Eye on Extremism: September 10

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Says Syria Plans Gas Attack In Rebel Stronghold

“President Bashar al-Assad of Syria has approved the use of chlorine gas in an offensive against the country’s last major rebel stronghold, U.S. officials said, raising the prospects for another retaliatory U.S. military strike as thousands try to escape what could be a decisive battle in the seven-year-old war. In a recent discussion about Syria, people familiar with the exchange said, President Trump threatened to conduct a massive attack against Mr. Assad if he carries out a massacre in Idlib, the northwestern province that has become the last refuge for more than three million people and as many as 70,000 opposition fighters that the regime considers to be terrorists. International efforts to avert an offensive have failed to dissuade Syria, Russia and Iran as they try to deliver a crippling blow to rebels who appear to be on the verge of defeat after trying for seven years to force Mr. Assad from power. Russia and Syria have stepped up their airstrikes, while thousands of civilians have been evacuated to government-controlled parts of Syria. Mr. Assad has rebuffed appeals from the United Nations, Turkey, the U.S. and others who have warned that an attack could trigger a new humanitarian crisis.”

The Los Angeles Times: Pentagon Sends Reinforcements To Remote Syria Base After Russia Threatens Attack

“More than 100 U.S. Marines were sent as reinforcements to a remote coalition outpost in southern Syria on Friday after Russia threatened to attack militants in the area, the Pentagon said. The troops were flown by helicopter to the base at Tanf — a small town near Syria’s borders with Iraq and Jordan. The base is used by U.S. special forces to train Syrian fighters who are confronting Islamic State militants. Moscow has sent messages to the U.S. in recent days, warning that Russian military and Syrian government units were planning an attack on what they refer to as terrorists near Tanf, U.S. officials said. The Russian threats may be a way of testing U.S. resolve to keep troops in Syria now that President Bashar Assad’s forces, backed by Russian troops and warplanes, have succeeded in defeating rebels everywhere except Idlib province and areas of eastern Syria controlled by the U.S. and its allies. U.S. military officials bluntly warned Russian and Syria not to go forward with an attack within a 35-mile-wide security zone that the U.S. maintains around Tanf, a key strategic outpost. “The United States does not seek to fight the Russians, the government of Syria or any groups that may be providing support to Syria in the Syrian civil war,” said Lt. Col. Earl Brown, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command. “However, the United States will not hesitate to use necessary and proportionate force to defend U.S., coalition or partner forces.”

The Sunday Times: From London Bridge To Ariana Grande, UK Terror Attacks In 2017 Cost Just £5,000

“The five terrorist attacks in Britain last year, which killed 36 people, cost just £5,000 to execute, according to the head of Scotland Yard’s terrorism finance unit. Detective Chief Superintendent James Harman revealed the figure as he warned that the “grave terrorism threat” was dominated by low-level, lone participants whose finances were difficult to track. In May, Salman Amedi built a nail bomb that he used to murder 22 people leaving an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. The ingredients of the explosive he used can be bought on Amazon for just £95. The 12in ceramic knives used in the London Bridge attack in June that left seven people dead and 48 injured were bought from the discount supermarket chain Lidl for £4 each. Harman said that when he started the job two years ago, he expected to find an “underground economy” that financed terrorism, but now admits he was wrong.”

The Jerusalem Post: Iran’s Attack On Kurds Is A Message To Washington, Riyadh And Jerusalem

“The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in Iran claimed credit for a missile attack on Kurdish opposition groups in Koya in northern Iraq. The attack on Saturday killed a dozen and wounded numerous others. It was the first time Iranian forces had used this kind of precision missile attack deep inside Iraq. The brazen daylight missile attack is a message from Tehran to the region that it can do what it wants, not only in neighboring Iraq, but throughout the Middle East. In the last year, Iranian missiles and Iranian-supported groups using Tehran’s technical advisors have targeted Saudi Arabia from Yemen and Israel from Syria. As Washington seeks to pressure Iran, the missile threat is clear indication that Tehran is flexing its muscles in the face of sanctions. The IRGC attempted a decapitation strike against the Kurdish KDP-I, an opposition group that has a headquarters in Koya. Numerous senior leaders were present and a missile crashed into the building where they were meeting. This was a precise and unprecedented strike. Although Iran has targeted Kurdish groups in Iraq before, and has fired missiles at other opposition groups, the missiles used in this attack were precise and showcases Iranian intelligence operations and know how. The missile attack on Koya should not be seen as an isolated Iran regime attack on an opposition group.”

The Wall Street Journal: States Loom As A Regulatory Threat To Tech Giants

“State attorneys general are emerging as a new regulatory threat to the U.S. companies that dominate the internet. State officials are raising risks for companies such as Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google as the states begin piecing together a coordinated legal strategy for confronting the firms over alleged antitrust violations and data-privacy abuses, and over what some Republicans say is a suppression of conservative speech. Tensions have been simmering for months, but they surfaced publicly last week when the Justice Department said U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions would meet with several state attorneys general later this month to discuss a “growing concern” that the companies are hurting competition and “stifling the free exchange of ideas” on their platforms. The announcement—released amid last week’s congressional hearings into the practices of Facebook and Twitter—shed little light on who was raising the concerns or what remedies might be under consideration. But recent comments by several of the state attorneys general suggest they are actively exploring an antitrust investigation and hope to enlist Washington.”

Reuters: Yemen Peace Talks Collapse In Geneva After Houthi No-Show

“An attempt to hold peace talks for Yemen was abandoned on Saturday after three days of waiting for the Houthi movement’s delegation, but the United Nations envoy vowed to press ahead with diplomacy. The U.N. is renewing efforts to end Yemen’s war under a peace plan that calls on the Iranian-aligned Houthis and the internationally recognized government, backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, to work on a peace deal under a transitional governing body. U.N. Special Envoy Martin Griffiths said the Houthis’ failure to come to Geneva for the first talks in three years did not signify that the peace process was deadlocked. Griffiths, who held three days of talks with a Yemeni government delegation, said he would meet in coming days with the Houthi leadership in the Yemeni capital Sanaa and in Muscat, Oman. “They would have liked to get here, we didn’t make conditions sufficiently correct to get them here,” Griffiths told a news conference, declining to elaborate. Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi, whose forces control northern Yemen and the capital Sanaa, accused the Saudi-led coalition of blocking his movement’s delegation from traveling to the peace talks. “We all know that the talks collapsed because of the obstruction of the national delegation from leaving and traveling to Geneva by the coalition forces,” he said in a speech broadcast on the group’s al-Masirah TV. A Saudi-led military coalition intervened in Yemen’s war against the Houthis in 2015 with the aim of restoring the government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The humanitarian situation has worsened sharply since, putting 8.4 million people on the brink of starvation and ravaging the already weak economy.”

United States

CNN: NY Bike Path Suspect Cites Trump Tweets In Asking To Drop Death Penalty Possibility

“Lawyers for the alleged terrorist who killed eight people with a box truck in Manhattan last year say President Donald Trump's tweets calling for the death penalty and skewering Attorney General Jeff Sessions harms Sessions' ability to make an impartial decision on how to handle his case. The attorneys for Sayfullo Saipov point to several tweets in the aftermath of the attack where Trump advocated for a quick execution. They also point to a recent tweet deriding Sessions for not thinking of the political implications for his decision to indict two Republican congressmen. They want the judge to either rule out the possibility of the death penalty or appoint an independent prosecutor in the case. "The combination of President Trump's demand that the government Kill Mr. Saipov, his more recent tweets advocating that political calculations should inform Justice Department charging decisions, and his personal attorney's confirmation that Attorney General Sessions might be fired for not doing as the President wishes, make it impossible for Attorney General Sessions to fulfill his statutory duty to fairly and independently decide whether to seek the death penalty against Mr. Saipov," the public defenders, led by Jennifer Brown, wrote in a court filing. Saipov, 29, has been charged with killing eight people and injuring a dozen others after he drove a pickup truck down a bicycle path near the World Trade Center on October 31. Saipov faces a 22-count indictment, which includes murder and terror-related charges. He has pleaded not guilty.”

The Washington Post: Va. State Senator Who Met With Assad Says British Are Planning Fake Chemical Attack

“Fresh off a sit-down with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Virginia state Sen. Richard H. Black turned up on an Arab TV channel last week making an extraordinary claim about one of the United States’ closest allies. Black said Britain’s MI6 intelligence service was planning a chemical weapons attack on the Syrian people, which it would then blame on Assad. “Around four weeks ago, we knew that British intelligence was working toward a chemical attack in order to blame the Syrian government, to hold Syria responsible,” Black said on Al Mayadeen, an Arab news channel based in Beirut. Black (R-Loudoun) said later that he meant the British were planning not to carry out an attack themselves, but to either direct rebels to do so or stage a phony attack, with actors posing as victims. Black also said some chemical attacks previously reported to have occurred in Syria were British fakes, pulled off with help from volunteer first responders known as White Helmets.”

The New York Times: C.I.A. Drone Mission, Curtailed By Obama, Is Expanded In Africa Under Trump

“The C.I.A. is poised to conduct secret drone strikes against Qaeda and Islamic State insurgents from a newly expanded air base deep in the Sahara, making aggressive use of powers that were scaled back during the Obama administration and restored by President Trump. Late in his presidency, Barack Obama sought to put the military in charge of drone attacks after a backlash arose over a series of highly visible strikes, some of which killed civilians. The move was intended, in part, to bring greater transparency to attacks that the United States often refused to acknowledge its role in. But now the C.I.A. is broadening its drone operations, moving aircraft to northeastern Niger to hunt Islamist militants in southern Libya. The expansion adds to the agency’s limited covert missions in eastern Afghanistan for strikes in Pakistan, and in southern Saudi Arabia for attacks in Yemen.”

Voice Of America: US Denies Russian Report It Dropped White Phosphorus In Eastern Syria

“The Pentagon is denying Russian reports the U.S. dropped white phosphorus munitions on military targets in a civilian area of eastern Syria. The chemical is used to create large smokescreens, but is also highly flammable and can burn skin right down to the bone. "At this time, we have not received any reports of any use of white phosphorus," Pentagon spokesman Commander Sean Robertson said Sunday. "None of the military units in the area are even equipped with white phosphorus munitions of any kind." The Russian reports say the U.S. strikes targeted Islamic State militants near the village of Hajin. Russia says the weapons started fierce fires, but said it is unknown if there were any casualties. The Geneva Convention outlaws using white phosphorus against civilians and military targets when civilians are nearby.”


The Guardian: Aggrieved Kurdish Fighters Quietly Join Syrian Regime Side In Battle For Idlib

“Throughout seven years of war, the Kurds of Syria’s north have been a wildcard. Their loyalties have remained uncertain and their push for autonomy buffeted by a raging conflict that has consumed almost all before it. As a showdown nears in the north-west of the country, home to a prominent Kurdish enclave until earlier this year - and now central to the outcome of the war - the Kurds are quietly renewing their claim. Dozens of Kurdish militants who had fought with US forces in the fight against Islamic State have now allied with Syrian regime forces in Idlib province for what is likely to be the war’s final, bloody battle. The presence of the Kurds in the fight for Idlib adds a new dimension to a clash that has drawn in every player in the long, savage war. The alliance has been kept under wraps both by Syrian officials, who have been wary of Kurdish ambitions throughout the war, and by Kurdish forces themselves, who remain nominally allied to Washington in the fight against Isis.”

The New York Times: A Grim Endgame Looms In Syria

“The long, cruel agony of Syria’s civil war may be approaching a decisive moment as President Bashar al-Assad and his allies, Russia and Iran, prepare to mount a military offensive on Idlib Province, the last major rebel redoubt. Although still dependent on Russia and Iran for military and financial support, Mr. Assad, whom the West once insisted must leave power, is on the cusp of crushing the rebellion, at the risk of a humanitarian catastrophe. An estimated three million people, including about one million children, live in Idlib, which sits along Syria’s border with Turkey. There is little doubt an all-out assault will cause death, destruction and displacement rivaling the brutality seen before. Civilians have suffered so horrifically during seven years of conflict that international agencies stopped counting at 400,000 dead. Syria, with its brew of competing foreign, domestic and terrorist fighting forces, has long defied an easy solution, and the United States has often been hampered by its confused aims, incoherent policy and limited leverage. It still is. Nikki Haley, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, warned on Thursday that an Assad regime offensive on Idlib would be a “reckless escalation” and “it is up to Russia to keep this from happening.”

The Wall Street Journal: On Syria, The U.S. Can Drive A Hard Bargain With Russia

“Syrian President Bashar Assad has launched his opening salvo to take back Idlib, the last major stronghold of organized rebel forces. The northwestern province is teeming with internally displaced Syrian civilians who have fled other parts of the country—Aleppo in December, Eastern Ghouta in April, and Daraa in June—under the weight of indiscriminate bombing by Russia and the Syrian regimes. U.N. officials say 800,000 people may be forced out of the city and the province in the assault. Refugees are running out of places to go. In the face of this impending humanitarian disaster, the international community will do very little. The Trump administration warns it “will respond to any chemical weapons attack perpetrated by the Syrian regime.” But with the Russians positioning forces to carry out naval and air bombardments, Mr. Assad is unlikely to resort to gas. President Trump tweeted that Mr. Assad should not “recklessly attack Idlib Province” and warned that the “Russians and Iranians would be making a grave humanitarian mistake to take part in this potential human tragedy.” The Russians answered by striking Idlib.”

Al Monitor: What To Do About 10,000 Al-Qaeda-Linked Terrorists In Idlib?

“Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan failed last week to get his Russian and Iranian counterparts to support his desperate bid for a cease-fire in Idlib, the stronghold of the al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, as well as other radical Salafi and armed gangs based in the northwestern Syrian province. The UN estimates that there are nearly 3 million civilians in Idlib, about half of them displaced from other parts of Syria, and that 900,000 civilians will be affected by a government assault. UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura said Friday, “The Security Council cannot accept that the civilians of Idlib must face this type of fate. Efforts to combat terrorism do not supersede obligations under international law in the moral conscience of humanity. We must put the sanctity of human civilian life above everything else.” “If it’s a slaughter, the world is going to get very, very angry,” US President Donald Trump said Wednesday. “And the United States is going to get very angry, too.”

Al Jazeera: Syria: Rebel-Held Areas Bombed As Turkey Reinforces Outposts

“Syrian government forces have pounded rebel-held areas in northwest Syria, killing at least five people in a second day of heavy bombardment, according to rescuers, as Turkey sent more troops to the region. The intensified strikes on Sunday, including air attacks, shelling and helicopter-dropped barrel bombs, targeted villages in southern Idlib and northern Hama provinces. The escalation comes amid growing fears over a seemingly imminent all-out offensive against the densely populated Idlib province, the last rebel bastion in Syria. A baby and a young child were killed in the village of Habeit in southern Idlib in a barrel bomb attack, according to the White Helmets, a civil defence group operating in rebel-held areas.”

The Wall Street Journal: Behind The Latest U.S. Policy Zag In Syria

“In the spring, President Trump had an easy answer on how to deal with the carnage in Syria. The president vowed to quickly wrap up the fight against Islamic State and bring the troops out “very soon.” The message, which Mr. Trump delivered at a rally in Ohio, was a popular one for a political base that has embraced Mr. Trump’s “America First” message. Now, with a climactic battle looming for Syria’s plan with Russia and Iran to retake rebel-held Idlib province, Mr. Trump is making a course correction—in tune with national-security officials determined to push back against longstanding adversaries. The administration is keeping 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria, imposing sanctions on businessmen close to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and plunging more deeply into diplomacy. The principal objectives are to roll back Iran’s role in Syria and ensure that Islamic State can’t make a comeback, U.S. officials say.”

Voice Of America: Monitor: Russian-Syrian Airstrikes Kill 4 In Rebel-Held Idlib

“Russia and Syria launched airstrikes Saturday on Syria's last rebel stronghold of Idlib, killing at least four civilians in what a war monitoring group said were the most intense attacks in a month. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said aircraft carried out about 60 raids in less than three hours on southern areas of the densely-populated stronghold. Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said some of the jihadist and rebel facilities were in use when the attacks occurred. Rahman said the attacks were the "most violent" since an August 10 bombardment killed at least 53 civilians, including children, in Idlib and in the nearby province of Aleppo. Idlib and neighboring areas are mostly controlled by several rival rebel groups, including Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an alliance led by militant group al-Qaida's former Syrian affiliate. Also Saturday, Russia said it had "irrefutable information" that Syrian rebels were planning "provocations" in Idlib to justify a response from Western nations.”


Arab News: Bahrain Arrests 14 Iranians For Entering The Country On Fake Passports

“Bahraini authorities said they have arrested 14 Iranians who entered the country on “forged passports” under fake names. Bahrain’s Interior Ministry said on Saturday night that the Iranians had used fake Asian passports. The ministry said they “bought passports to enter Bahrain in coordination with Bahrainis of Iranian origin.” It said their employers have been summoned. Legal action will be taken against the violators and their cases will be referred to public prosecution, the statement added. It also urged citizens to verify the identities of their employees and their documents.”

Reuters: Iran Completes Facility To Build Centrifuges: Nuclear Chief

“Iran has completed a facility to build advanced centrifuges, Iran’s nuclear chief was quoted on Sunday as saying, as Tehran prepares to increase its uranium-enrichment capacity if the nuclear deal collapses after the United States exits. In June, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said the facility at the Natanz nuclear plant would be completed within a month. Salehi’s statement in June came days after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said he had ordered preparations to increase the country’s uranium enrichment capacity if the nuclear agreement with world powers collapsed. On Sunday, the official news agency IRNA quoted Salehi as saying: “(Ayatollah Khamenei) had ordered us to set up and complete a very advanced hall for the construction of modern centrifuges, and this hall has now been fully equipped and set up.” Salehi said Iran’s announced plans to build nuclear reactors for ships, while staying within the limits set by its atomic deal with major powers, was “advancing well but would take 10 to 15 years to complete”, IRNA said.”

Reuters: Iran Attacks Iranian Kurdish Opposition Group Base In Iraq

“Iran attacked the base of an Iranian Kurdish opposition group in northern Iraq on Saturday, killing at least 11 people and wounding scores more, Iraqi Kurdish officials said. The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), an armed opposition group fighting for greater autonomy for Iran’s Kurdish community, tweeted pictures and video of explosions, as well as of the wounded, at its headquarters in Koya, in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region. “According to initial reports, 11 people were killed and between 20 and 30 wounded,” said Major General Jabbar Yawar, a spokesman for Iraq’s Kurdish Peshmerga security forces. “The strike targeted a conference held by the political office of the party this morning.” He said the attack had come from Iranian territory, but that his government had not yet determined whether it had been air strikes or ground-based firing.”

The Guardian: Jailed Dual Nationals May Be Victims Of Iranian Agents' Rivalry, Row Suggests

“An extraordinary propaganda film released by Iran’s hardline Revolutionary Guards has revealed deep splits between the country’s parallel intelligence agencies and suggested that imprisoned dual nationals could be victims of the infighting. At least 30 dual nationals, including the British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, are estimated to remain behind bars in Iran, mostly on national security charges, including spying. The Iranian motives behind such arrests have been unclear, as have been the political machinations over them. But the new film, made in the style of a documentary, sheds light on the tug of war between hardliners dominating the unelected faction of the Iranian establishment and the elected faction represented by the moderate administration of President Hassan Rouhani.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Washington: Iran Continues To Smuggle Weapons To Houthis In Yemen

“Iran continues to play a role in the conflict in Yemen by providing Houthi militias with ballistic missiles and weapons, according to commander of US 5th Fleet Vice Admiral Scott Stearney. Stearney said that Tehran’s support for the Houthis enabled them to threaten the shipping and international trade route through the Bab al-Mandeb Strait. Speaking during a teleconference from the 5th Fleet’s headquarters in Manama, Bahrain, Stearney was responding to recent threats to global shipping at the narrow choke points of the Strait of Hormuz and Bab al-Mandeb. He indicated that the Fleet is aware of the operations carried out by the Saudi-led Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen, and asserted that the US supports UN Resolution 2216, which bans weapons smuggling. “Iran continues to develop advanced ballistic missile capability and transfer them to the Houthis and Hezbollah, which will allow them to further destabilize the areas of the region that is in their malign interests,” he added. He stressed that Iran is supporting the militias that are preventing the distribution of humanitarian and medical aid in cholera-infected areas.”

The Wall Street Journal: Iran Develops A $5 Billion Weapon To Fight Sanctions

“With much fanfare, a French-Iranian scientist recently announced a $3 million plan to invest in a bankrupt medical factory that had become a symbol of France’s troubled economy and revive it. The majority owner wasn’t disclosed: Iran’s government. It was the latest example of how Tehran is quietly leveraging its Iran Foreign Investments Co. to loosen the Trump administration’s tightening economic noose. The fund, with dozens of investments and cash accounts in 22 countries worth $5 billion, prioritizes assets that give it access to services, goods and technologies that it is at risk of losing under U.S. sanctions, the fund’s advisers say. Iran’s government also hope to build good will and counter the nation’s isolation. And, it hopes, to make money. In this case, the fund bought the French medical factory and its weed-strewn grounds in June to ensure Iran can obtain medicine for tuberculosis, bladder cancer and other afflictions—drugs that could become difficult to obtain because of U.S. sanctions, said people familiar with the project.”


The Wall Street Journal: Rising Violence in Basra Highlights U.S.-Iran Fight for Influence in Iraq

“The firing of rockets toward American diplomatic missions in Iraq after protesters torched the Iranian consulate in Basra raised tensions as the U.S. and Iran vie to shape the country’s next government. On Sunday, an uneasy calm held after more troops were sent to the southern city and a curfew imposed to restore order following a week of protests in Basra. Demonstrations flared in Basra this month after thousands fell ill because the water supply was contaminated, and intensified last week after several protesters were killed. Protesters burned the offices of most political parties in Basra, including powerful Iran-backed paramilitary groups. It isn’t clear who fired the rockets toward the U.S. diplomatic missions and no damage was caused. But some politicians and analysts saw the attacks as a warning signal to Washington as it sought to prevent factions close to Iran from dictating government formation after the parliamentary election in May. U.S. envoy Brett McGurk had leaned heavily on Kurdish and Sunni parties to back the coalition of which Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was a part.”

The New York Times: In Strategic Iraqi City, A Week Of Deadly Turmoil

“Iraqi security forces stepped up patrols Saturday in the southern city of Basra, a strategically important oil port on the border with Iran where longstanding protests about quality of life have escalated into days of rioting and violence. The predominantly Shiite city is among the poorest areas of Iraq, despite the huge nearby oil reserves that drive the national economy. Although Basra has escaped the terrorist violence that has racked the country for years, its population has struggled with its own set of problems: high unemployment, crumbling infrastructure and rampant organized crime groups with leaders linked to powerful Shiite militias. The city sent tens of thousands of its young men to northern Iraq in 2014 to fight against the Islamic State. Now, as many of them have returned from battle to these same old problems, their anger has intensified, driven by a sense of frustration that their sacrifices at war haven’t come with tangible socioeconomic gains.”

PBS Newshour: Political Instability Facilitates Resurgence Of Islamic State In Iraq

“Last October, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared that the Islamic State had been defeated but last month, the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced that they were back and using new tactics. NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Simona Foltyn reports on how ISIS has exploited Iraq’s poor governance, fragmented security apparatus and ethno-religious strife to survive for this report produced in cooperation with The Investigative Fund.”


Reuters: Former Head Of Turkey Pro-Kurdish Party Sentenced To 4 Years In Prison For Terrorist Propaganda: CNN Turk

“A Turkish court on Friday sentenced the former head of the pro-Kurdish opposition to more than four years in jail on terrorism charges, broadcaster CNN Turk said, marking the first conviction for Selahattin Demirtas after 23 months in prison. Demirtas, one of Turkey’s best-known politicians, has been jailed for almost two years while on trial for a series of terrorism-related charges. He faces a total of up to 142 years in prison if convicted, but has so far denied the charges. On Friday, the court sentenced Demirtas to four years and eight months for carrying out terrorist propaganda at a speech in 2013, when the government was holding peace talks with Kurdish militants for a ceasefire. The court also sentenced Sirri Sureyya Onder, a former lawmaker from Demirtas’ People’s Democratic Party (HDP), to three years and six months in prison on the same charges, CNN Turk said. President Tayyip Erdogan accuses Demirtas and the HDP of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has carried out a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state. Both Demirtas and the HDP have denied the accusations of being linked to the PKK, designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and United States. In June, while campaigning for re-election in presidential elections, Erdogan called Demirtas a terrorist and said he was responsible for the deaths of Kurdish civilians during unrest three years ago. Demirtas, a former human rights lawyer, ran against Erdogan in the elections, and campaigned from prison, largely through social media. After having won votes beyond his core Kurdish constituency in previous elections, Demirtas failed to mount a significant challenge to Erdogan in June, winning 8.40 percent of votes against Erdogan’s 52.59 percent.”


The Washington Post: Chaos Grips Kabul As Thousands Of Gunmen Take To Streets On Massoud Anniversary

“Ordinary life came to a standstill in the Afghan capital on Sunday, with businesses largely shut and many people forced to stay indoors as thousands of young men brandishing knives and assault rifles took to the streets and fired indiscriminately, mostly into the air. The chaos, which lasted for more than eight hours, further underscored the weakness of U.S.-backed President Ashraf Ghani’s government, which is locked in deep internal discord and facing rising militancy. Meanwhile, Taliban insurgents killed dozens of security forces in various parts of the country, provincial officials said. The Associated Press, citing officials, gave a death toll of 29. The deadliest attack was in northern Baghlan province, where the militants overran an army base after a long siege and sustained clashes. The attackers killed more than 20 people, the officials said. The protracted gunfire in Kabul — including by masked teenagers riding in convoys of motorcycles and vehicles with tinted windows — left at least 13 people wounded, according to the Public Health Ministry.”

The Los Angeles Times: Seventeen Years After Sept. 11, Al Qaeda May Be Stronger Than Ever

“In the days after Sept. 11, 2001, the United States set out to destroy Al Qaeda. President George W. Bush vowed to “starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest.” Seventeen years later, Al Qaeda may be stronger than ever. Far from vanquishing the extremist group and its associated “franchises,” critics say, U.S. policies in the Mideast appear to have encouraged its spread. What U.S. officials didn’t grasp, said Rita Katz, director of the SITE intelligence group, in a recent phone interview, is that Al Qaeda is more than a group of individuals. “It’s an idea, and an idea cannot be destroyed using sophisticated weapons and killing leaders and bombing training camps,” she said. The group has amassed the largest fighting force in its existence. Estimates say it may have more than 20,000 militants in Syria and Yemen alone. It boasts affiliates across north Africa, the Levant and parts of Asia, and it remains strong around the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.”

Voice Of America: Dozens Of Afghan Forces Killed In Taliban Attacks

“A district police chief was among dozens of security forces killed in Afghanistan in overnight attacks by the Taliban, officials said Sunday. The insurgent raids occurred in the central eastern Maidan Wardak, western Herat and northern Baghlan provinces, the officials said. A provincial government spokesman in Maidan Wardak told VOA Taliban fighters stormed the Day Mirdad district center late Saturday, killing its police chief, Said Younus Hussaini, and 10 other security personnel. Abdul Rahman Mangal dismissed reports, however, that Day Mirdad was on the verge of collapse, saying reinforcements have arrived in the district and a counteroffensive was underway to retake the lost territory in Day Mirdad. Separately, reports said a coordinated Taliban attack against army and police posts in a troubled district of Baghlan has killed at least 20 Afghan security forces. Afghanistan’s largest private broadcaster, TOLOnews, said insurgents also overran all the outposts and surrounding villages in the Baghlan-e-Markazi district. Afghan authorities have not commented on the fighting in Baghlan. The Taliban issued a statement, claiming it killed 60 government forces and seized a large quantity of weaponry placed there. The insurgent group often issues inflated battlefield gains. Meanwhile, officials in Herat confirmed a late-night Taliban raid against a security checkpoint in the province killed nine Afghan forces and wounded six others. A provincial government spokesman said 10 assailants were also killed in the ensuing gunbattle. U.S.-trained Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) have struggled to contain the Taliban and suffered heavy losses in the process during fighting season.”

Foreign Affairs: Is The Taliban Prepared To Make Peace?

“For the last six months, Afghanistan has felt the stirring of something rare: if not peace, then the promise of its pursuit. President Ashraf Ghani invited the Taliban into negotiations without preconditions in February. Islamic scholars and Afghanistan’s neighbors rallied behind that offer in the subsequent months, while sit-ins, marches, and demonstrations broke out across Afghanistan, calling for an end to the country’s chronic conflict. For the first time in 40 years, the warring parties observed a nationwide cease-fire over three jubilant days in June. The vital question throughout this period has been whether the Taliban insurgency is actually open to making peace. The group has sent mixed signals this summer—agreeing, on one hand, to the June cease-fire, as well as restarting direct talks with the United States, but all the while continuing its years-long refusal to negotiate with what it calls the illegitimate Afghan government. The Taliban did not formally accept a second cease-fire for the Eid al-Adha holiday in August, and the intensity of its military campaign has hardly flagged. What, then, does the Taliban ultimately want, and is its leadership sincere about peace talks? My own conversations with people close to, and in contact with, Taliban political figures in recent months suggest that there is a genuine, if temporary, opening for peace.”

Reuters: Islamic State Claims Responsibility For An Attack In Kabul: Amaq

“Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide attack near a procession in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul on Sunday, according to the group’s news agency Amaq said. Government spokesman Wahid Majroh had said that seven bodies and 25 injured people were taken to the hospital from the attack site. The group did not provide evidence for its claim.”


Associated Press: Chinese FM On Visit Lauds Pakistan Fight Against Terrorism

“China's foreign minister says Pakistan has played a key role in eliminating terrorism and the world should support Pakistan in its efforts to fight extremism. Wang Yi met his counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Saturday to discuss matters of mutual interest, including the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. Wang arrived Friday night for a three-day visit. He said in a news conference that China wants to help strengthen and stabilize Pakistan's economy and enhance strategic relations between the two countries. He said China, the U.S. and other powers should support Pakistan's effort to fight terrorism and improve governance and socio-economic conditions. Qureshi said they discussed regional security, the peace process in Afghanistan and strengthen strategic cooperation. Wang will also meet the prime minister, president, army chief and other top officials.”


Associated Press: Suspected US Drone Strike Kills 4 Al-Qaida Members In Yemen

“Yemeni tribal leaders say a suspected U.S. drone strike has killed four alleged al-Qaida militants including a field leader in the country's south. The tribal leaders said on Sunday that the operatives were killed when an unmanned aircraft targeted a group of al-Qaida militants in the district of Ahwar, one of al-Qaida's strongholds in the southern Abyan province. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, as the Yemeni affiliate is known, has long been considered the global network's most dangerous branch and has attempted to carry out attacks inside the U.S. Yemen was plunged into civil war more than three years ago. Al-Qaida and the Islamic State affiliate have exploited the chaos to expand their presence in the country.”

Al Arabiya: Yemeni Naval Forces Destroy Booby-Trapped Houthi Boat In The Red Sea

“Yemeni naval forces on Friday foiled a bombing operation in which Houthi militias were was planning to attack international shipping in the Red Sea with a booby-trapped boat. A military source told Al Arabiya that an improvised explosive device was planted on the boat and was speeding on international waters in the Red Sea at speeds reaching more than 35 miles per hour. The source said Houthi militias were attempting to attack an international trading ship but Yemeni naval forces were able to stop the boat and force it toward one of the uninhabited islands close by.”


Brookings: Another War In Lebanon?

“Israel and the Lebanese Hezbollah spar regularly, and Hezbollah’s intervention in the Syrian civil war expanded their conflict’s front line. In the years since the war began in 2011, Israel has attacked Hezbollah weapons depots and forces in Syria, and Hezbollah boasts that it shot down an Israeli F-16 jet. A senior U.S. intelligence officer cautions that there is “real potential” of a war between Israel and Hezbollah and that such a war could drag in Iran and other regional powers. Mara Karlin, a leading outside analyst, contends that war is “almost inevitable” and that the “real questions are how and where—not if—the impending conflagration will occur.” Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, also warns that Israel is always a threat to Lebanon and Hezbollah. Yet war has threatened for over a decade, and despite regular sparring, neither side has gone over the brink. What explains this enduring, if turbulent, peace—and will it last? The risks for Israel in Lebanon are far higher than in its periodic battles with Hamas in Gaza. In 2006, Hezbollah launched a cross-border raid, killing three Israeli soldiers and capturing two. The raid sparked a massive Israeli bombing campaign and then ground assault, much to Hezbollah’s surprise. Hezbollah, however, was prepared for a fight and kept the rockets falling on Israel throughout the 34-day conflict. The war ended in a draw. Hezbollah and Nasrallah were lauded throughout the Arab world for their successful defiance of Israel. More than 10 years later, Hezbollah’s military capabilities are even more formidable. It has over 100,000 rockets and missiles and can fire over 1,000 per day, targeting almost every major city in Israel.”

Arab Weekly: Hezbollah Is A State Above The State

“Can an organisation such as Hezbollah in Lebanon be called a state and, if so, what would be the character of this state? Hezbollah has its own militia just like a standing army in a normal state. It has tonnes of weapons and equipment. In Lebanon, Hezbollah controls sites that are off limits to Lebanese security and army forces. The fact that other states close their eyes to this is a sign of approval, even if they don’t like it. Hezbollah controls a wide popular base in Lebanon and is constantly pushing its political-religious ideology, which considers anyone who questions that ideology as a kafir — an infidel in the religious sense or a traitor in the political sense. This social base represents the population of the state of Hezbollah and the party refers to “the People of Resistance,” not the Lebanese people. To qualify as a state, there is needed a defined geographical territory but in the case of the state of Hezbollah this requirement is dubious because its territory is vague. That is no problem for Hezbollah because there are historical precedents. When the Zionist entity claimed Palestine as its territory, it didn’t specify its geographical borders. Neither did the Islamic State (ISIS) when it declared itself an independent state with no consideration for geography. Similarly, Hezbollah considers Lebanon as its territorial base but that is elastic and can expand as much as Hezbollah’s military and ideological presence allows it. In Lebanon, Hezbollah has its own economic, financial and services institutions. They cover all areas: education, culture, health, social services, media, communication, housing, et cetera. It has its own channels for external relations functioning just like any other ministry of foreign affairs.”


Arab News: Kosovo Suspends Activities Of Qatar Charity Foundation

“Authorities in Kosovo have suspended the activities of the Qatar Charity Foundation in a move that serves as a new proof of Doha’s use of the “charity” front to cover its illegal activities and its financing of terrorism. The Kosovo NGO Department has taken the decision to suspend the activities of the Organization, as the alleged activities of the foundation are in conflict with the security interests of the Republic of Kosovo, according to the French site Salut. Qatar claims its charity is committed to the laws of the countries it operates in, especially poor or armed conflicts, but has long used such institutions to launder money and finance terrorism.”

Middle East

CNN: Where Is Bin Laden's Partner In Crime, Ayman Al-Zawahiri?

“Where the hell is Ayman al-Zawahiri and why don't we talk about him any more? Seventeen years ago, in the wake of the devastating attacks of September 11, 2001, there were two names on the tips of American tongues: Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri. The former founded al Qaeda. Together, they oversaw the 9/11 attacks and the 1998 bombings of the US Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya. Bin Laden was, of course, killed by SEAL Team Six in 2011, but in recent years, there's been nary a mention of his No. 2 who is seemingly alive and well. Though his communiques don't get much media coverage, Zawahiri is still disseminating his message. In recent weeks, the al Qaeda media arm released two recordings featuring Zawahiri -- a half-hour audio message and five-minute video. In the video, Zawahiri looks older than we remember him: wearing a white turban, with white shirt, matching his white beard and pasty skin. When the tape begins, there are two books near his folded hands. The backdrop is black and plain.”


Associated Press: Blast Kills Army Officer Inspecting Car In Egypt's Sinai

“Egyptian security officials say a colonel has been killed in central Sinai after explosives inside an empty vehicle he was inspecting detonated. The officials said incident Friday took place at the foot of Jabal al-Halal mountain also wounded another army officer. They said a separate explosion wounded an army conscript in Sheikh Zuweid town. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media. Egypt has been struggling to contain a years-long Islamic insurgency in the turbulent Sinai region, the epicenter of a years-long Islamic insurgency spearheaded by the Islamic State group's local affiliate. In February, Egypt began a massive anti-militant operation mainly focused on Sinai as well as parts of Egypt's Nile Delta and the Western Desert along the porous border with Libya.”


Malta Independent: Warning About Growing ISIS Presence In Libya

“A UN-brokered ceasefire in Libya seems to be holding for now, but the city was “on the brink of an all-out-war” before the agreement was signed earlier this week, according to the United Nations’ envoy to the war torn North African country. Earlier this week it was reported that Maltese citizens in Libya had asked the government to be evacuated as clashes between rival militias intensified in Tripoli. The Maltese Foreign Affairs Ministry said all Maltese in Libya were safe and the government was closely monitoring the situation. Maltese nationals are still being advised not to travel to Libya for the time being. On Tuesday, Libyan authorities said more than a week of heavy fighting in the capital had come to a halt after the U.N. announced a cease-fire between the warring militias. The fighting between militias allied to the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli and an armed group from a nearby town killed at least 63 people, and underscored the country's lingering lawlessness more than seven years after the uprising that toppled and killed Muammar Gaddafi. Interior Minister Abdelsalam Ashour said Wednesday that all parties on the ground have welcomed the cease-fire, which was announced Tuesday, and that "new security measures" will be taken. Health Minister Omar Bashir says 63 people have been killed and 159 wounded, including civilians, since the clashes began on Aug. 26. He says another 12 people are still missing. Libya also said it would reopen the capital's only functioning airport – Mitiga International. Fligths were expected to resume yesterday.”


The Guardian: Nigerian Army Claims 'Normalcy Restored' After Boko Haram Attack

“Nigeria’s military has said it has restored order after Boko Haram fighters took control of a town in the country’s remote north-east, sparking fears about the group’s resurgence. Scores of jihadists believed to be loyal to a faction backed by Islamic State overran troops in Gudumbali on Friday, according to local officials and security sources. At least eight civilians are thought to have been killed and thousands were more forced to flee, in the extremists’ first major seizure of a town in two years. It followed a series of deadly attacks on troops, which have called into question repeated government and military claims that Boko Haram is weakened to the point of defeat. A Nigerian army spokesman, Brig Gen Texas Chukwu, said on Saturday he was “not aware” of the attack but on Sunday confirmed the incident.”


Reuters: At Least Six Dead In Al Shabaab Attack On Somalia's Capital

“At least six people were killed on Monday in al Shabaab attack on a local government building in Somalia’s capital, the director of an ambulance service and a Reuters witness said. “We have carried six dead people and 16 others injured. The death toll may rise,” Abdikadir Abdirahman, director of Amin Ambulance service, told Reuters. A Reuters witness saw five bodies lying at the blast scene and body parts of a sixth person.”


The Washington Post: Tunisia Feared The Return Of Militants From Abroad. The Threat Now Is Those Who Never Left.

“Four years ago, thousands of Tunisian jihadists began flowing to the battlefields of Iraq, Libya and Syria to join the Islamic State and al-Qaeda — more than from any other nationality. Ever since, Tunisian and Western authorities have feared their return and the possible chaos that could follow. So far, those fears haven’t materialized, according to Tunisian authorities, Western diplomats and regional analysts. Instead, the Islamic State and al-Qaeda are recruiting a new generation of locals to stage terrorist attacks at home, including one in July near the Algerian border that left six national guardsmen dead. “This is primarily homegrown,” said Matt Herbert, a partner at Maharbal, a Tunis-based security consulting firm. “The majority of Tunisians who survived Libya and Syria have not returned.” The continuing local recruitment of militants highlights the challenges facing Tunisia, the only nation to emerge as a democracy after the 2011 populist revolts across the region that became known as the Arab Spring. Although the ideological appeal of the Islamic State and al-Qaeda appears to have shrunk in many parts of the country, diplomats and analysts say a post-revolution era of political, economic and social turmoil is still breeding resentment, especially among Tunisia’s youth. Frustration over a lack of economic opportunities and social mobility has driven more than 3,000 Tunisians to leave for Europe this year, more than from any other nationality, according to the United Nations’ migration agency. These same factors have caused others to join extremist groups, especially in areas long neglected by the government.”

Agence France Presse: US Places Kenyan Islamic State Group 'Financier' On Blacklist

“The US Treasury named to its sanctions blacklist on Friday a Kenyan who it said was a key player in the Islamic State group's global financial network. The Treasury said Waleed Ahmed Zein, who was arrested in Nairobi in early July, "established an intricate worldwide financial network to facilitate funds transfers" for the jihadist group. Zein was named a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist" under US law, which makes anyone working with him likewise vulnerable to terror charges and blacklisting. The Treasury said Zein moved over $150 000 through his network for the Islamic State (ISIS) group in 2017 and 2018 to help fund fighters in Syria, Libya and Central Africa. The financial network spanned Europe, the Middle East, the Americas and eastern Africa, it said. "Zein is a dangerous terrorist who established an intricate global network of financial facilitators for (ISIS), using hawalas and intermediaries to evade police detection and fund their deadly ambitions," Sigal Mandelker, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said in a statement.”


The Washington Post: The Shadowy Extremist Sect Accused Of Plotting To Kill Intellectuals In India

“The killers trailed her for months, watching her every move. When the day came, they were ready for her. Journalist Gauri Lankesh had locked up the office of her scrappy weekly newspaper and had just returned home here when the killers arrived on a motorcycle. One of them — his face obscured by a helmet — drew close and began shooting. One, two, three shots. Lankesh tried to flee, but the last bullet ended her life. The journalist’s death a year ago reverberated across India. She was given a state funeral in Bangalore, and thousands marched in protest around the country, chanting, “I am Gauri. We are all Gauri.” Many thought Lankesh was killed because of her outspoken criticism against the government and rising right-wing extremism. Police investigating the slaying think her death was part of a wider conspiracy, with evidence linking her killing to three other meticulously planned slayings of secular intellectuals since 2013. They say Lankesh’s killers were associated with Sanatan Sanstha, a shadowy extremist religious sect that has been accused of using hypnotherapy to incite its followers to kill those they consider enemies of Hinduism. Investigators uncovered a hit list of more than two dozen other writers and scholars.”

United Kingdom

The National: Returning British ISIS Fighters To Face 10 Years In Jail

“British nationals travelling to countries such as Syria and Iraq could face 10 years in jail upon return to the UK, according to a new law to deal with foreign fighters announced on Thursday. Britain’s Home Office will make it an offence to travel to designated countries where terror groups like ISIS are prevalent without a “reasonable excuse”. The measures, which will be introduced in the new Counter Terror Bill, are being brought in to address the inability to bring criminal charges brought against British fighters believed to have fought with ISIS under the current set of rules. It is thought that around 400 British ISIS fighters have already returned to the UK but only 40 them have been prosecuted because of lack of evidence to bring criminal charges. Under the new rules it will no longer be necessary to establish that a suspect has engaged in terrorist activity prior to the arrival to the UK. All individuals who travelled to a designated terror zone without a good motive will face prosecution.”


The Guardian: Paris Knife Attack: Two British Tourists Among Seven Injured

“A man wielding a knife and an iron bar has stabbed seven people including two British tourists in Paris. Police arrested the suspect, who they believe to be an Afghan national aged 31, after a group of petanque players chased the man and reportedly brought him to the ground. Officers say the random attacks on Sunday evening do not appear to be terror-linked. Four of the wounded are in a serious condition in hospital, one of them critical. Le Parisien newspaper said the suspect stabbed one of the British tourists in the chest and the other in the head. The Foreign Office said it was investigating the attack. The attacks occurred at about 10.45pm (2145 BST) on Sunday, near a cinema on the popular Canal de l’Ourcq at Villette in the 19th arrondissement of the French capital. A security guard at one of two cinemas on either side of the canal said he saw a man who had assaulted people being chased by two men who tried to stop him. “He had an iron bar in his hand which he threw at the men chasing him, then he took out a knife,” the guard said. Police said the man attacked passersby at random; an investigation has been launched into attempted murder, according to a judicial source. “At this stage, nothing leads us to believe these attacks are of a terrorist nature,” a police source said. One witness told BFMTV: “We saw people on the ground. We saw blood. There was a man who was running around with a knife of 40cm long. The whole thing happened quickly: it was all over in about seven minutes.” Loic Travers, the spokesman for the Alliance Police union, said the man was finally brought under control by one of the petanque players who had chased him.”


DW: German Military Mulls Joining US-Led Airstrikes In Syria – Report

“A report suggests Germany's Bundeswehr could soon take part in US, UK and French airstrikes on Syria if another chemical attack should occur. The controversial move faces resistance in the government. The German Defense Ministry is reportedly in talks with its US counterpart to hammer out details for the Bundeswehr to join possible airstrikes by US, British and French forces on Syrian targets, Germany's mass-circulation Bild newspaper reported on Monday. The report suggests Germany's conservative defense minister, Ursula von der Leyen, has responded to a US request, which was followed by a meeting of high-ranking ministry and military officials from both countries. German tornado jets could take part in combat missions alongside their US, UK and French counterparts, according to the article. It would be the first time for German forces to drop bombs since the war in the Balkans in the 1990s, Bild says.”

The New York Times: As Germans Seek News, YouTube Delivers Far-Right Tirades

“The day after far-right demonstrators took over the streets here, Sören Uhle, a city official who oversees municipal marketing and development, began to get strange phone calls from reporters. The man whose killing had set off the riots, they said, had died while trying to stop asylum seekers from molesting a local woman. And it wasn’t just one local man who had been killed, but two. Could he comment? These sorts of accusations suddenly seemed to be everywhere. But none were true. They had come, Mr. Uhle and others suspected, from social media — particularly YouTube. Ray Serrato, a Berlin-based digital researcher, noticed the tide of misinformation when his wife’s uncle showed him a YouTube video that claimed the rioters had been Muslim refugees. The video, posted by an obscure fringe group, was rambling, and it appeared to be cheaply produced. Yet it had nearly half a million views — far more than any news video on the riots. How was that possible?”

The Jerusalem Post: German Governor Opens Israel Office, Refuses To Ban Hezbollah, Iran Trade

“Armin Laschet, the powerful governor of the largest German state North Rhine-Westphalia, wrapped up a three-day visit to Israel on Thursday, with the opening of his state’s first trade and culture office in Israel, but he refused to outlaw Hezbollah and stop trade with the Islamic Republic of Iran. “No other land cultivates such continuous, close and friendly relations with Israel as North Rhine-Westphalia,” said Laschet, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party. “I will now continue to develop and deepen this tradition.” The West German state of North Rhine-Westphalia has a population of nearly 18 million people. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted on his Facebook page that he met Laschet in Jerusalem. According to the post, “The two discussed deepening cooperation between Israel and North Rhine-Westphalia, [as well as] regional threats and Iranian aggression. Israel has good relations with the state in a range of areas including youth exchanges and Holocaust education. The scope of trade with the state is approximately 1 billion Euros per annum.” North Rhine-Westphalia’s new trade, cultural and educational office is located in Tel Aviv. Since 2017, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia has provided internships for students who wish to experience Israel’s high-tech and science sectors.”


Fox News: Sweden Election Sees Gains For Far-Right, Anti-Immigrant Party

“Voters in Sweden handed the ruling Social Democrats their worst result in decades Sunday, while the far-right Sweden Democrats were projected to become the third-largest party in Stockholm's parliament. With almost all the ballots counted, the Social Democrats had emerged as the largest party but had just 28.3 percent of the vote, making it likely to lose a significant number of seats. The Moderates party was next at 19.8 percent, followed by the Sweden Democrats at 17.6 percent. That's a 4.6 percent increase in their vote share from the last election, held in 2014. Sunday's results make it unlikely that any party will have a majority of the 175 seats in the Riksdagen, Sweden's parliament. It could take weeks or months of coalition talks before the next government is formed.”

Southeast Asia

Associated Press: 43 Suspects In Deadly Philippine Bombings Face Criminal Raps

“Criminal complaints have been filed against 43 Muslim militants from two armed groups linked to the Islamic State group for two bomb attacks in the southern Philippines, including a suspected suicide bombing that killed 11 people, police said Monday. Murder complaints were filed against 18 suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf for a powerful blast on July 31 that killed 11 people and wounded several others in Lamitan city on Basilan island, said Director General Oscar Albayalde, the national police chief. A foreign militant who drove the bomb-laden van died in the suspected suicide attack. Among those facing charges is an Abu Sayyaf commander, Furuji Indama, who Albayalde said ordered the bombing but remains at large along with nine other suspects. Eight suspects, including a militant bomb expert, Julamin Arundoh, who police said rigged the van with plastic gallons containing the explosives, have been captured. Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano said the foreign militant who drove the van targeted a public gathering of about 3,000 people in Lamitan city but his vehicle stalled and villagers whom he asked for help became suspicious when they saw unusual wires protruding from plastic gallons in the vehicle. As army troops approached, the van blew up, killing the militant and 10 other people outside a paramilitary detachment and wounding several villagers. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the Lamitan bombing and identified the attacker as Moroccan.”


The Jerusalem Post: Exclusive: How The Fbi Partners With Israel To Fight Social Media Terror

“Terrorism is now moving at the speed of social media,” warned top FBI counter-terrorism official Michael McPherson during a speech leading into an exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Post last week. McPherson spoke to the Post after his speech at the International Institute for Counter Terrorism IDC Herzliya’s 18th annual world summit. He explained that social media have reached a new level of influence as a tool for terrorists, saying, “none of us are beyond the power of online messaging.” The top counter-terrorism official said that radicalization – the process in which normal citizens evolve to become terrorists – has changed and now primarily starts or runs entirely as an online process. Elaborating, he said that there is no longer an extensive old-style al-Qaeda vetting process to get into Islamic terrorism cells, but the groups are still either directing or inspiring attackers. “Never before have we seen so many individuals not only inspired by rhetoric, but ready to act for an alleged ‘cause’,” said McPherson in describing the process by which terrorism groups incite “lone wolves” to perpetrate attacks. Because social media and personal electronic devices have become so prominent with terrorism groups and in society in general, he said it is important that the FBI gets the legal tools it needs to obtain electronic evidence. This sometimes leads the FBI into “the age-old argument about privacy versus security - where is that balance?,” he asked rhetorically.”

PJ Media: Texas Terror Case Gives Rare Glimpse Inside Encrypted Jihadist Social Media

“Researchers, journalists and anyone honestly seeking to understand modern Islamic terrorism need look no further than the now-vast trove of American court prosecution records. The Department of Justice has prosecuted 157 U.S. homegrown terrorism cases in 30 states just since 2013, and 220 since 9/11. Say what you will about the politicized upper echelons of the FBI. But the front-line special agents in FBI joint terrorism task forces are doing what we pay them to do in terms of cuffing jihadists. They deserve respect and thanks. Collectively, the court records reveal the true motives, ideology, tactics, and methods of the terrorists. Unfiltered by the few media accounts of such cases, the unadulterated court records show terrorists saying exactly why they did it in transcribed testimonies from interrogations, sentencing hearings, and wiretapped conversations. The media’s artful academic theories about what motivates jihadists simply do not survive the weight of this sworn motherlode of evidence. The U.S. Northern District of Texas case against the Jordan-born Texas resident Said Azzam Mohamad Rahim is one such illuminating case. Rahim is set to go on trial December 3, 2018, on six counts of lying to the FBI and one count of providing material support to ISIS. He is a U.S. citizen who owns a convenience store. The investigation centered around Rahim’s life as a moderator in the Austin social media application Zello.”

New Yorker: Can Mark Zuckerberg Fix Facebook Before It Breaks Democracy?

“At ten o’clock on a weekday morning in August, Mark Zuckerberg, the chairman and C.E.O. of Facebook, opened the front door of his house in Palo Alto, California, wearing the tight smile of obligation. He does not enjoy interviews, especially after two years of ceaseless controversy. Having got his start as a programmer with a nocturnal bent, he is also not a morning person. Walking toward the kitchen, which has a long farmhouse table and cabinets painted forest green, he said, “I haven’t eaten breakfast yet. Have you?” Since 2011, Zuckerberg has lived in a century-old white clapboard Craftsman in the Crescent Park neighborhood, an enclave of giant oaks and historic homes not far from Stanford University. The house, which cost seven million dollars, affords him a sense of sanctuary. It’s set back from the road, shielded by hedges, a wall, and mature trees. Guests enter through an arched wooden gate and follow a long gravel path to a front lawn with a saltwater pool in the center. The year after Zuckerberg bought the house, he and his longtime girlfriend, Priscilla Chan, held their wedding in the back yard, which encompasses gardens, a pond, and a shaded pavilion. Since then, they have had two children, and acquired a seven-hundred-acre estate in Hawaii, a ski retreat in Montana, and a four-story town house on Liberty Hill, in San Francisco. But the family’s full-time residence is here, a ten-minute drive from Facebook’s headquarters.”

BuzzFeed News: This Group Posed As Russian Trolls And Bought Political Ads On Google. It Was Easy

“In the summer of 2018, after months of public and legislator outcry over election interference, you might think it would be difficult for a Russian troll farm to purchase — with Russian currency, from a Russian ZIP code — racially and politically divisive ads through Google. And you might reasonably assume that if such a troll farm were able to do this, Google — which has said "no amount of interference that is acceptable" — would prevent it from successfully targeting those ads toward thousands of Americans on major news sites and YouTube channels. But you’d be wrong. Researchers from the advocacy group the Campaign for Accountability — which has frequently targeted Google with its “transparency project” investigations and has received funding from Google competitor Oracle — posed as Kremlin-linked trolls and successfully purchased divisive online ads using Google’s ad platform and targeted them toward Americans. In an attempt to trigger Google’s safeguards against such efforts, the researchers purchased the advertisements using the name and identifying details of the Internet Research Agency — a Kremlin-linked troll farm that’s been the subject of numerous congressional hearings. The advertisements appeared on the YouTube channels and websites of media brands like CNN, CBS This Morning, HuffPost, and the Daily Beast.”

Combating Terrorist Financing

Asharq Alawsat: Tougher Rules Against Terror Financing In The European Union

“Several committees in the European Parliament in Brussels have agreed to toughen the rules for entry or exit of funds, to and from the European Union, as part of the {concerted} fight against the financing of terrorism and money laundering. The new rules will be voted on next week in a plenary session of the European Parliament. Approval has already been granted at the EU House of Parliament in Brussels by members of the Civil Liberties, Home Affairs, Justice, Finance and Economic Committees. Mady Delvaux, a member of the European Parliament's Finance and Economic Committee, said that large amounts of money are often used in criminal activities, giving criminals the advantage of having an easy way to transfer money while, at the same time, the funds are difficult to track. However, she stressed that the new proposals tighten {existing} rules on both money and liquid assets such as gold, prepaid cards or checks.”

Sabq: Law Firms In Saudi Arabia Under Inspection To Ensure Compliance With Anti-Terrorism Financing Regulations

“The Saudi Ministry of Justice announced that officers of its General Directorate of Law have conducted inspection tours of more than 600 law firms in the Kingdom so far this year, as part of its efforts to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. The same directorate will also carry out inspection tours, during the next three months, of law offices classified as being high-risk, the ministry added. Law firms that don't comply with the anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing requirements will be referred to a competent committee to be punished accordingly, the ministry cautioned. The ministry pointed out that the general directorate has held workshops and training sessions for 64 lawyers who work in high-risk offices, in coordination with the judicial training center at the ministry.”


Menafn: ISIS Financier Captured In Iraq's Northern Mosul

“In an effort to elude security men, a suspected ISIS financier scattered US dollar bills during a chase by Iraqi policemen, in the hope of keeping them busy collecting these bills. Notwithstanding, the ruse failed, and the alleged financial backer of ISIS was captured by officers of the Directorate of General Military Intelligence in northern Mosul. It’s noteworthy that the officers seized an ISIS-linked procurements list and a foreign-currency-denominated sum of money estimated at $1,300 in the suspect's possession.”

Muslim Brotherhood

Seventh Day: Funds Of Newly Convicted Muslim Brotherhood Figures Seized

“Convened at the Tora prison courthouse and chaired by Judge Hassan Farid El-Shami, the South Cairo Criminal Court imposed a wide range of penalties on scores of people charged with the violent dispersal of the 2013 Rabaa Al-Adawiya sit-in, with the exclusion of 22 minors. The penalties included firing the convicted persons from their jobs in the government sector, appropriating their funds and putting them under police surveillance for five years. It's worth mentioning that the vast majority of these people are leaders and supporters of the banned Muslim Brotherhood.”


Alankabout: Erosion Of Hezbollah's Support Amid Turmoil In Lebanon

“Experts in the affairs of the Shiites in Lebanon have been observing changes such as the growing erosion in what has been called in recent years Hezbollah's "public of resistance". This trend, however, has not reached a complete separation from Hezbollah's path. The researchers point out that the reality of opposition to Hezbollah, which is becoming quite apparent, reinforces the stance of segments of the Shiite elite who have chosen for years to oppose Hezbollah from inside the community. This has happened despite the enormous ideological hegemony enjoyed by it among the Shiites of Lebanon and despite the tremendous deterrent power it holds against its opponents. Among those monitoring this situation is academician and politician Dr. Harith Suleiman, who says: "The images of Superman and of the Fortress of Sparta have broken down. Hezbollah has wanted to portray the Shiites as being in a closed castle unaffected by hunger or pain and unconcerned with the {outside} world. Rather, it stressed obedience to the Faqih, which promises the faithful a place in paradise. But ordinary human beings have secular needs and dreams. They aspire to having schools that teach them and hospitals that cure them. They want jobs and wages that protect them from destitution and provide them with a decent living. They do not feel secure receiving salaries that come from Iranian money.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.


On January 15, 2019, al-Shabaab gunmen stormed an upscale hotel and office complex in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. The attack lasted over 12 hours, killing 22 people and wounding 27 others.   

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