Eye on Extremism: October 22

The Washington Post: Afghan Official: Taliban Storm Checkpoint, Kill 15 Policemen

“The Taliban stormed a checkpoint in northern Afghanistan, killing at least 15 policemen in the latest attack by insurgents, an Afghan provincial official said Tuesday. The multi-pronged attack on the checkpoint in the Ali Abad district of northern Kunduz province began late on Monday night and set off an hours-long gunbattle, according to Ghulam Rabani Rabani, a provincial council member. Along with the 15 policemen killed, two other officers were wounded in the assault, he said. The attack came as Afghan troops have been battling the Taliban for the past few weeks in Kunduz’s Dashti Archi and Imam Sahib districts, Rabani added. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the checkpoint attack. The Taliban have a strong presence in Kunduz and are in control in several of the province’s districts. The provincial capital, the city of Kunduz, briefly fell to the Taliban in 2015, before the insurgents withdrew in the face of a NATO-backed Afghan offensive. The city is a strategic crossroads with easy access to much of northern Afghanistan as well as the country’s capital, Kabul, about 200 miles (335 kilometers) away. The Taliban pushed back into the city center again a year later, briefly raising their flag before gradually being driven out again.”

The New York Times: ISIS Reaps Gains Of U.S. Pullout From Syria

“American forces and their Kurdish-led partners in Syria had been conducting as many as a dozen counterterrorism missions a day against Islamic State militants, officials said. That has stopped. Those same partners, the Syrian Democratic Forces, had also been quietly releasing some Islamic State prisoners and incorporating them into their ranks, in part as a way to keep them under watch. That, too, is now in jeopardy. And across Syria’s porous border with Iraq, Islamic State fighters are conducting a campaign of assassination against local village headmen, in part to intimidate government informants. When President Trump announced this month that he would pull American troops out of northern Syria and make way for a Turkish attack on the Kurds, Washington’s onetime allies, many warned that he was removing the spearhead of the campaign to defeat the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. Now, analysts say that Mr. Trump’s pullout has handed the Islamic State its biggest win in more than four years and greatly improved its prospects. With American forces rushing for the exits, in fact, American officials said last week that they were already losing their ability to collect critical intelligence about the group’s operations on the ground.”

The Washington Post: Britain Now Considers Prosecuting ISIS Militants Known As The Beatles

“British prosecutors are reconsidering their opposition to trying a pair of Islamic State members linked to a cell suspected of involvement in the killing of American and British hostages in Syria. The Crown Prosecution Service, an independent public authority in England and Wales, has agreed to review its previous decision not to prosecute the men. The move came after the United States military took custody of the two British men, Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, almost two weeks ago. “Due to the change in circumstances the CPS are reviewing the evidence in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors,” a CPS spokesperson told The Washington Post on Monday. The decision has not been previously reported. Kotey and Elsheikh, part of a cell of four British militants dubbed the “Beatles” by their hostages because of their accents, were handed over to the Americans by Kurdish allies in Syria and taken to a detention facility in Iraq — removing an obstacle to a British prosecution, said several people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive case. Kotey and Elsheikh were captured in early 2018.”

Middle East Eye: Protests Erupt In Hezbollah's Heartland Of South Lebanon, Despite Intimidation

“Under the bright sun and facing the sea, over 2,000 protesters gathered on Sunday in Sour, a coastal city in south Lebanon known in English as Tyre. The mood was cheerful, people came with friends and family, all carrying a Lebanese flag. “The people want the fall of the regime,” they chanted to music. Protesters are here for the fourth day in a row. Like in the rest of the country, the mobilisation started on Thursday night after the government announced it would impose a $0.20 daily tax on internet calls from apps such as WhatsApp. Although the government rapidly cancelled the tax, the popular outburst has grown bigger and bigger every day. Other cities in the south have joined the movement, including Nabatieh and Sidon (Saida in Arabic). “It warms my heart. There are Christians, Muslims… Behind me you can see Shia and Sunnis. We are all together, we are united,” said Rami, a 54-year-old restaurant owner.”

The Times: Russia Hid Behind Iran To Spy On 35 Countries

“Russian hackers masqueraded as an Iranian cybergang to mount a huge espionage campaign against 35 countries, GCHQ has revealed. The UK intelligence agency worked on a two-year investigation with the National Security Agency, its American equivalent, to uncover the origins of the Russia-based hacking group, which stole documents from an array of institutions worldwide. A security chief last night described how the Russian group had hijacked Iranian cybertools and infrastructure, which served to obscure its identity as well as facilitate its espionage, as a new and significant development in the hostile cyber-realm.”

The Wall Street Journal: Islamic State Turns To Teen-Friendly TikTok, Adorning Posts With Pink Hearts

“Islamic State militants have been posting short propaganda videos to TikTok, the social network known for lighthearted content popular with teenagers. The videos—since removed, in line with the app’s policy—featured corpses paraded through streets, Islamic State fighters with guns, and women who call themselves “jihadist and proud.” Many were set to Islamic State songs. Some included TikTok filters, or images, of stars and hearts that stream across the screen in an apparent attempt to resonate with young people. “We pledge allegiance ’til death,” voices sang in Arabic in one of the videos, which appear to have been posted in recent weeks. The posts from approximately two dozen accounts, identified by social-media intelligence company Storyful, appeared to target TikTok’s users as part of a new show of strength—and possible enlistment tool—as U.S. troops withdraw from Syria. Islamic State has focused on online propaganda since its inception, including using social media to spread its message, setting it apart from other jihadist groups. The postings followed the release last month by the extremist group of a purported message from leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in which he called on his followers to redouble their efforts to further the cause after losing control over the last of its self-proclaimed caliphate in parts of Syria and Iraq earlier this year.”

United States

The Daily Beast: The Terror Gap: U.S. Laws Let White Supremacists Operate Like ISIS

“The recent arrests of Jarrett William Smith, a former U.S. Army soldier who discussed plans to “bomb a major U.S. news network,” and Conor Climo, a Las Vegas man who plotted attacks on a synagogue and LGBT bar, give an inkling of the growing threat posed by far-right terrorists in the United States. The problem of white supremacist violence is international. From the horrific attack on a mosque in Christ Church, New Zealand, to the assault on a synagogue in the German city of Halle, the movement often follows the same horrific script—live-streaming the carnage, disseminating a manifesto, comments full of tongue-in-cheek internet references—and governments are scrambling to counter this threat.  But U.S. laws have a special problem, what might be called a “terror gap” between “foreign” and “domestic” terror organizations. While the arrests of Smith and Climo mark a new level of initiative by the federal government, there is still much more to be done. What allows far-right terrorist groups to thrive in the U.S. is a legal double standard that binds the hands of even the most proactive members of law enforcement. This double standard is exemplified by groups like Atomwaffen, a neo-Nazi paramilitary group with major influence in the far-right online community.”

Syria

The Wall Street Journal: America’s Syria Exit Improves Iran’s Fortunes 

“In the tortured history of U.S.-Iranian relations, no American leader has been as intent on making life difficult for Iran as has President Trump. He has exerted economic pressure, diplomatic pressure, even indirect military pressure. The great paradox of the moment, then, is that Mr. Trump’s decision to pull back U.S. troops in Syria actually is making life easier for Iran in a host of ways. As has often been the case in dealing with Iran, American impulses have collided with the Middle East’s harsh law of unintended consequences. President Trump now is considering leaving a few American forces in northeastern Syria, largely to keep an eye on the region’s oil fields. He initially ordered them to all leave, clearing the way for Turkish troops to move in and eliminate the Kurdish fighters who had been America’s best allies in the fight against Islamic State extremists.”

The New York Times: U.S. Withdrawal From Syria Gathers Speed, Amid Accusations Of Betrayal

“Heckled by Kurds who feel betrayed, a long convoy of United States troops crossed into Iraq early Monday, accelerating a withdrawal of American forces from northern Syria that set the stage for the Turkish invasion of Kurdish-controlled land. More than 100 American military vehicles left Syrian Kurdish territory in the early morning, according to a cameraman for the Reuters news agency who was at the border crossing. Residents threw rocks and potatoes at the convoy as it drove through Qamishli, a major city in Kurdish-held territory. In video posted online by a local Kurdish news outlet, ANHA Hawar, men hurling potatoes at an armored vehicle shouted “No America” and “America liar,” in English.”

The Wall Street Journal: Erdogan Seeks Putin’s Support To Carve Out Syrian Buffer Zone

“Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with his Russian counterpart to discuss dividing influence in Syria as U.S. troops pull out and a five-day halt to a Turkish offensive comes to an end, with both Ankara and Moscow seeking to capitalize on a rebalancing of power in the region. Ahead of Tuesday’s meeting in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi, Mr. Erdogan said he would seek Russian President Vladimir Putin’s support to create a safe zone in northeastern Syria that is free of Kurdish fighters whom Ankara views as a terrorist threat.”

The New York Times: For Trump The Dealmaker, Troop Pullouts Without Much In Return

“The Taliban have wanted the United States to pull troops out of Afghanistan, Turkey has wanted the Americans out of northern Syria and North Korea has wanted them to at least stop military exercises with South Korea. President Trump has now to some extent at least obliged all three — but without getting much of anything in return. The self-styled dealmaker has given up the leverage of the United States’ military presence in multiple places around the world without negotiating concessions from those cheering for American forces to leave.”

The Wall Street Journal: Trump Calls For Defense, Use Of Syrian Oil Fields

“President Trump said that he is planning to keep a small number of troops in northeast Syria to protect the oil fields there and suggested that an American company might help the Syrian Kurds develop the oil for export.  “I always said if you’re going in, keep the oil,” Mr. Trump said at a cabinet meeting Monday. “We’ll work something out with the Kurds so that they have some money, so that they have some cash flow. Maybe we’ll get one of our big oil companies to go in and do it properly.” Former administration officials said Mr. Trump’s plan raises a host of legal, technical and diplomatic issues. And industry analysts say it is unlikely to draw any interest from the oil companies it would need to succeed.”

The New York Times: A Reporter Walked Into A Prison Full Of ISIS Detainees

“The prison guards undid a giant padlock, swung open a heavy metal door and gestured for us to enter the cell. Inside were 22 prisoners who had been captured in battles with the Islamic State. I peeked in, looked at the two unarmed guards, and hesitated. I’m not going in there, I thought. “It’s fine,” a guard said. “Go ahead.” I took a deep breath and went in. We were in the basement of one of a network of prisons run by Kurdish-led forces holding more than 10,000 men who once belonged to the world’s most fearsome terrorist organization. A good portion of the detainees are foreigners — from Arab countries, Africa, Europe and the United States — but most of their countries have refused to bring them home, fearing that they could spread extremism or prove hard to keep behind bars. That has left them stuck here, watched over by a Kurdish-led militia that allied with the United States to fight the Islamic State, and won. Now, their status has been thrown into further uncertainty by the Turkish invasion of northeastern Syria, which has set off new violence and a scramble for influence. In the end, will the Kurds maintain control of the prisons? Will determining these men’s fate fall to Turkey or the government of President Bashar al-Assad? Might they escape to fight another day? No one knows.”

New York Post: Defense Secretary Mark Esper Says Small US Force May Remain In Syria To Curb ISIS Activity

“Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Monday the administration is weighing keeping a small US force in Syria to act as a check on the Islamic State as US troops began crossing the border into Iraq as part of President Trump’s withdrawal. “We have troops in towns in northeast Syria that are located next to the oil fields, the troops in those towns are not in the present phase of withdrawal,” Esper told reporters during a visit to Kabul, Afghanistan. “The purpose is to deny access, specifically revenue to ISIS and any other groups that may want to seek that revenue to enable their own malign activities,” he said. The defense secretary said while there have been discussions about keeping some troops in Syria, “there has been no decision with regard to numbers or anything like that.” A convoy of armored vehicles carrying US troops into Iraq from northern Syria on Monday was met by angry Kurds tossing potatoes and shouting “America liar,” according to video posted by the Kurdish news agency. “Like rats, America is running away,” one man shouted in Arabic, the Associated Press reported. The Kurds, who fought alongside US troops against ISIS terrorists since 2014, have called Trump’s decision to pull American forces from Syria a betrayal.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: 12,000 ISIS Militants In 7 Prisons In Northeastern Syria 

“The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced that about 12,000 suspected ISIS militants are being held in seven prisons in northeastern Syria. Apart from Syrians, the number of imprisoned Iraqis is estimated at 4,000, and there are about 2,000 fighters from 50 different countries, including about 800 from Western and European origins, with about 1,200 from Arab, Middle Eastern, and North African countries. The SDF fears that if the rest of the areas under its control are attacked by Turkey, extremists in detention centers might flee. The United States and Turkey agreed to reduce security concerns about the fate of thousands of ISIS prisoners held in SDF prisons. Extremists' families are in displacement and asylum camps in northeastern Syria, most notably al-Hol camp which houses thousands of ISIS families. Over the past two days, several riots and incidents erupted after Turkey launched a large-scale attack on areas east of the Euphrates and declared a fragile truce. In an interview with the Kurdish channel Ronahi earlier this week, commander of SDF, Mazloum Abdi, announced that so far, the US has not ended their alliance against ISIS, adding that the issue of extremists concerns the entire world.”

The Hill: The Children Of ISIS Need Our Help To Grow Up As Peaceful Citizens

“Over the past year I have sat with, talked with, and played with several children of ISIS fighters.  Innocently, these children drew pictures, told stories, shared dreams and played imaginatively like other children. Some were guarded at first, then spoke of crimes or cruelties that the grown-ups in their lives had brought upon them or made them do. Some openly struggled to understand why those who loved and raised them had made decisions that led them and others to be hurt or killed. After being with them, it was easy for me to conclude that these children are victims, even though some may have done terrible things at the request of their parents or other adults. The children I saw were being repatriated to their countries and helped on a path towards recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration. Kazakhstan and Kosovo are among a small group of countries that is welcoming back the children of their citizens who became foreign terrorist fighters. Although several European countries and Australia have thus far chosen to disown the children of their citizen fighters, the U.S. has taken back a small number and Canada is preparing to receive some.”

Iran

Reuters: Senior Israeli Official Attends Bahrain Security Meeting Focusing On Iran

“A senior Israeli official attended a maritime security conference in Bahrain on Monday in another sign of Gulf Arab nations and Israel transcending longtime enmities to focus on a perceived common threat from Iran. Israel, which regards Sunni Muslim Gulf states as natural allies against Shi’ite Muslim Iran, has formal diplomatic relations with only two Arab states, neighboring Egypt and Jordan, established in 1979 and 1994 respectively. The maritime workshop being held in Manama stems from a Middle East conference held in Warsaw in February that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the time called a “historical turning point” for an alliance against Tehran. The United States is trying to build a global maritime coalition to secure vital trade channels following attacks on tankers in Gulf waters in May and June that Washington has blamed on Iran, a charge Tehran denies. Tensions have risen since President Donald Trump last year withdrew the United States from a 2015 deal between world powers and Iran under which it agreed to curbs on its disputed nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions.”

Iraq

Voice Of America: Islamic State Attack Kills 2 Security Forces Near Northern Iraqi Oil Fields

“Two members of Iraq's security forces were killed and three wounded when Islamic State militants attacked checkpoints in the Allas oil fields area of the northern Salahuddin province on Monday, the military said in a statement. The Allas oil field, 35 km (20 miles) south of Hawija, was one of the main sources of revenue for Islamic State, which in 2014 declared a caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria. Iraq declared victory over the hardline Sunni militants in late 2017 after pushing them out of all territory it held in the country. They have since reverted to hit-and-run insurgency tactics aimed at destabilizing the government in Baghdad. "Elements of the terrorist Daesh gangs attacked two security checkpoints in the Alas oil fields area of Salahuddin province, and an improvised explosive device blew up a vehicle belonging to security forces stationed there, leading to the martyrdom of two of them," the statement said. Militants also opened fire on the security forces who attempted to evacuate the bodies, injuring three more. A joint force consisting of regular troops and mostly Iran-backed Shi'ite paramilitary groups known as the Popular Mobilization Forces is pursuing the attackers, the statement said.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Iraq Urges Europe To Support It In Confronting Terrorism

“Iraqi President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi called on Monday the European Union to take “more serious” stances in combating terrorism. Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg was in Iraq as part of a tour of the region aimed at garnering more support for international efforts to fight terrorism in wake of the withdrawal of US troops from Syria. The move has sparked fears of the reemergence of the ISIS group. Salih held talks with Solberg on Monday, saying Iraq looks forward to working with “brothers and friends to consolidate security and stability in the region.” He stressed the need to resolve the Syrian crisis away from foreign meddling and military operations. He also underlined the need to present emergency support to refugees, who have fled the Turkish incursion in northeastern Syria. In a joint press conference with Solberg, Abdul Mahdi said Iraq needed international support in its war against terrorism. “The victory against terrorism prevented terror groups in the region from spreading to the rest of the world,” he declared. Solberg, for her part, stressed Norway’s commitment to the partnership with Iraq in fighting terrorism.”

Afghanistan

Foreign Affairs: What A Withdrawal From Afghanistan Would Look Like

“Over the past two years, a bipartisan consensus has emerged that the United States should leave Afghanistan. This summer, President Donald Trump repeatedly claimed that he wanted out. So did the Democratic presidential candidates. During a September debate, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren promised to bring troops home without any deal with the Taliban, and former Vice President Joe Biden was just as strident, declaring, “We don’t need those troops there. I would bring them home.” But advocates of the mission argue that a full withdrawal courts disaster, paving the way for terrorist groups to reestablish a safe haven in Afghanistan. That distaste for remaining in Afghanistan is widespread is unsurprising after 17 years of war. And U.S. involvement in active military operations in Afghanistan has greatly decreased since 2010 and 2011, when nearly 100,000 U.S. troops were deployed. The remaining 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan support local security forces with airstrikes, surveillance, and advising. Afghan soldiers and police do the frontline work of defending cities against the Taliban, while U.S. special operations devote significant effort to battling al Qaeda and the Islamic State (or ISIS). The United States has fought a relentless campaign against these groups, and many opponents of the effort can endure it no longer.”

The Hill: US Pulling Troops From Afghanistan Despite Lack Of Taliban Peace Deal

“The U.S. has begun winding down its troop presence in Afghanistan despite the lack of a working peace deal with Taliban forces, the top American commander in the country said Monday. Gen. Scott Miller told reporters that U.S. troop levels in the country were reduced by 2,000 to about 12,000 over the past year. Unidentified American and Afghan officials told The New York Times that troop levels could eventually be further reduced to 8,600, which is near the level agreed upon in the initial draft agreement developed with the Taliban. President Trump abruptly ended peace talks with the militant group last month, citing their killing of a U.S. soldier in a Kabul attack. A senior Afghan official told the newspaper that government officials in Kabul have agreed to the U.S. troop level reduction but officials would not discuss any other details. Trump has repeatedly emphasized his desire to pull the U.S. out of the country after nearly two decades of conflict there, the Times noted, adding that U.S. negotiators initially attempted to convince the Taliban the U.S. was committed to remaining in the nation and the extremist group would not be able to wait U.S. forces out.”

Xinhua: Afghan Airstrikes Kill 14 Militants In Northern Afghanistan

“A total of 14 militants were confirmed dead as fighting planes struck a Taliban hideout in the beleaguered Darqad district of Afghanistan's northern Takahr province, according to an army statement released here Tuesday. Three more militants sustained injuries due to the air raids conducted on Monday afternoon, the statement said. Taliban militants who are active in parts of the restive Darqad district have not made comments on the report yet. Takhar province with Taluqan as its capital, 245 km north of Kabul, has been the scene of Taliban-led increasing insurgency over the past couple of years.”

Pakistan

Xinhua: Blast Injures At Least 5 In Pakistan's Quetta 

“A blast hit a police vehicle in Pakistan's southwestern Quetta city on Monday evening, leaving at least five people injured, including four policemen, said local police. According to the police in the area, unknown militants detonated explosive material near the police vehicle when it was on its routine patrolling in the Aspani Road area of Quetta, the provincial capital of the country's southwestern Balochistan province. The explosive material was hidden inside a motorbike parked at the roadside, which was triggered by a remote control device, said the police. Rescue teams, police and security forces had reached the site and shifted the injured to hospital. No group has claimed the attack yet.”

Yemen

Asharq Al-Awsat: Yemen’s Houthis Accused Of Randomly Planting Landmines

“Yemeni military officials accused on Sunday Houthi militias of randomly planting landmines and explosive devices along streets, houses and farms from where the rebels have been expelled, adding to the misery of people, including children, women and the elderly. Landmines and explosives threaten the lives of millions of Yemenis and have killed and injured hundreds of them. Reports of humanitarian organizations suggest that Yemen has become one of the largest landmine battlefields in the world since World War II. On Sunday, 13 rebels were killed and injured in battles with the National Army on the eastern front of the Houthi-besieged city of Taiz, where the legitimacy has made new advances by controlling several sites.”

Lebanon

The National: Lebanese Army Stops Amal, Hezbollah Convoy Heading To Beirut Protest Site

“The Lebanese army on Monday night moved in to break up a group of hundreds of men on mopeds driving through central Beirut with flags of Hezbollah and the Amal Movement chanting slogans against the mass demonstrations now in their sixth day. Videos shared online show about 30 officers moving in with sticks and batons to turn back the moped riders, several of whom were detained. At least one officer with his weapon raised running towards the convoy as it quickly scattered up side streets. The video shows the convoy heading down Beshara Khoury Street in central Beirut and heading towards Martyrs’ Square, the epicentre of the week-long protests. Both Hezbollah and the Amal Movement quickly released statements denying that they had sent the convoy to the streets.”

Associated Press: Protesters Remain Despite Lebanese PM’s Reform Package

“Facing escalating mass protests, the government of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri approved Monday a package of economic reforms and a 2020 budget without new taxes, hoping to appease people in the streets. Protests swelled in the hours after the announcement, however, as many demonstrators scorned the package as “empty promises.” Hundreds of thousands of people have flooded public squares across the country in the largest protests in over 15 years, unifying an often-divided public in their revolt against status-quo leaders who have ruled for three decades and brought the economy to the brink of disaster. Sparked by proposed new taxes, the protests have shaken the country and top leaders, who are scrambling to come up with concessions to appease the public.”

The New York Times: ‘Baby Shark’ And The Sounds Of Protest In Lebanon

“In a video shot in Lebanon over the weekend, a woman whose car is trapped among a sea of protesters, tells them that her toddler in the car is frightened. The protesters then launch into a song and dance of “Baby Shark” to calm the child. The video is both sweet and uplifting. It’s also surprising, because a Lebanese crowd acting in unison is such a rarity. On Thursday, Lebanese from all walks of life took to the streets to protest corruption, and as of this writing the crowds keep getting bigger, louder, and more united. The crowds on Sunday were estimated to be 1.3 million people, 20 percent of the population. What seems to have set off the protests was the government’s announcement of a tax on calls made using WhatsApp and other free online applications, supposedly to raise revenue during a fiscal crisis.”

Middle East

The Jerusalem Post: Jordan Nabs Isis Cell Plotting Terror Attacks - Report

“The Jordanian authorities have foiled a plot by ISIS to carry out terrorist attacks in the kingdom, the Jordanian newspaper Al-Ra’i reported on Monday. Five members of the terrorist cell were arrested last July, according to a charge sheet presented to the State Security Court in Amman, the newspaper said. According to the report, the suspects were planning to attack the guards stationed outside the home of a former Jordanian prime minister and seize their weapons. At the beginning of their trial on Sunday, the suspects pleaded not guilty, the newspaper said. The suspects are accused of conspiring to carry out terrorist attacks, including shooting at security patrols and kidnapping a Jordanian intelligence officer. One of the suspects, according to the charge sheet, is a Syrian national living in Jordan known as an ISIS supporter. At the beginning of this year, three of the other suspects, also known as ISIS supporters, attempted to infiltrate the border from Jordan into Syria to fight alongside the terrorist group. The attempt, however, failed due to the large presence of the Jordanian army along the border, the charge sheet said, according to the newspaper. During meetings in Jordan, the suspects reportedly pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and formed a cell with the purpose of purchasing weapons to launch terrorist attacks in the kingdom.”

Nigeria

Sahara Reporters: Nigeria Now Fighting Global Terrorists, Boko Haram Technically Defeated -Lai Mohammed

“Lai Mohammed, Nigeria's Minister of Information and Culture, believes Boko Haram have been technically defeated despite continued onslaughts by the terrorist group. The minister stated this on Monday when he paid a working visit to the new corporate headquarters of The Sun in Lagos. Fielding questions from the editorial board of the newspaper led be the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief, Onuoha Ukeh, the minister said Nigeria was currently facing global terrorism. He stated, “I stand by what I said that Boko Haram is technically defeated. “What we are having today is global terrorism where you have ISIS, ISWAP, Al-Qaeda all working together.”

Pulse Nigeria: U.S. Donates Equipment To Nigeria To Fight Terrorism

“The US Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration, Office of Nuclear Smuggling Detection and Deterrence (US-DOE/NNSA/NSDD) has donated two Mobile Radiation Detection Systems to help combat terrorism in Nigeria. CP Maikudi Shehu, Commissioner of Police in charge of Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), disclosed this on Monday during the one-week training and unveiling of the Mobile Radiation Detection Systems in Lagos. News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the training had 10 EOD and Chemical, Biological, Radiological Nuclear (CBRN) police officers in attendance. Shehu said that the training came at the right time in efforts to curtail the menace of terrorism, security threat and other dastardly acts bedeviling the country.“The menace of insecurity calls for a new approach that will be founded on credible intelligence gathering, acquisition of modern technology, capacity building and inter-agency collaboration. “This will enable law enforcement agencies to be pro-active and able to predict potential crimes rather than being reactive. “Therefore, I urge all participants to ensure effective use of these equipment and utilise the knowledge that will be acquired from this important training to enhance our national nuclear security,” Shehu said.”

Africa

Asharq Al-Awsat: Tunisia: Qaeda’s Slain Algerian Leader Was Mastermind Of Major Terror Attacks

“A senior Algerian commander in al-Qaeda’s Uqba bin Nafi Battalion (KUBN) was killed in a joint military operation on Monday, Tunisia’s Ministry of Interior said. Murad al-Shayeb, 36, was killed by Tunisian security and military forces in Kasserine governorate near the border with Algeria. Murad is the brother of Algerian terrorist Khaled Shayeb, aka Luqman Abu Sakhr who was killed in Tunisia in 2015. They both belong to al-Qaeda in the Maghreb. The Ministry said Shayeb was responsible for a series of attacks since 2013, including an assault on former Interior Minister Lotfi Ben Jeddou in 2014 and various ambushes in the Chaambi, Ouargha, Mghila, and Sammama mountains. The joint operation was one of the most successful given the significance and danger of the killed terrorist.”

United Kingdom 

The Guardian: Supporters Of Banned Groups In UK Face Tougher Sentences

“Tougher punishments for those convicted of expressing support for banned organisations or viewing terrorist material online are being proposed by the Sentencing Council. Following changes to legislation brought in by the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019, the official body, which publishes guidelines for judges, has circulated a fresh consultation on raising sentences for the most serious offences. The act increased maximum prison sentences for a range of terrorism offences. Consequently the Sentencing Council is recommending raising “sentence levels for the most serious examples of offending, where there was no headroom [previously] … due to the statutory maximum”.”

The Telegraph: Extremists Convicted Of Encouraging Terrorism Face Doubling In Minimum Jail Terms To 10 Years Under Tough New Sentencing Rules

“Hate preachers convicted of encouraging terrorism face big increases in their jail sentences under tough new guidelines for judges. The sentencing council is recommending that those found guilty of encouraging terrorism would see their minimum time behind bars double from five to ten years. Longer sentences are also proposed for those caught in possession material such as bomb-making manuals that could inspire terrorist attacks and for those who fail to disclose information of imminent atrocities. Their minimum terms would rise from four to seven years. The move follows increases in the maximum sentences under new terror laws…”

France

ABC News: Judges Close Investigations Into 2015 Paris And Bataclan Terror Attacks That Killed 130

“France's anti-terrorism prosecutor's office announced Monday morning that investigations into the terror attacks on Nov. 13, 2015 that killed 130 people in Paris have ended. The attacks at cafes, a Bataclan concert hall, and outside a stadium in Saint-Denis -- which also wounded more than 350 -- were the deadliest committed on French soil since the Second World War. Four years after ISIS claimed responsibility, the investigations revealed a much larger jihadist cell behind these attacks with ramifications throughout Europe but mainly in Belgium, according to AFP. A man is seen posting a French flag on the monument of the 'Place de la Republique' where people continue to pay tribute to the Paris Attacks victims one month after they occurred, Dec. 13, 2015, in Paris. On March 22, 2016, the cell also hit the Brussels airport and metro, killing 32 people. The five magistrates who investigated the attacks indicted 14 people, 11 of whom were placed in pre-trial detention. The other three were placed under court supervision, according to the prosecutor's office's press release. Among them is Salah Abdeslam, the only member still alive of the three jihadist commandos who perpetrated the attacks, who is currently being held in France after his arrest in Belgium in 2016.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: 2 Belgians, 7 French Suspects Accused Of Terror Funding

“Judicial authorities in Belgium and France have charged nine people with funding terrorism and partaking in terror activities. Security investigations followed by raids and arrests took place in Belgian and French cities within the framework of security and judicial coordination between Brussels and Paris. Belgian investigators seized large amounts of money ranging from 8,000 to 10,000 euros during searches. According to the Belgian federal prosecutor's office, the money raised in France and Belgium was intended for ISIS wives, whose number was not specified, to pay smugglers to flee their detention in Syria. Mid last week, Belgian police raided sites and arrested a number of suspects for sending money to northeastern Syria to facilitate the smuggling of women from ISIS families from Kurdish camps there, media reports said. Paul Van Tigchelt, head of OCAD, told a parliamentary committee that two men and three women, either Belgian or with links to Belgium, were no longer in prison in a camp where they had been held under Kurdish control since the defeat of ISIS by US-backed coalition forces in 2017.”

Express: Families Of French Isis Killers Demand Macron Let Them Home As Violence Erupts In Syria

“In an open letter sent to the 41-year-old leader, the relatives of Isis fighters currently being held in Kurdish-run camps and prisons in the country’s northeast asked the Macron government to “embody French values” by being “a nation that never abandons its children, no matter the circumstances”. The families called on M Macron to “proceed with the repatriation of all innocent French children and their parents,” adding that the Isis children were “exhausted, sick and deeply traumatised”. “All have fallen prey to Turkish and Syrian forces. If [Turkish and Syrian fighters] reach the overcrowded detention camps, our children and grand-children will die at their hands,” the ISIS relatives continued. Around 300 French jihadi brides and their children are being held in detention camps in northeastern Syria, according to Kurdish authorities. France, like other European nations, has been wrestling with how to handle suspected terrorists and their families seeking to return from combat zones in Iraq and Syria, as well as those in detention, after Isis lost huge swathes of territory. Government policy until now has been to refuse to take back fighters. Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has branded them as “enemies” of the state who should face justice either in Syria or Iraq.”