them accountable.” The defendant's name is being withheld due to his age. The Fort Dodge police continue to investigate leads related to this case.”

Syria

Associated Press: UN Envoy Says Syria Charter-Drafting Panel A 'Sign Of Hope'

“The U.N. special envoy for Syria said Monday that the convening of a committee to draft a new constitution for Syria on Oct. 30 "should be a sign of hope for the long-suffering Syrian people" — but it will matter only if it becomes a step out of the more than eight-year conflict. Geir Pedersen told a U.N. Security Council meeting on the sidelines of the annual gathering of world leaders at the General Assembly that the committee alone cannot resolve the conflict, saying that actions to de-escalate violence and move toward a nationwide cease-fire “are absolutely essential.”

The National: British ISIS Fighter Thought Dead Is Found Alive In Secret Syrian Prison

“One of the first British men to join ISIS has been found alive in prison in northern Syria and wants to return to his previous life in Cardiff, Wales. Former ice cream seller Aseel Muthana travelled to Syria in 2015, aged 17, and was believed to have died. He was following his brother Nasser and their friend Reeyad Khan, who fled from the UK to join the terrorist group in 2013. The other two men are also presumed to be dead. But Aseel is alive in a secret prison along with about 5,000 other inmates and he reportedly misses his mother in Wales, ITV News reported on Monday. Nasser and Khan featured in one of ISIS's first propaganda videos aimed at recruits in the West. Inside the prison, Aseel told the British broadcaster he was lured to Syria by ISIS propaganda, which said that joining the group would mean he would be helping poor people in the country. “Back then when I first came to ISIS, you have to understand I came way before the caliphate was pronounced,” he said. “Before all of these beheading videos, before all of the burnings happened, before any of that stuff. “We came when ISIS propaganda and ISIS media was all about helping the poor, helping the Syrian people.” “We stuck with the people from the UK and from Wales ... me and my brother and Reeyad.”

The Telegraph: Female Isil Supporter Killed In Row Over Makeshift Sharia Court In Syrian Camp

“A female Isil supporter was killed and seven others injured during an exchange of gunfire over a secret Sharia court set up in a Syrian camp holding displaced women and children. The row broke out when a group of female Isil supporters ordered that several other women in the foreigners' section of al-Hol camp be given lashes for refusing to attend an informal Koranic studies class. Guards from the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, who run the camp, intervened and opened fire after one of the Isil members pulled out a pistol that had reportedly been smuggled into the camp. The women claimed they had also taken hostage employees of Medecins Sans Frontieres, though this was denied by the aid agency, which said it had treated four women for gunshot wounds. The incident has refocused attention on the need to find a workable legal solution for the 10,000 foreigners living in squalid conditions in the camp, which holds some 73,000 displaced from former Isil territory. Several reports have said groups of women are attempting to impose Isil law on others in the camp.  “The situation in [al-Hol] camp is deteriorating sharply as Daesh militants have stepped up their regrouping efforts through women in the camp recently,” said SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali.”

Iran

Fox News: Iran Dissidents Claim To Have Intel Proving Regime's Involvement In Saudi Oil Attacks

“Iran’s main resistance group claimed Monday to have intelligence detailing how Tehran was behind the recent attacks on a Saudi oil facility -- just days after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani challenged the international community to provide such evidence of its involvement. The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said it has received information from within the government that detailed the missile and drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities on Sept. 14.”

Foreign Policy: The U.S. Navy Isn’t Ready to Take On Iran

“Whatever lay behind the indecisive Trump administration response to the alleged Sept. 14 Iranian missile and drone strike on Saudi oil facilities, one thing is clear. The United States’ ability to project power into the Persian Gulf region via carrier strike groups, the go-to U.S. option in such situations for decades, is not what it used to be, nor what it might have been. Not long ago, a modern version of gunboat diplomacy—dispatching carriers or guided missile cruisers to the region to loiter menacingly offshore—could have decisively influenced events. In the 1981, carrier aircraft slapped down a territorial grab by Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi in the Gulf of Sidra by downing two of his fighters. Parking a carrier off Lebanon the next year pressed a cease-fire on Israel and Lebanese factions long enough to affect a U.S.-organized evacuation of the Palestine Liberation Organization, removing at least one source of the country’s chaos. And similarly, in 1996, U.S. President Bill Clinton reacted to provocative Chinese war games off Taiwan by sending two carriers to the Taiwan Strait, leading Beijing to back down in a humiliation cited frequently today as a reason for China’s own naval buildup.”

The Wall Street Journal: Saudi Prince Backs Away From Military Clash With Iran

“Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has edged away from a possible military confrontation with Iran despite its devastating attack on Saudi oil facilities, as the kingdom seeks to cool regional tensions and rehabilitate its image a year after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The crown prince, Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, voiced support for a political solution to relations with its regional rival in comments during an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” aired on Sunday. He also welcomed the possibility of a meeting between President Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.”

Reuters: Iran Sentences Man To Death For Spying For The CIA

“Iranian courts have sentenced one person to death for spying for the CIA and jailed two others for 10 years for the same crime, as well as imprisoning a fourth person for 10 years for spying for Britain, the judiciary said on Tuesday. The verdicts come amid spiraling tensions between Tehran and the United States since President Donald Trump last year withdrew from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with major powers and reimposed sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy in order to force Tehran to renegotiate the pact.”

Iraq

Iraqi News: Iraqi Police Arrest Two Islamic State Militants In Mosul

“The Iraqi Interior Ministry announced on Monday that its forces arrested two members of the Islamic State militant group in the northern province of Nineveh. “The pair worked as fighters for the group’s Jund (soldiers) diwan,” Mawazin News quoted the ministry’s spokesman, Maj. Gen. Saad Maan, as saying in a press statement. They were arrested in Hamam al-Alil district, south of Mosul city, the spokesman added. Iraq declared the collapse of Islamic State’s territorial influence in November 2017 with the recapture of Rawa, a city on Anbar’s western borders with Syria, which was the group’s last bastion in Iraq. IS declared a self-styled “caliphate” in a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria in 2014. A government campaign, backed by a U.S.-led international coalition and paramilitary forces, was launched in 2016 to retake IS-held regions, managing to retake all havens, most notably the city of Mosul, the group’s previously proclaimed capital.”

Turkey

Al-Monitor: Erdogan's Syria Plan: Resettling The Syrian Refugees Or Ousting Kurds From Their Land?

“Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took the rostrum at the United Nations General Assembly and delivered a colorful address full of theatrics and accompanied with maps. In his speech, he contested the legitimacy of Israel’s frontiers and also disclosed Turkey’s project to create a safe zone in northeastern Syria that would seemingly resolve, in a radical way, the problem of Syrian refugees. Erdogan sounded consistent with his previous statements regarding the creation of a Turkish-controlled safe zone about 20 miles (32 kilometers) deep that would extend parallel to Turkey’s border with Syria for about 480-490 kilometers (some 300 miles).”

Afghanistan

The Wall Street Journal: Brave Voting In Afghanistan

“The voting totals won’t be known for weeks, yet the two leading candidates for Afghan president are both declaring victory. The current occupant, President Ashraf Ghani, last week ruled out a renewed power-sharing deal, such as the one brokered after the disputed 2014 election. His rival, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, warned Thursday about electoral fraud. As messy as this young democracy can be, Saturday’s election is also a hard reminder of the stakes. Hundreds of polling places could not be opened amid threats of violence by the Taliban. Despite security measures, there were reports of scattered violence and casualties, including a bomb blast in Kandahar, according to the Associated Press.”

Associated Press: Afghanistan To Taliban: Peace Or ‘We Will Continue To Fight’

“As Afghans await the results of a presidential election roiled by Taliban threats, the government used its platform at the U.N. General Assembly on Monday to tell the insurgents: “Join us in peace, or we will continue to fight.” Afghanistan was not the only country sending a message: North Korea had one for the United States , saying it was up to Washington whether now-stalled nuclear negotiations “become a window of opportunity or an occasion that will hasten the crisis.” And even in the final hour of this year’s U.N. gathering of world leaders, Iran and Saudi Arabia traded barbs sharpened by a recent missile and drone strike on major Saudi oil facilities. Monday’s speeches wrapped up a meeting marked by global worries over the rising tensions in the Persian Gulf region , the changing climate and the very future of the idea of large-scale international cooperation that the U.N. represents. As General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande put it in his closing remarks, “The world will not survive for long unless we cultivate the give-and-take spirit” of multilateralism. Afghanistan’s national security adviser, Hamdullah Mohib, spoke two days after his countrymen voted in a presidential election in which hundreds of polling centers weren’t opened because the country couldn’t secure them against the Taliban.”

Vice News: The Taliban Made Sure Afghans Were Too Terrified To Vote On Election Day

“An armored Land Cruiser sped by, flanked front and rear by Afghan police Humvees with machine gunners in their turrets. They were the only vehicles on the typically chaotic 20-mile stretch of road that connects Kabul with Wardak’s capital city Maidan Shahr. It was Election Day, and motorists had heeded the Taliban’s warning to stay home. “The Taliban told people you’ll be killed or have your fingers cut off,” Rahmatullah, a 19-year-old from Maidan Shahr, told VICE News. Machine gun fire in the distance sounded like fingernails wrapping on a tabletop. According to preliminary tallies, as few as 2.5 million of the 9.6 million registered voters turned out. But it wasn’t just the Taliban who interfered in Afghanistan’s presidential election; the fraud that marred previous votes also dissuaded many from taking part this time around. The historically low turnout has once again cast doubt over the future of the government, but few are surprised by the turmoil. Less than a month ago, the election wasn’t expected to happen at all. The vote had been on a collision course with the potential signing of a preliminary peace agreement between U.S. and Taliban representatives after months of negotiations in Doha, Qatar.”

Xinhua: Afghan Airstrikes Kill 17 Militants In Southern Zabul Province

“A total of 17 militants had beem confirmed dead as fighting planes struck Taliban hideouts in parts of Shahjoy district of Afghanistan's southern Zabul province on Monday, said an army statement on Tuesday. According to the statement, 15 more militants were wounded in the air raids. Five motorbikes belonging to the insurgents had also been destroyed, the statement said. Taliban militants have not commented.”

Pakistan

The Washington Post: Suicide Bomber Kills Policeman In Pakistan’s Southwest

“Pakistan’s police say a suicide bombing has killed a policeman and wounded three others in the country’s restive southwest. Local police chief Mohammad Zaman says Monday’s attack took place in the town of Loralai in the Baluchistan province. Zaman said the bomber rode his motorcycle into a police vehicle, killing himself in the blast. No group immediately claimed the attack. Baluchistan is the scene of a low-level insurgency by separatists demanding more autonomy and a greater share in the region’s natural resources such as gas and oil. The province also has a strong presence of militants, sharing a border with war-torn Afghanistan.”

Lebanon

Xinhua: 2 IS Suspects Arrested In Lebanon

“Lebanon's state security arrested on Monday two Syrian nationals belonging to the extremist Islamic State (IS) group, the National News Agency reported. The two Syrians, who were arrested in Nabatieh in southern Lebanon, admitted to have fought in Syria for the IS before entering illegally to Lebanon. The arrested people were referred to military judicial bodies for investigations. Lebanon's state security had also arrested last Tuesday a Syrian who was suspected for belonging to IS in Nabatieh. The IS claimed responsibility for an attack on the northern city of Tripoli on June 3, killing two members of the Lebanese security forces and two others from the Lebanese Army.”

Libya

Bloomberg: U.S. Steps Up Strikes On Islamic State Militants In Libya

“The U.S. has stepped up airstrikes on Islamic State militants in southern Libya, where a breakdown in security has allowed the extremists who once controlled parts of the North African country to regroup. An American strike that killed seven suspected Islamic State members on Sept. 29 was the fourth in a month, with a total of 43 militants dead, according to a tally of casualties from statements released by the U.S. military’s Africa Command. The forces of eastern-based strongman Khalifa Haftar swept through the oil-rich southwest at the start of 2019, saying they wanted to restore security and fight terrorism. But the intervention set off a deadly ethnic war between the Tebu people and Arab tribes allied with Haftar’s Libyan National Army. The country has seen almost constant conflict since a 2011 NATO-backed revolt ousted Muammar Qaddafi, allowing extremists and traffickers to thrive. “The sheer number of casualties suggests that Islamic State had definitely benefited from the contemporary situation to significantly recruit and build alliances. So this is a preemptive measure,” said Emad Badi, a Libya expert and non-resident fellow with the Middle East Institute. Africom said it conducted the strikes in coordination with the Tripoli-based government.”

Nigeria

Reuters: Islamic State Claims Attack On Soldiers In Northeast Nigeria

“Militants in northeastern Nigeria killed at least nine people in an attack on Sunday, sources told Reuters on Monday. It was the latest in a series of attacks in the northeast that has coincided with the Nigerian military’s implementation of a new strategy of withdrawing to “super camps” that the military says can be more easily defended against Islamist insurgents. Some security experts have expressed concerns that the areas vacated under the strategy announced by President Muhammadu Buhari in July are being filled by insurgents, leaving civilians vulnerable in a region that is grappling with a decade-long insurgency that has killed more than 30,000 people. One military source and one resident in the town of Gubio, in Borno state, said the attack on the area began around 4:30 p.m. (1530 GMT) and lasted until 9 p.m. On Monday, Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack via its Amaq news agency, saying it killed and wounded 18 Nigerian soldiers and took vehicles and weapons before fleeing. The group said the attack was carried out on Nigerian army barracks in Gubio where militants clashed with soldiers before the insurgents withdrew from the town. Two military spokesmen did not immediately respond to phone calls and text messages seeking comment.”

The Punch Nigeria: Army Arrests Eight Foreign Nationals Working For Boko Haram

“Troops of the Nigerian Army have arrested a bus driver and seven passengers who are illegal immigrants and believed to be working for the Islamic State West Africa Province and the Boko Haram fighters along Yola Road in Borno State. The eight suspects were rounded up by troops of 331 Artillery Regiment deployed at a checkpoint along the road. The army identified only the driver as Musa Ibrahim. According to a release from the army headquarters, Abuja, on Monday, the arrest was made between September 25 and 28, after troops also arrested one “notorious logistics supplier of the criminal insurgent group, Alhaji Kolomi Modu, at Ndollori area of Maiduguri.” The army operations media coordinator, Col Aminu Iliyasu, said the troops on operations Lafiya Dole, Mesa and Swift Response would continue to conduct more arrests ahead of the 2019 yuletide season to deny criminals and bandits a freedom of action. He said, “Within September 25 and 28, the troops deployed in the North-East continued to dominate the areas with aggressive fighting patrols and ambushes to fix and neutralise the fleeing Boko Haram and ISWAP elements.”

Somalia

The Washington Post: Twin Al-Shabab Attacks In Somalia Target U.S. And European Armed Forces

“Al-Shabab, a Somali militant organization affiliated with al-Qaeda, claimed two attacks in Somalia on Monday, both targeting Western forces backing the government. The U.S. Africa Command and the Somali government said no coalition members were injured or killed, but the brazenness of the attacks highlighted the insurgent group’s continued ability to destabilize the country. One attack, apparently led by an explosives-laden vehicle and followed by foot soldiers, took place at the gates of Baledogle airfield, where the U.S. military stations drones and trains Somali soldiers. The second took place in the capital, Mogadishu, and involved the bombing of an Italian military convoy returning to base from a training exercise as part of a European Union training mission in Somalia.”

CNN: Double Attack Hits US Military Base And Italian Convoy In Somalia

“A US base and an Italian military convoy were targeted in separate attacks in Somalia on Monday. Al-Shabaab militants staged a simultaneous car bomb and gun attack on the Baledogle US facility, while the Italian vehicles were hit by an explosion in the country's capital of Mogadishu, according to officials. The US base is located in the south of the East African nation, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) northwest of Mogadishu. American forces use the base to train Somali commando units. Abdifitah Haji Abdulle, deputy governor of the Lower Shabelle region, said fighters detonated explosives at the entrance of the base before attempting to storm the premises. He added that fighting took place outside the camp, which houses US and Somali soldiers. There was no immediate report of casualties. Somali National Army Radio reported that Somali forces and their US partners had “repelled” the coordinated terrorist assault. Separately, the Italian Defense Ministry said two of its light armored vehicles were hit by a blast in the capital on Monday morning, after returning from training with Somali security forces. “At the moment, there are no consequences for the Italian personnel,” the ministry said. Reuters also reported seeing a seriously damaged armored vehicle displaying a small Italian flag sticker.”

CNN: US Airstrikes Help Repel Al-Shabaab Attack On US Base In Somalia

“The US military carried out two airstrikes and exchanged small arms fire with al Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab fighters in Somalia after a base used by US personnel was attacked by a vehicle-borne bomb Monday, US Africa Command said in a statement to CNN. The al-Shabaab attack on the Baledogle Military Airfield complex in Baledogle, Somalia, did not result in any deaths or injuries to US or Somali personnel, according to the statement. “In response to this attack and in self-defense, US Africa Command conducted two airstrikes and used small arms fire targeting al-Shabaab terrorists. It is assessed US and partner forces killed 10 terrorists and destroyed one vehicle involved in the attack,” the statement added. “This attack, though ineffective, demonstrates the direct threat al-Shabaab poses to Americans, our allies, and interests in the region,” Maj. Gen. William Gayler, Africa Command's director of operations, said in the statement. The US has approximately 600 personnel in Somalia where they train and advise local Somali forces battling al-Shabaab and the local ISIS affiliate. US Special Operations forces in Somalia's primary task is to train and build a Somalia specialized light infantry force known as Danab.”

Africa

France 24: Boko Haram's Escalating Cruelty In Lake Chad Region

“Earlier this year, an image of three women holding babies whose ears had been brutally severed made the rounds on social media. The image pointed to escalating levels of cruelty practiced by Boko Haram. The group, which pledged their allegiance to the IS group, has killed thousands and displaced nearly two million people. Boko Haram continues to defy local armies around the region of Lake Chad, with its activities now also impacting the region's local economies.”

The Defense Post: Mali: ‘Terrorists’ Attack Military Posts At Boulkessi And Mondoro

“Insurgents conducted attacks against two military posts in the Mopti region of Mali near the border with Burkina Faso, killing at least two civilians and burning 22 vehicles, the army and local officials said. Two military posts were attacked early Monday, September 30, the Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) tweeted. A post at Mondoro was attacked around at 1 a.m, followed by an assault on a post at Boulkessi – also spelled Boulkessy – at 4:30 a.m., FAMa said. Boulkessi is around 70 km (40 miles) east of Mondoro. Minister of Communication Yaya Sangare later said in a statement that a FAMa camp at Boulkessi and a military post at Mondoro had been the “subject of a violent jihadist attack.”

Newsweek: Kenyan Police On High Alert Over Potential Terrorist Attacks Around Mombasa

“Kenyan police are on high alert after recovering intelligence suggesting that several operatives had been sent into the country by al-Shabaab, a Somali jihadist group affiliated with al-Qaeda. Police believe seven operatives have been sent into Kenya to carry out attacks on several key counties. Both Kwale and Kilifi counties are located along the country's coast on the Indian Ocean and both border Mombasa, Kenya's second-largest city by population, to the southwest and north. Police told media that they believe the al-Shabaab militants intend to carry out attacks on several important institutions in the two counties and Mombasa, including Moi International Airport, Kenya Ports Authority and the Standard Gauge Railway terminus. “It is likely that the operatives may use the opportunity to target social places including hotels and beaches along the Kenyan Coast,” a September 28 letter obtained by Kenyan newspaper The Daily Nation that was addressed to police commanders read. Police believe that the terrorists are likely to use United Nations-branded vehicles in carrying out the attacks to avoid suspicion. For now, Kwale County police commander Alexander Munyao cautioned officers in a letter obtained by the Nation to be vigilant and wary of any government vehicles.”

France 24: Forsaken In Terror War, Kenyan Islands Await Doctors By Boat

“Laden with medicines, the speedboat sets off before dawn, its path lit only by the full moon as it cuts between miles of thick mangroves towards Kenya's border with Somalia, where few dare to go. Two hours later at sunrise, the boat arrives at Kiangwe village, one of several remote coastal communities whose only healthcare comes from these monthly visits by the Safari Doctors mobile medical team. Volunteer doctors and nurses roll up their trousers and heave containers full of medical supplies onto their shoulders before wading ashore and hiking up a hill to a building that will serve as their clinic for a few hours. Kiangwe and surrounding villages have been hard-hit by the Kenyan government's war with Somali extremist group Al-Shabaab, whose militants operate from within the nearby Boni Forest which straddles the border. In the distance, between stick-and-mud houses topped with palm fronds, stands a shuttered clinic that was built but never occupied. “We have several buildings laying dormant because we have personnel (professional nurses and doctors) that don't want to get posted” to the region, said Umra Omar, the 36-year-old who founded Safari Doctors four years ago.”

Xinhua: Algeria Army Arrests Terrorist, Finds Bodies, Weapons

“A terrorist was arrested in an operation in southern Algeria while bodies of two others were found in another operation, Algeria's defense ministry announced in a statement on Monday. According to the statement, the army arrested a man who joined terrorist groups in 2016 in an ambush in the border region of Ain Qazam in the southern province of Tamanrasset. The army also seized a Kalashnikov machine-gun, ammunition and 1.5 kg of explosives and detonation devices. The army also found bodies of two terrorists who were eliminated in an earlier operation in Awana region in the coastal province of Jijel. Meanwhile, army forces in the southernmost region of Tamanrasset found a cache of weapons and ammunition containing an RPG-2 rocket launcher with two shells and two improvised explosive devices, a machine-gun and five BM-21 surface-to-surface missiles. The security situation in Algeria has remarkably improved in the last decade but clashes between security forces and terrorist groups are still occasionally reported. A few militants affiliated to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Islamic State-affiliated groups are still taking refuge in the dense woods in northern Algeria, and remote desert areas near Libya, Niger and Mali.”

North Korea 

The New York Times: Bolton Criticizes Trump’s Courtship Of North Korea

“In his first public comments since leaving the White House, John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, delivered a stark warning on Monday about President Trump’s approach to North Korea, undercutting the president’s insistence that its leader, Kim Jong-un, wanted to make a denuclearization deal with him. Without mentioning Mr. Trump by name, Mr. Bolton said he wanted to “speak in unvarnished terms about the threat posed by North Korea,” and made it clear that he thought the president’s outreach to Mr. Kim had benefited only one side. And while Mr. Trump has made a deal with Mr. Kim one of his signature foreign policy goals, Mr. Bolton asserted that there had been no gains with his approach.”

Germany 

Yahoo News: Far-Right 'Terror' Group In Dock In Germany Over Attack Plot

“The trial of a neo-Nazi “terrorist” cell accused of plotting a violent political uprising in Germany opened on Monday amid signs the country's far-right scene is growing more militant. Eight members of the so-called Revolution Chemnitz group aged between 21 and 32 are answering to charges of “forming a right-wing terrorist organisation”. “They wanted to change the history of the Federal Republic of Germany and bring about a transformation of the political system,” federal prosecutor Kai Lohse told Dresden's superior regional court. They allegedly sought to carry out “armed and deadly attacks” against immigrants, political “opponents”, reporters and members of the economic establishment. Authorities believe the group's members were trying to acquire semi-automatic weapons and draw militants from across Europe to carry out a potential bloodbath last year in Berlin on October 3, Germany's National Unity Day. “This is one of the most important trials to date dealing with far-right terrorism,” chief federal prosecutor Peter Frank said. Security agencies hope the trial, which is set to last until at least April and hear around 75 witnesses, will reveal what exactly was being plotted and the scope of the network.”

Europe

New York Daily News: 7 Catalans Jailed As Judge Opens Probe On Terrorism Charges

“Seven Catalan separatists have been jailed as Spain's National Court probes whether their alleged plans to commit violent acts with explosives amount to terrorism. An investigating judge on Thursday found signs that the activists could be part of a pro-secession organization that allegedly intends to use “any means, including violent ones” to establish an independent republic in Catalonia, a court statement said. It added that no bail has been granted for the seven and that details of the investigation will remain under judicial secrecy. Word of the jailing led to tense scenes at the Catalan parliament in Barcelona, where separatist lawmakers including the regional president disrupted a debate Thursday evening. “Freedom!” they shouted. Some walked out of the chamber to protest the court's decision. Pro-independence supporters consider that the Spanish probe of the activists is an attempt to criminalize their movement. Hundreds demonstrated in Sabadell, a town near Barcelona that is home to some of the activists. The arrests come as the Supreme Court prepares to rule, possibly next month, in the case of a dozen Catalan politicians and activists tried for their 2017 push for independence.”

Breitbart: Jihadis Given Dutch Passports After Citizenship Revocation Cancelled

“Five Moroccan jihadists are set to get their Dutch passports back after the government withdrew the process to strip them of citizenship. The five men had initially travelled to the Middle East in 2013 and 2014 to join jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq with former State Secretary for Justice and Security Mark Harbers having ordered that their passports and citizenships be revoked,  Nederlandse Omroep Stichting reports. The reason for the revocation was that the groups the jihadis had joined were classified as prohibited groups, however, they were not classified as such under Dutch law at the time the men joined them. As a result, the Council of State reversed the decision to revoke their passports and citizenship, though one of the five jihadists, Driss Daouayry, was reported to have died in Syria in 2015 due to American bombings in the city of Kobani. The stripping of citizenships of Islamic State and other jihadi fighters has been an issue for many countries across Europe with some, such as the UK, having stripped jihadists such as “Jihadi Jack” Jack Letts and ISIS-bride Shamima Begum of their citizenships.”

Technology

The Wall Street Journal: Facebook To Exempt Opinion And Satire From Fact-Checking

“Facebook Inc. FB 0.55% plans to exempt opinion pieces and satire from its fact-checking program, according to people familiar with the matter, as the social-media giant grapples with how to stop the spread of falsehoods while maintaining its own neutrality. As part of the new rules, Facebook will allow publishers of information found to be false by outside fact-checkers to appeal to the company, said the people familiar with the changes. Posts that Facebook deems to be either opinion or satire won’t be labeled as false even if they contain information the fact-checkers determined was inaccurate, the people said.”

Bloomberg: Amazon, Facebook And Google To Face Another House Inquiry 

“Big tech firms are about to face yet another congressional headache. House Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia Velazquez plans to invite Amazon.com Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc. to face questions from her committee on how the companies may be damaging the competitive landscape for small businesses.”

The Hill: Former White Supremacist: Kicking Extremists Off Social Media Plays Into 'Victimhood Narrative'

“A former white supremacist turned anti-hate activist said Friday that kicking extremists off social media platforms when they violate company policy just plays into their “victimhood narrative.” “I don’t believe de-platforming works,” author and motivational speaker Arno Michaelis told Hill.TV during an appearance on “Rising.” “All violent extremism ideologies are rooted in victimhood, and when you de-platform someone you’re feeding that victimhood narrative,” he added. However, Michaelis said that removing users for violating hate speech or participating in online harassment can be effective in some cases, pointing to conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.”