Eye on Extremism: October 23

The Hill: Bipartisan Lawmakers Dig Into Twitter Over Policy Allowing Hamas, Hezbollah Accounts

“A team of bipartisan lawmakers are digging into Twitter over its policy of allowing Hamas and Hezbollah to maintain presences on the powerful social media platform. In a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Tuesday, the four House lawmakers offered a sharp rebuke of the company’s decision to support accounts even for groups designated as “foreign terrorist organizations” by the U.S. government, particularly Hamas and Hezbollah.”

The Wall Street Journal: Russia Agrees To Help Turkey Expand Buffer Zone In Syria

“Russia agreed to help Turkey drive out Kurdish militias from a “safe zone” in northeastern Syria, highlighting Moscow’s flourishing ties with a NATO member and a rebalance of power in war-torn Syria as U.S. troops leave. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would suspend military action for nearly six days against Kurds who his government views as a terrorist threat to let them evacuate the area. During this period, Russian and Syrian security forces would push any remaining Kurdish fighters away from Turkey’s border.”

The Brussels Times: Jewish Museum Terrorists Ordered To Pay Nearly €1 Million In Victim Compensation

“A Brussels court ruled in favour of relatives of the victims of the 2014 terrorist attack on the Brussels Jewish Musem in 2014, handing them a combined compensation nearing €1 million. On Tuesday, the Brussels criminal court ordered Frenchmen Mehdi Nemmouche and Nacer Bendrer, both jailed, to pay a total of €985,000, without taxes, to the relatives of the four victims killed in the attacks. The payments will be paid out separately, in amounts ranging from €50,000 to just over €100,000, according to the Belga news agency.”

The New York Times: ‘What Is Going To Happen To Us?’ Inside ISIS Prison, Children Ask Their Fate

“The prisoners cover the floor like a carpet of human despair. Many are missing eyes or limbs, some are bone-thin from sickness, and most wear orange jumpsuits similar to what the Islamic State, the terrorist group they once belonged to, dressed its own captives in before it killed them. Upstairs, jammed into two cells with little sunlight, are more than 150 children — aged roughly 9 to 14 — from a range of countries. Their parents brought them to Syria and ended up dead or detained. The children have been here for months and have no idea where their relatives are or what the future holds. “I have a question,” said a boy from Suriname inside his cell. “What is going to happen to us? Are the kids going to come out?” Rare visits to two prisons for former residents of Islamic State-held territory in northeastern Syria by The New York Times this week laid bare the enormity of a growing legal and humanitarian crisis that the world has largely chosen to ignore. As the Islamic State's self-declared caliphate collapsed in Syria, tens of thousands of men, women and children who had lived in it ended up in squalid camps and crowded prisons run by the Kurdish-led militia that had partnered with the United States to defeat the jihadists.”

The Times Of Israel: Lebanon’s Hezbollah Under Rare Pressure As Street Protesters Dig In

“When mass anti-government protests engulfed Lebanon, a taboo was broken as strongholds of the Shiite Hezbollah group saw rare demonstrations criticizing the party and revered leader Hassan Nasrallah. On live TV and in protest sites, citizens accused Hezbollah — a terrorist organization turned influential political party — of providing cover for a corrupt government that they say has robbed people of their livelihoods. This shattered the myth of absolute acquiescence among Hezbollah’s popular base, baffling even those who hail from the movement’s bastions. “No one ever expected that in any of these areas in south Lebanon we would hear a single word against Nasrallah,” or Amal Movement leader Nabih Berri, said Sara, a 32-year-old activist who participated in protests in the southern city of Nabatiyeh. “It’s unbelievable,” the activist added, asking to use a pseudonym due to security concerns. The popular Iran-backed movement is a major political player that took 13 of 128 seats in the country’s May 2018 parliamentary elections and secured three cabinet posts. It helped its Christian ally Michel Aoun assume the presidency in 2016 and has since backed his government despite popular dissatisfaction that peaked last week following protests over taxes, corruption and dire economic conditions.”

The Wall Street Journal: Syrian Conflict Traps Refugees In An Exodus To Nowhere

“This tiny village in the northwestern corner of Syria became a refuge six months ago as thousands of families fled shelling by the government of President Bashar al-Assad and airstrikes by one of its main allies, Russia. Now, as Turkey seeks Moscow’s help to seize a strip of northeast Syria, the village has also become another square on the Middle East geopolitical chessboard. Abdelkarim Mustafa, 41 years old, fled to the Killi area with his wife and their seven children in the spring, escaping the bombs of Russian fighter jets and seeking treatment after losing a leg in an airstrike.”

United States

ABC News: Former Alt-Right Member On How Hate Groups Get People To Join: 'It Was Presented As Wholesome'

“During her mid-20s, Samantha spent about a year of her life embroiled in a white supremacist hate group. "I never thought of myself as a racist person, but I was," she said. Samantha, who asked for her last name not to be used, was involved in the group "Identity Evropa." "When you're in there, you think that you just know the truth…[that] white people are more intellectually capable than other people… White people were the best," Samantha said.”

Rolling Stone: Proud Boys Sentenced To 4 Years In Prison For Attacking Protesters

“Two members of the far-right organization the Proud Boys were sentenced to four years in prison on Tuesday for attacking four counter-protesters at a 2017 New York City event. Last summer, Maxwell Hare and John Kinsman were found guilty in New York State Supreme Court of attempted gang assault, attempted assault, and riot. The two were accused of attacking four anti-fascist counter-protesters at an event at New York City’s Metropolitan Club, where Gavin McInnes, the founder of the Proud Boys, was slated to speak.”

The New York Times: Zuckerberg To Admit That Facebook Has Trust Issues

“Mark Zuckerberg hopes that one day, in the not too distant future, billions of people will use a cryptocurrency created by Facebook to send money to friends and family around the world. Mr. Zuckerberg also recognizes that his company is a major impediment to that vision. Mr. Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook, is expected to admit as much on Wednesday when he testifies about his company’s cryptocurrency project at a House Financial Services Committee hearing. “I believe this is something that needs to get built, but I understand we’re not the ideal messenger right now,” Mr. Zuckerberg will say, according to written testimony submitted before the hearing. “I know some people wonder whether we can be trusted to build payment services that protect consumers.”

MSNBC: With New Policy, Trump Appears To Hand ISIS ‘Its Biggest Win’ In Years

“At yesterday’s White House cabinet meeting, Donald Trump seemed eager, if not desperate, to characterize himself as the world’s fiercest and most effective foe of the ISIS terrorist network. “I’m the one – meaning it was me and this administration, working with others, including the Kurds – that captured all of these people that we’re talking about right now,” the president said. He added, “I’m the one that did the capturing. I’m the one that knows more about it than you people…. As you know, most of the ISIS fighters that we captured – ‘we.’ We. Not Obama. We. We captured them. Me.” To be sure, seeing a grown man grovel for credit like this made for a pitiful display, but that was not the only problem with Trump’s pitch. To the extent that reality still has any meaning, Trump’s policy against ISIS largely mirrors Obama’s policy against ISIS. The Daily Beast reported a couple of years ago that White House officials  made a deliberate effort to help “brand” the Trump campaign against ISIS as different from its predecessor, although there are no significant differences between Trump’s strategy and Obama’s. Complicating matters, as the New York Times reports today, Trump’s new policy in northern Syria has effectively ended the offensive against ISIS, to the militants’ delight.” 

Associated Press: Man Accused Of Plan To Attack Milwaukee Temple Goes On Trial

“A man accused of plotting a mass shooting in defense of Islam at a Masonic temple in downtown Milwaukee will try to convince jurors at his trial starting Wednesday that FBI informants encouraged him for months to purchase weapons for the attack. Attorneys for 26-year-old Samy Hamzeh plan to argue that the FBI entrapped their client, who they say never owned a gun, has no criminal record, and was incapable of mass murder. The FBI has said their agents thwarted an act of terrorism when they arrested Hamzeh in January 2016. The Journal Sentinel reports that Hamzeh, an American citizen who spent his childhood in Jordan, was ultimately only charged with possessing two machine guns and a silencer, all of which he bought from undercover FBI agents who had informants set up the deal. The federal trial has dragged on for four years because hundreds of hours of conversations in Arabic had to be transcribed and translated to English. Hamzeh spent two years in jail awaiting trial before a judge in July 2018 allowed him to live with his parents pending trial. His lawyers have argued that the two years he spent in jail are already more than he would likely get if convicted.”

Syria

NPR: Russia And Turkey Reach Deal To Force Out Kurds In Northern Syria

“After five hours of talks on Tuesday, the leaders of Russia and Turkey agreed on how to jointly patrol parts of Syria that until recently were controlled by Kurdish forces.”

Reuters: U.S. Official: 'Dozens' Of Islamic State Fighters Freed In Syria

“U.S. President Donald Trump’s special representative for Syria, James Jeffrey, said on Tuesday that “dozens” of Islamic State fighters had been freed since Turkey began its incursion in northeastern Syria. “I would say dozens at this point,” Jeffrey told a congressional hearing when Democratic Senator Chris Coons asked if he knew how many “hardened” Islamic State (ISIS) fighters had been released. There have been reports of much larger numbers.”

Voice Of America: Syrian Chaos Breathing Life Into Islamic State

“Turkey's incursion into northeastern Syria appears to be giving Islamic State new life, but U.S. counterterrorism officials caution the terror group's next moves are far from certain. The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, warn Islamic State is well-versed in using regional conflicts to its advantage, having done so in Iraq in 2005-2006, and again in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. And they note that IS has used the seven months since the fall in March of its last territorial stronghold in Baghuz, Syria, to lay a foundation of “dispersed networks” — comprising an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 fighters — for a prolonged and vicious insurgency. “It is not clear at this time how ISIS may adjust their strategy in Syria in light of the Turkish incursion,” a U.S. counterterrorism official told VOA, using an acronym for the terror group.  Smoke billows from burning tires to decrease visibility for Turkish warplanes on the outskirts of the town of Tal Tamr, Syria, along the border with Turkey in the northeastern Hassakeh province. Until Turkey launched its operation in Syria's northeast earlier this month, most of IS's operations had targeted Kurdish security forces.”  

Radio Free Europe: Fourteen Kazakhs Returned From Syria On Trial On Terrorism Charges

“Fourteen Kazakh citizens accused of fighting alongside the Islamic state (IS) extremist group in Syria have gone on trial in Kazakhstan's capital, Nur-Sultan. Thirteen of the suspects were brought into the courtroom inside a pretrial detention center on October 22 amid increased security measures. The other accused, who is suffering injuries, attended the hearing via video link from a hospital. The defendants are facing charges of involvement in terrorist activities, recruitment, promoting terrorism, and committing “other serious crimes.” They are among hundreds of Kazakh citizens who have been repatriated from Syria this year in a special operation called Zhusan. Last week, the National Security Committee (KNB) said a total of 595 Kazakh citizens, including more than 400 children, had been returned as part of the operation. Among them, 10 men and five women have been handed prison terms, it said. In summer 2018, the KNB said that about 800 Kazakh citizens had left their homeland to join IS militants in Syria and Iraq since early 2014.”

New York Post: Turkey, Russia Agree To Create ‘Terror-Free Safe Zone’ In Syria

“Turkey and Russia agreed Tuesday to create a “terror-free safe zone” in northern Syria and launch joint patrols in a deal reached hours before a five-day cease-fire was about to expire, according to a report citing a senior Turkish official. The announcement came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. “We had a very productive meeting with our Russian counterparts today,” an official said, Reuters reported. “We reached an excellent agreement. We agreed to establish a terror-free safe zone.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov confirmed that the two leaders agreed to have Russian military police and Syrian border guards deploy on the Syrian side of the Turkey border beginning Wednesday. Over the next six days, they would remove the Kurdish fighters and their weapons from northern Syria. After the Kurds are removed, Turkey and Russia, which has been backing the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, would launch joint patrols along a six-mile strip of the border. Turkey would also continue to control a 20-mile-deep swath of northern Syria that runs roughly 75 miles between the towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain.”

The National: Germany Proposes Security Zone In Northern Syria To Fight ISIS

“An internationally managed security zone should be set up in northern Syria to “resume” the fight against terrorism and support displaced civilians, Germany’s defence minister said on Tuesday. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who said she had informed Chancellor Angela Merkel of her ideas, argued the situation in Syria required greater European action. Turkey earlier this month launched a military operation in northern Syria after the withdrawal of US troops, vowing to remove Kurdish forces it sees as terrorists from the Syrian border region. But the European Union fears the move could empower ISIS. Many of the terror group's members are detained in overcrowded local jails in north-east Syria. “This security zone would seek to resume the fight against terror and against [ISIS] which has currently come to a standstill,” Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle. “It would also ensure that we stabilise the region so that rebuilding civilian life is once again possible, and so that those who have fled can also return voluntarily. “Europe cannot simply be an onlooker. We also have to come up with our own recommendations and initiate discussions.”

Oil Price: ISIS Was Built On Oil

“ISIS has lost its caliphate. The infamous terrorist organization that just a few years ago had even the most powerful world leaders terrified as it snapped up more and more land in the Middle East has now been pushed out of nearly all of it. Today, the Islamic State is left with just a strip of land to call home, back where they started in Syria. Just because ISIS has run out of land, however, doesn’t mean that they have run out of power. What the Islamic State lacks in land holdings is more than makes up for in cold hard cash. “Even as U.S.-backed forces wrest back the Islamic State’s last strip of territory in Syria,” reports the Atlantic, “the United States and its allies are nowhere close to bringing down the terrorist organization’s economic empire.” We’re not talking about pocket change here. The shadowy organization continues to move millions of dollars a week. “The group remains a financial powerhouse,” boldly proclaims the Atlantic. “It still has access to hundreds of millions of dollars, according to experts’ estimates, and can rely on a battle-tested playbook to keep money flowing into its coffers.” It would take a lot less than that for the organization to stay relevant, even in the moneyed Middle East. In short, ISIS is not dead yet. Not even close.”

Iran

The Washington Free Beacon: Iran Cited By International Body For Failing To Address Terror Financing

“Iran has again failed to implement international agreements to crack down on money laundering and terror financing, according to the Financial Action Task Force, or FATF, an inter-governmental body that oversees economic reformation. Iran agreed in 2016 to work with FATF to implement a series of economic improvements meant to eradicate itself from its financial system's widespread instances of money laundering and financing of terrorist groups. The Islamic Republic has so far failed to implement key portions of the reformation plan, prompting FATF to cite Tehran and threaten to reimpose measures meant to isolate the Islamic Republic's economy starting in 2020. There are few signs at this point that Tehran is willing to abide by the FATF reformation plan, as it continues to send money and military hardware to numerous terror factions. A significant portion of this funding is being channeled through the country's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the paramilitary fighting force, which was recently subjected to new U.S. sanctions. “In October 2019, the FATF noted that there are still items not completed and Iran should fully address,” the organization said in a statement.”

Iraq

The New York Times: A Shiite Holiday Turns Into A Test Of Iranian Power In Iraq

“The annual ceremony commemorating a founding figure of Shiite Islam is one of the most important religious celebrations in the Shiite world, drawing millions of pilgrims to the holy city of Karbala, Iraq. This year, the Arbaeen ceremony was also a political skirmish — the latest test of Iran’s power in Iraq and of Iraq’s increasing desire for independence from its powerful neighbor. Iran, the largest Shiite Muslim country in the world and a regional powerhouse in the Middle East, saw the pilgrimage that ended Saturday as an opportunity to assert its role in Iraq and send a message about its regional reach.”

Associated Press: Iraq: American Troops Leaving Syria Cannot Stay In Iraq

“U.S. troops leaving Syria and heading to neighboring Iraq do not have permission to stay in the country, Iraq’s military said Tuesday as American forces continued to pull out of northern Syria after Turkey’s invasion of the border region. The statement appears to contradict U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who has said that under the current plan, all U.S. troops leaving Syria will go to western Iraq and the military would continue to conduct operations against the Islamic State group to prevent its resurgence in the region. On Tuesday, Esper said he plans to talk to Iraqi leaders to work out details about the U.S. plan to send American troops withdrawing from Syria to Iraq, adding that the U.S. has no plans to have those troops stay in Iraq “interminably.”

Business Insider: Trump Claimed The US Captured All ISIS Fighters, But They Just Launched A Major Attack On An Iraqi Oil Field

“ISIS militants killed two members of the Iraqi security forces, Reuters reported Monday, in the wake of a panicked US drawdown in neighboring Syria which pushed US troops into Iraq. According to the Iraqi military, three additional security personnel were wounded when attempting to retrieve the bodies of the dead.  “Elements of the terrorist Daesh gangs attacked two security checkpoints in the Alas oilfields 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,” a statement from the Iraqi military said, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS. Iraqi security forces and the mostly Shia, Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) are on the hunt for the attackers, Reuters reports. The attack comes as experts and members of the military have grown concerned about an ISIS comeback in Iraq and Syria; experts have warned about ISIS members breaking out of makeshift prisons in northeastern Syria guarded by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that are now facing Turkish attacks, and the Pentagon issued a report in 2018 showing that remaining ISIS members in both Iraq and Syria were not only still active, but resurging and adapting because of the Trump administration's actions in the region.”

Turkey

The New York Times: Turkey Halts Syrian Incursion, Hours After Deal With Russia

“The Turkish Army halted its incursion into a Kurdish-run area of northern Syria on Wednesday morning, after a deal between the Turkish and Russian governments promised that Kurdish fighters would retreat from the Turkish-Syrian border. In a statement, the Turkish defense ministry said it would not advance beyond an area of roughly 900 square miles that Turkish-led forces have seized from Kurdish control since invading the area two weeks ago. “At this stage, there is no further need to conduct a new operation outside the present operation area,” the statement said.”

Bloomberg: Trump’s Syria Envoy Says Turkey Move Hinders Islamic State Fight

“Donald Trump’s special envoy for the Syrian conflict said the administration made clear “at every level” that it opposed Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria and that the resulting offensive has undermined the fight against Islamic State. “Turkey launched this operation despite our objections, undermining the D-ISIS campaign, risking endangering and displacing civilians, destroying critical civilian infrastructure, and threatening the security of the area,” Ambassador James Jeffrey told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, using an acronym for the coalition to defeat the Islamic State. “Turkey’s military actions have precipitated a humanitarian crisis and set conditions for possible war crimes.” Despite the setback, Jeffrey said the U.S. will work with Turkey and “local partners” to continue the fight against Islamic State. Lawmakers of both parties have warned that Trump’s abrupt decision to begin withdrawing about 1,000 U.S. troops gave Turkey a green light to invade, which will prove disastrous for regional stability and deadly for U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters that fought against Islamic State. “Our president told President Erdogan that we were pulling out our troops, we did so and they attacked within a matter of hours,” Senator Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican, told Jeffrey in the hearing.”

Fox News: Sen. Graham, Gen. Keane: Turkey Paves Way For ISIS Comeback – US Must Prevent Return Of Terrorist Group

“We very much appreciate the Trump administration’s efforts to secure a cease-fire in northeast Syria. This gives all parties an opportunity to reset and take stock of the path ahead. Vital American interests are still at stake. Turkey’s incursion into Syria has created strategic problems for us and our allies. Turkey, by attacking Kurdish forces that led the effort to destroy ISIS, is paving the way for an ISIS comeback. While President Trump is correct in saying the ISIS caliphate has been destroyed, there remain thousands of ISIS fighters still in Syria. ISIS will regenerate and again seek to establish a caliphate or at least a base of operations in its spiritual home of Raqqa, Syria without continuing efforts by the United States, our Kurdish partners, and the international community. Our focus must remain squarely on ensuring ISIS does not come back as a threat to the United States and the world at large. The U.S. must also make sure that Iran does not fill in the vacuum created by Turkey’s invasion, creating additional threats to our ally Israel. Northeastern Syrian oil fields, where we presently have troops, can be a beneficial asset for us and our allies.”

Afghanistan

ABC News: Taliban Say New Intra-Afghan Peace Talks To Be Held In China

“A fresh round of intra-Afghan peace talks will be held in China next week, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said Tuesday, raising hopes for renewed negotiations, even as violence surges in Afghanistan's 18-year war. The talks planned for Oct. 28 and 29 will be the first meeting between Taliban and prominent Afghans from Kabul since a July round of talks held in Doha, the capital of the Middle Eastern State of Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office. On Monday, the U.S. State Department said its peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, started a fresh round of talks with European, NATO and U.N. allies about ending the war. Khalilzad will later meet with Russian and Chinese representatives “to discuss shared interests in seeing the war in Afghanistan come to an end,” the State Department said. For nearly a year, Khalilzad led the first direct U.S. talks with the Taliban. However, in September, just as a deal seemed imminent, President Donald Trump declared the deal dead after a series of attacks in the Afghan capital killed more than a dozen people, including a U.S. soldier. Trump continued to call for the withdrawal of the estimated 14,000 American soldiers still in Afghanistan, saying they had taken over the job of policing the country, a job the government's security forces should be doing.”

Xinhua: 8 Militants Killed In Northern Afghan Province

“At least eight militants have been confirmed dead as a clash erupted in Balkh district of the northern Balkh province on Tuesday, army spokesman in the northern region Mohammad Hanif Rezai said Wednesday. The fighting, according to the official, flared up after the armed militants attacked security checkpoints in Palaspush area of the relatively restive province on Tuesday afternoon, triggering a gun battle, which lasted for a while, and the militants fled away after leaving eight bodies and two injured behind. Without providing more details, the official said the security forces would continue to pursue militants elsewhere in the country. Taliban militants who are active in parts of Balkh province with Mazar-e-Sharif as its capital 305 km north of Kabul have yet to make comments on the situation there.”

Pakistan

India Today: Will Continue To Pressurise Pakistan To Act Against Lashkar, Jaish And Hizbul, Says US

“The US has said that it supports Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's statement that terrorists in Pakistan who carry out violence in Kashmir are enemies of both Kashmiris and Pakistanis. The United States also said that it will continue to put pressure on Pakistan to take action against terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Hizbul Mujahideen that have been using its soil to harbor terrorism. In a statement, acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice G Wells, said, "We continue to press Pakistan to take action against terrorist groups, including LeT, JeM, and Hizbul-Mujahideen. We welcomed PM Imran Khan's recent statement that Pakistani terrorists who carry out violence in Kashmir are enemies of both Kashmiris and Pakistan."

Asia Times: Pakistan Dodges Terror Black List For Now

“The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which met recently in Paris, has decided to keep Pakistan on its ‘grey list’ until February 2020. The FATF monitors countries suspected of aiding terror attacks and imposes major financial constraints on them when they are found in violation of international laws. Pakistan was put on the FATF ‘grey list’ in June last year, which is one step short of the agency’s ‘black list’. Once on the black list, a country faces severe economic sanctions. For a country like Pakistan, already struggling with a major economic crisis, being on the black list would cripple its economy. The terror financing watchdog monitored the progress of 15 countries on its watch-list, including Pakistan, which was effectively given a final warning by the FATF to comply with its agreed proposal or risk being blacklisted in four months’ time. Even though Pakistan avoided being relegated to the black list during the five-day summit last week, FATF President Xiangmin Liu was categorical in demanding that Islamabad must ‘do more’. “Despite a high-level commitment… Pakistan has not made enough progress. If by February 2020 the country has not made significant progress, we will consider further actions which potentially could include placing the country… on the blacklist,” Liu said.”

Lebanon

Arab News: Hezbollah Under Pressure To Allow Change

“The crisis in Lebanon is age-old and its people have been fed up for a long time now. Courage comes with a price: Tens, even hundreds, of people who dared demand change paid the price with their blood. However, this round of protests all over the country is different and no longer includes political sanctities, including Hassan Nasrallah and the other governmental leaderships. The protests have also been characterized by the uprising of regions that are traditionally under the control of Hezbollah. They clearly defied Hezbollah and rejected its authority, which has forced Nasrallah to appear on television, threatening everyone including government ministers, warning that those who respond to the protesters’ demands to resign will be held accountable.”

Middle East

The Times Of Israel: Israel Said Bracing For Direct Cruise Missile Or Drone Attack By Iran

“Israel is readying for a direct cruise missile or drone strike by Tehran in response to recent attacks on Iranian regional proxies which have been attributed to the Jewish state, Army Radio reported Tuesday evening. Unlike ballistic missiles, which usually fly through a high arc on the way to the target, cruise missiles and drones fly at low altitude, making them harder to detect. The report cited anonymous “Israeli sources,” who said the IDF was already on high alert for the possibility and that the security cabinet will convene for an “unplanned” meeting next Tuesday against a backdrop of tensions with the Islamic Republic.”

Nigeria

Sahara Reporters: Two Boko Haram Commanders, 14 Others Captured By Nigerian Army

“The Nigerian Army has said that it has arrested 16 Boko Haram terrorists including two top commanders of the sect during a sting operation. Nigerian Army Operations Media Coordinator, Col. Aminu Iliyasu, in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja said that the terrorists were arrested at Pulka in Gwoza Local Government Area of Borno State. Iliyasu disclosed that the arrest was made in collaboration with the Civilian Joint Task Force. He said preliminary investigation revealed that some of the suspects participated in the attack on Pulka and Gwoza including the killing of some police personnel some time ago. He said the two Boko Haram commanders arrested are Lawan Garliga and Bayaga Manye, serial 41 and 90 respectively. Iliyasu said, “Others are Boko Haram logistics supplier which are Umaru, Goni Agwala, Momodu Shetene, Hassan Audu, Usman Manye aka Yega, Ali Lawan and Modu Mallum. “They also include Modu Abubakar Jugudum, Bulama Ali, Umar Usman, Mustapha Alhaji Mele (Boko Haram rifle man and vulcaniser), Abor Lassan, Mallum Ari and Mala Bala.”

Xinhua: Nigerian Air Force Kills Boko Haram Militants Near Lake Chad: Spokesman

“Nigeria's air force has killed several Boko Haram militants regrouping at Bukar Meram, a town in Nigeria's northeastern state of Borno bordering Lake Chad, a spokesman said on Tuesday. In a statement made available to Xinhua in Abuja, Ibikunle Daramola, the spokesman for the air force, confirmed the operation was conducted on Monday but did not give the exact figure of Boko Haram fighters killed. It was carried out based on credible intelligence reports that indicated a resumption of the use of the location to provide logistics support to the terrorists, using fishing activities as a cover, Daramola said. The air force then dispatched its attack aircraft to engage designated areas within the settlement, the military spokesman said. According to him, before the airstrikes, over 35 Boko Haram militants were observed within the area of interest. The attack aircraft subsequently engaged the location in successive passes recording accurate hits on the target area. This also led to the destruction of some of the structures in the target area, Daramola said. The Nigerian air force, operating in concert with surface forces, would sustain its operations against the terrorists in the northeast region, he added.”

Africa

The Washington Post: Extremist Attacks Intensify At Mali, Burkina Faso Border

“Assaya Ngweba says Islamic extremists transformed his once-peaceful village in Burkina Faso, near the border with Mali, into “a place of misfortune and death.” Now the 78-year-old is among half a million people who have fled the area this year as the extremists linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group increase attacks and expand their range in West Africa. Concerted military actions by five regional countries, along with a French operation, have failed to stem the violence. The border between Burkina Faso and Mali is the latest flashpoint in the vast, arid Sahel region that stretches across Africa south of the Sahara Desert. In the past week at least 19 civilians have been killed by suspected extremists in Burkina Faso’s north. The extremists have launched deadly assaults against the regional G5 Sahel counterterror force set up in 2017 with soldiers from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. The worst occurred earlier this month when al-Qaida-linked fighters attacked two army bases in central Mali, killing at least 38 soldiers and leaving more than a dozen missing. The attack in Boulikessi “was devastating for the military in terms of morale and strategic impact because it laid bare the jihadists’ strength in that crucial border region which is a bridge to Islamist expansion further south,” said Human Rights Watch’s West Africa associate director, Corinne Dufka.”

Yahoo News: Sudan Upbeat On Prospects For Removal From U.S. Terrorism List

“Sudan's top financial official said on Tuesday he believed it was “just a question of time” before his country was removed from the U.S. state-sponsored terrorism list. Finance Minister Ibrahim Elbadawi told an event hosted by the Atlantic Council think tank that the listing posed a “crippling impediment” to the transitional government's ability to access funds from the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank. But he said the government was working to address security concerns, while taking steps to boost internal revenues by closing tax loopholes and unwinding a big shadow economy. Shortages of bread, fuel and medicine coupled with hefty price rises sparked protests that led to the toppling of Sudan's longtime ruler, Omar al-Bashir, in April, sending the economy into turmoil. The new government took office six weeks ago. Elbadawi told Reuters after the event he was “absolutely” encouraged by his discussions with U.S. officials and lawmakers about getting Sudan removed from the terrorism list. “I could feel that things are moving,” he said. “I could not give a specific date, but I'm quite confident that it's just a question of time.”

Xinhua: Morocco, U.S. Agree To Bolster Cooperation On Fighting Terrorism

“Morocco and the United States announced on Tuesday that they agreed to “sustain cooperation to defeat terrorist groups.” In a joint statement issued following the 4th U.S.-Morocco Strategic Dialogue held Tuesday in Washington, the two sides said they discussed the joint efforts to combat terrorism in Africa, and in particular to secure the enduring defeat of IS (Islamic State), by enhancing the capacity of security services in the region, including through a joint platform for security cooperation.” Morocco is a “stable security exporting partner,” and credible provider of security at the regional level, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who co-chaired the dialogue with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, was quoted as saying. Pompeo lauded Morocco for its “ongoing leadership of the Global Counterterrorism Forum and for its sustaining role in the Global Coalition to Defeat IS,” the statement said. Pompeo and Bourita also discussed the “danger posed by Iran and its proxies and discussed cooperative efforts to combat attempts to spread Iranian influence in the region including in North West Africa,” it said.”

United Kingdom

New York Post: ‘ISIS Bride’ Shamima Begum Challenges British Government For Stripping Her Citizenship

“ISIS bride” Shamima Begum has launched a legal challenge to the British government’s decision to strip her of her citizenship and prevent her from returning to London, according to reports. Begum, 20, who was born in the UK, was one of three schoolgirls from Bethnal Green Academby who left the UK to travel to Syria in February 2015 to join the terror group. Four years later, she was discovered by journalists in the al-Hawl refugee camp guarded by Kurdish militia in Syria following the collapse of the ISIS caliphate. On Feb. 19, then-Home Secretary Sajid Javid revoked her citizenship because it was claimed she still posed a risk to the public. The decision would only be lawful if it did not leave Begum stateless, according to Sky News. Her lawyers told a hearing before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission on Tuesday that she had been left stateless, was unable to mount a “fair and effective” legal challenge and was at risk of “death, inhuman or degrading treatment,” according to The Guardian.”

Yahoo News: Terrorists Could Face Tougher Jail Sentences By Next Year Under New Guidelines Given To Judges

“Terrorists could face tougher jail sentences under new guidelines for judges. The Sentencing Council is carrying out a review of guidance provided to judges and magistrates in England and Wales to decide how offenders are punished. The proposals came as it was revealed that UK investigators have disrupted 24 terrorist plots since April 2017. The updated figure was revealed by Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick, and includes 16 Islamist plots and eight inspired by extreme right-wing views. The proposals have been made in a public consultation launched on Tuesday in light of “significant legislative changes” brought in under the new Counter Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019, which increased the maximum sentences for some crimes, the council said. It follows legislation introduced earlier this year that meant UK citizens who visited foreign terror hotspots could face 10 years in prison. The revision includes “increased sentencing levels” for some crimes to reflect the new law. This means higher starting points for the time to be spent behind bars could be set for judges and magistrates while they calculate the overall sentence.”

Southeast Asia

Reuters: India Government, Facebook Spar Over Decryption Laws At Top Court

“India’s government asked Facebook Inc on Tuesday to help it decrypt private messages on its network, citing national security requirements in a court hearing on privacy rights on social media platforms. India’s Attorney General K.K. Venugopal told the Supreme Court that it was the responsibility of social media companies to share data wherever there was a threat to national security. “A terrorist cannot claim privacy,” Venugopal said. “For Facebook and WhatsApp to say they cannot decrypt is not acceptable.” Facebook-owned WhatsApp, which has about 400 million users in India, allows groups of hundreds of users to exchange texts, photos and videos using end-to-end encryption, beyond the oversight of independent fact checkers or even the platform itself.”

New York Post: Iranian Beauty Queen Pleads For Asylum In Philippines: ‘They Will Kill Me’

“An Iranian beauty queen is pleading for asylum in the Philippines as she fights extradition to her native country — fearing she’ll be executed if she gets sent back. Bahareh Zare Bahari, who competed in the 2018 Miss Intercontinental pageant in Manila, has been trapped at the Ninoy Aquino airport in the Philippines since Oct. 18 when Iran issued an Interpol red alert for her on assault and battery charges.”

The Strait Times: Three Radicalised Maids Charged In Court With Financing Terrorism

“Three Indonesian maids were charged in court on Wednesday (Oct 23) with financing terrorism, after being detained under the Internal Security Act last month. They are Anindia Afiyantari, 33, Retno Hernayani, 36, and Turmini, 31. All three were investigated by the Internal Security Department and issued with detention orders for supporting two terrorist groups - the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and its Indonesia-based affiliate, Jemaah Anshorut Daulah. Parallel investigations by the Singapore Police Force's Commercial Affairs Department found that between September last year and July this year, all three had collected or provided money to individuals in Indonesia on several occasions.”

Al Jazeera: Delay In Return 'Boosting ISIL Recruitment' In Philippines Marawi

“On October 23, 2017, the Philippine army declared the end of the bloody five-month-long siege in the southern city of Marawi, punctuating the battle with the killing of 42 suspected armed fighters affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, or ISIS). The country's most sustained active combat since World War II killed at least 925 fighters from the ISIL-linked Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups, 165 government troops and a conservative estimate of 45 civilians. It also flattened a bustling city, forced hundreds of thousands to evacuate and left the entire island of Mindanao under martial law. But two years after President Rodrigo Duterte declared the city “liberated from the terrorist influence”, opposition politicians and Marawi residents say the promised rehabilitation has failed, and Mindanao experts are warning that these delays are providing “fertile ground” for ongoing recruitment by “extremists”, as they try to show that the ISIL ideology is well and alive in the Philippines. Vice President Leni Robredo, the opposition leader, said “very little has been achieved” since the day the government promised to restore the city to its former glory.”

Technology

The Jerusalem Post: Lawmakers To Twitter: Ban Hezbollah And Hamas-Related Accounts

“A bipartisan group of Congressmen sent a letter on Tuesday to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, demanding the social media platform will ban Hezbollah and Hamas affiliated accounts from using the platform. Reps. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), Tom Reed (NY-23), Max Rose (NY-11), and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1), said that Twitter is “blatantly violating US law,” and demanded that Twitter remove these accounts by November 1. The group first reached out to Twitter last month. Carlos Monje, Twitter’s US director of public policy and philanthropy, wrote in response that “Twitter’s purpose is to serve the public conversation.” “All individuals accessing or using Twitter’s services must adhere to the policies set forth in the Twitter rules,” Monje said in his response. “There is no place on Twitter for terrorist organizations, violent extremist groups or individuals who affiliate with and promote their illicit activities.” Monje explained that Twitter distinguishes between the political and military factions of these organizations. “We may make limited exceptions for groups that have reformed or are currently engaging in peaceful resolution processes, as well as groups with representatives who have been elected to public office through elections, as is the case with parts of Hamas and Hezbollah,” Monje said.”