Eye on Extremism: September 10

The New York Times: Trump Declares Afghan Peace Talks With Taliban ‘Dead’

“President Trump declared on Monday that peace talks with the Taliban were “dead,” but signaled that he would still withdraw United States troops from America’s longest war, following the collapse this weekend of a monthslong effort to ease violence in Afghanistan. Expressing impatience with the continued burden of keeping 14,000 troops in Afghanistan, the president said it was not the American military’s role to secure the world. “Our soldiers are incredible, but they are serving as policemen, to a large extent,” Mr. Trump said. “We would like to get out, but we will get out at the right time.” A plan to send home as many as 5,400 American forces by early next year — just as Mr. Trump revs up his re-election campaign — was at the heart of the negotiations that also sought to secure a cease-fire in Kabul. The Afghan capital has been rocked by bloody attacks over the last several weeks, and violence is expected to escalate amid the political uncertainty. Mr. Trump has long promised to end American involvement in the war, and said on Monday that the Afghan government “will have to take responsibility” for its own security “at the earliest possible time.”

The Guardian: Airstrikes Kill 18 Pro-Iran Fighters In Eastern Syria

“Unclaimed airstrikes in eastern Syria have killed 18 Iranian and pro-Iran fighters, according to a war monitoring group, as tensions around Tehran’s military presence in the region intensify. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strikes in and around the town of Abu Kamal began late on Sunday and continued after midnight, targeting bases, arms depots and vehicles. Suspicion is likely to fall on Israel, which has conducted hundreds of bombing raids in the country, often against Iranian military assets and personnel. It accuses Tehran of using Syria, which neighbours Israel, as a base to attack it. The Israel Defence Forces did not comment on whether it was behind the attack. Later on Monday the Israeli military said an Iranian-backed Shia militia on the outskirts of the Syrian capital, Damascus, had fired “a number of rockets” towards Israel. All failed to hit Israeli territory, it said. It was not clear if the attempted rocket attacks against Israel were a response to the bombing raid. Separately, Iran’s main proxy force in Lebanon, Hezbollah, claimed it had shot down an Israeli drone that crossed the border, a week after the bitter enemies traded fire for the first time in years.”

The Wall Street Journal: Iran’s Other Terror Front

“Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, is playing a long game in Yemen and few in the world seem to have noticed. With Iran’s patronage, the Houthis—a Shiite political movement—carried out a coup in 2014, plunging the country into chaos. Iran’s support elevated the Shia Houthis from a tribal militia to a lethal fighting force. Now, the Iranian regime wants a seat at the negotiating table to help resolve a war it helped instigate. Whatever the ultimate outcome in Yemen, Iran has successfully expanded its threat network and positioned itself as a power broker in the Arabian peninsula. Tehran has been using this playbook for decades. In the early 1980s, Iran began supporting various Shia extremist groups in Lebanon. The Iranian regime systematically scaled up its assistance and assembled the most violent factions into a cohesive military organization, which eventually called itself Hezbollah.  During the 1990s, Iran cemented its influence in Lebanon through Hezbollah. The Iranian regime provides the militant group with 70% of its operating budget, precision rockets and small arms, and a steady stream of military experts.”

The Washington Post: Syria’s Raqqa Still Finding The Dead, 2 Years After IS Fall

“The neighbors reported a foul smell coming from the house next door. The house, which the Islamic State group had used as a school for its “cubs,” had been untouched ever since the militants were chased out of the Syrian city two years ago. Weeds grew around an abandoned car in its courtyard. Even before the first responders felt the soft ground of the courtyard, they knew what was underneath: the latest mass grave in Raqqa, the former capital of the Islamic State group’s self-declared “caliphate.” On the first day of digging, they pulled out two bodies. Within a few days, that was up to nearly 20, including women and children, who had been stacked up in holes in the courtyard garden. The discovery, seen by Associated Press journalists over the weekend, was the 16th mass grave found in Raqqa since IS militants were driven out in the summer of 2017. Even as Raqqa’s people gradually rebuild, the graves found in houses, parks, destroyed buildings are a grim reminder of the horrors perpetrated by the militants and the massive violence inflicted on the city to remove them. During their rule, the extremists carried out mass killings, public beheadings and other atrocities.”

The New York Times: Turkey, Long A Haven For Syrian Refugees, Is Sending Them Home

“Turkey, which for eight years has welcomed millions of Syrian refugees, has reversed course, forcing thousands to leave its major cities in recent weeks and ferrying many of them to its border with Syria in white buses and police vans. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is pushing a radical solution — resettling refugees in a swath of Syrian territory controlled by the United States and its Kurdish allies. If that does not happen, he is threatening to send a flood of Syrian migrants to Europe. Mr. Erdogan has long demanded a buffer zone along Turkey’s border with Syria to keep out Kurdish forces, whom he considers a security threat. But he has repackaged the idea for the zone as a refuge for Syrians fleeing the war — acting as resentment against Syrians in Turkey has increased, and a Syrian and Russian offensive in Syria has sent hundreds of thousands more refugees fleeing toward the Turkish border.”

USA Today: 18 Years After 9/11: Terrorism Needs To Be Prevented At The Source

“On Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaida terrorists killed nearly 3,000 Americans. Eighteen years later, we remain deeply concerned about the threat of another large scale terrorist attack.  We are concerned because terrorist violence continues to grow and spread. The Middle East and Sahel regions are the epicenter of extremist violence. Islamist militants there command more fighters, are active in more countries and control more territory than they did before the 9/11 attacks. Violent extremism’s spread, even in distant countries, creates incubators for future attacks, putting us all at risk. We recognize and honor the dedication, sacrifice and tireless efforts of American military and civilian personnel. They have destroyed terrorist networks on the battlefield and thwarted their plots. Over 15,000 Americans paid with their lives, and more than 50,000 have been injured. Yet, the Islamic State’s resurgence this year in parts of Iraq and Syria is a stark reminder that the underlying conditions that fomented these groups remain in place. Over a decade and a half ago, as chairs of the 9/11 Commission, we called for a comprehensive strategy to prevent new generations of terrorists, in addition to safeguarding the homeland and defeating terrorist groups.”

United States

CNN: Fugitive Couple Facing Murder Charges May Be Getting Help From White Supremacists, Authorities Say

“One of the people accused of killing a 72-year-old man and overpowering two security officers to escape custody has been added to the US Marshals Service's list of the 15 most wanted fugitives. Blane Barksdale, 56, along with his wife, Susan Barksdale, 59, may be getting help from white supremacists, US Marshal for the district of Arizona David Gonzales said Monday. The couple escaped custody in late August as they were being extradited to face charges of arson, burglary and murder in connection with the death of Frank Bligh, a Vietnam veteran killed in April in Tucson, Arizona. The two had used a medical emergency to get the guards to pull over to the side of the road, and then overpowered them and threw them in the back of the van, Gonzales said last month. "Somebody like Blane in prison -- with both local -- with both state and federal prison, would be associated with Aryan Brotherhoods, white supremacist gangs. So those are the type of individuals we think that might be assisting," Gonzales said at a news conference Monday.”

Syria

VOA: Report: Over 120 Churches Damaged By War In Syria Since 2011

“A Syrian war monitor associated with the opposition said Monday that over 120 Christian places of worship have been damaged or destroyed by all sides in the country's eight-year conflict. Some of the attacks were deliberate, such as the Islamic State group using bulldozers to destroy the ancient Saint Elian Monastery in Homs province in 2015. The majority, however, were caused by front-line combat, shelling or rockets. Christians made up about 10 percent of Syria's pre-war population of 23 million, who co-existed with the Muslim majority and enjoyed freedom of worship under President Bashar Assad's government. Most have left for Europe over the past 20 years, with their flight significantly gathering speed since the start of the current conflict. Around half of all Syrians are now either internally displaced or have left the country.”

Iran

Associated Press: UN Atomic Watchdog Confirms Iran Installing New Centrifuges

“The United Nations’ atomic watchdog confirmed Monday that Iran is preparing to use more advanced centrifuges, another breach of limits set in the country’s slowly unraveling nuclear deal with major powers. Iran had already announced the step, its latest violation of the 2015 agreement as it tries to pressure European signatories to find a way to maintain oil shipments and ease the toll of U.S. sanctions on the Iranian economy. The International Atomic Energy Agency reported its inspectors verified the installation of new centrifuges. The agency said all had been “prepared for testing” but none yet tested at the time of the Sept. 7-8 inspection. The nuclear deal was meant to keep Tehran from building atomic weapons — something Iran denies it wants to do — in exchange for economic incentives. Its collapse started with the United States unilaterally withdrawing from the deal last year and imposing increased sanctions.”

The New York Times: Israeli Leader Says Iran Hid A Nuclear Weapons Site

“Israel accused Iran on Monday of having harbored an undisclosed nuclear-weapons site that the Iranians destroyed a few months ago for fear of exposure. Iran ridiculed the accusation. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel displayed satellite photographs that he said showed the site, and he called upon other countries to join the United States in maintaining pressure on Tehran. Mr. Netanyahu told reporters in Jerusalem that Israel had first learned of the site, in the central Iranian city of Abadeh, in early 2018 when Israeli spies stole what he has previously described as a huge trove of the archives of Iran’s nuclear program. When the Iranians learned that Israel was aware of the site, he said, “they simply destroyed it, just eliminated everything.”

BBC: Iran's 'Blue Girl' Dies After Setting Herself On Fire

“An Iranian female football fan who set herself on fire a week ago has died. The woman set herself alight in Tehran after her trial, for attempting to enter a football stadium disguised as a man, was postponed. The authorities in Iran regularly stop women from entering stadiums. Her story has been followed closely by Iranians around the world who used the hashtag "blue girl" - a reference to the colours of her favourite team, Esteqlal of Tehran. The woman, referred to as Sahar, which is not her real name, was arrested in March when she tried to enter a football stadium. After being jailed for three days she was released on bail and waited six months for her court case. But when she appeared at court she found out it had been postponed because the judge had a family emergency. She later returned to court to pick up her mobile phone and it is widely reported that she is thought to have overheard someone saying that if she were convicted she could get six months to two years in prison.”

The Wall Street Journal: Trump’s Pressure Is Weighing Heavily On Iran

“You think you have trouble at work? It could be worse. You could be the government official in charge of Iran’s budget. It is becoming increasingly clear just how effectively the Trump administration’s campaign of economic sanctions is shredding the Iranian government’s balance sheet and damaging the underlying economy. You may agree or disagree with the strategy, and where it is taking things is unclear, but its impact is no longer in doubt. While precise figures are elusive because some black-market trading persists, Iranian oil exports likely have been reduced to about 200,000 barrels a day, and actually were lower than that at some points this summer. That’s down from roughly 2.5 million barrels a day when President Trump announced in May 2018 that the U.S. was withdrawing from the nuclear deal President Barack Obama and other world leaders negotiated with Iran, and began imposing new sanctions to stop companies and countries from buying Iranian oil.”

Iraq

The Washington Post: Here’s How Airstrikes Targeting Iran-Backed Paramilitary Groups In Iraq Threaten Post-ISIS Stability

“Last month’s airstrikes targeting Iran-backed paramilitary groups in Iraq threaten to bring the country back into conflict shortly after the fight against the Islamic State. The coalition of paramilitary groups called al-Hashd al-Shaabi, or the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), blamed Americans and Israelis for the attacks, which targeted its weapons depots. Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the de facto leader of the PMF, threatened retaliation in coordination with the Iraqi government. The Iraqi government, however, did not support his response and stated that he did not speak on its behalf. According to our research as part of a newly released Chatham House report, Iraq’s post-Islamic State stability has been based on an understanding between the PMF and the government, or between the de facto and formal leadership. Here’s what a dispute between them could mean for the country. After the Islamic State — also known as ISIS — swiftly captured the Iraqi city of Mosul, then-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki brought together seven paramilitary groups in June 2014 to form the PMF and defend Iraq. The PMF has since expanded to include about 50 groups. At the time, Iraqi Shiites, in particular, enlisted in the PMF instead of the formal state armed forces, which had crumbled to a few thousand salafi-jihadi fighters.”

ABC News: Exclusive: Military Leaders Tell David Muir There Is An 'ISIS Insurgency' In Iraq, Warn Of Breeding Ground Across Syria Border

“It is a familiar battlefield, but a different enemy for American troops in Iraq. Nearly 16 years since the United States went into Iraq to eliminate Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction, “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir got exclusive access with American troops now fighting an enemy intent on resurging: ISIS. Mere months after losing their territorial holdacross Syria and Iraq -- and after President Donald Trump declared ISIS had been “defeated” -- the reality on the ground paints a still grim picture of recalcitrant ISIS fighters forming an enduring insurgency. “We have seen, since the collapse of the caliphate, that ISIS has repositioned a lot of its capabilities,” U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Alex Grynkewich told Muir. “They're trying to garner resources, extort the population, do low level attacks. There's certainly an insurgency going on, on the ground right now,” said Grynkewich, the deputy commander of Operation Inherent Resolve, the joint coalition fighting ISIS on the ground. Muir traveled deep into the Anbar desert, just 50 miles from the Syrian border, with American and Iraqi forces during an operation to take out ISIS fighters.”

Iraqi News: Iraqi Intelligence Kill Islamic State Militant In Mosul; Another Arrested

“An Islamic State militant was killed Monday when army forces stormed a terrorist hotbed in the Iraqi city of Mosul, the Military Intelligence Directorate said. “Military intelligence forces stormed a terrorist hotbed at the Nineveh island, west of Mosul city, leaving an Islamic State terrorist dead,” Alsumaria News quoted the directorate as saying. The troops destroyed the hideout and all its contents, the statement read. Meanwhile, the directorate said that its forces arrested another Islamic State member in Ramadi city. The militant, according to the statement, “was responsible for booby trapping vehicles in order to be used later in terrorist attacks by the Islamic State group.” The Islamic State group appeared on the international scene in 2014 when it seized large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, declaring the establishment of an Islamic “caliphate” from Mosul city. Later on, the group has become notorious for its brutality, including mass killings, abductions and beheadings, prompting the U.S. to lead an international coalition to destroy it. Iraq declared victory over Islamic State in December 2017 with the help of a US-led alliance, having retaken all the territory captured by the extremists in 2014 and 2015.”

Iraqi News: Iraqi Troops Kill 15 Islamic State Jihadists In Salahuddin

“Iraq’s Counter-Terrorism Service announced on Monday that 15 Islamic Sate militants were killed during a security operation in Salahuddin province. “Acting on intelligence information, the Counter-Terrorism Service, in coordination with the U.S.-led international coalition, carried out a security operation in Mutaibijah and desert areas in Salahuddin, leaving 15 terrorists dead, including suicide bombers,” the spokesman for the Counter-Terrorism Service said in a statement. “The troops also arrested nine terrorists and destroyed several hotbeds and tunnels that were used by Islamic State militants,” the statement read. Iraq declared the collapse of Islamic State’s territorial influence in November 2017 with the recapture of Rawa, a city on Anbar’s western borders with Syria, which was the group’s last bastion in Iraq. IS declared a self-styled “caliphate” in a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria in 2014. A government campaign, backed by a U.S.-led international coalition and paramilitary forces, was launched in 2016 to retake IS-held regions, managing to retake all havens, most notably the city of Mosul, the group’s previously proclaimed capital.”

Haaretz: Report: 21 Iraqi Militia Members Killed In Explosion In Iran-Linked Arms Depot

“Twenty-one Iraqi militia members were killed in the explosion of a weapons warehouse belonging to Iran-affiliated militias in Iraq's Anbar province, Iraqi military sources told Arab media outlets Tuesday. Saudi-affiliated sites, including Al Arabiya and Sky News, reported the explosion and said that rescue teams were called to the scene.  An Iraqi officer told local media that the sound of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs) was heard in the region before the blast. At the moment it is unclear who is behind the blast however reports have linked the explosion to a recent series of attacks in the country, some of which has been attributed to Israel. Syrian outlets have not reported on the incident and officials have so far denied the explosion.  The explosion comes one day after UAVs struck Iran-backed militias in eastern Syria, killing at least 18 militia fighters. A Syrian security official said Israeli jets staged the airstrikes, but denied there were any casualties.”

Turkey

Reuters: Turkey Says Washington Is Stalling On Syria 'Safe Zone'

“Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday that Washington is stalling in its agreement to create a “safe zone” in northeast Syria, and repeated that Ankara was ready to act on its own if necessary to push back Kurdish fighters. The NATO allies have agreed to establish what Ankara calls a safe zone along Turkey’s southern border and clear the region of Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters. On Sunday, Turkish and U.S. troops carried out their first joint military land patrol there. Turkey, which labels the YPG a terrorist organization, wants the operations to expand rapidly as far as 20 miles (32 km) from its border to create a zone controlled by Turkish troops. Cavusoglu said Turkey wanted to work with the United States but was growing impatient. “Yes, there are some joint patrols but other than that, the steps that have been taken or the steps that are said to be taken are cosmetic steps,” he told reporters.”

Afghanistan

The Washington Post: UN Chief: Islamic State Remains Resilient In Afghanistan

“Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the Islamic State extremist group remains resilient in Afghanistan despite “a high pace” of operations against it by government and international forces — and is urging all armed groups not to interfere in the upcoming presidential election. The U.N. chief said in a report to the Security Council circulated Monday that between mid-June and early September 183 incidents were attributed to Islamic State fighters — nearly double the 93 incidents during the same period in 2018. Guterres’ report was written before U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly ended a nearly yearlong effort to reach a political settlement with the Taliban on Saturday. Trump said Monday that U.S. peace talks with the Taliban were now “dead.” In the report, the secretary-general says the U.S.-Taliban talks, a dialogue between Afghan parties in Qatar and strengthened efforts “to build a regional consensus on peace have given rise to cautious optimism that a formal peace process may soon begin.” Guterres cautioned, however, that a peace process could only be sustained if it is inclusive, protects the rights of all Afghans, and is “grounded in a broad consensus.” He reiterated his call for direct talks between the Taliban and the government, which the Taliban has rejected.”

The Wall Street Journal: Trump Declares U.S.-Taliban Talks Dead, Makes New Threat

“President Trump declared that talks were dead between the U.S. and the Taliban, the insurgent movement in Afghanistan, and warned the U.S. could do “certain things” that would cost millions of lives in a move to end the war, a step he said he doesn’t want to take. The comments, made to reporters as he departed the White House for an appearance in North Carolina on Monday, cast new doubt on the future of the 18-year U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan after more than a year of talks between Washington and the Taliban led to what U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad last week called the threshold of an agreement that appeared in jeopardy on Monday. Mr. Trump earlier had scheduled a meeting at Camp David with leaders of the Taliban and the Afghan government to discuss the possible agreement, but said on Saturday that he called off the meetings after a U.S. soldier was killed by a Taliban car bomb last week.”

The New York Times: Afghans Glad Trump Stopped Taliban Talks, Even If They Doubt His Explanation

“For several days after Abdul Sami was sent tumbling and knocked unconscious by a powerful Taliban car bombing last week, he had no idea that an American soldier was among the 12 people killed. Perched on a hospital bed on Monday, his legs and abdomen wrapped in bandages, Mr. Sami just shrugged when told that the soldier’s death had been cited by President Trump as the basis for his decision to abort peace talks with the Taliban. “Tell Mr. Trump I’m very, very tired and I don’t feel like keeping up with these peace talks anyway,” said Mr. Sami, 23, a travel agency employee. “There is no point in trying for peace when the Taliban does such terrible things to innocent people.” For many Afghans, the abrupt suspension of talks after 10 months of negotiations was not entirely unexpected. What jarred them was the notion that a single attack, and the death of one American, could really have upended the talks when the deaths of thousands of Afghans this year — not to mention at least 15 other American soldiers — had not.”

Yemen

Middle East Monitor: Al-Qaeda Seizes Control Of Southern Yemen District

“Al-Qaeda forces in southern Yemen yesterday managed to wrestle control of a district in the Abyan province which is the hometown of Saudi-backed Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. Al-Wadea district was overrun with Al-Qaeda fighters, who sources say began to emerge not long after the reported arrival of dozens of Islah aligned militia last week from Marib to the oil producing province of Shabwa, which shares a border with Abyan. The Muslim Brotherhood affiliated Islah could be taking heed of a fatwa, religious edict, issued by the Board of Yemeni Ulema (religious scholars), which called for the southern separatist “insurgency” headed by the Southern Transitional Council (STC) to be eliminated. The UAE, although partners with Saudi Arabia in the coalition against the Houthi-dominated north, also backs the STC, causing a rift between the two Gulf states, especially since the STC assumed control over the strategic port city of Aden, which served as the de-facto capital of the Hadi government.”

Lebanon

The Washington Post: Hezbollah Downs Israeli Drone In Ongoing Tension Between Iranian-Backed Groups And Israel

“Hezbollah announced Monday it downed an Israeli drone in southern Lebanon, part of a string of clashes between Israel and Iranian-backed groups throughout the region.  The Israeli army also said early Monday that Iran’s elite Quds Force oversaw the firing of several rockets from Syria toward Israel, none of which managed to reach its target. The rocket attacks follow reports from Syrian opposition activists that several Iranians and allied militias were killed by airstrikes in eastern Syria near the Iraqi border. It was not immediately clear who carried out these strikes, although Israel has attacked Iranian targets in Syria throughout the country’s civil war. In recent weeks, Israel has struck targets in Syria, Lebanon and allegedly Iraq to stop Iran from distributing sophisticated weapons within striking distance of its borders. On the cusp of a contentious election that could seal his political fate next week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented evidence Monday of what he claimed was an additional Iranian nuclear site that Israel discovered and that Iran subsequently destroyed in July, once it learned that Israel had ascertained its whereabouts. “This is what I have to say to the tyrants of Tehran: Israel knows what you’re doing.”

Middle East

The Jerusalem Post: Al-Qaeda Is Back, Counter-Terror Experts Say

“A range of top global counter-terror experts warned on Monday that al-Qaeda is back, has reached a new high in followers worldwide and may pose an escalating cyber terrorism threat. In several speeches at the ICT-IDC Herzliya counter-terrorism conference, the officials repeatedly returned to the theme of the threat of al-Qaeda, making it clear that the group has supplanted ISIS as the number one global terrorism threat. Jay Tabb, the executive assistant director of the FBI’s National Security Branch, told the conference that al-Qaeda and its affiliates now have 20,000 followers worldwide – a high for the group which carried out the 9/11 attacks, but was upstaged in recent years by ISIS. Following ISIS’s physical defeat in Syria and Iraq (ISIS still has small units in other countries and an active online presence), al-Qaeda has been on the rise. Former US cyber command deputy chief Lt. Gen. (res.) Vincent Stewart warned the conference that the West was underestimating the dangers of cyber terrorism posed by al-Qaeda and even still potentially by ISIS. He said that the West was finally getting serious about defending itself from state-sponsored cyber attacks from Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.”

Nigeria

Xinhua: 5 Nigerian Farmers Shot Dead In Boko Haram Attack

“Five local farmers were buried on Monday in a village in Nigeria's northeastern state of Borno following an attack by Boko Haram group, several sources said. The farmers were shot dead while working on their farm earlier in the day at Shamawa village in Konduga local government area, about 35 km south to Borno's capital, Maiduguri, one security source said. One farmer who escaped during the gun attack went to town with the news, the source, who preferred to be anonymous said of the latest violence by the terror group. Several bullet wounds were seen on the body of each of the deceased farmers, said another source who helped in recovering the bodies and immediately prepared for burial. Boko Haram is known for its agenda to maintain a virtual caliphate in the most populous African country.”

Somalia

All Africa: Somalia: Five Killed As Al-Shabaab Target Amisom Troops

“At least 5 people including African Union peacekeeping mission forces in Somalia (AMISOM) were killed on Sunday when a roadside blasts targeted Amisom convoy in SoMiddle Shabelle region on Sunday, local media reported. The attacks took near African Union forces base in Burane vicinity near the town of Mahaday Middle Shabelle region. “At least five people, mostly Amisom soldiers from Burundi, were killed and several others wounded after their convoy was targeted in double explosions near Mahaday district,” local radio broadcast Risaala said. Muhiyidin Hassan, a police officer in the region, confirmed the attack to Anadolu Agency over the phone but did not provide further information on the attacks. African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia also confirmed the incident and said that the attacks wounded two Amisom soldiers. Somali-based al-Qaeda affiliated group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the double blasts saying that it had killed five Amisom soldiers in the attacks. International community lauds the opening of the Galmudug Reconciliation Conference currently underway in Dhusamareb.”

Xinhuanet: UN Says Over 250,000 Somalis Newly Displaced In 7 Months

“More than a quarter of a million people have been displaced between January and July in Somalia largely due to drought and conflict, the UN humanitarian agency said on Monday. Citing figures from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and global charity, Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)-led protection return and monitoring network (PRMN), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) says more than 100,000 people were newly displaced by drought in 2019 and this is 50 percent lower than recorded for the same period in 2018. However, says the UN agency, an increase was reported in July with an estimated 28,000 people newly displaced, a 57 per cent increase compared to June. "Most of the conflict-related displacement occurred in Lower Shabelle where armed operations by Somali security forces backed by international partners against the al-Shabab group resumed in April 2019,"said the UNOCHA in its latest humanitarian bulletin.”

Africa

Voice Of America: Egypt Wants Sudan Off US Terror List

“Egypt’s foreign minister on Monday called for more support for neighboring Sudan’s new civilian-led government, including getting it off the U.S. list of countries sponsoring terrorism. The U.S. named Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1993. In one of its last acts, the Obama administration began a formal process to de-list Sudan. However, this was put on hold when mass protests erupted in December against President Omar al-Bashir’s three-decade rule, which ended when the military ousted him in April. Sameh Shoukry said Egypt is now working with Washington to end Sudan’s international pariah status. The country has a newly installed government under a power-sharing agreement between the pro-democracy movement and the military, which many feared would cling to power. Shoukry was the first foreign official to visit Sudan after its new cabinet was sworn in Sunday. “What the Sudanese people have achieved is a role model,” Shoukry told a joint news conference at the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, alongside the country’s first woman foreign minister, Asmaa Abdalla. He said Egypt has been working with regional and Western allies to build support for the transitional government and that efforts “to coordinate strongly with the Sudanese government will continue.”

North Korea

The Wall Street Journal: North Korea Offers To Restart Nuclear Talks With U.S.

“North Korea vowed to reconvene nuclear talks with Washington later this month and signaled it was ready to engage in comprehensive discussions, a pledge that was followed hours later by the test-firing of two short-range projectiles. Pyongyang, in a state-media report on Tuesday, said it was ready for talks with the U.S. about relinquishing the regime’s nuclear arsenal. The remarks were attributed to First Vice Minister Choe Son Hui, one of the Kim regime’s most prominent interlocutors with the U.S. Ms. Choe said formal nuclear talks would occur at a yet-to-be-determined time and place in late September. “I think the U.S. has since had enough time to find the calculation method that it can share with us,” Ms. Choe was quoted as saying. President Trump, speaking to reporters Monday on his way to a rally in North Carolina, said he had seen Pyongyang’s state-media report about a potential meeting. “We will see what happens, but I always say having meetings is a good thing, not a bad thing,” Mr. Trump said.”

United Kingdom

The Guardian: Foiled Terrorist Attacks On UK Soil Have Risen To 22, Says Top Officer

“The UK’s most senior counter-terrorism officer has revealed that the number of attacks foiled since the Westminster atrocity has risen to 22, with seven relating to suspected far-right terror. Speaking at a conference in Israel, assistant commissioner Neil Basu disclosed the updated figure as he laid out the law enforcement case in support of the government’s divisive anti-radicalisation strategy, Prevent. He said the number of foiled terrorist plots since the March 2017 attack by Khalid Masood on Westminster Bridge, in which five people died including a police officer, had risen from 19 to 22. Basu urged Lord Carlile – whose appointment as independent reviewer of Prevent has itself been met with controversy – to ignore “malign detractors” of the programme and advocated a public health approach. “Rather than just treat the symptoms of terrorism we must treat the causes. Prevent – which offers a bespoke programme of support for vulnerable individuals – is the closest thing to a public health solution we have,” he said. “Evidence indicates people with extremist views are more likely to be moved to violence when they feel excluded.”

The Guardian: Terror Legislation Watchdog Rejects Call To Change Treason Laws

“Proposals to renew treason laws in a bid to tackle Britons who fight on behalf of extremist groups or enemy states should be rejected, the terror legislation watchdog has said in his inaugural speech in the role. Jonathan Hall QC, who was appointed as an independent reviewer of terrorism legislation in May, said treason laws, which date back to 1351, should be left alone. In May, the then home secretary, Sajid Javid, said he had asked officials to consider the case for updating treason legislation. His comments came after a right-leaning thinktank, Policy Exchange, advocated renewing treason lawsto prosecute Britons who betray the country through acts of terror. However, Hall told an audience at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in central London that terrorists “might welcome the risk of prosecution for treason as a badge of honour.  “Whether the mere existence of a law of treason might encourage actual terrorist attacks is debatable,” he said.  “But surely Islamic State would savour the opportunity to say that true allegiance is owed to them, not to the United Kingdom. We are in are deep waters, yet in my view, these are objections which are insufficiently answered to justify a new offence.”

BBC News: Rugby Boy, 16, Charged With Terrorism Offences

“A 16-year-old boy has been charged with terrorism offences. The boy, from Rugby, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was arrested on 3 September from his home address during a planned operation. West Midlands Police said he was due to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Tuesday. A 62-year-old man also arrested on the same day at a separate address in Rugby remains on bail while inquiries continue. The boy has been charged with the commission, preparation and instigation of acts of terrorism, as well as six counts of collecting terrorism information.”

France

Express: France Working To Bring Home Children Of ISIS Terrorists, Claims Foreign Minister

“There are camps in which we have no presence. But we are doing everything within our power to repatriate the children, in particular, those who have been identified as orphans,” M Le Drian said in a joint interview with Europe 1 radio, CNews television and Les Echos newspaper. The children whose parents are being held in detention are also being returned to France, “but only in exceptional circumstances, when their mothers allow them to be sent home,” he continued. President Emmanuel Macron’s government has categorically refused to bring back ISIS jihadists, repeatedly branding them as “enemies” of the state who should face justice either in Syria or Iraq. It has also ruled out allowing mothers, some of whom stand accused of acting as ISIS propagandists, to return with their children. A handful of jihadi children have been sent back to France in recent months, where they have been handed over to relatives or social services. M Le Drian’s pledge is the latest small step in efforts to resolve the thorny problem posed by the huge numbers of foreign fighters and their families stranded in Syrian camps, as well as those facing trial in neighbouring Iraq.”

Germany

The Defense Post: Widow Of German Rapper Turned ISIS Fighter Arrested

“German prosecutors said Monday they have arrested a German-Tunisian woman, the widow of a German rapper turned Islamic State fighter, over her alleged membership of the extremist group. The woman, named only as Omaima A., was arrested in Hamburg last week and also stands accused of having raised her children in the ideology of the jihadist group. Omaima A. had married the rapper Denis Cuspert, who went by the stage name Deso Dogg, after her first husband was killed in an air raid in Kobane, according to prosecutors. Cuspert, killed last year in an airstrike in Syria, was one of the most notorious Western fighters for ISIS, having appeared in several propaganda videos including one that apparently showed him with a man’s severed head. Omaima A. had traveled to Syria in January 2015 with her three underaged children, to join her first husband and their father, Nadar H., in Syria. She lived under ISIS rules, raising her children following the group’s doctrines, and receiving monthly financial help from the militant outfit, prosecutors said. She subsequently wed Cuspert, but left him and returned to Germany pregnant with their child, as well as her three other children, in 2016.”

Technology

Reuters: Judge Lets Facebook Privacy Class Action Proceed, Calls Company's Views 'So Wrong'

“A federal judge on Monday ordered Facebook Inc (FB.O) to face most of a nationwide lawsuit seeking damages for letting third parties such as Cambridge Analytica access users’ private data, calling the social media company’s views on privacy “so wrong.” While dismissing some claims, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco said users could try to hold Facebook liable under various federal and state laws for letting app developers and business partners harvest their personal data without their consent on a “widespread” basis. He rejected Facebook’s arguments that users suffered no “tangible” harm and had no legitimate privacy interest in information they shared with friends on social media. “Facebook’s motion to dismiss is littered with assumptions about the degree to which social media users can reasonably expect their personal information and communications to remain private,” Chhabria wrote. “Facebook’s view is so wrong.”