Eye on Extremism: September 12

Fox News: Elusive Al Qaeda Leader Zawahri Marks 9/11 Anniversary By Calling For Jihadists To Attack US, Israel

“He has managed to evade authorities for more than 18 years, but Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri is still using his platform to call for bloodshed from the shadows. To mark the 18th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the terror leader called on Muslims to attack U.S., European, Israeli and Russian targets in a speech. Multiple intelligence and terrorism monitoring services intercepted the video, in which Zawahri is said to condemn the "backtrackers" from jihad. He decries jihadists who “reformed” in jail or who have said that the 9/11 attacks were not to be lauded because innocent civilians were harmed. The coordinated Al Qaeda hijackings on Sept. 11, 2001, claimed the lives of almost 3,000 people. Two civilian airliners struck both towers of the World Trade Center, another hit the Pentagon, and a fourth plane crashed in rural Pennsylvania after passengers overran the Al Qaeda hijackers. Alongside ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, Zawahri is one of the two most wanted men in the world – both have a $25 million U.S. bounty on their heads.”

Reuters: At Afghan Base, Al Qaeda Memories Fresh 18 Years After September 11 Attacks

“It’s shortly before sunrise, and Maryanna Swanson, a Navy nurse from Long Island, thinks she may run out of T-shirts for all of the runners showing up for a Sept. 11 memorial race that she’s helping organise at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan. News of the race spread by word of mouth and soon maybe more than 200 people - from bearded commandos to medics and base firefighters - were running hard around this dusty base, just miles from what was once a major al Qaeda training camp. Swanson’s family saw al Qaeda’s devastation first-hand 18 years ago, the day when al Qaeda hijackers slammed airplanes into the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon, killing almost 3,000 people. ”My uncle was a fireman in New York City on 9/11 ... He was at Ground Zero,” said Swanson, a Navy Lieutenant junior grade, who was only 8 when the attacks took place. Even after 18 years, memories of the attacks that triggered the war in Afghanistan are still fresh for U.S. troops here, many of whom were only in elementary school at the time. Those service members who spoke to Reuters in the past several days at bases throughout the country say Sept. 11 inspired them to enlist in the U.S. military.”

CBS News: Taliban Warns U.S. “Will Soon Regret” Abandoning Peace Talks

“It was just after midnight on the morning of September 11 in Kabul when the sound of an explosion echoed across the capital. A couple of phone calls confirmed that a rocket had blown up inside the compound of the U.S. Embassy. Mercifully no one was hurt. It was the first incident since President Trump abruptly announced that the U.S. peace talks with the Taliban were off. “They're dead. They're dead,” Mr. Trump wrote. “As far as I'm concerned they're dead.” In response, the Taliban has doubled down. “We had two ways to end occupation in Afghanistan, one was jihad and fighting, the other was talks and negotiations,” spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said. “If Trump wants to stop talks, we will take the first way and they will soon regret it.” The Taliban's fight against Afghan and coalition forces had already ratcheted up significantly in the past two weeks, and that was during the peace talks in Doha. Deputy Interior Minister General Khoshal Sadat told CBS News the Taliban has suffered “hundreds” of casualties in the last 10 days, after the militants launched major offensives across three provinces. That claim was backed up by sources CBS News contacted at Resolute Support, the U.S.-led NATO mission in Afghanistan.”

CNN: A Forgotten Camp In Syria Could Be The Birthplace Of ISIS' Revenge Generation

“The market at al-Hol camp is a sea of unidentifiable figures clad in black, clutching their children's grubby hands as they drag them past those haggling their wares. A CNN team approaches a group of Iraqi women. Our request to talk to them sparks debate. "Sisters, don't say anything," one woman warns the rest of the group. "No, sister, we have a right to speak," another retorts. They talk over one another, pouring out a litany of grievances. The children are starting to steal. They don't have money. The conditions are wretched. They want to go home. Al-Hol is a sprawling encampment for those displaced from the former ISIS territory in northeastern Syria. Wind and sand blow mercilessly against tents in the scorching heat of the Syrian summer. About 15% of the inhabitants here are foreigners, but the international community has for months neglected the camp. And as living conditions worsen, nostalgia for ISIS' rule is beginning to brew. The camp's population rocketed from 9,000 to 70,000 after ISIS made its last stand in the Syrian town of Baghouz in March. Weeks of battle led to a large outflux of displaced people, mostly the families of ISIS fighters.”

The Wall Street Journal: Cloud-Services Company Cloudflare Discloses Potential Sanctions Violations

“Cloudflare Inc., a provider of cloud-based networking and cybersecurity services, may have violated U.S. economic and trade sanctions regulations, the company disclosed in a regulatory filing. The San Francisco-based technology company, which is expected to go public as early as this week, has voluntarily disclosed potential economic and trade sanctions violations to the Treasury Department, the company said in documents that declared the company’s intention to go public. The prospectus, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission last month, was amended last week. The company said in the filing that it made the self-disclosure in May to the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which enforces U.S. sanctions, and the self-disclosure is under review by the agency. Cloudflare didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Cloudflare said in the filing that it determined that its products were used by, or for the benefit of, certain individuals and entities that have been blacklisted by the U.S. A number of the parties made payments to the company in connection with their use of the platform, the company said in the filing.”

ACAMS TODAY: 18 Years After 9/11: Another Watershed In Global Counterterrorism Finance

“This week marks the 18th anniversary of the horrible attacks of September 11, 2001. These attacks marked both the high point of the international terror operations planned and directed by al-Qaida and the beginning of the degradation and complete destruction of the physical infrastructure that al-Qaida maintained in Afghanistan.”

United States

The Wall Street Journal: Islamic State Targets New York City And Police With Online Propaganda

“Islamic State has ramped up threats against New York City and New York Police Department officers in recent weeks, counterterrorism officials said in interviews. The overseas terrorist organization has been targeting New York City with a new flood of online propaganda that shows bloody images of police and digitally-faked threatening messages in subways, the officials said in interviews.  The rise in violent messages, which officials say are circulated online and intended to inspire and instruct potential terrorists, has persisted since it was first detected in July. Officials said the increase doesn’t represent an immediate threat to public safety and isn’t linked to Wednesday’s 18th anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. “What we’ve seen lately, is an unusual amount of propaganda directed at attacks on U.S. soil and an unusual amount of that pointing to New York as a target,” said John Miller, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism. Islamic State rose to power more than a decade ago amid instability in Iraq. The group controlled a self-proclaimed caliphate in Iraq and Syria that was the size of Portugal at its peak, but collapsed this year after U.S.-backed Syrian forces defeated the last of its territories.”

The Wall Street Journal: Foreign Banks Risk Losing Dollar Access Under Expanded U.S. Counter-Terror Powers

“The U.S. plans to use expanded counterterrorism powers to target foreign financial institutions that facilitate terrorist financing, leaders of terrorist groups and those participating in terrorist training over the internet, a U.S. Treasury Department senior official said. “Foreign financial institutions should be on notice that the U.S. government will fully utilize this new authority if they are found to be, in any way, facilitating the malign activities of U.S. designated terrorist groups, their members and their supporters,” Sigal Mandelker, the Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in prepared remarks for a speech Wednesday at the International Institute for Counterterrorism’s annual summit in Israel. The Trump administration this week unveiled details of an updated counterterrorism executive order that significantly expanded U.S. counterterrorism powers. The Trump administration also imposed sanctions on dozens of individuals and entities allegedly involved with terror groups.  Treasury and the U.S. State Department have blacklisted about 400 people and entities under antiterror authorities over the past two years, representing nearly one-third of all such designations since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.”

The New York Times: We Work For The N.Y.P.D. This Is What We’ve Learned About Terrorism.

“When detectives from the New York Police Department’s intelligence bureau arrested Jose Pimentel on Nov. 20, 2011, he was in a Washington Heights apartment putting the finishing touches on a pipe bomb he was building in an Al Qaeda-inspired plot to attack military and police targets in the city. On March 22, 2017, James Harris Jackson was arrested for the racially motivated sword killing of Timothy Caughman. Mr. Jackson, a white supremacist, said he had planned to kill more people of color in New York, hoping to start a race war. Mr. Pimentel and Mr. Jackson were charged under the New York State antiterrorism law. Enacted shortly after Sept. 11, it allows New York to bring terrorism charges regardless of whether the ideological motive is “foreign” or “domestic” or whether the weapon is a bomb or a sword. This approach is a model for tackling today’s terrorist threat. Consider this: Dylann Roof, an admitted white supremacist, was not charged with terrorism for killing nine black parishioners in South Carolina in 2015; nor was Robert Bowers, an avowed racist and anti-Semite, for killing 11 worshipers at a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018. However, Sayfullo Saipov, who in 2017 ran over more than a dozen people with his rented truck on a West Side bike path, killing eight, was charged with federal terrorism counts because he did it for ISIS, a designated foreign terrorist organization.”

CBS News: On 9/11, Al Qaeda Leader Calls For Attacks On U.S. And Slams Jihad “Backtrackers”

“Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri called Wednesday on Muslims to attack U.S., European, Israeli and Russian targets in a speech on the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks online activity of jihadist groups, reported that in a video released by the militant group, the 68-year-old al-Zawahiri also criticizes “backtrackers” from jihad, referring to former jihadis who changed their views in prison and called the 9/11 attacks unacceptable because innocent civilians were harmed. “If you want Jihad to be focused solely on military targets, the American military has presence all over the world, from the East to the West,” he said. “Your countries are littered with American bases, with all the infidels therein and the corruption they spread.” The coordinated al Qaeda hijackings on Sept. 11, 2001 killed nearly 3,000 people, when airliners slammed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and another crashed in rural Pennsylvania. Al-Zawahiri's speech was recorded in a 33-minute, 28-second video produced by the group's as-Sahab Media Foundation. As an indicator of when the speech may have been recorded, al-Zawahiri references President Donald Trump's recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, which was announced on March 25.”

Fox News: Jihadis Celebrate 9/11 Anniversary, Vow To Strike America Again

“Pro-ISIS and pro-Al-Qaeda channels on the Telegram messaging app have been inundated with posts relating to 9/11, including threats and calls for Muslims in the U.S. to carry out new terrorist attacks, according to a report by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). “Allah will give us victory against them and what America awaits in the coming days is greater and worse than what has passed by the will of Allah [...] America indeed we along with you are waiting,” reads one such post in an English-language channel, GreenB1rds. “You are a disease which will be wiped out by the permission of the Allah. Monotheists Brothers in the United Snakes of America... Prepare and strike....and kill them wherever you find them...” One poster featured a sepia-toned photo of the World Trade Center's twin towers on fire with ISIS flags in the background. The poster read: “9/11, We call on every Muslim who believes in Allah and wishes to be rewarded to comply with Allah's order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it.” Another poster shared in the channel featured an image of the Statue of Liberty and the gun of an ISIS fighter with the caption “Islamic State - the Caliphate - Soon in America.”

The New York Post: Accused ISIS Sniper From Brooklyn Would ‘Take Up Arms’ If Released: Feds

“A former Brooklyn man accused of being a top ISIS sniper admitted he would “take up arms” in support of the terror group again if he was released, prosecutors claimed Wednesday. Ruslan Maratovich Asainov, 42, who was busted in July on charges of providing material assistance to a terror group, was ordered to stay behind bars at his arraignment in Brooklyn federal court, with Judge Nicholas Garaufis agreeing he posed “a danger to the community.” “He confesses that if he were released, he would take up arms in support of ISIS again,” prosecutor Saritha Komatireddy told the judge, who agreed to keep Asainov detained at Metropolitan Correctional Center, where he is under heightened security. The Kazakhstan-born alleged jihadi appeared in the courtroom looking solemn, but refused to speak. His lawyer pleaded not guilty on his behalf — saying Asainov wouldn’t do it himself “because he doesn’t recognize the American system of laws.” “He’s converted to Islam. He lives by Sharia law,” lawyer Susan Kellman told reporters after the proceeding. “He doesn’t believe he has any obligation to abide by the American legal system.” Komatireddy told the judge Asainov was a “clear danger” and a flight risk, citing his contacts in both Syria and Kazakhstan.”

CNN: The US Needs To Act Now Against The Next Terrorist Incubator

“As we mark the 18th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the United States continues to face threats from a variety of terrorist adversaries. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) presents one such problem, and despite the loss of its physical caliphate early this year and the significant losses it suffered on the battlefield, the next manifestation of this threat now lies in a remote corner of northeast Syria.  An estimated 70,000 women and children remain detained by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in a small 1.5 square mile complex called the al-Hol camp. Within this population, there are thousands who appear to remain deeply committed to the group's ideology, to include a large number from the West. Without further attention from the United States and the international community, it is likely that a significant portion of these individuals will be further radicalized and committed to the ISIS cause, and could be an important driver to the group's recovery in face of several setbacks.  As national security professionals with careers in the military and counterterrorism communities respectively, we feel now is a crucial moment for the United States to demonstrate global leadership and develop a clear strategy to deal with this complex issue.”

VOA: Americans Pause To Remember 9/11 Terrorist Attacks

“Americans paused Wednesday to mark the 18th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walked outside the White House to observe a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., the time when hijackers flew the first of two commercial jetliners into the World Trade Center in New York. Later, Trump addressed a ceremony at the Pentagon for families of those killed when al-Qaida terrorists flew a hijacked plane into the building that is the headquarters of the U.S. military.  Early Wednesday, ahead of the ceremony, an American flag was unfurled down the side of the Pentagon. In New York, in an annual ceremony at ground zero of the attack, people began reading the names of all the victims killed on the day that now is etched in the memories of Americans across the country. Hundreds of survivors and family members of those killed gathered at the 9/11 Memorial, where the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center stood before two al-Qaida-hijacked commercial flights brought them down.”


The New York Times: Horrid Conditions In Syria Camp Where ISIS Families Fled Risk Fostering Extremism

“Hundreds of young children have died from disease and malnutrition in the desert camp holding families of Islamic State fighters in northeast Syria, United Nations investigators said on Tuesday, warning that international inaction on the situation risked incubating a new wave of extremism. The Commission of Inquiry, created by the United Nations Human Rights Council that is monitoring the conflict in Syria, said at least 390 children had died of preventable causes in the first half of the year while in, or on their way to, Al Hol, the camp set up to take in families fleeing the last strongholds of the Islamic State in Syria. Their deaths exposed the “intolerable” conditions for the 70,000 people, more than 90 percent of them women and children, who are crammed into the Kurdish-run camp, with little access to medicine and food. Their plight highlighted international paralysis over what to do with the residents, including 11,000 foreigners from dozens of countries, many of them still fervent supporters of Islamic State ideology, who have been shunned by their governments and in some cases stripped of their nationality. The children who died, most of them weakened by long-term malnutrition and dehydration, had succumbed to diseases like pneumonia and dysentery, the commission said.”

Voice Of America: UN Experts Call For Repatriation Of IS-Linked Children And Mothers In Syria

“U.N. investigators are calling on countries to repatriate thousands of children and mothers associated with Islamic State fighters interned in Syria’s Al-Hol displacement camp. The U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria has released its latest report. About 70,000 people, the vast majority women and children under the age of 12, are languishing at the Al-Hol camp. They fled there after the Islamic State stronghold of Deir al-Zor was captured by the U.S.-led international coalition and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The three-member U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria says thousands of children above the age of 12, who are considered to be of fighting age, are being held in incommunicado detention by the SDF.    Commission Chairman Paulo Pinheiro says the children are being kept in a secret location with adults suspected of being fighters for IS, and in conditions that may give rise to torture or ill-treatment. “We find very bizarre this limit of 12. One-hundred-ninety-one member states have ratified the Convention of the Rights of the Child and the children from 12 to 18, they are children and adolescents ... considered terrorists if they are more than 12 years old.  The Commission finds this completely appalling,” said Pinheiro.”

Al Jazeera: Syria, US-Led Coalition May Have Committed War Crimes: UN Report

Syrian government forces backed by Russian warplanes may have committed war crimes while targeting medical facilities, schools, markets and farmland in an ongoing deadly campaign in northwestern Syria, UN investigators say. The UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria also said on Wednesday that Hay'et Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a former al-Qaeda affiliate fighting government forces in the northwestern province of Idlib, fired rockets indiscriminately and killed civilians. Syrian forces carried out repeated air raids in Saraqib in Idlib on March 9, damaging Al-Hayat women's and children's hospital despite being aware of its coordinates, the report said. In Idlib on May 14, "pro-government forces air-dropped between two and four missiles on a fish market and primary school for girls in Jisr al-Shughour", killing at least eight civilians, it said. "Such attacks may amount to the war crime of deliberately attacking protected objects and intentionally attacking medical personnel," the UN report said.”

Reuters: Syrian Rebels Say Russian-Backed Forces Prepare To Resume Offensive

“Syrian rebel fighters on Wednesday said Russian-backed forces were amassing troops in preparation for resuming a five-month offensive in northwest Syria after a second day of raids by jets believed to be Russian threatened to end a fragile ceasefire. The jets that flew overnight at high altitudes struck a village near Kafr Takhareem and an area near the town of Darkoush, both in rural areas in western Idlib province, two opposition sources and a resident in the area said. The overnight bombing raid came hours after air strikes hit a part of the northwest for the first time since the truce was declared 11 days ago, according to activists and a monitor. Moscow denied conducting the first strikes. Russia said the Syrian government unilaterally agreed to a truce on Aug. 31 in opposition-controlled Idlib, where a “de-escalation zone” was brokered two years ago between Russia and Turkey.”


The Jerusalem Post: Europe Is Propping Up Iranian Terror While Demonizing Israel

“It’s not everyday that a world leader manages to wrestle the attention and agenda from Donald Trump. But at the recent G7 summit in Biarritz, France, French President Emmanuel Macron took center stage (at least for a few moments) with his surprise invitation to Iran’s foreign minister, Jarad Zarif. Trump has been putting the squeeze on Iran, walking away last year from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and ratcheting up sanctions on the Islamic Republic. In turn, Macron and other European leaders have been waging a two-front campaign — keep Iran tethered to the nuclear deal long enough to get Trump and the United States back on board. In addition to the Zarif invitation, French officials this month reportedly proposed a $15 billion letter of credit to compensate Iran for U.S. sanctions and incentivize that country to keep the terms of the 2015 deal. In order to understand how grievous a mistake this is, Macron just has to follow the money released to Iran since the JCPOA was signed. The sanctions rollback was designed to aid everyday Iranians,  but the main winner has turned out to be Iran’s terrorist infrastructure.”

The New York Times: Trump Leaves Open Possibility Of Easing Iranian Sanctions To Spur Nuclear Talks

“President Trump appeared to take a step back from his administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran on Wednesday, leaving open the possibility of easing economic sanctions before starting new nuclear negotiations with Tehran. Although he also warned Iran against restarting production of the material necessary to make a nuclear bomb — as the clerical government in Tehran has threatened — Mr. Trump made clear he was ready for diplomatic talks. “I do believe they’d like to make a deal,” Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House. “If they do, that’s great; and if they don’t, that’s great too. But they have tremendous financial difficulty, and the sanctions are getting tougher and tougher.” He shrugged when asked if he would consider easing the sanctions to secure a meeting with Iran. “We’ll see what happens,” Mr. Trump said.”

BBC: Australian And British Bloggers Held In Iran Named

“Two Australian citizens detained in Iran have been identified as Jolie King and Mark Firkin. Ms King, who also holds a UK passport, and Mr Firkin were blogging their travels in Asia and the Middle East. They were reportedly arrested 10 weeks ago near Tehran but news of the arrest, and that of another British-Australian woman, came to light on Wednesday. Australia said it had repeatedly raised their cases with Tehran, including in a meeting between officials last week. Foreign Minister Marise Payne said she had lobbied on their behalf in a meeting with her Iranian counterpart. She described the detentions as "a matter of deep concern" on Thursday, and confirmed that assistance had been offered to the families of the three detainees. "[We] hope to see Mark and Jolie safely home as soon as possible," their families said on Thursday. The situation comes amid growing tensions between the West and Iran.”


The Washington Post: Austrian Writer Acquitted Of Terror Charges In Turkey

“An Austrian student and journalist says a Turkish court has acquitted him and two others of terror-related charges. Max Zirngast was taken into custody in September 2018 after Turkey accused him and two other people of “membership in an armed terrorist organization.” They were accused of links to the Turkish Communist Party/Kivilcim. If convicted, Zirngast could have faced a prison sentence of up to 10 years. The 29-year-old confirmed his acquittal to The Associated Press on Wednesday. Zirngast, who has contributed to left-wing publications and was studying political science, was released from pre-trial detention in December. Ties between Turkey and the European Union have been strained over the arrests of foreign journalists and others in Turkey. Austria’s government had demanded Zirngast’s release.”


Yahoo News: Taliban Want US Deal, But Some In Bigger Hurry Than Others

“Afghanistan's Taliban leaders agreed they wanted a deal with the United States, but some were in more of a hurry than others.Taliban negotiators were at odds with their Council of Leaders, or shura, about whether to travel to Camp David even before President Donald Trump abruptly canceled the high-stakes meeting planned for last weekend. According to Taliban officials familiar with the discussions, the shura opposed the trip to Camp David and chastised the negotiators who were eager to attend. The Taliban have been holding talks with the U.S. for over a year in the Qatari capital, Doha, where the militant Islamic movement maintains a political office under the banner of The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Doha office, told the Taliban Al-Emarah website on Tuesday that U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad had invited Taliban negotiators to Camp David in late August. The Taliban accepted, only to delay, demanding the deal be announced first by Qatar. They also wanted a signing ceremony witnessed by the foreign ministers of several countries, including Pakistan, Russia and China. The delay followed the shura's rejection and admonishment of its negotiators.”

The Atlantic: A Terrific Deal—For The Taliban

“The relentless spectacle of the Trump administration makes it difficult to hang on to even important blunders, but the recently revealed—only to be canceled—Camp David peace conference with the Taliban, as well as the underlying deal, is one President Donald Trump ought to be forced to defend throughout the 2020 election. It represents the worst elements of the president’s “America first” strategy: a repudiation of what we’re fighting for and an abandonment of America’s allies, served up with a narcissistic flourish. The proposed conference was evidently modeled on President Jimmy Carter’s landmark Israeli-Egyptian peace summit, during which leaders of the crucial factions personally committed to the terms. That’s clearly what Trump wanted, to personally seal the deal and triumphantly take credit for bringing America’s longest war to an end in time for the accomplishment to color his reelection prospects. There were, of course, lots of problems with the scheme—entirely predictable kinds of problems that an administration with a functional interagency policy-making process would have unearthed. The Trump administration has no such process.”

CBS News: CBS News Gets Rare Access To Afghanistan Forces Hunting ISIS Suspects

“Less than a month after 9/11, U.S. forces invaded Afghanistan to dismantle al Qaeda and remove the Taliban that hosted them. But to this day, terrorist organizations are still using Afghanistan as a base. CBS News was given a rare opportunity to accompany an elite U.S.-trained Afghan commando unit as it tracked down ISIS fighters in Kabul. Eighteen years after 9/11, Afghan special forces are a part of America's strategy to stop it from happening again. This time, a hunt for suspected ISIS targets in the capital. CBS News joined an armored convoy into one of Kabul's most dangerous neighborhoods. After waiting for the signal to move, CBS News went down a group of alleyways overlooked by empty buildings. A soldier with night vision scanned the horizon while others climbed walls, looking for threats.”


The National: US Designates Head Of Pakistan's Taliban A Global Terrorist

“The United States has designated the head of the Taliban in Pakistan as a specially designated global terrorist as part of what it said was the most significant overhaul of counter-terrorism sanctions since the attacks of September 11, 2001. Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud was named by the US State Department alongside 11 other terrorist group leaders, giving US officials greater powers to target their finances and assets. He became head of Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan in June 2018 after his predecessor, Mullah Fazlullah, was killed in a US drone strike. Others named in the executive order included senior leaders of Hezbollah, Hamas, ISIS and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. A statement said the order by US President Donald Trump would “deny these terrorists the resources to plan and carry out attacks”. “All of their property and interests in property subject to US jurisdiction are blocked, and US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with them,” it said. Under Mehsud's leadership, the TTP had “claimed responsibility for numerous deadly terrorist attacks across Pakistan,” the US government said. The militant commander and scholar, known for his pronounced squint, last year inherited a fragmented and increasingly marginalised movement that had been driven out of many of its haunts in northern Pakistan.”

The Guardian: Sri Lankan Cricket Board Warned Over Terrorist Threat To Pakistan Tour

“The Sri Lankan cricket board says it has been warned about a possible terrorist threat during its planned tour of Pakistan and called for a reassessment of the security situation before play starts in two weeks. The SLC said in a statement on Wednesday that the Sri Lankan Prime Minister’s Office “has received reliable information of a possible terrorist threat on the Sri Lankan team, while touring Pakistan. Hence SLC has been advised to take extreme care and ‘reassess’ the situation before embarking on the said tour.” The tour is set to start on 27 September with a one-day international in Karachi. Ten of Sri Lanka’s top players, including the Twenty20 captain, Lasith Malinga, and one-day international captain, Dimuth Karunaratne, have already pulled out of the limited-overs tour because of security concerns. Pakistan has not hosted a Test match since Sri Lanka’s team bus was attacked by terrorists in 2009. Eight people were killed during the ambush and several Sri Lankan players were injured. The tour was originally set to begin with Test matches but the schedule was flipped after discussions between the heads of the two cricket boards. The two-Test series is now scheduled for December. Karachi is set to host three one-day internationals while three Twenty20s will be played at Lahore on 5, 7 and 9 October.”


Long War Journal: AQAP And Islamic State Resume Fighting In Yemen

“Following sporadic raids against each other over the summer, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State in Yemen (IS-Y) have engaged in open warfare in Yemen’s Al Bayda since late August.  Since Aug. 27, the two groups have claimed a combined 29 attacks against each other in Al Bayda’s Qayfa region. This region has seen fierce fighting between the two in the past and has historically been a critical area for AQAP. Both sides have said its men have taken and retaken territory, launched improvised explosive device (IED) attacks against one another, sniped opposing militants and attacked various positions via mortars and rockets. AQAP has been responsible for the majority of claims (23), while IS-Y has mainly reported its men repelling AQAP assaults. The heaviest days of fighting have so far been Sept. 1 and Sept. 9, in which the majority of the claims were published.  Islamic State photo reports of the fighting appear to back up the claims that its men have repelled AQAP assaults. Many of the photos detail dead bodies and captured weapons.  The renewed fighting has mainly taken place in Qayfa area and its surrounding villages, including Al Hamida, Al Zoub, Sarar, Awaja, Liqah, Al Najd, and Abu Ghayth.”

The National: Yemen's Southern Forces Hold Back Houthi Assault

“Nine Houthi fighters were killed and dozens injured when fierce clashes renewed between the Houthi militia and the Southern Joint Forces north of the coastal city of Aden on Tuesday night. The fighting in Al Dhalea province raged around the villages of Al Zubairiyat, Al Reibi and eastern Al Fakher. The fighting broadened to the villages of Habeel Al Dhuba and Al Shaghader in the centre of the Hajer front as Houthi rebels shelled the areas, Col Haiytham Qasim, a field commander in the Southern Joint Forces told The National. “Our forces responded to the intensified Houthi attacks, using artillery and tanks to shell the sites of the Houthi rebels who found themselves under pressure of our heavy weapons, Col Qasim said. “This forced them to draw their fighters back after many fall dead.” He said it was the most intense push the Iran-backed rebels have made in the last two months, “but it was totally foiled.” The fighting continued for more than three hours and the Southern forces destroyed more than three Houthi military vehicles and a Soviet-era ZSU-23-4 ‘Shilka’ anti-aircraft gun in Al Reibi area eastern Al Fakher.”

Saudi Arabia

Xinhuanet: Saudi-Led Coalition Intercepts Drone Targeting Border City

“Saudi-led coalition involved in a war in Yemen intercepted on Wednesday a drone launched by Houthi militia towards Saudi border city of Najran. The Houthis target daily Saudi lands, mainly cities in the western borders with drones and missiles. Most of the attacks fail to reach their targets. The coalition's spokesperson Turki Al Maliki said in a statement on Saudi Press Agency that the drone was intercepted on Wednesday morning and was targeting civilian sites in Najran. He said that the coalition has taken measures to intercept and destroy drones and missiles, and neutralized the powers of the Iranian-backed Houthi militias. The coalition completed its fourth-year war in Yemen in the first quarter of 2019 in support of the Yemeni exiled government and against the Houthis.”


The Wall Street Journal: Israel Tiptoes Toward Conflict With Lebanon’s Hezbollah

“A widening campaign by Israel to blunt the threat posed by Iran’s ally Hezbollah, and the pushback from beyond Israel’s borders, are raising the risk that the two sides will stumble into another war. In what is known in Israel as the war between the wars, Israel has been hitting targets in Syria for years to try to prevent Tehran from moving military supplies to its Lebanese ally. More recently, raising the risk of conflict, it expanded that effort to Lebanon and Iraq. Hezbollah responded last week, firing antitank missiles into this small farming community on the Lebanese border. Israeli military officials said Hezbollah had crossed a line by firing into a civilian area rather than a closed military site. “These are places Hezbollah shouldn’t take the war between wars because it will end in a war,” an Israeli military official said. Israel has widened the campaign as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fights to hold on to his post, facing a re-election bid on Tuesday.”


The Jerusalem Post: Islamists Kill Nine Soldiers In Northeast Nigeria

“Islamist militants killed nine Nigerian soldiers in an attack on a military base in the northeast of the country, three soldiers and an official from a security agency said on Wednesday. A decade-long insurgency in the northeast, started by Islamist group Boko Haram in 2009, has claimed more than 30,000 lives. A breakaway faction that pledges allegiance to Islamic State has become the dominant group in the insurgency, carrying out attacks on military bases over the past year. The soldiers and security officer, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity, said Islamist militants attacked troops on Tuesday at a military base in Gudumbali - a town in Borno, the state worst hit by the insurgency. They said nine soldiers were killed in the attack and 27 were missing. “We repelled the attack,” said Nigerian Army spokesman Sagir Musa. He said he was not aware of any soldiers being killed or having gone missing.”


Euronews: Mali Jihadists Say Attack On Passenger Bus Was Targeting French Troops

“A Mali-based al Qaeda affiliate said a landmine it planted that killed 14 civilians when it exploded under a passenger bus was intended to target French troops. Around 60 people were in the vehicle when it hit the landmine on Sept. 3 as it drove through a region in central Mali that has become a haven for Islamist militants despite a five-year-old French military operation to counter them. Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM) – an umbrella group for al Qaeda-linked militants in West Africa and the Maghreb – said it had not intended to attack the bus and offered its condolences and sympathy to the relatives of those killed. “With deep sadness and grief, we received news about the killing of a group of our brothers and children,” it said via its media arm, according to U.S.-based SITE, which monitors jihadist websites. “This came as the result of the detonation of a landmine the mujahideen had planted for patrols of the French occupation,” it said in the statement. At least 24 civilians were wounded in the attack in addition to the 14 dead, according to the Malian authorities.”


Fox News: Yazidi Sex Slave Survivor To Face One Of Her ISIS Rapists In German Court

“On a bitter day in the dead of winter, as 2017 was drawing to a close, Shatha Salim Bashar was rescued from hell. The Yazidi made it home after almost three-and-a-half years as an ISIS sex slave in Iraq and Syria. ”I can’t forget the first time I was raped,” Shatha, 28, told Fox News. “I was traded 14 times among the jihadists.” She was kidnapped alongside her mother, her sister, and two younger brothers. In the beginning, she pretended to be the mother of her youngest brother, aged just 3 – in the hopes she would be spared violation if ISIS militants believed she was not a virgin. But Shatha was violated by every one of her 14 enslavers. Moreover, the tiny young woman was used as a human shield by ISIS, thrust onto the frontlines in Syria and forced to watch her best Yazidi friend die on the battlefield. Her reunification months later should have been one of jubilation – but her friend’s family also arrived with smiles, thinking the women were rescued together. Shatha was the one to break the shattering news. In spite of all she has endured since ISIS suddenly stormed her village of Kocho, in the foothills of Iraq’s Sinjar Mountain on August 15, 2014, Shatha’s scars – inside and out – have become her stories.”


The Jerusalem Post: Swiss Revoke Citizenship From Dual-National Islamic State Recruiter

“Switzerland has revoked the citizenship of a man convicted of helping recruit jihadist fighters, invoking a law allowing dual nationals to be stripped of their Swiss passports for conduct detrimental to national interests or reputation. Though the Swiss federal immigration office said this was the first time it had made such a move under the 66-year-old law, other Western nations have also stripped citizenship of people linked to extremist violence in the Middle East. Last year, Australia revoked the nationality of an Islamic State (IS) recruiter, despite some concerns the move would leave him stateless, while Britain in February stripped a 19-year-old teenager of citizenship on security grounds. The Swiss office did not release the other nationality of the man, who is in prison after receiving a multiple-year sentence for crimes including membership in a terrorist organization, spreading IS propaganda and seeking to convince fighters to participate in jihadist violence in the Middle East. The man, likely to be expelled from Switzerland after his eventual release from prison, still has the opportunity to appeal, the immigration office said, without identifying him. After someone's citizenship has been withdrawn, Switzerland can deny entry to them if deemed a security threat.”


Reuters: U.S. Social Media Firms To Testify On Violent, Extremist Online Content

“Alphabet Inc’s Google, Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc will testify next week before a U.S. Senate panel on efforts by social media firms to remove violent content from online platforms, the panel said in a statement on Wednesday. The Sept. 18 hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee follows growing concern in Congress about the use of social media by people committing mass shootings and other violent acts. Last week, the owner of 8chan, an online message board linked to several recent mass shootings, gave a deposition on Capitol Hill.  The hearing “will examine the proliferation of extremism online and explore the effectiveness of industry efforts to remove violent content from online platforms. Witnesses will discuss how technology companies are working with law enforcement when violent or threatening content is identified and the processes for removal of such content,” the committee said.  Facebook’s head of global policy management Monika Bickert, Twitter public policy director Nick Pickles and Google’s global director of information policy Derek Slater are due to testify.  Facebook and Google both confirmed they will participate but declined to comment further. Twitter did not immediately comment.”

The Hill: Cloudflare Must Stop Being The 'Service Of Choice' For Bad Internet Actors

“I read with great interest that Cloudflare recently filed paperwork in pursuit of an IPO. No, I’m not hoping to invest my 401(k) in their stock. Rather, I am hopeful that the IPO may lead Cloudflare to step up to the responsibilities of a public company and refuse to provide their services to entities involved in illegal activities. If they will not, potential investors in Cloudflare may be in for a rude awakening when they learn of the kinds of activities Cloudflare facilitates. Cloudflare is not a household name, but anyone steeped in the internet knows them well. They provide, among other products, a “reverse proxy” service that masks the true IP address of websites, making websites more like ghosts; no one, including law enforcement, will be able to reach them directly unless they want to be reached. The problem with Cloudflare is not what they do, but the fact that they proudly offer their services to all willing to pay – regardless of whether they are legitimate organizations or notorious criminals involved in trafficking, drug dealing, radicalization, or other nefarious activities. This willful blindness to their customers’ activities has made Cloudflare the “service of choice” for bad actors looking to cloak their identity.”