Eye on Extremism: October 17

Bloomberg: Pompeo Sees Cease-Fire As Key Goal Of Ankara Visit: Syria Update

“President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey’s military operation in Syria could end after Kurdish fighters leave a strip of territory along its border, laying out his key condition for ending an offensive that has drawn American sanctions and roiled markets. The U.S. decision to stand aside when Turkey advanced into Syria to push back Kurdish groups controlling the northeast has reconfigured old alliances and taken Syria’s eight-year-old civil war into uncharted territory.”

The Wall Street Journal: U.S., Saudis Heighten Security Defenses After Attacks On Oil Industry

“The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have stepped up efforts to protect the kingdom’s oil production, holding talks on connecting Saudi missile defenses to U.S. systems and investigating new antidrone technologies, after an attack last month knocked out half of the country’s crude production. The U.S. military is deploying an additional 2,000 troops, two squadrons of jet fighters, three new antimissile systems and other equipment to Saudi Arabia in an effort to better prepare the kingdom to counter Iran.”

Reuters: Exclusive: Iran-Backed Militias Deployed Snipers In Iraq Protests - Sources

“Iran-backed militias deployed snipers on Baghdad rooftops during Iraq’s deadliest anti-government protests in years, two Iraqi security officials told Reuters. The deployment of militia fighters, which has not been previously reported, underscores the chaotic nature of Iraqi politics amid mass protests that led to more than 100 deaths and 6,000 injuries during the week starting Oct. 1. Such militias have become a fixture here with Iran’s rising influence. They sometimes operate in conjunction with Iraqi security forces but they retain their own command structures.”

The Washington Post: Syria Is Lost. Let’s Save Lebanon.

“The aftershocks of President Trump’s abandonment of the Kurds in Syria are rumbling through the region, and a string of Lebanese officials told me last week that they fear they’re the next to be discarded by the United States. Lebanese politicians and security officials, in a series of off-the-record conversations, expressed concern about Trump’s acquiescence to Turkey’s invasion of Syria, and the seeming eclipse of U.S. power. “I feel sorry for America,” one prominent member of parliament told me. “We feel pity,” said a senior security official. “This America is not the America we used to know.”

Deutsche Welle: Is Al-Shabab Looking To Ethiopia?

“The al-Shabab militant group has sown fear and terror in Eastern Africa for more than a decade. The terrorist group is fighting to oust the Somali government and establish a society based on a rigid interpretation of Islamic Shariah law. Its original leadership was affiliated with al-Qaeda. Although based in Somalia, al-Shabab frequently launches terror attacks in other African countries, mostnotably in neighboring Kenya. It has struck there more than 20 times in the past five years, killing at least 300 people. In January 2019, 21 people died when al-Shabab gunmen attacked a hotel and office complex in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Most recently, Kenyan police shot and killed three alleged al-Shabab members and arrested seven. The men were suspected of planning attacks in the coastal city of Mombasa earlier in October. Al-Shabab says its strikes on Kenya are in retaliation for its troops crossing into Somalia: Kenya first sent soldiers into Somalia in 2011 to target al-Shabab fighters and in 2012 it officially joined the African Union's peacekeeping mission in Somalia, known as AMISON. Similarly to Kenya, al-Shabab also has an antagonistic relationship with neighboring Ethiopia.”

CNBC: Livestreamed Shootings Have Advertisers Demanding Better Safety From Sites Like Facebook And YouTube

“A shooting last week outside of a synagogue in Halle, Germany, was amplified when a video of it appeared on video streaming site Twitch and then found its way to other sites. The same thing happened in March after the shooting of more than 50 people at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Google’s YouTube rushed to remove the content, but users were still able to find versions of the video hours after the companies had supposedly taken it down. The apparent inability of the world’s biggest tech companies (Twitch is owned by Amazon) to keep scenes of violent rampages from spreading wildly is becoming a problem for brands that are spending increasing amounts of their advertising budgets on those very sites. A Twitch representative told CNBC in an email that there were no ads on the shooter’s stream from Halle, and added that the company provides controls for advertisers to block content categories. But even if ads aren’t appearing in or alongside specific videos, the video platforms are financed substantially by ad dollars. In other words, ad-supported content helps subsidize all the ad-free stuff.”

United States

U.S. Department Of Defense: U.S. Will Continue Defeat-ISIS Campaign, Official Says

“The United States will continue its campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria from outside Syria, said a senior defense official who wished to remain anonymous, yesterday in Washington. “The Defeat-ISIS campaign will continue,” the official said in a background interview with Pentagon reporters. “The enduring defeat of ISIS remains one of our top security priorities. We have significant assets and personnel as well as coalition capabilities throughout the region that will continue to prosecute that campaign.” The Turkish invasion of Northern Syria has complicated matters in the region. President Donald J. Trump ordered the evacuation of American service members from the region. U.S. personnel were in danger of getting between Turkish and Kurdish forces.  The situation is becoming even more complex as Russian personnel and forces from the regime of Bashir al-Assad have rushed to fill the vacuum in Northern Syria. It is important to remember that ISIS is not just a Middle East/Central Asia phenomenon. The terror group is attempting to foment extremism in many other areas including Somalia, Niger, Southeast Asia, the Philippines and elsewhere. The Defeat-ISIS coalition — now up to about 80 entities — will continue to go after the group.”

The Hill: Democratic Lawmakers Press For White Supremacist Groups To Be Labeled Foreign Terrorist Organizations

“Dozens of Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday pressed the State Department to designate three white supremacist groups as foreign terrorist organizations, arguing that reclassification could help the U.S. seriously confront the escalating crisis of white extremist violence. In a letter led by Rep. Max Rose (N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee's counterterrorism subpanel, the 39 lawmakers asked the State Department why they have not placed Ukraine's Azov Batalion, Finland's Nordic Resistance movement or the United Kingdom's National Action on the U.S. list of “foreign terrorist organizations” (FTOs).  “Today, if an American citizen swears allegiance to the Islamic State (or another Foreign Terrorist Organization on the list) and spreads their message of terror, there are several resources available to the federal government to counter the threat,” their letter reads. “However, if that same American citizen swears allegiance to a violent white supremacist extremist group based overseas and spreads their message of terror, the Federal government does not have access to the same tools,” it continues.”

The Times Of Israel: US Researchers Develop Data Model To Predict Terror Groups’ Future Lethality

“US researchers have developed a statistical model that they say predicts a budding terror group’s future lethality based on its first 10 to 20 attacks. The model could help security forces to pick out and focus on more deadly terror groups before they carry out more serious attacks. It uses publicly available data from the Global Terror Database and the RAND Worldwide Terrorism Incidents data compilation site. The researchers from Northwestern University scoured data on terror groups that were active from 1970 to 2014, the university said in a statement. The model is based on systems that predict the success of young businesses. “Essentially we said, ‘What if we think of terror organizations like a business whose product is lethality? How do we predict their success in producing that product?’” Brian Uzzi, one of the study’s authors, said in a statement. Business investors look at publicly available information to extrapolate a company’s future success, but since such information on terror groups is not available, the researchers looked for alternatives to use as proxies.”

Syria

The New York Times: The U.S. Turned Syria’s North Into A Tinderbox. Then Trump Lit A Match.

“To understand why President Trump’s withdrawal from Syria has unleashed such violence, it helps to see this moment as the culmination of a problem that has been building since the conflict began. In the war’s first days, northern Syria’s large Kurdish population effectively seceded and, later, came to control the area. The war’s many actors, Kurds included, knew this was, in the long term, not sustainable.”

The Wall Street Journal: Pence Leads U.S. Efforts To Halt Turkey Offensive In Syria

“Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in the Turkish capital Thursday to press President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to halt a cross-border offensive in northeastern Syria that has deepened a rift between the two NATO allies. Turkey launched a military campaign last week to seize territory held by U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in Syria after the withdrawal of American troops from the region. Its forces have since captured more than 400 square miles of territory using heavy artillery and aerial bombardments despite global condemnation and threats of fresh U.S. sanctions.”

NBC News: As Syrian Conflict Escalates, Kurds Guarding One ISIS Jail Threaten To Leave

“Gaunt men in orange jumpsuits lay side-by-side like sardines on the floor of an ISIS prison in northeast Syria. Crammed in dozens to a cell, several inmates were missing limbs or covered in burns — the scars of years of bitter fighting in the region. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who have been a crucial U.S. ally in the fight against the Islamic State group, guard the prison, which houses some 5,000 inmates. The SDF continue to guard the facility despite President Donald Trump’s decision last week to pull troops out of northeast Syria to make way for a Turkish operation in the region. That operation is now a full-fledged invasion, as Turkish troops push farther south into Kurdish territory and President Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime forces push north to help Kurdish fighters repel Turkish troops. But that might not be the case for much longer. Facing a chaotic, fast-moving conflict, which has seen the balance of power shift away from the U.S. to Assad and Russia’s Vladimir Putin and forced tens of thousands of people from their homes, the guards are now threatening to leave if the conflict deteriorates.”

Fox News: US Jets Destroy Anti-ISIS Coalition Base In Syria After Withdrawal, Official Says

“Two Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) F-15 jets destroyed a base that was the headquarters of the anti-ISIS coalition in northern Syria on Wednesday after it had been vacated, according to a military official. OIR Spokesman Col. Myles Caggins III said the fighter jets “successfully conducted a pre-planned precision airstrike at the Lafarge Cement Factory to destroy an ammunition cache and reduce the facility’s military usefulness.” All coalition forces and equipment had been removed from the base, which was located between Kobanî and Ain Issa, Caggins said. The move comes as nearly all U.S. troops withdraw from Syria amid a Turkish military offensive into the region that began last week. 'Dangerous evacuation' of US troops in Syria underway, senior US defense officials sayVideo Most U.S. troops in Syria have been removed and will be redeployed in the region in the coming weeks. Caggins confirmed earlier Wednesday that the Coalition's deliberate withdrawal continues, and the Lafarge Cement Factory in northern Syria, as well as the cities of Raqqa and Tabqah, had been vacated. Caggins told Fox News on Tuesday that the cement factory was set on fire before it was vacated by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).”

Foreign Affairs: ISIS Is Already Rising From The Ashes

“U.S.-led military coalition succeeded in toppling the self-declared caliphate of the Islamic State, known as ISIS, in Iraq and Syria just this past March. Remarkably, only around 2,000 U.S. troops took part in this effort, a tiny fraction of those deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan at the heights of those wars. The key to success in Syria was that the United States worked “by, with, and through” local militia forces, namely the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), whose backbone was the Kurdish militia known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG). And yet, with a single call to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, U.S. President Donald Trump reportedly greenlit a Turkish assault on those same Kurdish partners, whose close ties to Kurdish militants in Turkey had long unnerved Ankara. Trump ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops that had been training and assisting the SDF as part of an effort to preserve the coalition’s gains against ISIS. Turkey then launched a bloody campaign to push the Kurds away from the Turkish-Syrian border. With the SDF distracted, ISIS, ever adaptive and resilient, appears poised to exploit the chaos. Reports that ISIS militants have already escaped from Kurdish-run prisons have sparked fears that extremism could rise from the ashes in Syria.”

The Intercept: Nobody Has A Plan For Thousands Of ISIS Fighters Detained By Kurds In Syria

“Despite all the disastrous consequences of Donald Trump’s Syria policy, the U.S. president has in fact been right in one respect: The world has done far too little to find a solution for the individuals who once made up the Islamic State. In pulling U.S. troops out of Syria, Trump has said that Turkey is now responsible for the fate of thousands of ISIS fighters in the areas it is seizing, and he has threatened to impose sanctions on Ankara for its incursion into Syria. Turkish officials have said they are working on a plan to handle the ISIS detainees — that fighters will not be allowed to walk free — but based on Turkey’s past experience, it is unlikely that those fighters will spend much time in prison. The Syrian Democratic Forces, backed by the U.S. until a few days ago, have been holding more than 70,000 suspected ISIS members in camps scattered across northeastern Syria. At least 10,000 are described by the Pentagon as fighters, including 2,000 or so who are not Iraqi or Syrian; 800 are from European nations. Many of them have been in those camps — the largest of which is just a collection of tents in squalid conditions that have led to the deaths of hundreds of children — with no sign of being put through any formal process that would weed out those who could be prosecuted from those who could be rehabilitated.”

The Daily Signal: US Must Prevent Rise Of New ISIS Caliphate In Syria Following Our Troop Withdrawal

“The United States did not green-light the Turkish incursion into Syria. The U.S. did, however, fail to deter the incursion, and it failed to broker any kind of deal between Turkey and the YPG, the armed Kurdish militia fighting the Islamic State in northern Syria. All of that is now history, and—as we know—there are no do-overs in history. All the U.S. can do today is focus on continuing to protect its interests in the region for tomorrow. America has always had limited capabilities, interests, and influence in Syria, and Syria’s fate has never been vital U.S. interest. Syrian leader Bashar Assad, the country’s weak strongman, has always been in the orbit of Iran and Russia. If it weren’t for the outbreak of the civil war there—resulting in horrific atrocities by his regime, a flood of refugees and the rise of an ISIS “caliphate” bent on transnational terrorism—the U.S. couldn’t care less. Yet because of the chaos arising from Turkey’s actions, the U.S. now has good reasons to be serious about Syria. We don’t want to see another caliphate. We don’t want Iran to have a platform to attack Israel. We don’t want to see waves of refugees destabilizing the region and overflowing into Europe.”

Iran

Iran: State Department Official Says Iran Has Been Transferring Missiles To Terrorists

“The State Department on Wednesday revealed that Iran has been transferring ballistic missiles to regional partners that the United States views as terrorists. The revelation by the special envoy for Iran policy, Brian Hook, came at the start of a contentious Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. Hook argued that evidence of Iran’s transfer of ballistic missile technology to regional extremist groups justified the Trump administration’s 2018 decision to abandon the Iran nuclear deal.”

The Guardian: Iran To Limit Inspectors' Access To Its Nuclear Facilities

“Iran will further reduce its commitment to the nuclear deal signed with world powers by limiting international inspectors’ access to its nuclear sites, senior Iranian MPs have said. The move, which is expected to take place at the beginning of November, will be the fourth Iranian step away from the deal, and puts pressure on France, Germany and the UK to make some form of counter-move. The joint comprehensive plan of action (JCPOA) was signed in 2015 but Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in 2018, placing pressure on Europe to prove to Iran it was worth sticking with the deal.”

Iraq

PBS News: In Iraq, Concern That Syria Chaos Would Bring Back ISIS 

“Iraq’s defense minister on Wednesday expressed concerns that the Islamic State group could take advantage of Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria to destabilize Iraq, saying that a number of militants have been able to escape detention in Syria amid the chaos and cross into Iraq. Speaking to a group of journalists touring the Iraq-Syria border with him, Najah al-Shammari urged the Iraqi government to work quickly on sealing the border. “The Iraqi government should act quickly to close illegal crossings between Iraq and Syria,” al-Shammari said. He did not elaborate or say how many IS members have crossed into Iraq. He said that some of them are still at large while others have been detained. There have been concerns in Iraq that the Turkish military operation against Kurdish fighters in neighboring Syria might lead to the escape of Islamic State group prisoners from detention centers run by Syrian Kurdish fighters. Some 10,000 IS members are being held in prisons across territory in northern Syria. Over the weekend, 780 supporters fled from a camp for the displaced in the town of Ein Issa.”

Xinhua: Iraqi Forces Capture IS Militants Fleeing Battles In Syria

“Iraqi Defense Minister Najah al-Shammari said on Wednesday that the security forces captured a number of Islamic State (IS) militants who tried to infiltrate into Iraq to flee the battles in neighboring Syria. Al-Shammari made his comments during his tour to the Iraqi-Syrian border in western Iraq where he met with commanders of the security forces, according to a statement by the Defense Ministry. He highlighted the need to continue hunting down those who infiltrate into Iraq and to prepare the defensive positions on the border to prevent the infiltration of terrorists. Al-Shammari's tour on the border with Syria came as Turkey is carrying out an operation against the Kurdish forces in northern Syria, which has been met with widespread international and Arab condemnation and warnings that the war against terrorism could be undermined. Iraq fears that IS extremist militants could flee into Iraq and pose a threat to its security during the Turkish assault in Syria.”

Turkey 

Al Monitor: Is Turkey Able To Handle An Influx Of Islamic State Prisoners?

“President Recep Tayyip Erdogan might have agreed to take the responsibility of Islamic State (IS) prisoners held in camps in northeastern Syria to get a blessing for Operation Peace Spring, but Ankara soon realized the trouble it got itself into as experts warned that the incursion could lead IS fighters to escape prison camps and reorganize. There are already unconfirmed reports that the operation allowed some IS supporters to escape camps under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) during Turkish bombardments against the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the region. The American decision to leave the responsibility for IS prisoners to Turkey on Oct. 6 initially caused a shock in Turkish public opinion. Some Turkish social media users even came up with analogies for the Korean War in the 1950s, where Turkish troops fought alongside Americans in exchange for little pay, reminding readers that American officials then regarded Turkish troops as “cheap soldiers.” “The United States will not hold them for what could be many years and great cost to the United States taxpayer.”

Afghanistan

Xinhua: Key Taliban Commander Killed In N. Afghanistan

“A local official in northern Afghanistan said Thursday that a key commander of the Taliban militants has been killed following a special operation late Wednesday night. “Qari Mohammadullah, known as Zaid the commander of a 70-member Taliban fighters, was killed along with one of his bodyguards in Sarai-e-Sang area outside the northern Takhar's provincial capital Taluqan city on Wednesday night,” Mohammad Jawad Hajari, the provincial governor's spokesman, told Xinhua. The killed Taliban commander was involved in several subversive activities, including planning to capture Taluqan city last month, the official said, adding Zaid's death could prove a major setback to the Taliban militants in Takhar and the neighboring Badakhshan and Kunduz provinces. The Taliban group has not immediately commented on the report.”

Pakistan

Reuters: Deadly Day In Kashmir As Three Militants Killed, Migrant Worker Shot Dead

“Indian security forces killed three separatist fighters, while suspected militants shot dead a migrant worker on one of the bloodiest days in Kashmir since New Delhi revoked the disputed region's autonomy and special status more than two months ago. The killings on Wednesday were the first since mobile telephone services were restored as part of gradual relaxation of security measures taken to curb violent unrest in Jammu and Kashmir state. The government had cut off telephone and internet lines before it revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special rights on Aug. 5, striking down long-standing constitutional provisions for the Muslim-majority region that is also claimed by neighbouring Pakistan. A security lockdown is still largely in place, and broadband and mobile internet connections remain unavailable to most Kashmiris. The militants killed on Wednesday died during a gun battle after soldiers, acting on a tip-off, raided a village in south Kashmir, two police sources told Reuters. “Three terrorists were killed and the bodies were retrieved from the site of the encounter,” Kashmir police said in a statement. “Incriminating material, including arms and ammunition, was recovered.”

Egypt

Asharq Al-Awsat: Egypt: Army Thwarts Terrorist Attack In N. Sinai

“Egyptian army thwarted a “terrorist attack” on a military post on al-Arish-Qantara international road in North Sinai, during which three recruits were injured. In details, a number of terrorists opened fire on a military post, which prompted the army forces to respond to the source of the attack, thwarting the terrorists from further advancing into the area, security and tribal sources told Asharq Al-Awsat. The units, on the outskirts of Musafaq village of Bir al-Abd, tracked the perpetrators who fled deep in the mountainous region towards the south. Hasan Salam, one of the villagers, reported that he heard gunshots near the post, followed by heavy gunfire, after which ambulances were seen rushing to the scene. In February 2018, Egyptian army and police launched an operation against the militants in North Sinai to cleanse the region from extremists affiliated with ISIS. A security source, who declined to be named, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the army forces stationed in Musafaq military post thwarted an armed attack by the terrorists, wounding three recruits who were transferred to Bir al-Abd hospital for treatment.”

Libya

Asharq Al-Awsat: Fears, Warnings On ISIS Comeback In Libya

“Libyans in the country’s south and west have expressed fears that ISIS militants would make a major comeback after scores of fighters were seen in several areas. Spokesman of Sirte’s protection unit Salim al-Amil said an ISIS militant, who had left town after its liberation from ISIS in 2016, was recently arrested in an ambush after security forces received a tip that he had returned to Sirte. Amil told Asharq Al-Awsat that ISIS members are present in big numbers in mountainous areas in southern Libya after they reorganized by taking advantage of a lax security. “There are dozens of small groups. Their impact would be disastrous if they were able to form large groupings,” he said. US Africa Command has conducted several airstrikes in the past month on ISIS militants in the south, leaving several of their commanders dead. Ayas Abdul Moncef who hails from the southern town of Murzuq told Asharq Al-Awsat that residents have monitored armed men in cars firing in the air to terrorize them. Many militants have threatened the residents to kidnap and kill them, he said.”

Nigeria

Daily Trust: Nigeria: Boko Haram Substantially Defeated, Buhari Insists

“President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said efforts of officers and men of the Armed Forces had led to the return of normalcy in affected parts of the nation. Buhari reiterated that the Boko Haram terrorists had been "substantially defeated and degraded to the extent that they were only daring soft targets." Speaking at the State House, Abuja, during the formal launch of the 2020 Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration Emblem and Appeal Fund, he said the nation was appreciative of the gallantry and sacrifices of officers and men of the Armed Forces in the campaign against insurgency and other internal security operations.”

United Kingdom

BBC News: Red Poppy To Mark Civilian Victims Of War And 'Acts Of Terrorism'

“The red poppy will this year pay tribute to civilian victims of war and "acts of terrorism", along with the UK's armed forces. The Royal British Legion said it had updated its definition of the remembrance symbol to be "more explicit" about its meaning. Red poppies are traditionally worn to remember those who fought in war. It means the symbol will now encompass victims of incidents such the Manchester Arena attack in 2017. The move, first reported by the Guardian, comes ahead of the launch of the charity's latest poppy appeal on 24 October.”

The Guardian: Alleged Isis Supporter Accused Of St Paul's Cathedral Bomb Plot

“An alleged supporter of the Islamic State terror group has appeared in court accused of a plot to bomb St Paul’s Cathedral and a hotel. Safiyya Amira Shaikh, 36, from Hayes, Middlesex, is accused of the preparation of terrorist acts and dissemination of terrorist publications. It is alleged that Shaikh made contact with someone who could prepare explosives and went on a reconnaissance trip to scope out the historic site and a hotel as locations to plant bombs. Prosecutors also claim that between 19 August and 10 October this year, she prepared the words of a pledge of allegiance to the group, also known as Isis or Daesh. It is alleged that she shared terrorist documents via groups using the Telegram messaging app and other channels. She appeared at Westminster magistrates’ court in London on Wednesday and is next due to appear at the Old Bailey on 1 November.”

France

Express: Notre-Dame Car Bombing: All-Female ISIS Cell Jailed For Botched Terror Plot In France

“The five women, aged between 22 and 42, were arrested after police found a car packed with gas cylinders and cans of diesel parked a stone’s throw from the famous cathedral in the early hours of September 4, 2016. Investigators concluded from cigarette butts and a petrol-doused blanket left at the scene that there had been a failed bid to set off an explosion. The only reason the car did not burst into flames is because diesel is not easily flammable, they said. Fingerprints led to two people: Ines Madani and Ornella Gilligmann. They were sentenced to 30 years and 25 years in prison respectively. Mrs Madani convinced the other defendants to join the plot by posing online as a male jihadi who had returned from Syria and was seeking a bride. Mrs Gilligmann, a married mother of three, told the court she had acted out of love for a fictitious ISIS fighter named Abou Junayd, for whom she left her husband. According to prosecutors, the two women parked the car after sending a video claiming responsibility for the attack to Rachid Kassim, a notorious French Islamic State (ISIS) militant. The ISIS propagandist is said to have ordered the attack from a base in Syria.”

Australia

Times Of Israel: Australian Spy Agency Says Right-Wing Extremist Threat Is Increasing

“Right-wing terrorists pose a growing threat in Australia, the country’s spy agency has warned, describing the extremist networks as “more cohesive and organized” than ever. The Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation’s (ASIO) annual report released Wednesday said extreme right-wing networks are not only better organized now, but “more sophisticated” than in the past. “The threat from the extreme right wing in Australia has increased in recent years,” it said. “Extreme right-wing groups in Australia are more cohesive and organized than they have been over previous years, and will remain an enduring threat.” The Christchurch mosque attacks that claimed the lives of 50 people “brought the right-wing extremist threat back into focus,” ASIO said. Suspected white supremacist Brenton Tarrant, an Australian citizen, is accused of carrying out the rampage in neighboring New Zealand in March. The spy agency predicted that any future right-wing attack in Australia would likely be “low capability” and carried out by a lone wolf or small group, though it did not rule out the possibility of a “sophisticated weapons attack.” Australia’s strict gun laws have been widely credited with helping to avoid mass shootings such as the Christchurch massacre.”

Southeast Asia

CNA: First Singaporean Jailed For Financing Terrorism

“A 35-year-old Singaporean man was sentenced to 30 months' jail on Thursday (Oct 17) for financing terrorism after he sent more than S$1,000 to a hate preacher. Ahmed Hussein Abdul Kadir Sheik Uduman, a former information technology engineer, is the first Singaporean to be sentenced under the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act.”

The Times Of Israel: US Warns Chinese Against Using Untraceable Ships To Hide Iran Oil Shipments

“The White House has been warning Chinese shipping companies not to have their vessels turn off tracking transponders to conceal their movements so they can ship oil from Iran, Reuters reported Wednesday. US officials are concerned that Chinese ships are turning off their automatic identification systems, used by vessels to transmit their location, so that their movements to and from Iran remain hidden.”

South China Morning Post: Indonesia Arrests 36 Terror Suspects Including Policewomen Ahead Of Jokowi Inauguration

“At least 36 suspected militants, including two former policewomen, have been arrested in recent weeks for plotting suicide bombings and assembling explosive devices ahead of Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s inauguration for his second term this Sunday, police have said. Four of those detained were suspected suicide bombers aiming to attack police stations and non-Muslim places of worship in the West Java city of Cirebon, and the Central Java cities of Solo and Yogyakarta, national police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said on Tuesday. One of the four was a policewoman from Yogyakarta named Nesti Ide Sami, an anti-terror police source told  On Wednesday, another national police spokesman, M. Iqbal, said the force had raised its level of internal monitoring. Both policewomen had been fired for violating the police code of ethics for deserting the police force. They will now be dealt with by the judiciary for the alleged terror activities, he said.”

The Straits Times: First Singaporean To Be Convicted Of Terrorism Financing Jailed For 30 Months

“A 35-year-old former information technology engineer was sentenced on Thursday (Oct 17) to two years and six months' jail for funding terrorism. Ahmed Hussein Abdul Kadir Sheik Uduman is the first Singaporean national to be sentenced for terrorism financing. On Thursday, Ahmed pleaded guilty in a district court to two charges in connection with two payments he made amounting to about $1,145 in total to an individual who was “facilitating terrorist acts” overseas. The court heard that Ahmed had become radicalised sometime in 2013 after he came to know of the website and YouTube channel of a Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal, a radical preacher living in Jamaica. Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Chong Yonghui said that Ahmed was aware that the radical preacher supported physical jihad, “including the use of violence against “intruders” who were described as “non-Muslims attacking a Muslim area or location'“. The preacher also said it was an obligation for Muslims to set up a Muslim Caliphate, and commended the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) for doing this through violence.”

Technology

Axios: Lawmakers Target Law Protecting Reddit, Google From Content Liability

“Lawmakers mulling changes to the law that shields Facebook, Reddit and other online platforms from liability over user-generated content found some bipartisan common ground during a House Energy & Commerce joint subcommittee hearing Wednesday. Why it matters: Technology companies say changing the law that protects online platforms — Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — is an existential threat to their business models and the internet itself. But both Republicans and Democrats agreed the platforms are not doing enough to police themselves when it comes to removing harmful content from their sites.”

The Verge: Congress’s Focus On Content Moderation Has Distracted It From The Larger Problem

“What stays up on the internet, and what comes down? It’s a defining question of the age — and the subject of yesterday’s newsletter — and on Wednesday, it came to Congress. The occasion was a hearing of the House Energy and Committee Commerce and its subcommittees on communications and technology and consumer protection and commerce. The intent was to “explore whether online companies are appropriately using the tools they have — including protections Congress granted in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — to foster a healthier Internet.”