Eye on Extremism: October 12

New Europe: Are Internet Companies Complicit In Promoting Hateful And Harmful Content?

“In 2016, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter announced that they would work together to develop new technology to quickly identify and remove extremism-related content from their platforms. Despite some progress, serious problems remain. For example, the ISIS video ‘The Religion of Kufr is One,’ which shows multiple executions by firearms and a hanging – clear violations of YouTube’s terms of service – has been uploaded and removed from YouTube at least six times since May 31, 2016. Analysts at the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) most recently found this video on September 11, 2017, where it already had 42 views. Technology companies must do better. I advocate for a multi-pronged approach to reining in online abuses.”

Daily Mail: British ISIS Recruiter Sally Jones Is Killed In Syria: 'White Widow' Dies In US Predator Drone Strike While Trying To Flee Raqqa But Mystery Surrounds The Fate Of Her 12-Year-Old Son

“According to the Counter-Extremism Project, Jones issued terror threats against Britain as recently as May 2016. She has previously called on Muslim women to launch attacks during Ramadan in London, Glasgow and Wales. Jones even threatened one of the Navy SEALs who helped kill Osama bin Laden.  It is believed that Jones lived on benefits in Chatham, Kent before converting to Islam. She had previously worked as a L'Oreal saleswoman. The Government last night said it did not comment on national security operations.”

NBC News: Fall Of ISIS Stronghold Raqqa Will Change War On Extremists, Not End It

“While U.S.-backed forces are inching toward the final showdown in Raqqa, Syria, the Islamic State's de facto capital, the war against the terror group is set to grind on even after the extremists are driven from their stronghold. ‘It’s too early to plan ISIS’s obituary,’ said Fawaz Gerges, professor of Middle Eastern politics at the London School of Economics. ‘You still have a year of serious battles in Iraq and Syria to pick apart and dismantle the territorial caliphate, and even if you do this it will mutate into ... a terrorist organization.’ At the height of its power ISIS ruled over millions of people and attracted thousands of fighters from overseas. Now it clings to a fraction of its former territory.”

NBC News: White House Briefs Congress On Iran Decertification Plan

“President Donald Trump's top advisers briefed lawmakers Wednesday ahead of decision by the president on the fate of the Iran nuclear deal. White House officials said the pending decision wasn't shared, but several officials said they left the briefings convinced that Trump plans to decertify the deal, three officials told NBC News. The president's decision comes ahead of a deadline Sunday that triggers a 60-day window for lawmakers to determine whether to reimpose sanctions related to Iran's nuclear program that were lifted as part of the 2015 agreement.”

CBS News: "We Were Prisoners": American Teen Forced Into ISIS Speaks

“Syrian militias, backed by U.S. forces, are days away from liberating Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of ISIS and the terror group's last stronghold in the country. CBS News correspondent Holly Williams has been reporting from Northern Syria that thousands of civilians are still in the ruined city, and ISIS is using them as human shields. On the edge of Raqqa, Williams encountered a group of women who have just escaped ISIS territory. One of them revealed she's American.”

The Times Of Israel: TV Report: Islamic State Chiefs Gather Near Israel Border, Set Up Training Camp

“Several senior commanders from Islamic State who recently fled from Iraq and northern Syria are now based in southern Syria, just across the Golan Heights border with Israel, and are training hundreds of new recruits there, an Israeli television report said. Israel’s Channel 2 said the commanders have made their way to an Islamic State-controlled enclave ‘close to the border’ with Israel. They have set up a training camp to which they have recruited 300 local youths, said the report, which showed footage apparently of the camp and training sessions.”

Middle East Eye: Qatari Opposition Figures To Announce 'Government-In-Exile': Report

“Qatari exiles, some with Saudi business interests, are set to declare the formation of a Qatari government-in-exile to push for regime change in Doha, a source briefed on the declaration has told Middle East Eye. The source, who wished to remain anonymous, said a number of exiled Qataris, already known publicly as opponents of the ruling emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, were preparing to announce the establishment of an opposition government, possibly on Saturday. Qatar has been isolated in the Gulf since June when neighbouring Arab states broke off diplomatic relations and imposed a blockade. Since then, a number of events have been held featuring Qatari dissidents calling for a change of government in the country and the creation of a constitutional monarchy, as well as an end to what they label Qatari "terrorism" funding.”

The Washington Post: Lethal Roadside Bomb That Killed Scores Of U.S. Troops Reappears In Iraq

“A roadside bomb that killed an American soldier in Iraq earlier this month was of a particularly lethal design not seen in six years, and its reappearance on the battlefield suggests that U.S. troops could again be facing a threat that bedeviled them at the height of the insurgency here, U.S. military officials said. The device was of a variety known as an explosively formed penetrator, or EFP, according to initial investigations, a weapon notorious for its destructive and deadly impact on armored vehicles and the service members inside them, two U.S. military officials said.”

United States

Reuters: U.S. Still Seeking Explanation For Arrest Of Staff In Turkey: Ambassador

“The United States is still seeking an explanation from Ankara for the detention of staff at U.S. missions in Turkey which led Washington to stop issuing visas and triggered a diplomatic crisis, the U.S. ambassador said on Wednesday. Ambassador John Bass said the decision to suspend granting visas was not taken lightly, but the detentions indicated a breakdown in communication between the two NATO allies, whose relations have come under increasing strain. ‘Unfortunately... the U.S. government still has not received any official communications from the Turkish government about the reasons why our local employees have been detained or arrested,’ he told reporters at the U.S. embassy in Ankara.”

Reuters: U.S. Steps Up Pressure On Hezbollah, Offers Reward For Two Operatives

“The United States on Tuesday offered multimillion-dollar rewards for two officials of the Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah as the Trump administration prepared to unveil a strategy to counter Tehran’s growing regional influence. Washington will pay up to $7 million for information leading to the arrest of Talal Hamiyah, head of Hezbollah’s foreign operations, and up to $5 million for Fuad Shukr, a top Hezbollah military operative, the State Department said. The rewards are the first offered by the United States for Hezbollah operatives in a decade, Nathan Sales, the U.S. counterterrorism coordinator, told reporters. “Today’s rewards are another step to increase the pressure on them and their organization,” said Sales.”

New York Times: Militants Free American Woman And Family Held For 5 Years In Afghanistan

“An American woman and her family who have been held hostage by militants in Afghanistan for five years have been freed, ending a case that has long frustrated diplomats and F.B.I. agents involved in trying to secure their release, according to people familiar with the situation. The family was in Pakistan early Thursday, and the White House was preparing to release a statement once they are safely in American hands, according to people who described their status on condition of anonymity because the details have not yet been made public. Media in the region reported that the Pakistani military had initially taken custody of the family. The family was freed with the help of another country, the person said, but it was not clear what if any concessions were made to the Haqqani network, the Taliban faction that had seized Caitlan Coleman, 31, and her Canadian husband, Josh Boyle, 34.”

USA Today: Trump Nominated Kirstjen Nielsen For Homeland Security Secretary

“President Trump nominated Kirstjen Nielsen, a deputy to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, to be Homeland Security secretary on Wednesday, filling the vacancy left by Kelly when he took his current post in late July.  "Ms. Nielsen has extensive professional experience in the areas of homeland security policy and strategy, cybersecurity, critical infrastructure, and emergency management," the White House said in a statement announcing the nomination. Nielsen, 45, is currently a deputy to Kelly at the White House, a position she has held officially for about a month, although she came to the White House with Kelly in July. An attorney with experience in cybersecurity and homeland security, Nielsen worked as Kelly’s chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security before following him to work for Trump as principal deputy White House chief of staff.”

NPR: Investigators Chase Missing Pieces Of Facebook, Twitter Role In Russian Mischief

“Shortly before Election Day last year, some helpful-looking posts began popping up on Twitter: No need to stand in line or even leave home, they said — just vote by text! The messages, some of which appeared to come from Hillary Clinton's campaign, had versions in Spanish, with gay pride flags and other permutations. They were also 100% false. Where did they come from? Twitter took the posts down. But answering the question about who created the misleading posts — whether the Russian influence-mongers who were running a big disinformation campaign in the United States, or opposition dirty tricksters, or someone else — has proven to be vexing for congressional investigators, people familiar with the matter said.”

Associated Press: Man On Trial In A Beheading Plot: I Was Living In A 'Fantasy'

“A Massachusetts man on trial for participating in a plot to behead conservative blogger Pamela Geller said Wednesday that he was living in a "fantasy" world and never wanted to hurt anyone. David Wright admitted sharing Islamic State propaganda online and discussing an attack against Geller. But he insisted he didn't actually support the terror group and that his conversations about violence were just "trash talk" fueled by a desperate desire for attention. "I said a lot of fantastical things about what I intended, where I wanted to go and where I wanted to travel, and it was never real," said Wright, who was wearing a plaid shirt and black sweater vest when he took the stand in the Boston's federal courthouse. "It was fantasy," he said.”

CNN: Trump Slams Iran Deal As 'Incompetently Drawn'

“President Donald Trump called the Iran deal ‘incompetently drawn’ in an interview with Fox News on Wednesday night. ‘I think it was one of the most incompetently drawn deals I've ever seen,’ Trump told Fox News' Sean Hannity. ‘$150 billion given -- we got nothing. They got a path to nuclear weapons very quickly, and think of this one -- $1.7 billion in cash -- this is cash out of your pocket. You know how many airplane loads that must be? Did you ever see a million dollars, like a promotion, where they have a million dollars in $100 bills? It's a lot. This is $1.7 billion,’ Trump said.”

Voice Of America: Pentagon Blames Islamic State In Deadly Attack On US Forces In Niger

“The Pentagon said Wednesday that Islamic State fighters were responsible for an attack in southwestern Niger that killed four American soldiers, as new details suggested local villagers might have played a role in the ambush. Army Lieutenant Colonel Michelle Baldanza, a Pentagon spokeswoman, told VOA that IS militants ambushed U.S. and Nigerien forces during the October 4 firefight that also killed four of Niger's security personnel. U.S. Army Special Forces, also known as Green Berets, had just completed a meeting with local leaders and were walking back to their vehicles when they were attacked, according to a U.S. official, who spoke to VOA on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.”

Reuters: Facebook Pushes Ad Overhaul Before 2018 U.S. Election: Executive

“Facebook Inc has begun overhauling how it handles political ads on its platform and may put some changes in place before U.S. elections next year, Facebook’s chief technology officer said on Wednesday. U.S. congressional and state elections set for November 2018 present a deadline of sorts for Facebook and other social media companies to get better at halting the kind of election meddling that the United States accuses Russia of.”

Reuters: Mattis Slams 'False' Reports On Trump Request For Nuclear Arms Hike

“U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Wednesday slammed what he said were ‘absolutely false’ media reports asserting that President Donald Trump had called for an increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal. ‘This kind of erroneous reporting is irresponsible,’ Mattis said in a written statement. NBC had reported that Trump sought a tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal, something Trump had already denied.”

Fox News: North Korea Says Trump 'Lit The Wick Of War,' Vows 'A Hail Of Fire'

“North Korea swore on Wednesday to bring ‘a hail of fire’ after President Trump ‘lit the wick of war’ with the Hermit Kingdom, the latest dramatic pronouncement promising conflict between the rogue regime and the United States. North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told Russia’s state-run TASS news agency the U.S. and North Korea have a ‘final score’ to settle that can’t be done with words, Reuters reported. ‘With his bellicose and insane statement at the United Nations, Trump, you can say, has lit the wick of a war against us,’ Ri told TASS news agency, according to Reuters. ‘We need to settle the final score, only with a hail of fire, not words.’”

Newsweek: How The U.S. Lost The War In Syria To Russia And Iran

“When the U.S. and its allies finally began their offensive to defeat the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) in the eastern Syrian province of Deir Ezzor in August 2017, the Syrian battlefield looked very different to when the conflict began in 2011. Back then, President Barack Obama came out in support of rebels trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and, in 2012, began arming them. In the years since, America's friends and foes have shifted, however, and its leading rival, Russia, stepped in to help Syrian President Bashar al-Assad quell a nationwide rebellion and reclaim the lion's share of his country.”

USA Today: U.S. Rules Out Negotiated ISIS Withdrawal From Syria’s Raqqa

“The U.S.-led coalition battling the Islamic State said Wednesday that it won’t accept a negotiated withdrawal for hundreds of ISIS militants holed up in the Syrian city of Raqqa, once the extremists’ de facto capital. The remarks by coalition spokesman, Col. Ryan Dillon, came as coalition allies were working out ways to safely evacuate an estimated 4,000 civilians who remain trapped in the city.”

Newsweek: After Sons Joined ISIS, Texas Couple Could Face Prison Time For Lying About Their Involvement

“A Texas couple is facing prison time after lying to the FBI about their sons' involvement with the Islamic State militant group (ISIS).  Mohommad Hasnain Ali and Sumaiya Ali of Plano, Texas, pleaded guilty in June in a federal court to making a false statement regarding international terrorism. They will be sentenced Thursday. Their sons, Arman, 27, and Omar Ali, 26, traveled to Egypt and then Syria to fight alongside ISIS militants. The brothers' current whereabouts are unknown, and it's possible they are both dead. Both have been charged with providing material support or resources to designated foreign terrorist organizations, according to The Dallas Morning News.”

The Daily Caller: US To ISIS: Unconditionally Surrender Or Die

“The U.S. is refusing to accept any negotiated withdrawal of Islamic State fighters from the terror group’s capital in Syria and will only accept complete, unconditional surrender. In a statement Wednesday, the U.S.-led coalition in the fight against ISIS said it would not accept a negotiated withdrawal of ISIS fighters out of Raqqa, even as the coalition is trying to evacuate 4,000 civilians out of the city, The Associated Press reports. Instead, Army spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon said the coalition discussions about what will happen to the remaining 300-400 ISIS fighters in about 1.5 square miles of the city have all centered around ‘unconditional surrender.’”


Reuters: Islamic State Claims Attack On Damascus Police Center

“Islamic State claimed responsibility on Wednesday for an attack on the police headquarters in central Damascus, the second such attack this month. A statement on an Islamic State channel on the Telegram messaging service said three fighters carrying explosive belts and machine guns had attacked the police center.”

The Cipher Brief: Al-Qaeda Spinoffs Rise From Syrian Ashes

“Throughout the six-year-old Syrian civil war, numerous militias, such as the Turkish-backed Ahrar al-Sham, have taken up arms against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as they attempt to force the loathed leader from power. Other rebel factions, however, including the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, have prioritized ousting ISIS from its strongholds in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa as well as in Syria’s eastern Deir e-Zour province. As different groups gain or cede territory over the course of the conflict, their power and prestige among the Syrian people has wavered. One of the most worrisome trend lines in the Syrian civil war has been the accelerated growth of al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), which seized control of Syria’s northwestern Idlib province over the summer and has transformed into the de facto face of the country’s anti-Assad campaign.”

Reuters: Kurds Vying For Control Over Oil With Syrian Army - Syria's Foreign Minister

“Syria’s Kurds are competing with the Syrian army for control over oil-producing areas, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said on Wednesday. ‘They (the Kurds) know well that Syria will not allow its sovereignty to be violated under any conditions,’ Moualem told his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov during a meeting in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi. ‘They are now drunk on U.S. assistance and support. But they need to understand that this assistance won’t last forever.’”

Reuters: Russia Says Islamic State Operates Near U.S Base In Syria Unhindered

“Russia accused the United States on Wednesday of allowing Islamic State to operate ‘under its nose’ in Syria, saying Washington was letting the militant group move about freely in an area abutting a U.S. military base. The allegations, made by Russia’s Defense Ministry, center on a U.S. military base at Tanf, a strategic Syrian highway border crossing with Iraq in the south of the country. The United States says the Tanf facility is a temporary base used to train partner forces to fight against Islamic State. Pentagon spokesman Colonel Robert Manning on Tuesday said Washington remained committed to killing off Islamic State and denying it safe havens and the ability to carry out strikes.”

Reuters: Islamic State To Fight 'Till The End' In Raqqa: U.S. Coalition Spokesman

“Islamic State fighters in the Syrian city of Raqqa are expected to fight to the death, but some local militants have surrendered recently as U.S.-backed forces close in on their last strongholds, a U.S. coalition spokesman said on Wednesday. Colonel Ryan Dillon said officials in the Raqqa Civil Council, which is to govern the city after IS has been driven out, were working to negotiate the safe passage of thousands of civilians being held hostage. But the coalition would not support any negotiated withdrawal of fighters, he said.”

Reuters: Syrian Army Battles Islamic State In Al-Mayadin Town: Report

“The Syrian army and its allies have captured areas of Islamic State-held al-Mayadin in eastern Syria, a Hezbollah-run military news outlet reported on Thursday, in an advance into the jihadist group’s main urban base of operations in Syria. Backed by Russia, Iran and Shi‘ite militias, the Syrian army encircled the militants in al-Mayadin on Sunday. In June, two U.S. intelligence officials told Reuters that they believed Islamic State had moved most of its diminished command structure and propaganda team to al-Mayadin, southeast of its former capital of Raqqa.”

The Washington Post: Syria’s Civil War Is A Long Way From Over — And Here’s Why That’s Important

“The Syrian civil war is now well into its sixth year. Over the years, the conflict has passed through a series of distinct phases. Now it is entering a new one. More than any before it, however, the current situation is giving rise to a host of false conclusions. The first misconception is that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has won. The military map shows that Assad has regained control over wide swaths of Syria over the past couple of years, thanks to the Russian air force as well as Hezbollah and other Iranian-backed militias. But more than 40 percent of the country remains outside of regime control, including the areas where most of its oil fields are located. The areas outside of Assad’s control include most of northern Syria, as well as Deir al-Zour province in the east and Daraa in the south.”


Reuters: Kurdistan Region Says Iraqi Forces Preparing Major Attack In Oil-Rich Kirkuk

“Iraqi government forces and Iranian-trained Iraqi paramilitaries are ‘preparing a major attack’ on Kurdish forces in the oil-rich region of Kirkuk and near Mosul in northern Iraq, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said on Wednesday. But an Iraqi military spokesman denied any attack on Kurdish forces was planned and said that government troops were instead preparing to oust Islamic State militants from a border area with Syria in the west of Iraq. Tensions between the KRG and the Iraqi government have been running especially high since the Iraqi Kurds overwhelmingly voted for independence in a referendum last month.”

Fox News: Suicide Bomber Strikes Cafe In Western Iraq, Killing 11

“Iraqi authorities say a suicide bomber has struck a cafe in the western city of Hit, killing 11 people. The city's security bureau says 15 other people were wounded in Wednesday's blast, and that the victims are all civilians. It says emergency services and security forces are at the scene. The city is located in the sprawling Anbar province. Iraqi security forces are battling Islamic State militants in the far western edge of the largely desert province. Hit is about 160 kilometers (100 miles) behind the front line.”

CNN: Fighting To Bring ISIS To Justice For War Crimes Against Yazidis

“Nadia was just 15 when ISIS fighters swarmed into her homeland. She says she was kidnapped, bought and sold by men who told her they owned her, and repeatedly raped by them. Three years on, the traumatized Yazidi is finally free of her captors, but remains trapped in a living nightmare, fearing the ISIS militants could still get to her, or worse, kill members of her family. The frail 18-year-old former slave doesn't even know if her mother, father and brother are still alive. At a meeting in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, she hides behind her cousin, one hand clenching her relative's shirt, the other holding tight to her own dress. Shell-shocked, she cannot remember how many younger siblings she has, and struggles to recall their names.”

Reuters: Kurds Offer Talks With Baghdad Over Airport, Banks Ban

“The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) offered to hold talks with Iraqi authorities on the status of Kurdish airports, border posts and banks, on which they placed restrictions following an independence referendum. Baghdad took the measures in an attempt to isolate the KRG after last month’s referendum. The government in Baghdad, which declared the vote illegal, imposed a ban on direct international flights to the northern region. It also demanded that the KRG hand over control of its border posts, and stopped selling dollars to four Kurdish-owned banks.”


Reuters: Turkish Court Remands German Journalist In Custody Over Terrorism Charges

“A German journalist went on trial for terrorism charges in Turkey on Wednesday, saying she was innocent and demanding her immediate release, in a case that has damaged already sour relations with Berlin. Mesale Tolu was detained in April, accused of being a member of a terrorist organization and publishing terrorist propaganda. Her husband was also detained and their three-year-old son has been living with his mother in jail for the last five months. Tolu is one of 18 people on trial accused of membership of the MLKP, a communist party with links to armed Kurdish groups. They face up to 20 years in jail.”

Wall Street Journal: Turkey And The West Clash, Pleasing Russia And Iran

“Here’s one measure of where Turkey stands in today’s world. Russian and Iranian citizens are free to enter the country without a visa. Americans, following the recent spat over the detention of a U.S. consulate employee, are essentially barred from traveling to their fellow North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally. The unfolding breakup between Turkey and the U.S. goes far beyond that dispute. It is fueled by increasing frustration on both sides—and is encouraged by countries most interested in such a separation, especially Russia and Iran. Even in the Syrian war, Turkey now has found itself in a new convergence of aims with Moscow and Tehran—and opposing American goals.”

Reuters: Turkish, U.S. Officials Decide To Meet To Resolve Dispute: Deputy PM

“Turkish and U.S. officials decided to meet to work on resolving a diplomatic crisis between the two NATO allies and talks between the two countries’ foreign ministers were constructive, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said on Thursday. The dispute was triggered by the arrest of local U.S staff in Turkey, prompting the United States on Sunday to suspend non-immigrant visa services there. Hours later, Ankara issued a similar suspension on visas for U.S. citizens.”

CNN: In The Crosshairs: The Americans Detained In Turkey

“The diplomatic row between Turkey and the United States unfolded rapidly over less than a week -- Turkey arrested a US consular staff member, Washington responded by freezing most of its visa services in the country and Ankara did the same. To add insult to injury, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday said he no longer recognized the authority of the US ambassador. But this latest tit-for-tat between the two uncomfortable NATO allies has been years in the making, as Washington and Ankara remain deadlocked over a list of grievances that have soured relations.”

Reuters: Turkey Issues Arrest Warrants For 25 Soldiers In Post-Coup Probe - Sources

“Turkish authorities have issued arrest warrants for 25 soldiers across Turkey and the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in northern Cyprus, security sources said, as part of a widening crackdown following last year’s failed military coup. The soldiers, on active duty and of varying ranks in Turkey’s military, are being sought across 13 provinces and Turkish northern Cyprus, the sources said. Prosecutors in the southeastern province of Mardin ordered the arrest of the soldiers over the ‘secret military structuring’ of the network of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, the sources said.”


Reuters: Afghanistan Election Plans Face Political, Technical Test

“Less than a year before Afghanistan is due to hold much-delayed parliamentary elections, technical problems and political wrangling are hampering a project seen as vital to ensuring the country’s long-term stability. Ever since the fraud-tainted presidential election of 2014, the Kabul government and its Western backers have been wrestling with the problem of how to hold fair and transparent elections. Parliamentary and district council polls scheduled for July 7 are seen as a major political test and dry run for the next presidential vote in 2019.”

Reuters: New Afghan Peace Talks Expected In Oman But Taliban Participation Unclear

“Representatives of Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and the United States will meet in Oman next week to discuss reviving peace talks with Afghan Taliban militants, an Afghan official and a Pakistani foreign ministry source said on Wednesday. But it was not clear if Afghan Taliban representatives would join the talks. Taliban sources said they had not yet received an invitation and plan to skip Monday’s discussions in Muscat, casting doubt on efforts to revive long-stalled negotiations.”


ABC News: Amid Egypt's LGBT Crackdown, Rights Worker Asks, 'Where Is The Crime In Waving A Flag At A Concert?'

“The latest crackdown against Egypt's LGBT community started with a couple of rainbow flags at a concert and ended with the arrest of more than 50 people, according to human rights groups. Attendees at a rock concert in Cairo last month raised rainbow LGBT pride flags in the air, and soon after, Egyptian authorities rounded up dozens of men — some of whom they found on gay dating apps, according to rights groups — and charged them with engaging in or promoting ‘debauchery.’ Mashrou’ Leila, a popular Beirut-based band, was playing for a crowd of thousands of people at the Sept. 22 concert that set off the firestorm and has led to dozens of arrests. Since then, the band's openly gay lead singer told ABC News the arrests have ‘completely consumed’ the group.”

Middle East

The Times Of Israel: Rejecting Israeli Charges, Lebanese Army Asserts It’s Independent From Hezbollah

“A Lebanese military source on Tuesday rebuffed claims by Israel’s defense minister that the Lebanese Army is controlled by the Hezbollah terror group, saying such a statement ‘cannot be taken seriously.’ Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Tuesdaysaid the next war in Israel will see the Israel Defense Forces fighting against a coordinated Syrian-Lebanese front as well as on the southern front with Hamas-controlled Gaza. He added that the Lebanese army has been fully integrated with Hezbollah and follows Hezbollah’s orders. ‘The Lebanese army has become an integral part of the Hezbollah apparatus under its command,’ Liberman said.”

The Times Of Israel: Palestinian Illegally In Israel Arrested For Planning Terror Attack

“Israeli security forces arrested a Palestinian who illegally entered Israel and was allegedly planning to carry out a terror attack, police said Wednesday. The suspect, a resident of the West Bank city of Tulkarem, was arrested in the southern Bedouin city of Rahat in a joint operation by the Border Police’s undercover unit, the Israel Police and the Shin Bet security agency. Police said the man pulled a knife on the officers during the arrest, but was overpowered. He was taken in for questioning. Police did not immediately provide any details on the Palestinian man’s alleged plans, or his identity.”

The Guardian: Israel Hack Uncovered Russian Spies' Use Of Kaspersky In 2015, Report Says

“An Israeli security agency hacked into Russian antivirus firm Kaspersky Lab in 2015, providing the crucial evidence required to ban the company from providing services to the US government, according to a report. While the Israeli spies were inside Kaspersky’s systems, they observed Russian spies in turn using the company’s tools to spy on American spies, the New York Times reports. That information, handed to the US, led to the decision in September to end the use of the company’s software across the federal government by December.”


Reuters: Rights Group Questions Italy's Work With Libya Stopping Migrants

“Europe’s top human rights organization asked Italy for more information on its work intercepting migrants at sea, warning that any moves to return them to Libya would break international treaties. The Council of Europe said on Wednesday it had written to the Italian government a day after an Italian navy ship helped Libya’s coastguard as it headed off 228 migrants. The coastguard later brought the refugees back to Libya.”


Reuters: Many Nigerians Displaced By Boko Haram Fighting Not Ready To Return Home

“The vast majority of almost 2 million Nigerians driven from their homes by the conflict with Boko Haram cannot return because of a lack of security, an aid agency said on Wednesday. About 1.8 million people have been displaced in Nigeria by the conflict with the Islamist insurgency, which has left at least 20,000 dead and shows little sign of ending as it drags into its ninth year. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said in a report that 86 percent of internally displaced people were not ready to return home in the immediate future. Insecurity is cited by 84 percent of them as the main reason for wanting to stay put, it said.”

United Kingdom

Reuters: British Jihadi 'White Widow' Killed By U.S. Drone: Sun Report

“Sally Jones, a British jihadi who recruited online for the Islamic State group, has been killed in Syria by a U.S. drone along with her 12-year-old son, The Sun newspaper reported on Thursday. U.S. intelligence chiefs were quoted as saying they could not be 100 percent certain that Jones had been killed as there was no way of recovering any DNA from the ground, but they were ‘confident’ she was dead. Her son JoJo was presumed to be dead too, although his presence with her was not known at the time of the drone strike and he was not an intended target, according to The Sun.”

Axios: U.K. Leapfrogs U.S. On Regulating Bad Content

“U.K. Prime Minister Teresa May's administration said Tuesday that her cabinet is considering regulating Google and Facebook as news organizations, rather than being treated like pure tech companies. May's repeated pushes to hold Facebook, Twitter and Google's feet to the fire contrasts with American officials, who have acted slowly on concerns of misuse of Silicon Valley's platforms. Why it matters: The speed of the U.K.'s actions means that the United States is falling behind, even though it was the U.S. election nearly a year ago that drew the most attention to the issue. While May and her Cabinet rush to stop fake news and terrorism from spreading — threatening steep fines — in the United States, Congress has yet to hold its first hearing with the companies. Silicon Valley has also responded more slowly stateside than in Europe. Keep reading 652 words What it means: Regulating a company like Google or Facebook like a news company instead of a tech company means that they would be responsible for the content that appears on their sites — so if there is anything that the British government deems illegal, like terrorist content, pornography, or perhaps one day fake news — these big companies could be fined. Currently, these companies are not regulated like news providers, but rather large technology companies that are not legally responsible for what is distributed on their platforms.”

The Guardian: British ISIS Member Sally Jones 'Killed In Airstrike Along With Son, 12'

“The British member of Islamic State Sally Jones is believed to have been killed, along with her 12-year-old son Jojo, in a US airstrike. Although there is confidence she is dead, it is impossible to be categorical given the inability to collect evidence on the ground. Other members of Isis have been reported dead only to reappear. Jones, dubbed ‘the white widow’ by some in the press, was a regular propagandist on social media. She had more than 20 handles on Twitter but there has been no activity from her in recent months.”

Townhall: UK Considering Regulating Tech Companies

“In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Teresa May is considering regulating Google and Facebook. The prime minister's idea is that rather than treating Google and Facebook as tech or social media companies, they will be treated as news organizations. If these regulations were to be implemented, companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter would be held accountable for content that appears in Google searches or posts made by social media users. These regulations would ultimately allow the U.K. government to levy a fine on the companies for any content that is deemed to be illegal by the government; for example, posts that spread terrorist propaganda.”


Reuters: Germany Registers Fewer Asylum Seekers, On Track For Annual Cap

“The number of asylum seekers registered in Germany fell in September and the annual total of new arrivals is unlikely to soar above the cap agreed by Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Bavarian allies last weekend, data showed on Wednesday. Reaching a broader agreement on a migrant limit with other junior partners, mainly the left-leaning Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), is a key theme in efforts to forge a new German coalition. Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) reached a deal on migrant policy with their Bavarian CSU allies on Sunday to put a net total of around 200,000 individuals who Germany would accept per year on humanitarian grounds.”

Politico: Time For Germany To Overcome Nazi Past And Join EU’s Defense

“It is time for Germany to step out of the shadow of its Nazi past and take its share of responsibility for international security. With an assertive Russia flexing its muscles to the east, Islamist terrorism bringing death to Europe’s streets, a U.S. president questioning America’s commitment to NATO, and Britain turning its back on the EU, Berlin must bite the bullet and acknowledge the need for a stronger German military. The biggest constraints in doing so are not financial or material. They’re political and psychological. Germans can afford to spend more on defense but many of them don’t want it. Three generations after Hitler’s armies wreaked terror across Europe, Germans have gained too much economic and political power to continue hiding behind their understandable aversion to all things military.”

Deutsche Welle: Report: Germany Would Rather Invest In EU Defense Than NATO

“A survey of some 200 senior figures in Germany's defense industry reveals they no longer view the United States as their most important ally and believe Berlin should focus on European Union mechanisms instead of NATO. The Brussels think tank ‘Friends of Europe’ has just released the study, along with a book, suggesting Europe's economic powerhouse has actually been a ‘free rider’ on its partners when it comes to defense and needs to step up.”