Eye on Extremism: October 21

The Washington Post: 62 Killed In Mosque Bombing In Eastern Afghanistan

“A blast that ripped through a village mosque in eastern Afghanistan killed at least 62 people gathered for Friday prayers, according to Afghan officials. The attack wounded 36 and caused the building’s roof to collapse, trapping survivors. Local tribal chief Habib Urahman said many of those killed were teenagers. “One was married only a week ago,” he said by phone shortly after he arrived at the scene. He said crowds were gathered around the blast site searching for loved ones. Attaullah Khogyani, the spokesman for Nangahar’s provincial governor, said 62 people had been confirmed dead. The attack comes as the conflict in Afghanistan is killing and injuring record numbers of civilians. The Taliban and the U.S.-backed Afghan government have stepped up operations, and the Islamic State group in Afghanistan has carried out deadly high-profile attacks, including the bombing of a Kabul wedding hall that killed 63 in August.”

The New York Times: Trump Said To Favor Leaving A Few Hundred Troops In Eastern Syria

“President Trump is leaning in favor of a new Pentagon plan to keep a small contingent of American troops in eastern Syria, perhaps numbering about 200, to combat the Islamic State and block the advance of Syrian government and Russian forces into the region’s coveted oil fields, a senior administration official said on Sunday. If Mr. Trump approves the proposal to leave a couple of hundred Special Operations forces in eastern Syria, it would mark the second time in 10 months that he has reversed his order to pull out nearly all American troops from the country. Last December, Mr. Trump directed 2,000 American troops to leave Syria immediately, only to relent later and approve a more gradual withdrawal."

Associated Press: Report: Synagogue Massacre Led To String Of Attack Plots

“At least 12 white supremacists have been arrested on allegations of plotting, threatening or carrying out anti-Semitic attacks in the U.S. since the massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue nearly one year ago, a Jewish civil rights group reported Sunday. The Anti-Defamation League also counted at least 50 incidents in which white supremacists are accused of targeting Jewish institutions’ property since a gunman killed 11 worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue on Oct. 27, 2018. Those incidents include 12 cases of vandalism involving white supremacist symbols and 35 cases in which white supremacist propaganda was distributed. The ADL said its nationwide count of anti-Semitic incidents remains near record levels. It has counted 780 anti-Semitic incidents in the first six months of 2019, compared to 785 incidents during the same period in 2018. The ADL’s tally of 12 arrests for white supremacist plots, threats and attacks against Jewish institutions includes the April 2019 capture of John T. Earnest, who is charged with killing one person and wounding three others in a shooting at a synagogue in Poway, California. The group said many of the cases it counted, including the Poway shooting, were inspired by previous white supremist attacks.”

Daily Mail: Hate Preacher Anjem Choudary's Banned Terror Group 'Has Revived Since He Was Released From Jail Last Year And Is Holding Meetings Again'

“Hate preacher Anjem Choudary is inspiring his network of extremists and poses a renewed terror threat a year after he left jail, an analysis by experts has warned.Experts from the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) say the decision to give Choudary, 52, parole should be reviewed in light of the findings, which they say show he is a threat to national security. A study by the non-governmental monitoring organisation says his extremist network is understood to have restarted meetings. ‘Choudary remains a dangerous and influential figure,’ it says. It also shines new light on Choudary’s influence on outrages around the globe, profiling a network of 110 extremist individuals and 33 organisations associated with him. Of the 110 individuals, 18 successfully carried out terror attacks, 50 others attempted atrocities and 19 are – or attempted to become – Islamist fighters. Thirty-six are Islamist propagandists or recruiters.”

The Guardian: Britain Makes Move To Bring Home Isis Children Stranded In Syria

“British officials have taken the first steps to repatriate children stranded in Syria by liaising directly with agencies on the ground to identify unaccompanied minors for “safe passage” back to the UK. Whitehall sources have confirmed they are working with “various agencies” in north-east Syria – believed to include the International Committee of the Red Cross – to kickstart the process of transferring children of British parents linked to Islamic State back to the UK. Among the first cases identified are three orphans, believed to have travelled to Syria with their parents from London five years ago and who are currently in Raqqa, under the control of the Kurdish-dominated militia, the Syrian Democratic Forces. Transporting the children to Iraq, where they can be flown from the city of Erbil to the UK, has been evaluated by Kurdish officials and British charities as both quick and safe, especially during the five-day ceasefire. The development comes before an appeal this week by Shamima Begum against the removal of her UK citizenship by the former home secretary Sajid Javid. Begum, then aged 15, travelled to Syria in 2015 to join Isis from her east London home. Lawyers for Begum, currently in al-Roj refugee camp in north-east Syria, will argue the decision was “unlawful.”

The New York Times: Erdogan’s Ambitions Go Beyond Syria. He Says He Wants Nuclear Weapons.

“Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, wants more than control over a wide swath of Syria along his country’s border. He says he wants the Bomb. In the weeks leading up to his order to launch the military across the border to clear Kurdish areas, Mr. Erdogan made no secret of his larger ambition. “Some countries have missiles with nuclear warheads,” he told a meeting of his governing party in September. But the West insists “we can’t have them,” he said. “This, I cannot accept.”

United States

Washington Examiner: Former Neo-Nazi Leader Joins Al Qaeda Recruiter To Fight Extremism

“Jeff Schoep was once America’s leading neo-Nazi, propagating anti-Semitism and building an army to wage “racist violence” in his role as leader of the National Socialist Movement. But now he claims to be renouncing his racist past to help wean far-right extremists away from white supremacy using the blueprint developed by his mentor, a former al Qaeda recruiter. They launch next month with an anti-fascist magazine that uses all the techniques that Jesse Morton once used to convert young Americans into jihadists, first attracting recruits with propaganda before sucking them into a network of online activists who radicalized them to fight at home or abroad. Schoep, 45, said a former neo-Nazi and a former jihadist may seem like odd bedfellows, but they shared a common experience.”

Syria

The Atlantic: The Intelligence Fallout From Trump’s Withdrawal In Syria

“This version of the forever war in Iraq and Syria was built around the work done by local U.S. allies. The fight against ISIS was America’s, but it was also being fought by Syrians, Kurds, and Iraqis—a U.S. strategy known as “by, with, and through.” It meant that local troops carried out ground fighting in battles drawn up by American war planners. It meant that they received arms, training, and logistical support from the U.S. military and were backed by U.S. air strikes. Crucially, it also meant that they were getting help from Special Operations forces, the U.S. military’s most elite units, who work in the shadows around the world to carry out difficult and sensitive missions.”

The Wall Street Journal: As America Leaves Syria, Iran Isn’t As Happy As You Think

“It is the conceit of the commentariat that Iran is a winner of the latest mayhem in the Middle East—the departure of U.S. troops from Syria and the subsequent Turkish incursion. Yet the clerical oligarchs seem anxious about all that is happening around them. A continuing Syrian civil war was working for Tehran. It had managed to navigate skillfully the politics at play, developing good relations with both Bashar Assad and the Kurdish militias opposing him. The latter’s U.S. support created a sort of balance between the sides. Despite his precarious situation, Mr. Assad dreams of unifying Syria. His Iranian patrons have long advised him to limit his ambitions and consolidate power in the territory he commands. With the U.S. backing the Kurds, Mr. Assad had to follow Iran’s advice or risk a wider war he could ill afford.”

The Guardian: The Spectre Of Syria Silenced Arab Protest. But Now It’s Finding Its Voice

“There is a bogeyman that haunts the Arab world. Its spectre looms large and sinister over Arab politics. Its arrival is threatened, like a curse, as a warning by parents to precocious children when they misbehave. Its name is Syria. A suppurating wound that will not heal, the Syrian civil war continues to bleed lives, and draw in neighbours and allies involved in their own proxy battles. Just as it seems one front is closed, a twist restarts hostilities – the latest involving a capricious US president and an insecure Turkish one, with the Kurds in northern Syria bearing the brunt. An abrupt American withdrawal paved the way for yet another conflagration, yet another power calculus – as Bashar al-Assad extends support to the Kurds – and yet another lease of life for Islamic State. More than 100,000 people are on the move in northern Syria. And at least 750 people with suspected links to Isis have reportedly broken out of a camp in north-east Syria, raising the possibility of a new shot in the arm for the terror group.”

The Atlantic: America Can Still Fight ISIS In Syria

“We warned two weeks ago about the danger of abandoning America’s Kurdish-led partner force in Syria, even as thousands of suspected ISIS fighters remain in detention and ISIS attacks steadily increase. This week, with a U.S. withdrawal from northern Syria well under way, and after days of a Turkish assault on the region that’s now supposedly paused despite reports of serious cease-fire violations, we’re facing a new set of problems. Today, though, the U.S. has far less control over what happens—and the continued fighting and uncertainty will benefit ISIS and ISIS alone. So what now? The U.S. still needs to keep ISIS from threatening U.S. interests, even as it manages the departure of American troops and tries to help create a path forward through the new dynamics on the ground. But what can the U.S. do to mitigate any potential for ISIS resurgence or escape? And what pressure can the U.S. bring to truly halt the Turkish offensive and promote a peaceful dialogue?”

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Troops Cross Into Iraq as They Withdraw From Syria

“Civilians in Kurdish areas hurled rotten fruit and insults at a convoy of U.S. military vehicles that crossed from northern Syria into Iraq early Monday, marking a dramatic drawdown to an American presence there to combat Islamic State. A Wall Street Journal reporter saw around a dozen armored vehicles on the road near Sheikhan in northern Iraq flying American flags. Stony-faced U.S. soldiers flashed victory signs for the camera. They appeared to be part of a larger convoy that passed through the town of Duhok about 37 miles from the Syrian border earlier Monday. A witness there heard onlookers in the predominantly Kurdish city curse the soldiers. One man called them “sons of bitches” and shouted at them to get out, he said.”

The Wall Street Journal: Kurdish Forces Withdraw From Syrian Border Area

“The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said its fighters withdrew from a key border town in northeastern Syria, fulfilling a part of the cease-fire agreement between Turkey and the U.S., as a large convoy of American troops also prepared to pull out of the country and its protracted conflict. Ankara agreed with Washington on Thursday to a five-day truce, during which the Syrian Kurds are expected to depart from an area Turkey has defined as a safe zone along the two nations’ borders. Both sides have accused each other of violating the cease-fire, with the town of Ras al-Ain at the center of the fighting. Critics have said the agreement was a wholesale concession to Ankara, giving it control of an area in Syria it has coveted for years and freeing it from U.S. sanctions in return for pausing an offensive it had no international backing for. While President Trump hailed the pact as a diplomatic victory, U.S.-allied Kurds have likened it to a surrender on their part.”

The New York Times: Desperate Pleas To Free Women And Children From ISIS Camps In Syria

“When Kamalle Dabboussy learned this month that President Trump was removing troops from northeastern Syria, he pulled over in his car and wept. For months, Mr. Dabboussy has been lobbying the Australian government to remove his daughter and three grandchildren from a detention camp for relatives of Islamic State fighters. Now, he believes, the window to save them is closing. “It’s tough; it’s scary,” he told his daughter, Mariam, during a recent phone call. Mr. Dabboussy tried to comfort her. “We’re still pushing,” he said. The fate of tens of thousands of women and children in Kurdish-run detainee camps in Syria has posed a challenge for governments around the world since the Islamic State lost its last territory there earlier this year. But the chaos and violence that have followed the American pullback have intensified questions about what duty nations have to citizens detained abroad, even those affiliated with a brutal terrorist group. Mr. Dabboussy has been leading a contingent of about a dozen Australian families seeking the return of more than 65 relatives, most of them children. He has traveled to the Al-Hol camp, where his daughter is being held in what he describes as unbearable conditions.”

Politico: Pentagon Sees Few Options For Preventing New ISIS Safe Haven In Syria

“The United States’ abrupt withdrawal from northeastern Syria is forcing the Pentagon to accept a dangerous reality — the rebirth of an Islamic State sanctuary that could allow terrorists to launch attacks on the West. The U.S. military won’t be able do much more than monitor and try to contain ISIS activity in parts of Syria without special operations forces on the ground, according to current and former military officials. And although the Defense Department is considering backup options including a drone campaign and occasional commando raids, the pullout of the troops who had been living in the country alongside Syrian Kurdish forces will make it difficult to track the group or find targets to attack. For now, the U.S. may have to live with the existence of an Islamic State safe haven in Syria, just as it lives with an al-Qaida offshoot’s haven in a part of the country where the presence of Russian troops and aircraft limits the Pentagon’s reach. “Our goal was the defeat of the Islamic State, and they’re undefeated,” said Michael Nagata, a retired lieutenant general who helped oversee the early stages of the campaign against ISIS in Syria, in an interview.”

Fox News: Colin Clarke: ISIS Is Big Winner From US Withdrawal From Syria

“President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria could provide the ISIS terrorist group with the time and space to regrow its organization and extend its networks throughout the Middle East. While the most immediate and visible consequence of the U.S. withdrawal has been an increase of tensions between the U.S. and Turkey, these and other second-order effects of this decision are less visible and may take a longer time to manifest. The most obvious concern is that with the Kurds now focused on survival, the United States’ most capable partner on the ground in Syria – local militia forces consisting of the Syrian Democratic Forces and the People’s Protection Units – will devote fewer resources and manpower to combating ISIS. Kurdish fighters have ceased counterterrorism operations against ISIS. As the Kurds are pulled away from guarding camps where ISIS prisoners and sympathizers are being detained and called to the front lines to fight against Turkish troops and Turkish-backed militias, detainment camps and prisons will grow significantly more vulnerable, with potentially dire implications for regional stability. There have already been widespread reports of prison breaks from detainment camps where ISIS prisoners and sympathizers were being held."

Iran

The National: The IRGC Want To Be The Real Power-Brokers In Iran

“The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, who hold the real power in Iran, are sending dangerous messages to the world and their regional neighbours, the first of which is that dialogue with Tehran should go through them, not the president or foreign minister. If the IRGC continue to feel cornered, they could respond with military operations in the region and a power-grab at home. Next month will be crunch time, when there will be an assessment of the impact of crippling US sanctions. The IRGC plan to contain domestic resentment through foreign operations that could rally nationalist sentiment behind the regime. But before delving into this issue, it is important to assess the implications of Turkey’s invasion of north-east Syria and the visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.”

Associated Press: Iran Sends US List Of Names For Its Proposed Prisoner Swap

“Iran’s foreign ministry said Monday it has sent the United States a list of names it is demanding in a proposed prisoner swap, opening a potential new channel with Washington amid recent growing tensions. Iran did not detail the names it relayed, but Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said he hoped to hear soon “good news” about the release of Iranian scientist Masoud Soleimani. U.S. federal authorities arrested Soleimani last year on charges that he had violated trade sanctions by trying to have biological material brought to Iran. Zarif said he raised the issue last month in his visit to New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.”

Reuters: Secondary Circuit Of Iran's Arak Nuclear Reactor To Be Operational Within Two Weeks: Official

“The secondary circuit of the Arak heavy water nuclear reactor will be operational within two weeks, Ali Asghar Zarean, a special assistant to the chief of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, was quoted as saying on Sunday by the semi-official Tasnim news agency. The starting of the secondary circuit will not violate restrictions placed on Iran’s nuclear program under a landmark 2015 deal with world powers. Last week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tehran will continue to reduce its commitments to the deal, removing curbs on its nuclear program, until European parties to the pact protect Iran’s economy from U.S. penalties. Iran has the capacity to produce up to 25 tonnes of heavy water per year, Zarean said, noting that the Islamic Republic currently produces 20 tonnes of heavy water annually, which is exported to other countries.”

Afghanistan

The New Yorker: The Shattered Afghan Dream Of Peace

“In 2008, when Zubair was seventeen years old, he left the refugee camp in Pakistan where he’d grown up, crossed into Afghanistan, and joined the war against the Americans. Although he and his family had fled the country during the Taliban regime, everyone Zubair knew seemed to agree that it was his religious duty to resist the foreign occupation of his homeland. One of his teachers arranged his enlistment in the Taliban. Zubair underwent a brief training program in Kunar Province, in northeastern Afghanistan, where his father had died during the war against the Soviet Union. He was deployed to his native village, in the Korengal, a narrow, cedar-forested valley that harbored one of the U.S. Army’s remotest outposts. For more than a year, Zubair conducted ambushes, engaged in firefights, and hid from jets and drones. He lost eight friends. Forty-two Americans were killed and hundreds were wounded in the Korengal, which became known as the Valley of Death. In 2010, the Americans surrendered it to the Taliban. Some of Zubair’s comrades remained to launch attacks on Afghan government forces; Zubair asked to be sent to neighboring Nangarhar Province, where there were still foreigners to fight.”

The New York Times: U.S. Is Quietly Reducing Its Troop Force In Afghanistan

“The United States is already reducing the size of its troop force in Afghanistan despite the lack of a peace deal with the Taliban, at a time when President Trump has expressed reluctance to remain engaged in costly wars abroad. In a news conference on Monday, the top American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Austin S. Miller, confirmed that the size of the American force in the country had already quietly dropped by 2,000 over the last year, down to roughly 12,000. Other American and Afghan officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss details of the plan, said that the eventual force size could drop to as low as 8,600 — roughly the size of an initial reduction envisioned in a draft agreement with the Taliban before Mr. Trump halted peace talks last month. Rather than a formal withdrawal order, they are reducing the force through a gradual process of not replacing troops as they cycle out.”

The New York Times: Afghan Village Of 70 Families Faces Ruin With Mosque Massacre

“Just a few hundred residents remain in Jawdara, a small village in eastern Afghanistan struggling to survive after Islamic State militants cut off their water supply early this year. With only 70 families hanging on, the cost to this tiny, trapped community was grievous when 73 lives — basically the men of each family — were torn away in an instant. “The village is ruined,” said Mawlawi Sadaqat, a local religious leader who led prayers as the bodies were buried. “Each house is left with orphans.” The massacre took place when a suicide bomber walked into Jawdara’s mosque on Friday, where men had gathered for the weekly congregational prayer. In addition to the dead, at least 30 others were seriously wounded. Women desperately worked to dig bodies from the rubble, eventually aided by people who came in from neighboring areas in Nangarhar Province. This is the lot of Afghanistan’s towns, far from the tenuous security that the main cities provide. As the war has worsened, and with civilian casualties hitting a new level this month, life in places like Jawdara has increasingly come to feel like slow death punctuated by sudden massacre. “I was standing in queue for prayer when I first felt a flame in my face and then the roof collapsed and I screamed,” said Riazullah, who was wounded.”

Reuters: Pentagon Chief In Afghanistan As U.S. Looks To Kickstart Taliban Talks

“U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived in Afghanistan on Sunday in a bid to bring talks with the Taliban back on track after President Donald Trump abruptly broke off negotiations last month seeking to end the United States’ longest war. Esper’s trip to Kabul comes amid questions about the United States’ commitments to allies after a sudden withdrawal of U.S. troops from northeastern Syria and Trump’s long-time desire to get out of foreign engagements. “The aim is to still get a peace agreement at some point, a political agreement. That is the best way forward,” Esper told reporters traveling with him to Afghanistan. He is due to meet President Ashraf Ghani and U.S. troops while in Afghanistan. “I hope we can move forward and come up with a political agreement that meets our ends and meets the goals we want to achieve,” Esper said, adding that talks were in the State Department’s domain. He added that the United States could go down to about 8,600 troops, from the current 14,000, without affecting counter-terrorism operations, if needed. Trump halted talks with the Taliban, aimed at striking a deal for U.S. and other foreign troops to withdraw in exchange for Taliban security guarantees, after it carried out a bomb attack in Kabul last month that killed 12 people, including a U.S. soldier.”

The Washington Post: Afghan Presidential Election Outcome Remains In Limbo As Results Are Delayed

“Afghanistan’s election commission said it will miss the Saturday deadline for announcing initial results from the country’s presidential election last month. Hawa Alam Nuristani, head of the Independent Election Commission, apologized for the commission’s failure to announce the results on time. “Regrettably, the commission, due to technical issues and for the sake of transparency, could not announce the presidential election initial poll results,” she said. She gave no timetable for when the results would be announced but said she hopes it will be “as soon as possible.” The delay comes amid deepening political uncertainty following the Sept. 28 vote. The front-runners, President Ashraf Ghani and chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, said they expect to win and indicated they will not accept defeat because of suspected flaws in the voting process. Inconclusive election results marred by fraud in the previous presidential election in 2014 nearly tore the country apart. A political crisis was averted only after the United States brokered a power-sharing deal between Ghani and Abdullah. Both men have said securing a peace deal to end the country’s 18-year war is a top priority, but a heavily contested vote would undercut any Afghan government’s standing in peace talks with the Taliban.”

Voice Of America: Afghan Taliban Continue To Work Closely With Al-Qaida In Afghanistan

“A Taliban delegation reportedly met earlier this month with Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation. The alleged gathering came during an official Taliban visit to Islamabad to meet with Pakistan officials. It was the first known contact between the U.S and Taliban insurgents since U.S. President Donald Trump canceled peace talks with the insurgents in September, citing increased violence in Afghanistan perpetrated by the militants in an attempt to gain more leverage at the negotiation table. A senior Pakistani official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the topic publicly, told Reuters “Pakistan played a big role in it to convince them [Taliban] how important it [the meeting] was for the peace process.” The official said the meeting was a confidence-building measure between the two sides and did not include formal negotiations. Although the U.S. State Department has declined to comment on whether Khalilzad met with the Taliban, a U.S. official told Reuters that Ambassador Khalilzad has met with Pakistan officials for consultations. The official said the peace talks have not resumed.”

Xinhua: 12 Militants Killed, 16 Villages Liberated In Northern Afghan Province

“More than 12 Taliban insurgents have been killed and 16 villages liberated from the militants' clutch in the northern Baghlan province, an army spokesman in the northern region, Abdul Hadi Jamal, said Sunday. The operation was launched four days ago against Taliban militants in parts of Baghlan province and so far 16 villages have been liberated in Dand-e-Ghori, Dand-e-Shahabudin and Kilagai areas of the restive province, the spokesman said. Over two dozen more insurgents including Taliban senior commander Qari Bakhtyar who also served as shadow deputy governor for Baghlan province were wounded during the ongoing operation. Zabihullah Majahid, a purported spokesman of the Taliban group, rejected the government's claim and insisted the security forces' operation had been repulsed. The northern Baghlan province, with Pul-e-Khumri as its capital 160 km north of Kabul, has been the scene of increasing militancy over the past couple of years.”

Pakistan

The National: Pakistan Must Do More To Crack Down On Terrorism Financing, Watchdog Says

“Pakistan must quickly do more to crack down on terrorism financing and money laundering or face punishment, the head of an international financial watchdog said. The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force said Pakistan, which is already included on a “grey list” of countries with inadequate controls, had largely failed to keep its side of a remedial plan agreed in June 2018. “Despite a high-level commitment from Pakistan to fix these weaknesses, Pakistan has not made enough progress,”said Xiangmin Liu, the FATF president. “Pakistan needs to do more and it needs to do it faster,” he added. The country was given until February 2020 to show progress in cleaning up its financial system, or the FATF would consider further action, including blacklisting, he said. That would see Pakistan join Iran and North Korea on a list of global money laundering and terrorism financing hot spots. Pakistan is already facing a damaging economic slump and economists fear blacklisting would further hit investment and trade. Before Friday's meeting, the watchdog's Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) criticised Islamabad's lack of progress since last year.”

Lebanon

France 24: Lebanon's Hariri Announces Reform Package After Days Of Protests

“Officials told Reuters the agreement was reached as hundreds of thousands of protesters flooded the streets in the biggest show of dissent against the establishment in decades. A sea of people, some waving Lebanese flags, crammed roads for the fourth day, calling for revolution in protests that resembled the 2011 Arab revolts that toppled four presidents. Hariri, who is leading a coalition government mired by sectarian and political rivalries, gave his feuding government partners a 72-hour deadline on Friday to agree reforms that could ward off crisis, hinting he may otherwise resign. Hariri accused his rivals of obstructing his reform measures that could unlock $11 billion in Western donor pledges and help avert economic collapse. The reform decisions require a 50% reduction in salaries of current and former presidents, ministers and MPs plus cuts in benefits to state institutions and officials. It also obliges the central bank and private banks to contribute $3.3 billion to achieve a "near zero deficit" for the 2020 budget."

Reuters: Lebanon's Hezbollah Says Does Not Want Government To Resign

“Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Saturday that the group was not demanding the government’s resignation amid widespread national protests. Nasrallah said in a televised speech that he supported the government, but called for a new agenda and “new spirit,” adding that ongoing protests showed the way forward was not new taxes. Any tax imposed on the poor would push him to call supporters to go take to the streets, Nasrallah added. Security forces fired tear gas and chased down protesters in Beirut on Friday after tens of thousands of people across Lebanon marched to demand the demise of a political elite they accuse of looting the economy to the point of collapse.”

Middle East

The National: UAE Announces New Initiative To Combat Online Extremism

“The UAE has announced a new initiative designed to help combat divisive and extremist ideologies online. Launched by the Sawab Centre, a joint US and Emirati programme, the campaign will focus on the empty promises of Isis, also known as Daesh. Under the scheme - called #FateOfTerrorists - organisers will seek to expose the lies used by extremists to coerce vulberable new recruits into their ranks. The initiative will run in Arabic, English and French and will appear on a variety of social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. “Years after Daesh first appeared on the global scene, increasing numbers of Daesh terrorists and other violent extremists are facing the full penalty of the law,” a statement from the centre said.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Kuwait Takes Action Against Money Launderers Linked To Terrorism

“The Kuwaiti Ministry of Commerce and Industry said on Saturday its department of combating money laundering and funding of terrorism took action against companies in September. The ministry said in a press release that the 56 measures included warning notifications to 17 real-estate companies, four jewelry companies, two money exchange agencies and one dealing in insurance, reported the Kuwait news agency (KUNA). Nineteen real-estate companies, four jewelry firms, five money exchange companies and four insurance firms were compelled to comply with the relevant laws. The division completed certain measures before other units at the ministry issued permits to 112 applicants for launching enterprise, including 80 property companies, one exchange agency, 26 jewelry companies and five insurance firms.”

Egypt

The Washington Post: Egypt: 4 Killed When Shells Hit 2 Houses In North Sinai

“Egyptian security officials and medics say shells hit two houses in the restive northern Sinai Peninsula, killing at least four civilians, including a child. The officials said the shelling took place on Saturday in the town of Sheikh Zuweid. They said 12 people were wounded and taken to a nearby hospital. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media. Last week, nine people of the same family were killed and six wounded when a shell hit a truck carrying civilians in the town of Bir al-Abd. Egypt is battling an Islamic State-led insurgency in the Sinai that intensified after the military overthrew an Islamist president in 2013. The militants have carried out scores of attacks, mainly targeting security forces and minority Christians.”

Nigeria

Premium Times: Boko Haram Ambush Nigerian Soldiers, Kill Three

“Three Nigerian troops were killed by an improvised explosive device in Borno State on October 16, military sources said. Three other soldiers were wounded in the blast. PREMIUM TIMES learnt from military sources this weekend that troops of 123 Special Forces Battalion in Cross Kauwa were ambushed while on a patrol along Cross Kauwa-Baga Road in Kukawa Local Government Area. The attack was reported at about 8:30 a.m. on October 16. Three soldiers were confirmed killed in action and three wounded in the aftermath of the attack, which was a combination of explosives and rifles, sources said. The wounded have been hospitalised at the military hospital in Maiduguri, the state capital. A gun truck was stolen by the insurgents and a military water tanker was destroyed, sources said. Military spokespersons have not responded to requests for comments about the attack, which now adds to mounting military casualties of the decade-long campaign. The defence headquarters spokesperson, Onyema Nwachukwu, and army spokesperson, Sagir Musa, did not reply to telephone calls and text messages sent to them.”

The Punch Nigeria: Terrorists Smuggling Fish Into Nigeria, Says Army

“The Nigerian Army said on Sunday that the Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province fighters were smuggling smoked fish into the country to sustain their criminal activities. The army noted that its troops attached to the Operation Lafiya Dole arrested a syndicate of terrorists which specialised in smuggling “smoked fish from the Lake Chad region.” According to the military, seven Boko Haram terrorists were also killed by an Improvised Explosive Device laid by them for the troops along the Jakana-Mainok Road in Borno State. The army Operations’ Media Coordinator, Col. Aminu Iliyasu, in a release on Sunday, noted that four suspects in the terrorists’ fishing business were arrested and 16 sacks of smoked fish concealed in a room were recovered from them. Iliyasu said, “As the artillery bombardment and ground assault by troops intensify, some marauding Boko Haram criminals met their waterloo as one of their vehicles, a Toyota Sam Sahara Model, stepped on an IED laid by them against troops at the Lamba’a Forest. The destruction consumed seven Boko Haram criminals while eight others suffered severe injuries.”

Xinhua: Nigerian Troops Launches Massive Military Offensive Against Boko Haram: Spokesperson

“Nigerian troops have launched a massive military offensive to end insurgency in the northeast region of the West African country, an army spokesperson said. Aminu Iliyasu, coordinating spokesperson for the Nigerian army, who disclosed this in a statement sent to Xinhua on Saturday, said troops had continued to hunt for fleeing Boko Haram insurgents and increased onslaught against them in Borno and other parts of the northeast. Iliyasu said the troops had recovered weapons and vehicles belonging to the fleeing Boko Haram criminals. He added that the troops deployed at Gubio in Borno successfully repelled a Boko Haram attack on their location and neutralized one of the terrorists. According to the spokesperson, army operations in other parts of the country had resulted in a number of arrests and recoveries of weapons in recent time. Nigeria grapples with security challenges, part of which is the insurgency of Boko Haram, which has killed thousands of people, including women and children, since 2009.”

Africa

Reuters: Mali Army Says It Killed 50 Militants, Freed Soldiers In Counter-Attack

“The Malian army said it had killed around 50 militants during an operation in which it managed to rescue some of the soldiers who were captured during deadly attacks last month on two bases in the center of the country. Unidentified assailants killed 38 soldiers during the Sept. 30 attacks, among the heaviest losses for Mali’s army this year as it struggles to repel increasingly brazen raids by militant groups, some with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State. “Around 50 enemy neutralized, around 30 wounded, and equipment destroyed,” the army said in statement detailing the results of its counter-operation. The army said it had freed 36 of around 60 of its soldiers who were missing following the September raids. Their relatives have protested over the high death toll and a lack of information on the casualties and those missing. The West African country has been in conflict since 2012 when Islamists hijacked an ethnic uprising by Tuaregs in the north. The violence has since moved to central Mali, from where jihadist fighters launch attacks across the Sahel region. In a further example of the spiraling insecurity, pro-government Tuareg militia GATIA on Saturday said six of its fighters had been killed in an overnight raid on a GATIA outpost by unidentified assailants in Mali’s northern region of Kidal.”

Reuters: Militants Kill Five In Twin Attacks On Burkina Army Outposts: Army

“Four soldiers and one police officer have been killed in two attacks on military outposts in northern Burkina Faso, the Burkinabe army said on Saturday. Raids by Islamist militants as well as clashes between herding and farming communities have surged this year, killing hundreds of civilians and soldiers. In the early hours of Saturday, the unidentified assailants attacked a military position in the town of Bahn and another in the village of Yense, the army said in a statement. The attacks happened “almost at the same moment,” it said. The troops were able to retain control of their posts and repel the attackers, it said. Once a pocket of relative calm in the Sahel, a semi-arid belt beneath the Sahara, Burkina has suffered a homegrown insurgency for the past three years, which has been amplified by a spillover of jihadist violence from its chaotic neighbor Mali.”

Long War Journal: Al Qaeda Leader Reported Killed In Tunisia

“A senior leader within al Qaeda’s Uqba bin Nafi Battalion (KUBN) was reportedly killed in a military operation earlier today, according to Tunisia’s Ministry of Interior. Murad al Shayeb was purportedly killed by Tunisian troops today in Kasserine governorate near the borders with Algeria. Tunisia states the military action today was part of a larger ongoing operation in the region. The Tunisian government states that Shayeb was responsible for a litany of attacks since 2013, including an assault on a former interior minister in 2014 and various ambushes in the Chaambi, Ouargha, Mghila, and Sammama mountains. A photo claiming to show Shayeb’s dead body was also released by Tunisia’s national guard. However, his death has not yet been confirmed by KUBN. He was also reported killed during an operation in 2017, casting doubt on the veracity of Tunisia’s statements. Shayeb, an Algerian national, is believed to be one of the main leaders of KUBN and leads the group’s overall operations in the Chaambi Mountain region. Murad is reportedly the brother of KUBN’s first emir, Khaled al Shayeb (also known as Luqman Abu Sakhr). Khaled was killed by Tunisian security forces in early 2015 in an operation in Tunisia’s Gafsa governorate."

Xinhua: 5 Terrorist Shelters Destroyed In Algeria

“Algeria's Defence Ministry Saturday said in a statement that Algerian army destroyed five terrorist shelters on Friday in the provinces of Batna and Skikda. The official APS news agency quoted the statement as saying that in the framework of the fight against terrorism, the army discovered and destroyed on Oct. 18 five shelters for terrorists in search operations carried out in the province of Batna and Skikda, 410 km southeast and 500 km east of capital Algiers, respectively. According to the source, these shelters contained “20 homemade mines, one shotgun, one carbine rifle and dozens of bullets of different calibers in addition to some black powder and detonation tools.” The security situation in Algeria has remarkably improved in the last decade, but clashes between security forces and terrorist groups are still occasionally reported. Algeria has also deployed tens of thousands of troops on the southern and eastern borders in a bid to thwart the inflow of terrorists and arms amid instability in neighboring Mali and Libya.”

France

Yahoo News: Let Jihadists Return Home, French Anti-Terror Magistrate Urges

“The refusal of the French government to take back Islamic State fighters from Syria could fuel a new jihadist recruitment drive in France, threatening public safety, a leading anti-terrorism investigator has told AFP. David De Pas, coordinator of France's 12 anti-terrorism examining magistrates, said that it would be “better to know that these people are in the care of the judiciary” in France “than let them roam free”. Turkey's offensive against Kurdish militia in northeast Syria has sparked fears that some of the 12,000 jihadists, including thousands of foreigners, being held in Syrian Kurdish prisons could escape. Officials in Paris say 60 to 70 French fighters are among those held, with around 200 adults, including jihadists' wives, being held in total, along with some 300 children. France has refused to allow the adults return home, saying they must face local justice. So far Paris has only taken back a handful of children, mostly orphans. This week, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian travelled to Iraq to try convince Baghdad to take in and try French jihadists being held in northern Syria. On Friday, in a rare interview, De Pas argued that instability in the region and the “porous nature” of the Syrian Kurdish prison camps risked triggering “uncontrolled migration of jihadists to Europe, with the risk of attacks by very ideological people.”

Germany 

Asharq Al-Awsat: Germany: Intelligence Chief Calls For Vigilance, Fearing ISIS Return

“A state of alert has taken over in Germany’s capital, Berlin, amidst fears of the return of German ISIS militants held by the Kurds in Syria. Head of the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) Thomas Haldenwang have joined parties launching these calls. In remarks to Der Spiegel website, Haldenwang said German security services shall be “vigilant” for the possible return of fighters. “The conflict in northern Syria may lead to the release of foreign ISIS militants from prisons and their return to Europe,” he explained. He also expressed fears that ISIS could regain power following the Turkish military operation in Syria. According to the German government, Kurds in Syria have 84 German-national ISIS militants. Almost one third of them are classified by the German police as a threat, including 19 men and eight women. The police believe they pose a high threat and could carry out terrorist attacks in the country. Der Spiegel said 50 out of 84 fighters may remain free after returning to Germany since there is no evidence to prosecute them for their actions in Syria and Iraq. The website added that at least four women with German citizenship have fled Kurdish prisons since the Turkish operation began a week ago.”

Truthout: A Growing Anti-Racist Network Takes On The Rise Of Far-Right Politics In Germany

“Since its founding in 2013, Germany’s far-right parliamentary party, Alternative for Deutschland, or AfD, has profoundly shaped anti-refugee politics. International headlines hone in on the pending controversies of AfD politicians’ connection to street-based Nazi movements in Germany and throughout Europe. That the AfD recently gained 37 seats in the Saxony state government is formidable. Yet, what is too often missed in these accounts of racism in Germany is the growing network of organizations working to assert the will of an anti-racist majority. This network is making critical interventions in the particular ways racism operates in Germany. For starters, they consistently point out how racism is built into governance and national security. At the same time, they also work to connect anti-racist and anti-fascist movements with artists and students. Laura Frey and Vincent Bababoutilabo are two activists in this important network. I met them in 2018, during the final months of the NSU trial, as they continued to work on the Tribunal — a people’s court that was set-up to protest the systematic exclusion of families whose loved ones were killed by the National Socialist Underground, an organized terrorist network that targeted migrant communities with serial murders and bombings from 2000-2007.”

Breitbart: Female Islamic State Member On Trial In Germany Kept Three Slaves

“A female Islamic State member on trial in Germany is accused of keeping two women and a young girl as slaves while living with her jihadi husband in Syria. Sarah O., who travelled to Syria to join the radical Islamist movement when she was 15, is now on trial at the Higher Regional Court in Dusseldorf, charged with being a member of a terrorist group, German tabloid Bild reports. Now 21 years old, the Islamic State member faces up to 15 years in prison if found guilty. She is said to have lived in a house with her husband and three children which they had obtained after Islamic State fighters had killed its former occupants. The young girl kept as a slave was a member of the Yazidi minority, who are often kept as sex slaves to be raped and tortured by Islamic State fighters. While the trial was closed to the media due to the charges having occurred when Sarah O. was a minor, Gian Aldonani from the Central Council of the Yazidis was present in the chamber. Speaking about the Yazidis, Aldonani said: “They have been tormented, tortured, humiliated, raped. ISIS women were often crueller than men. Jealousy plays a role here.”

Europe

The Times: The Rise Of The Far Right — The UK’s Fastest‑Growing Terror Threat

“On a cold winter evening in a cottage in Lancashire, the extremist stared intensely into my eyes. “At the end of the day, it’s about survival,” he said. “We are fighting for our very survival. We are being ethnically cleansed by force of numbers.” I was interviewing “Steve”, not his real name, one of Britain’s most committed far-right activists. It was part of the research for my PhD, exploring who joins the murky world of the far right and, crucially, why. Like most of my interviewees, Steve was consumed by the idea of “white genocide” — his fervent belief that whites will soon be wiped out as a result of mass immigration and higher birth rates among non-whites.”

The Guardian: Belgium To Evacuate Isis Suspects From Syria Detention Camps

“Belgium and other European states are preparing to evacuate citizens accused of having links to Islamic State from detention camps in north-eastern Syria through a newly declared safe zone being carved out by Turkish forces along the border. Belgian officials informed family members of detainees held in two camps on Friday that they would attempt to take advantage of a five-day ceasefire to retrieve nationals allegedly tied to the terror group. The Guardian has learned that other European states, including France and Germany, are also looking at ways to take advantage of the window declared by US vice-president Mike Pence on Thursday to repatriate women and children.”

Southeast Asia

CNN: Four Dead In Bangladesh Riot Over Offensive Facebook Post

“Four people were killed Sunday when Bangladesh police fired on a crowd after clashes erupted over a Facebook post that angered Muslims. Thousands of people took to the streets in the town of Borhanuddin, in Bangladesh's southern Bhola district, to protest the post that allegedly criticized the Prophet Muhammad. "We had to fire, we had no options," said AKM Ehsanullah, a senior police official in the Barisal Range, Bangladesh. The offending post was published Friday from the account of a 25-year-old Hindu man in the area, said Shafin Mohammed, additional superintendent of police in Bhola. The man had told police his Facebook account was hacked. As the post started to draw more attention online, senior police and district officials met with religious leaders of the region Saturday to try and calm the situation and reassure them that action was being taken.”

South China Morning Post: Southeast Asia On Alert For Isis ‘Grand Agenda’ As Escaped Indonesian Jihadists In Syria Eye The Region

“Southeast Asian nations are on high alert for about 50 Indonesian Islamic State fighters and their family members who could be tasked with carrying out the terror network’s “grand agenda” of destroying the region’s secular governments following their escape from Syrian prisons. Terrorism experts say Isis has been turning its attention to weaponising fake news, which it sees as an easy and cost-free way to help undermine and delegitimise authorities in the region. “The threat is real and it is coming now,” said Noor Huda Ismail, visiting fellow at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. “Isis has no plan but to destroy the secular system in the whole of Southeast Asia. “To produce fake news is super cheap but the impact is powerful because people will get confused. Governments will not work effectively if they suffer from a lack of trust among the people,” Huda said. A former member of Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda’s Southeast Asian arm said the aim of Isis in the region was to bring the fall of its secular governments, a strategy it called its “grand agenda.” “It plans to bring together all the Southeast Asian countries under a caliphate with the southern Philippines as the capital,” said Sofyan Tsauri.”