Eye on Extremism: September 12

Euractiv: Juncker Goes To War Against Disinformation And Online Terrorist Content

“The European Commission is set to pursue a crackdown on the spread of online terrorist content and disinformation, its president Jean-Claude Junker announced in his state of the union address on Wednesday (12 September). The commission’s proposal to regulate against online terrorist content includes a ‘one-hour’ rule for the removal of offending material as well as strong penalties for non-abiding service providers. The Counter Extremism Project has highlighted concerns about the fact that the rule is only applicable after the time in which a removal order is issued and not from the time that the offending content is uploaded. “Reliable enforcement and automated technology so that content can be taken down within one hour of upload needs to be included in the proposed draft,” said David Ibsen, executive director of the organisation.”

CNN: Haley Warns Russia, Iran Of 'Dire Consequences' Over Syria Military Assault

“US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley warned Russia and Iran of "dire consequences" if they continue airstrikes against the last rebel-held area in Syria and said the US would respond to any use of chemical weapons. Russia's ambassador to the UN met Haley's threat with a denial that Syria has any chemical weapons, as the UN secretary-general warned of a potential "bloodbath" during Tuesday's UN Security Council meeting on the crisis in Idlib, Syria. During what was the second session on Idlib in four days, Haley told the council that "the world has seen a clear military escalation" this month by Russia and the Syrian regime, whose forces have conducted more than 100 airstrikes, using "barrel bombs, rockets and artillery" in an attempt to retake the last rebel holdout after more than seven years of war. Haley accused Russia and Iran of having little interest in a political solution and called their actions those of "cowards interested in a bloody military conquest." "If Assad, Russia and Iran continue down the path they are on, the consequences will be dire," she said.”

The Wall Street Journal: White House Blames Iranian-Backed Militias For Attacking U.S. Facilities In Iraq

“The White House said Iranian-backed militias in Iraq had carried out “life-threatening attacks” against the U.S. consulate in Basra and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and warned Washington would hold Tehran responsible if there are future assaults. “The United States will hold the regime in Tehran accountable for any attack that results in injury to our personnel or damage to United States government facilities,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Tuesday. “America will respond swiftly and decisively in defense of American lives.” The statement followed an attack on Saturday in which several rockets were fired at the Basra airport, where the U.S. consulate is located. At least one rocket also was fired at the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, where the U.S. Embassy is based, and mortar fire also struck the Green Zone earlier in the week. No Americans were injured and no U.S. property was hit in the attacks. U.S. officials haven’t made public any evidence that Iran ordered the attacks, and some U.S. officials said the Shiite militias may have been acting on their own. But the White House statement faults Iran for failing to stop the attacks, which it alleges were carried out by proxies Tehran has armed, trained and financed.”

Agence France Presse: Islamic State Ambush Kills 21 Regime Fighters In Southern Syria: Monitor

“An ambush by the Islamic State group has killed 21 regime fighters in Syria's southern province of Sweida, a Britain-based war monitor said on Tuesday. The attack occurred late Monday in the rural Tulul al-Safa area of the province, some 100 kilometres (60 miles) southeast of Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Eight jihadists were also killed in subsequent clashes in the area, which is the jihadists' last bastion in Sweida, the Observatory said. State news agency SANA reported heavy clashes with IS in the area, adding that government aircraft and artillery "targeted hideouts and positions" held by the group. Government forces have been fighting IS in Sweida's arid plains since jihadists carried out a wave of attacks in the mainly Druze province on July 25, killing 250 people according to the Observatory. During their rampage, which targeted the provincial capital as well as rural areas, the jihadists also seized around 30 hostages, mostly women and their children. At least 27 are believed to still be held, according to Human Rights Watch, after IS said it had beheaded a 19-year-old man and announced an elderly woman had died. Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said the hostages were believed to be held captive in the Tulul al-Safa area. A source in Sweida told AFP that families had had no word of their kidnapped relatives in weeks. IS has lost nearly all of the great swathes of territory straddling Iraq and Syria which it seized in 2014, but retains a presence in the vast desert that lies between Damascus and the Iraqi border, and holds a pocket in the Euphrates Valley in the east.”

Vice News: The EU Is Done Warning Tech Companies About Removing Extremist Content — Now They Want To Act

“In March, European Union officials warned tech companies that they weren't doing enough to curb the spread of terrorist content and gave them a list of demands. Apparently, their response didn’t cut it. On Wednesday, the EU published details of how the bloc will seek to make these recommendations obligatory. Hany Farid, a digital forensics expert at Dartmouth University and senior adviser to the Counter Extremism Project, said that the tech giants are still not doing enough, and that the legislation doesn’t go far enough to force them to solve that problem. “The dragging of their feet for the last three, four, five years is particularly offensive given that we had already solved this problem in the child pornography space,” he said. “It wasn't that they couldn't do it — they honestly didn't want to do it.” Farid believes the new legislation should make it mandatory for companies to prevent this reuploading of content. “If you don't want to play the whack-a-mole problem with this content and with these groups, once it has been identified, you should say this must be entered into your hashing database — which the tech companies claim to have.”

United States

Reuters: U.S. Warns Iran: We'll Respond Swiftly To Attacks By Tehran's Allies In Iraq

“The United States warned Iran on Tuesday it will “respond swiftly and decisively” to any attacks by Tehran’s allies in Iraq that result in injury to Americans or damage to U.S. facilities. The statement by the White House press secretary accused Iran of not preventing attacks in recent days on the U.S. Consulate in Basra and the American Embassy compound in Baghdad. “Iran did not act to stop these attacks by its proxies in Iraq, which it has supported with funding, training, and weapons,” the statement said. “The United States will hold the regime in Tehran accountable for any attack that results in injury to our personnel or damage to United States Government facilities. America will respond swiftly and decisively in defense of American lives,” the statement said. On Friday, three mortar bombs landed inside Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, where the U.S. Embassy is located, but they caused no casualties or damage, the Iraqi military said. The mortar attack was the first such one in several years on the Green Zone, which houses parliament, government buildings and many foreign embassies. The U.S. Consulate in Basra is near the airport, which was attacked by rockets on Saturday. No damage or casualties were reported. Protesters in Basra angry over political corruption ransacked and torched Iraqi government buildings last week. The Iranian consulate was set alight by demonstrators shouting condemnation of what many see as Iran’s sway over Iraq’s affairs.”

Fox News: Al Qaeda Terrorist Life 'Extremely Boring,' American Who Joined Islamists Says

“A New York man who was thought to be one of the first Americans to join Al Qaeda after the Sept. 11 attacks reportedly lamented the "extremely boring" life of a terrorist and was disappointed at the way the Islamist group used him -- or, rather, didn't use him. Bryant Neal Vinas, a convicted terrorist who grew up on Long Island, was detained in 2008 by Pakistani security forces on terror charges and wrote about his time with Al Qaeda in Monday's issue of Sentinel, the magazine of the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy. Vinas initially joined the U.S. Army six months after Al Qaeda terrorists perpetrated the 9/11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania. But Vinas was discharged weeks later over a “failure to adapt to the military,” according to The New York Times. Vinas converted to Islam in 2007, at the age of 24, to join Sunni Muslim militants in Pakistan, Newsweek reported. At the time, Vinas said he was angry about U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and he first joined a militant group that had close ties to the Taliban. But he left the outfit after an aborted attack on U.S. and Afghan forces. “Going on a mission had been such a relief from the terrible boredom, but in the end, I was disappointed that the operation was unsuccessful,” Vinas said. Vinas said life with the group became rougher as they began living in the mountains and he was eventually told he needed to attend an Islamic school.”

Syria

The Guardian: I Have Seen The Bloodied Bodies Of Syria’s Children. Tell Me Nothing Can Be Done

“I can still see them in my nightmares: dead children in white shrouds staring at me with frozen eyes. I saw them all the time when I worked in Aleppo. I just returned from my last trip working in northern Syria. This time I was spared these horrors. You can spot life attempting to return to normal: cafes and markets and fruit stands. But you still see refugee families struggling in tents amid 38C heat. Many escaped from Aleppo and war-torn areas in the south. They had nowhere else to go. I was reunited with the doctors and nurses I had worked with in Aleppo. They have set up shop here in local hospitals. Life has to go on. The suffering doesn’t end when the bombs clear. And there’s always work for doctors in this setting. Most of the cases here are routine health issues. Much of it was cold trauma: patients who have survived their injuries but now have to deal with the aftermath of disability and impairment.”

USA Today: How To Prevent A Massacre And The Creation Of ISIS 2.0 In Syria's Idlib Province

“As Syrian forces and Russian warplanes take early steps for a long-awaited offensive against the northwest Syrian province of Idlib, where more than 2 million civilians live amongst several tens of thousands of opposition fighters, catastrophe looms. President Donald Trump, Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford have all warned Moscow and Damascus not to employ their usual type of indiscriminate, brutal attacks against this last remaining major enclave of the Syrian opposition (myriad militias, including the Islamic  State of Iraq and Syria and al-Qaeda-related elements as well as more moderate factions).  But why would President Bashar Assad or President Vladimir Putin listen to such pleas?  They know America is interested first and foremost in staying out of the Syrian war as much as possible — a common priority of both President Barack Obama and President Trump. An offensive against Idlib will unquestionably lead to a massive humanitarian catastrophe. Yet appeals based on morality and decency will probably ring hollow with Assad and Putin, both of whom believe that the United States has handled this war atrociously — supporting rebels just enough to egg them on, without providing them the means to win. At least Damascus and Moscow have been effective in their brutality, so the reasoning would continue, and as a result are now poised to win the war once Idlib is brought under control.  Nothing justifies killing civilians In reality, of course, Assad and Putin are wrong.”

Reuters: U.N. War Crimes Team Documents Further Syrian Government Use Of Banned Chlorine

“Syrian government forces fired chlorine, a banned chemical weapon, on a rebel-held Damascus suburb and on Idlib province this year, in attacks that constitute war crimes, United Nations human rights investigators said on Wednesday. The three incidents bring to 39 the number of chemical attacks which the Commission of Inquiry on Syria has documented since 2013, including 33 attributed to the government, a U.N. official told Reuters. The perpetrators of the remaining six have not been sufficiently identified. Weaponizing chlorine is prohibited under the Chemical Weapons Convention, ratified by Syria, and under customary international humanitarian law, the investigators said in their latest report. “To recapture eastern Ghouta in April, government forces launched numerous indiscriminate attacks in densely populated civilian areas, which included the use of chemical weapons,” it said, referring to incidents on Jan. 22 and Feb. 1 in a residential area of Douma, eastern Ghouta, outside the capital. Women and children were injured in the attacks, suffering respiratory distress and requiring oxygen, it added.”

Iran

Associated Press: AP Interview: Iran Nuclear Chief Says Atomic Program Strong

“Iran’s nuclear chief told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he hopes the atomic deal between Tehran and world powers survives but warns the program will be in a stronger position than ever if not. The remarks by Ali Akbar Salehi, who also serves as a vice president to Iran’s elected leader Hassan Rouhani, come as Iran tries to salvage an accord now challenged by President Donald Trump.The American withdrawal from the deal and the return of U.S. sanctions already has badly shaken Iran’s anemic economy, crashing its rial currency. Further sanctions coming in November threaten Iran’s oil industry, a major source of government funding, and will further pressure the relatively moderate Rouhani. For his part, Salehi sought to contrast Iran’s behavior, which includes abiding by the atomic accord, against “emotional moves and sensational moves.” “I think (Trump) is on the loser’s side because he is pursuing the logic of power,” Salehi told the AP in an exclusive interview in Tehran. “He thinks that he can, you know, continue for some time, but certainly I do not think he will benefit from this withdrawal, certainly not.” Salehi heads the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, whose Tehran campus encompasses a nuclear research reactor donated to the country by the U.S. in 1967 under the rule of the shah.”

Saudi Gazette: Iran Pursues Ugliest Form Of Terrorism: Al-Jubeir

“Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir said that the terrorism practiced by Iran through its blatant interference in the Arab affairs and supporting terrorist militias is among the ugliest manifestations of terrorism. "This requires us to unite and cooperate to confront it." Addressing the 150th session of the Arab Foreign Ministers’ Council here on Tuesday, he said the Kingdom has exerted all efforts, in cooperation with the international community, to combat and eliminate the malicious scourge of terrorism. “The Iran-affiliated terrorist Houthi militias have never positively responded to the international community’s calls to seriously involve in the Yemeni political process and will not do so in future, Al-Jubeir said and added that the last example for which was their absence at the latest Geneva meeting. The minister said that the Kingdom is still keeping to its commitment towards Yemeni unity, sovereignty, stability, security and territorial integrity by backing the legitimate government and cooperating with the UN Envoy to Yemen in resolving the crisis.”

NPR: Wife Speaks Out On American Husband Held In Iran

“For more than two years, Princeton University student Xiyue Wang has been detained in Iran. His wife, Hua Qu, speaks with NPR's Rachel Martin about his health and the prospects for his release.”

Euronews: Iran Demands Iraq Hand Over Kurdish Dissidents, Close Bases - Fars

“The head of Iran's armed forces demanded on Tuesday authorities in neighbouring Iraq hand over separatist Kurdish dissidents stationed there and close their bases, according to a report by the semi-official Fars news agency. Major General Mohammad Baqeri was quoted three days after reports that Iran's Revolutionary Guards fired seven missiles at the base of an Iranian Kurdish armed opposition group in northern Iraq, killing at least 11 people. "The government of Iraq and the Kurdistan authorities should not allow existence of such bases in their territories and should hand over these separatist terrorists to Iran," Baqeri said, according to Fars. "If they cannot hand them over, then they should expel them ... It is Iran's right to defend itself." Iranian missiles hit the headquarters of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), Iran's Revolutionary Guards said on Sunday in a statement. The PDKI is an armed opposition group that fights for greater autonomy for Iran’s Kurdish community. Shi'ite Muslim-dominated Iran has up to 10 million Kurdish citizens who are mostly Sunni. Iran accuses its regional rival Saudi Arabia of funding Kurdish armed groups. "Provoked by some regional countries and America ... these separatist terrorists carried out some operations inside Iran ... such measures are unacceptable for Iran," Baqeri said.”

Turkey

Deutsche Welle: First German Convicted Over Turkey Coup Bid: Report

“A German national has been in a Turkish prison for more than a year as a result of the post-coup crackdown, German media reported on Tuesday. Nejat U. was sentenced to nine years and nine months in prison by a Turkish court in July 2017, according to WDR, NDR and Süddeutsche Zeitung. The 55-year-old is the first confirmed German citizen to be convicted of terrorism for alleged ties to the movement run by US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen. The Turkish government blames the Gulen movement for the July 2016 failed coup bid. It is unclear why Nejat U.'s imprisonment has only now become public. The German Foreign Ministry refused to comment on the legality of the sentence but said its consulate in Izmir has been looking after the case. According to the charges seen by the media outlets, Nejat was accused of belonging to a business association with links to the Gulen movement. In addition, he allegedly had an account in a bank tied to the Gulen movement and his children attended a Gulenist affiliated school. Nejat U. denied any involvement in terrorism. The Gulen movement has tens of thousands of supporters around the globe and operates businesses, schools and media outlets.”

Afghanistan

Associated Press: Taliban Say They're Ready For Second Round Of Talks With US

“The Taliban are ready for a second round of talks with the U.S., possibly this month, which is likely to focus on prisoner exchange, confidence building measures, and ways to move from back-door meetings to formal negotiations, said Taliban officials in separate interviews in recent days. Speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media, Taliban officials recounted details of a meeting held in July with Alice Wells, Washington's top envoy to the region. One of the officials said the meeting ended with a plan to meet again in September. The U.S. has refused to confirm or deny that meeting. Both the U.S. and Afghan government have insisted that talks on Afghanistan's future would be Afghan-led, while direct talks between Washington and the Taliban - which the insurgents have long demanded - are said to be a stepping stone toward Afghan-to-Afghan talks. The Taliban have sought direct talks to settle U.S. concerns about the Taliban's participation in Afghanistan's future as well as the presence of NATO and the U.S. in the country. The official, who spoke to The Associated Press from Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office, said they are waiting on Washington for a second meeting date. During the July meeting, the Taliban asked for recognition of their political office in the Qatar capital of Doha as well as an end to restrictions against its top leaders before the start of the formal negotiations, they said.”

The Washington Post: Suicide Bomber Attacks Afghan Protest Rally, Killing More Than 30 Civilians

“A suicide bomber targeted a protest rally in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing more than 30 civilians, officials said, in the latest wave of spiraling violence in the country. The strike intensified questions about the ability of the government and the efficiency of U.S.-led troops who have been stationed in Afghanistan in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, which were carried out by the al-Qaeda network, then based in the country. Nearly 130 other civilians were hurt in Tuesday’s strike, which occurred outside Jalalabad, the capital of Nangahar province, near the border with Pakistan. The provincial public health chief, Najibullah Kamawal, said 32 dead and 128 wounded were transported to hospitals in Nangahar. In addition, some people at the scene immediately recovered the bodies of their relatives, he said, “so the fatalities may go up.” Ahmed Ali Hazrat, head of the Nangahar provincial council, also said the death toll may rise, as some of the wounded were in critical condition. Hazrat said the protesters moved on to their rally even after the attack. Officials said several hundred people gathered to complain about a local police commander by blocking the main highway between Jalalabad and the Torkham crossing on the border with Pakistan. “We are fed up with insecurity,” he said.”

Business Standard: 58 Taliban Militants Killed In Afghanistan

“At least 58 Taliban militants were killed and several others wounded following separate air and ground operations in Uruzgan and Kandahar provinces, officials said on Wednesday. More than 100 Talibans attacked two security posts on Uruzgan province's main roadway on Tuesday evening. However, they had to flee as the security forces retaliated appropriately. It left 40 militants dead, provincial police chief Abdul Qawi Omari told Xinhua news agency. In Talayee area of the provincial capital Tirin Kot, at least seven armed Taliban fighters were killed when the army shelled artillery on their hideouts, said Omari. In neighbouring Kandahar province, late on Tuesday, a joint Afghan and US-led NATO coalition air operation killed another 11 militants and injured an equal number, provincial police chief Abdul Razeq said. The sources did not give details if Afghan security forces or civilians suffered casualties. Ground and air offensives against militants in the past few months have increased as the country prepares for parliamentary and district council elections slated for October 20. The Talibans have not commented.”

Pakistan

The Telegraph: Pakistan Army Chief Confirms Death Sentences For 13 Taliban

“The Telegraph states that Pakistan's army chief has confirmed death sentences for 13 "hardcore terrorists" after military courts found them guilty of carrying out attacks that killed 202 people including 151 civilians. In a statement Monday, the military says Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa also approved prison terms for seven convicts involved in acts of terrorism, including the destruction of educational institutions.”

Yemen

Al Arabiya: UN Envoy To Yemen: I Was Disappointed With Houthi Absence From Geneva Talks

“The absence of the Houthis from the Geneva talks was disappointing, the UN’s envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths told the Security Council on Tuesday, referring to the much-anticipated peace talks that he brokered between the Yemeni government and the Houthis who refused to attend in the end. The Houthi delegation on Friday evening rejected an offer to be transported by an Omani plane to Geneva after the aircraft was searched by the coalition backing the Yemeni legitimate government, according to Western sources. “I was as disappointed as anyone that we were unable to bring the delegation from Sanaa to Geneva,” Griffiths said. “I’m glad to report to this council that despite the absence of one of the sides to the consultations in Geneva last week and even if it certainly did not go as planned, we still managed to relaunch the political process with solid support from the Yemeni people and the international community,” he added.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Suspicious Of His Loyalties, Houthis Force Their ‘Premier’ To Pledge Allegiance In Sanaa

“Suspicions by the Iran-backed Houthi militias against their “Prime Minister” Abdulaziz bin Habtour forced them to bring him to Sanaa to swear allegiance to their leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi. The militias grew tired of his ongoing loyalty to the General People’s Congress Party (GPC) amid rising fears over his defection, especially since he has a history of switching political allegiances, informed sources in Sanaa told Asharq Al-Awsat. Abdulmalik Houthi tasked the militias’ senior intelligence official, Abu Ali al-Hakem, along with other leaders, to bring the PM to Saada, according to the source.Bin Habtour was given two choices: either remain loyal to the GPC and, therefore, be removed from office, or swear loyalty to Abdulmalik al-Houthi and officially join the militias. The sources said that Abdulmalik al-Houthi received bin Habtour with a degree of contempt following reports that he was secretly contacting legitimacy leaders ahead of abandoning the militias. According to the same sources, bin Habtour pledged his allegiance to the Houthi leader in the presence of a number of militia commanders. However, Abdulmalik al-Houthi asked the PM to undergo intensive courses on the militias’ sectarian beliefs, including listening to speeches by Abdulmalik and his brother Hussein, the founder of the group who was killed on September 10, 2004.”

Arab News: Houthis Suffer Heavy Casualties In Yemen’s Al-Bayda

“Houthi militants suffered heavy casualties in ongoing battles against the Yemeni army on Wednesday as clashes erupted in the central province of Al-Bayda, Saudi state-news channel Al-Ekhbariya reported. In a statement issued to the Yemeni Ministry of Defense’s official website, September Net, a field sourced confirmed clashes with the militia broke out as the army entered the land mine-filled province. The source added that the army foiled several Houthi attempts to move forward.”

Saudi Arabia

Xinhua: Saudi Arabia Still Committed To Yemen's Sovereignty, Stability: FM

“Saudi Arabia is still committed to the unity, sovereignty and stability of Yemen through its support of the Yemeni legitimate government, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Tuesday. The top Saudi diplomat made the remarks during a meeting of Arab foreign ministers at the Arab League (AL) headquarters in Cairo. Al-Jubeir reaffirmed his country's cooperation with the efforts by the UN envoy to Yemen, "as long as they are in line with the Gulf initiative, its implementation mechanisms, the output of the Yemeni national dialogue and the UN Security Council Resolution 2216." He also accused the Iran-backed Houthi fighters in Yemen of rejecting any political settlement to the Yemeni crisis, citing their absence at a recent UN-sponsored meeting for peace talks in Geneva. Saeed al-Lawindi, a researcher at Cairo-based Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said that the Houthis' absence at Geneva meeting is in favor of some Western states that seek to sustain the conflict so to secure their own interests. "Some Western states benefit from the ongoing war in Yemen as they make arm deals with engaged states, particularly Saudi Arabia, and so the Houthis' appearance in Geneva conference would not be in their favor," al-Lawindi told Xinhua in an interview. Yemen has been ravaged by a civil war since the Houthi rebels, who forced the internationally-recognized President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to exile, seized most of the Yemeni northern provinces in September 2014, including the capital Sanaa. Since March 2015, an Arab military coalition led by Saudi Arabia has been launching airstrikes against the Houthis in Yemen in support of Hadi.”

Lebanon

Times Of Israel: Hariri Calls For Justice At Trial Of Hezbollah Men Suspected Of Killing Father

“Lebanon’s incoming prime minister called for “justice” on Monday as a UN-backed tribunal into the huge bombing that killed his father Rafiq Hariri in 2005 entered its last stage. Saad Hariri was in court in The Netherlands as closing arguments began in the trial in absentia of four Hezbollah suspects over the attack that changed the face of the Middle East. Prosecutors said the suicide bomb, which also killed 21 other people and wounded 226, was a deliberate attempt to create “horror,” and that billionaire former premier Rafiq Hariri was assassinated because he opposed Syrian control of Lebanon. “There is no doubt that this day is difficult for me, as the son of Rafiq Hariri,” Saad Hariri told reporters, outside the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in Leidschendam, a suburb of The Hague. “From the start, we demanded justice because we believe that justice and the truth protect Lebanon,” added Hariri, recently designated for a third term as prime minister.”

Libya

Channel News Asia: Rockets Fired Near Airport In Tripoli, ISIS Claims Attack On Oil Company

“Rival groups have been fighting in Tripoli for several days but clashes had been focussed on the south of the city. Matiga airport lies in an eastern suburb. A Libyan Airlines flight bound for Tripoli from Alexandria, Egypt, was diverted to Misrata, the airport said on its Facebook page. Misrata lies about 190 km east of Tripoli. A spokesman for Misrata airport said that all flights bound for Tripoli would be diverted to Misrata. Separately, Islamic State claimed responsibility for a shooting attack on the headquarters of Libyan state oil company NOC in Tripoli, the jihadist group's news agency said on Tuesday. The attack on Monday killed two NOC staff and wounded 10, said officials, who had described the three shooters who were also killed as "Africans". It targeted the "economic interests of oppressing governments funding crusaders", a statement carried on the militants' Amaq news agency said. It was the first attack of its kind against the leadership of Libya's state oil industry. Libya has been divided into rival administrations but NOC has continued to function relatively normally across the country, which relies on oil exports for most of its income. Militants loyal to Islamic State have previously carried out attacks in Tripoli and other towns, despite having lost their stronghold in the central city of Sirte late in 2016. In May, Islamic State claimed a deadly attack on the national election commission offices in Tripoli.”

Nigeria

CAJ News Africa: Nigeria, Troops Rescue 21, Kill 14 Terrorists

“TROOPS have killed 14 suspected Boko Haram terrorists and rescued some 21 civilians northeast of Nigeria. The Islamist militants had earlier ambushed a civilian vehicle and kidnapped the travellers in the town of Pulka in the restive Borno State. Among those held hostage and eventually rescued by the military include six women and 11 children. They were attended to at a local military hospital. Brigadier General Abdulmalik Bulama Biu, the commander of Operation Lafiya Dole (Peace by Force), commended the troops for their gallantry. “He urged them to maintain the momentum by taking out all Boko Haram terrorists within the division’s area of responsibility,” said army spokesman, Brig. Gen. Texas Chukwu. The Nigerian military is involved in a strenuous war against the Boko Haram insurgents in the expansive northeast, which occupies slightly less than one-third of the West African country. Kidnappings are among grimy tactics used by the bandits in their violent campaign to overthrow the government and establish an Islamist state. An estimated 100 000 civilians have been killed and over 2 million forced to flee their homes. Last week, international donors pledged more than US$2 billion (R31 billion) to support the response to the crisis perpetrated by the Boko Haram. More than 17 million people mostly in Nigeria and parts of Cameroon, Chad and Niger are affected by the violent conflict.”

Russia

NBC News: U.S. Officials Suspect Russia In Mystery 'Attacks' On Diplomats In Cuba, China

“Intelligence agencies investigating mysterious "attacks" that led to brain injuries in U.S. personnel in Cuba and China consider Russia to be the main suspect, three U.S. officials and two others briefed on the investigation tell NBC News. The suspicion that Russia is likely behind the alleged attacks is backed up by evidence from communications intercepts, known in the spy world as signals intelligence, amassed during a lengthy and ongoing investigation involving the FBI, the CIA and other U.S. agencies. The officials declined to elaborate on the nature of the intelligence. The evidence is not yet conclusive enough, however, for the U.S. to formally assign blame to Moscow for incidents that started in late 2016 and have continued in 2018, causing a major rupture in U.S.-Cuba relations. Since last year, the U.S. military has been working to reverse-engineer the weapon or weapons used to harm the diplomats, according to Trump administration officials, congressional aides and others briefed on the investigation, including by testing various devices on animals. As part of that effort, the U.S. has turned to the Air Force and its directed energy research program at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, where the military has giant lasers and advanced laboratories to test high-power electromagnetic weapons, including microwaves.”

France

AIT: Group Demands Greater Commitment From France In Boko Haram Fight

“France and some of its allied countries need to show genuine commitment to efforts geared towards routing out the last remnants of boko haram fighters in Borno and the entire lake chad basin. The coalition of civil society organizations for peace and good governance said this during a peaceful protest march to the French embassy in Abuja to demand that France stops blocking efforts towards building lasting peace in the lake chad region. The coalition explained that the attitude of France and its allies negates the existing cooperation that created the multinational joint military task force, which it said now merely exists on paper. The organization therefore insists that what will work is for France and its allies like Cameroon, chad and niger republics to show commitment in real terms to prove that they are not shoring up boko haram to continue committing crimes against humanity.”

Germany

The New York Times: New York Times: Can Germany’s Center Hold Against The Far Right?

“Only a week after several right-wing marches took place in the eastern German town of Chemnitz, protesters took to the streets on Sunday night in Köthen, a city of about 26,000 people located 90 miles southwest of Berlin. Again, video footage showed ugly scenes, including one group shouting, “National Socialism, now, now, now.” As in Chemnitz, the protests in Köthen were sparked by allegations that immigrants had killed a German citizen: In this case, they stemmed from the death of a 22-year-old man; the police have arrested two Afghan men suspected of having severely beaten and kicked the man, who subsequently had a fatal heart attack. No reasonable person expects that these marches are the beginning of a radical, dark turn in German society; sensationalist headlines aside, we are not experiencing another “1933.” And yet something is clearly happening — the country feels out of sync with itself, and reality. We see things happening but cannot agree on what to call those things, or what they might mean.”

Reuters: Germany Can't Look Away If Syria Uses Chemical Weapons: Merkel

“Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday Germany could not simply look away if chemical attacks took place in Syria, two days after her government said it was in talks with its allies about a possible military deployment in the war-torn country. The conservative leader said Germany’s could not just reject military intervention, a direct rebuke of her Social Democratic coalition partners, who have rejected participation in military action against Syria. “It cannot be the German position to simply say ‘no’, no matter what happens in the world,” she told the Bundestag lower house of parliament. Germany, the world’s fourth largest economy, is under pressure from the United States to boost military spending and shoulder more responsibility within NATO. It did not participate in military strikes carried out by U.S., French and British forces on Syria in April after a chemical weapons attack. But Merkel and her conservatives must win over the more pacifist Social Democrats (SPD), junior partners in the ruling coalition, and overcome massive public opposition to Germany’s participation in military combat missions.”

Technology

Fortune: 'Terrorism Today Moves At The Speed Of Social Media,' FBI Director Says On 9/11 Anniversary

“Today’s terrorism threat is everywhere, coast to coast, north, south, east, west,” FBI Director Christopher Wray told CBS This Morning in an interview aired Tuesday, the seventeenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. While noting that “we’re safer” than we were in 2001, Wray said that terrorism has “evolved.” “I think the threat, today’s terrorism threat, still includes sleeper cells, Al Qaeda, all the kind of major terrorist organizations that you would think of,” Wray told CBS, “but we’re also very focused now on homegrown violent extremists, which are people who are largely here already, in the United States.” According to Wray, of the FBI’s nearly 5,000 terrorism investigations within the past year, 1,000 have been homegrown violent extremists. The Bureau has thwarted a number of terrorist attacks recently, including one aimed at the San Francisco pier, another at a Miami mall, and two more that targeted Fourth of July celebrations in Cleveland and Minnesota. In all, the FBI has made about 120 terrorism-related arrests in the past year, Wray said, and the threat isn’t just in big cities. “Terrorism today moves at the speed of social media,” said Wray. In terms of working with major social media companies to prevent radicalization, Wray said, “We’re getting much better cooperation than we used to.” “I think there’s a view that this is a shared threat,” he added. “We all have kids. We all have family members. We all have potential victims.” The Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes the FBI as well as other government agencies, deals with roughly 15,000 tips per year, CBS reports.”

Breitbart News: Terror Content Remains On Social Media 17 Years After 9/11

“It has been seventeen years since the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington D.C., and flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, on 9/11 — while technology has advanced rapidly in that time, tech giants still struggle to block terrorist content on their platforms. Seventeen years since 9/11, social media companies are continuing to attempt to crack down on terrorism-related content on their platforms, but as the reach of these companies grows and more users join the platform, it becomes increasingly hard for these Silicon Valley tech firms to identify and remove terrorist content. In November of 2017, Facebook claimed that its efforts to use artificial intelligence to crack down on terrorism-related content on their platform were beginning to work. Facebook claimed at the time that the vast majority of terrorism, ISIS and Al Qaeda related content was removed automatically before being flagged by users. “We want to find terrorist content immediately, before people in our community have seen it. Already, the majority of accounts we remove for terrorism we find ourselves,” wrote Monika Bickert, Facebook’s director of global policy management, and Brian Fishman,  Facebook’s counterterrorism policy manager, in a post. “But we know we can do better at using technology — and specifically artificial intelligence — to stop the spread of terrorist content on Facebook. Although our use of AI against terrorism is fairly recent, it’s already changing the ways we keep potential terrorist propaganda and accounts off Facebook.”

EU Reporter: European Commission’s Proposal On #Terroristcontentonline ‘Needs To Protect EU Citizens’

“The European Commission has today (12 September) released its regulation on terrorist content online. This legislation is badly needed in the fight against terrorist propaganda and recruitment online, and today marks a step forward in how Europe fights extremism online. Counter Extremism Project Executive Director David Ibsen said; “We welcome the European Commission’s step forward in the fight against extremist content online but, unfortunately, it falls short of instilling clear solution to the growing problem of illegal content online. The fact that the Commission is proposing a Regulation, as opposed a Directive, shows the seriousness of the issue. We, at the Counter Extremism Project, have seen that content is downloaded and consistently re-uploaded across the same platforms it was previously taken down from. This cannot continue. Reliable enforcement and automated technology so that content can be taken down within one hour of upload needs to be included in the proposed draft.”

Muslim Brotherhood

Shorouk News: Seizure Of Assets Of 1,589 Suspected Of Muslim Brotherhood Financing

“Chaired by Dr. Mohammed Yasser Abu El-Fotouh, the Egyptian state committee tasked with confiscating and managing the funds and assets of terrorists and terrorist entities, including the Muslim Brotherhood, issued major new decisions yesterday. The committee decided to seize the assets and funds of 1,589 Brotherhood members and supporters on charges of financing the outlawed group in Egypt. Additionally, the committee appropriated the assets and funds of 118 companies, 1,133 NGOs, 104 schools, 69 hospitals and 33 news websites and satellite TV channels. The total value of the confiscated liquid and movable properties, shares and bonds amounted to nearly LE 60 billion ($3.35 billion).”

Elwehda: Law Expert: Brotherhood Members Eligible To Appeal The Appropriation Of Their Assets

“Salah Fawzy, professor of constitutional law, said that the state committee, which recently decided to appropriate the assets and funds of individuals affiliated with terrorist entities, including the banned Muslim Brotherhood, is an independent committee assigned to executing the courts' rulings against groups, entities or individuals classified as “terrorist," consistent with law no. 22 of this year. Fawzy, who is member of the High Legislative Reform Committee, went on to say that Article 6 of the aforementioned law enables the owners of confiscated properties to appeal. The same law determines a 30-day period for a specialized court to issue a verdict on the matter. Still, the petitioner can file an objection at the high appeals court, which is obliged to issue a final verdict within ten days, the eminent law expert explained. Fawzy further noted that the seized funds are usually transferred to the state treasury.”

Bald-News: Expert: Appropriation Of Muslim Brotherhood Terrorists' Funds Undercuts Terrorist Financing

“Sameh Eid, a dissident Muslim Brotherhood leader and present-day independent researcher on Islamic movements, stated that the recent decision to freeze the assets and funds of Muslim Brotherhood-linked persons (1,589), companies (118) and NGOs (1,133) is not the first of its kind against the blacklisted Islamist group. From 2014 till today, asset-freezing rulings have been issued consistently against whoever was implicated in terrorist financing, Eid stressed. During an interview on "DMC" satellite TV channel, the former Muslim Brotherhood leader stressed that the seizure of funds undercuts the militant groups' ability to finance their terrorist activities. The expert added that he hopes the decision to confiscate the terrorists' funds will be final since it has disrupted their resurgence.”

Houthi

Aden News: Houthi Militants Kidnap Citizens And Steal Their Belongings In Ibb Province

On Monday, Houthi militants kidnapped citizens in the central province of Ibb. A local source disclosed that the Houthis abducted three citizens in the An Nadirah District, for no apparent reason. The source added that "the militants took everything in the citizens' possession, including personal belongings, and moved them to unknown destinations." This latest incident comes a few days after the Houthis in An Nadirah District abducted more than 20 citizens at different checkpoints and stole their cars.”