Eye on Extremism: September 13

The New York Times: U.S. Poised To Send 150 Troops To Patrol Northeastern Syria

“The Pentagon is preparing to send about 150 troops to northeastern Syria to conduct ground patrols with Turkish forces, reversing at least temporarily a withdrawal from Syria that President Trump ordered last December. The new troop deployment, which has not been previously reported, is part of an expanding series of military and diplomatic steps the United States has taken in recent weeks to defuse escalating tensions with Turkey, a NATO ally, over American support for Syrian Kurdish fighters. Those fighters led the ground war against the Islamic State, a shared enemy, but Turkey considers them terrorists. The United States currently has just under 1,000 troops in Syria, mainly to help stamp out remaining pockets of Islamic State fighters. Turkey threatened last month to invade northeast Syria to rout the Syrian Kurds from territory along the border they seized from the Islamic State. In response, the Pentagon in recent weeks has rushed to both set up joint reconnaissance flights and ground patrols with Turkish forces in a narrow buffer zone inside Syria, and destroy Kurdish fortifications near the border that Turkey considered threatening. Two senior American generals met this week with their Turkish counterparts in Ankara, Turkey’s capital.”

Voice Of America: US Offers Bounty For Information On Al-Qaida-Affiliated Militants In Syria

“The U.S. Department of State’s Rewards for Justice Program is offering a reward of up to $5 million each for information leading to the identification of three leaders of an al-Qaida-affiliated jihadist group in Syria. The cash bounty lists three prominent leaders of Hurras al-Din militant group, including Faruq al-Suri, Abu ‘Abd al-Karim al-Masri and Sami al-Uraydi. All three leaders have been active in al-Qaida for years and remain loyal to its leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, the State Department said in a statement. Faruq al-Suri, also known as Samir Hijazi and Abu Hammam al-Shami, a Syrian national, is the leader of the jihadist group. According to U.S. officials, he fought in Afghanistan in the 1990s and trained al-Qaida militants in Iraq between 2003 and 2005. This week al-Suri was designated by the U.S. as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. Abu ‘Abd al-Karim al-Masri, an Egyptian national, is another senior leader of Hurras al-Din. In 2018, al-Masri was a member of the group’s shura council, the group’s highest decision-making body. The third listed leader is Sami al-Uraydi, also known as Abu Mahmud al-Shami. Al-Uraydi, a Jordanian national, has been a senior sharia official for Hurras al-Din.”

The Jerusalem Post: Warplanes Strike Syria's Idlib Despite Ceasefire - Monitor, Rebel

“Air strikes pounded the south of Syria's Idlib region on Thursday, a rebel official and residents said, despite a ceasefire that had halted a fierce army offensive against the rebel stronghold two weeks ago. Government warplanes bombed the south Idlib countryside for the first time since, including Maarat al-Numan town, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitor, said. Mohammad Rashid, spokesman for the Jaish al-Nasr rebel faction, said the raids had intensified after strikes on a few positions in the rural west of Idlib in the past two days. Idlib, in Syria's northwest corner, is the last big chunk of territory still in rebel hands after more than eight years of civil war. Idlib enjoyed a lull in air strikes after Damascus and its ally Moscow declared a ceasefire on Aug. 31 following five months of bombing which the United Nations says killed hundreds of people. This was the second such truce announced there in a month. A ceasefire in early August collapsed within three days, after which the Russian-backed army of President Bashar al-Assad pressed its offensive and gained ground.”

The Washington Post: Here’s Why The Taliban Might Still Want To Negotiate With The U.S.

“On Saturday, President Trump announced the United States had abandoned efforts to negotiate with the Taliban on ending the war in Afghanistan. As the war enters its 18th year, it has cost the United States more than 2,600 lives and billions, if not trillions, of dollars — and has killed tens of thousands of Afghan and Pakistani people. The U.S. position continues to deteriorate; the Afghan government remains plagued by corruption, and there seems to be little hope the Taliban will ever be defeated. So is there any hope of more negotiations? One could argue that the Taliban is increasingly in a position to outlast the United States and claim a decisive military victory. If today’s Taliban were as cohesive as the Taliban that managed to control Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, that might well be true. But it’s not. Today’s Taliban includes a variety of factions, such as the prominent Quetta Shura and Pakistani-supported Haqqani network. Beyond these internal divisions lie further divisions among the broader Afghan insurgency, which includes the emerging Islamic State Khorasan (IS-K). Our research in the Journal of Global Security Studies argues that powerful insurgent factions may seek peace to forestall their own decline when rival insurgent factions are increasing in power.”

The Jerusalem Post: Simon Wiesenthal Calls On Germany To Ban Hezbollah Amid Its Terror Pledge

“The human rights organization Simon Wiesenthal Center urged in Berlin on Wednesday that the German government ban the Lebanese terrorist movement Hezbollah in the federal republic. “We live in a time when violent attacks against Jews have almost become routine, including the beating of an Israeli because he spoke Hebrew on a Berlin Street Tuesday night,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the center’s associate dean. “While we welcome the efforts of German authorities to oppose antisemitism and to deal with its consequences, it is vitally important they also take on the multiple sources of Jew-hatred. Not only neo-Nazis, but also from Iran, Hezbollah, and from Palestinians whose educational system indoctrinates children from a young age to hate Jews,” he said. The Jerusalem Post first reported in late August on a pro-Hezbollah Islamist who declared at the Imam Mahdi Center in Münster, Germany: “We are proud of our terrorism.” The Post learned about terrorism activities on the Facebook page of the Islamic center and mosque, and informed the The Middle East Media Research Institute. MEMRI located a video of the Hezbollah Islamist endorsing terrorism.”

Al Jazeera: 22,000 Nigerians Missing Since Boko Haram Crisis Began: Red Cross

“At least 22,000 people are missing in Nigeria due to the decade-long conflict with the Boko Haram group, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has said. In a statement, ICRC President Peter Maurer said nearly 60 percent of those missing were children and that it was the highest number of missing persons registered with the organisation in any country. “They were minors when they went missing, meaning thousands of parents don't know where their children are and if they are alive or dead,” he said on Thursday at the end of his five-day trip to Nigeria. “Every parent's worst nightmare is not knowing where their child is. This is the tragic reality for thousands of Nigerian parents.” Nigeria is faced with multiple conflicts, including attacks by the Boko Haram and the frequent clashes between the nomadic herders and the farmers. Boko Haram - whose name roughly translates to “Western education is forbidden” - wants to establish an Islamic state based on a strict interpretation of the Islamic law. The United Nations estimates that more than 27,000 people have been killed and an estimated two million others displaced in Nigeria's northeast because of the violence by the Boko Haram.”

United States

U.S. News & World Report: Federal Judge To Sentence Far-Right Extremist In Gun Case

“A 30-year-old man whose relatives reported concerns about his behavior and far-right extremist rhetoric after last year's Pittsburgh synagogue massacre awaits sentencing for his conviction on a federal gun charge. Jeffrey Clark Jr. is scheduled to be sentenced Friday by U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly in Washington, D.C. Clark pleaded guilty in July to illegal possession of a firearm. Federal prosecutors have recommended a 10-month prison sentence. Clark, who has been jailed for 10 months since his arrest, could be eligible for immediate release if Kelly agrees with prosecutors' recommendation. The FBI said Clark is a white nationalist who followed Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect Robert Bowers on social media and referred to him as a “hero” in a post after the October shooting that killed 11 people.”

AL.com: 2nd USA Student In A Week Charged With Terrorist Threat

“A second University of South Alabama student has been arrested this week on a charge of making a terrorist threat. Jack Christensen, 21, was arrested by campus police and charged with making a terrorist threat on Tuesday. Christensen is a Birmingham native and graduated from Oak Mountain High School in 2016. According to Bob Lowry, director of communications and media relations at South Alabama, the incident was brought to the attention of USAPD by a University employee. In the course of the investigation, the suspect was observed on an university security camera allegedly committing the act a second time. Details of the nature of the threat were not released. Christensen is the second USA student to be arrested this week as Jaleel Hughes, 21, was arrested and charged with the same crime. Lowry also confirmed that this incident is not related to the other case against Hughes.”

The Hill: Adapting And Upgrading Our Counterterrorism Tools

“In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush signed a powerful executive order to deprive terrorists of the money they need to attack our country and our interests.  Since that moment, the U.S. government has aggressively wielded this vital tool, using it to target more than 1,500 terrorists, terrorist groups and their financial supporters and facilitators.  These sanctions have denied terrorists resources, and forced them to devote additional time and energy to seek out new financial channels. It also deterred would-be donors and facilitators.  In an effort to avoid our financial tradecraft, the terror groups have continuously adapted so we need to evolve our capabilities as well. That’s why earlier this week, President Trump issued a revised and expanded executive order that is the most significant update of our terrorist designation authorities since the aftermath of 9/11. We have seen the power of counterterrorism sanctions. Combined with battlefield victories, the U.S. government accelerated the territorial defeat of the so-called ISIS caliphate in Iraq and Syria by sanctioning key leaders and facilitation networks supporting the group.  We have kept up the pressure on al Qaeda with 24 designations since 2017.”

Reuters: U.S. Says It Has Evidence Adrian Darya 1 Oil Transferred To Syria

“The United States has evidence that the Iranian tanker Adrian Darya 1 has transferred its crude oil to the Syrian government, breaking assurances it gave not to sell crude to the country, the U.S. State Department said on Thursday. British commandos on July 4 seized the vessel, formerly named the Grace 1, on suspicion that it was en route to Syria in breach of European Union sanctions. Gibraltar released it on Aug. 15 after getting written Iranian assurances that it would not discharge its 2.1 million barrels of oil in Syria. Britain’s foreign ministry on Tuesday said the tanker had sold its crude oil to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, breaking those assurances, and that the oil had been transferred to Syria. Iran’s envoy to Britain, who was summoned by the British foreign ministry over the matter, on Wednesday said Adrian Darya 1’s oil cargo was sold at sea to a private company, denying Tehran had broken assurances it gave. He also said the private buyer of the oil “sets the sale destination.”

The Washington Post: US Envoy Rejects Claim Of ‘War Crime’ By Key UN Syria Panel

“The United States’ top envoy for Syria rejected Thursday findings by U.N.-backed investigators that deadly airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition early this year may amount to a war crime. Ambassador James Jeffrey said the coalition takes “extreme care in every military operation we do.” His comments came a day after investigators working for the U.N.’s top human rights body suggested that coalition airstrikes on Jan. 3 near the town of as-Safa, along the Iraqi border, that killed 16 civilians may not have been directed at a military objective or may not have been carried out with the “necessary precaution.” “Launching indiscriminate attacks that result in death or injury to civilians amounts to a war crime in cases in which such attacks are conducted recklessly,” the Commission of Inquiry said in its latest report.”

Iran

Egypt Today: Arab Ministers Condemn Iran For Supporting Houthi Terrorism In Region

“The Arab ministerial committee, made up of ministers from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt, has condemned Iran’s support for the Houthi militia in targeting Saudi Arabia with ballistic missiles. A statement by the committee condemned the ongoing support by Tehran for terrorism in the Arab region and its violation of the Security Council resolution no. 2216 (2015), which requires militia to be disarmed. The committee also reiterated the importance of opposing Iranian attempts to threaten the security of the region’s energy supplies, as well as maritime installations in the Arabian Gulf and other shipping lanes. The comments come as the Arab coalition intercept yet another Houthi drone fired towards Saudi airspace. Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki said the drone was targeting civilian areas in Saudi Arabia’s Najran. Al-Maliki announced earlier this week that Iranian-backed Houthi militias fired a ballistic missile from Amran province on Friday afternoon but the missile fell in the Yemeni territory of Saada. Malki explained that the Houthi militias continued to violate international humanitarian law and its customary rules by firing ballistic missiles, which affect population centers, threatening the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians inside Yemen.”

The New York Post: Netanyahu Exposes More Of Iran’s Lies

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week offered fresh reason why the Iran nuclear deal was never good enough — namely, new proof that Tehran has been cheating on its nuclear promises for years. Specifically, Bibi revealed the existence of a secret nuke-research site that Iran never revealed, even after it promised to suspend its nuclear program in the 2015 accord. The photos show major activity at the site in the early 2000s — and then, more recently, the same cluster of buildings reduced to rubble. “This is the site after they understood that we were on to them,” Netanyahu explained. Info on the facility was contained in an archive of Iranian nuclear activities that Israeli agents captured in January 2018, an intelligence coup that Israel made public that May. At which point, Bibi noted, “They tried to destroy the evidence.” His message to the “tyrants of Tehran”: “Israel knows what you’re doing … and will continue to expose your lies.”

The National Interest: These Are The Signs That Iran's Regime Is Close To Crumbling

“Iran cannot resist maximum pressure forever and its economy is not going to last. Iran and the United States are as close to direct conflict as they have been for three decades, since Operation Praying Mantis in 1988 which was, at the time, the largest surface naval engagement since World War II. A lot of ink has been spilled and oxygen expended discussing the matter, some of it good and some of it simplistic. Here a few thoughts, informed by being lucky enough to spend close to seven months studying in the Islamic Republic while finishing a doctorate in philosophy on Iranian history. I worked on the Iran desk at the Pentagon during the George W. Bush administration, frequently visit the Persian Gulf, and have followed Iran almost continuously for a quarter century. 1) Pressure can work on Iran. There has been, for more than a decade, a curious line of argument that pressure upon Iran is counterproductive. The Century Foundation’s Dina Esfandiary, for example, tweeted that “#Iran won’t talk as pressure increases because it would be suicide for the government. They will talk when they can get something tangible in return for concessions.” And, using numbers of centrifuges as a metric, Wendy Sherman, an Obama administration negotiator, has repeatedly argued that conciliation trumps coercion on Iran.”

The New York Times: Couple’s Trek Across Continents Ended In An Iranian Prison

“In 2017, Jolie King and Mark Firkin hit the road in a white Toyota Land Cruiser, beginning a journey that over the next two years would take them from their home in Perth, Australia, across large stretches of Asia as they meandered toward Europe. Photos and videos posted on social media accounts documenting their adventure show the pair swimming in the turquoise waters of Bali, trekking to Everest base camp and driving through the valleys of Pakistan surrounded by snow-capped peaks. Then, at the end of June, their posts suddenly stopped. On Thursday, officials confirmed that the couple were among three Australian citizens detained in Iran for the past 10 weeks. Rights groups have expressed concerns that they may have been tortured, and a fellow prisoner’s husband reported that Ms. King had been held for weeks in solitary confinement. It is unclear why the pair were detained, and the Iranian authorities have not responded to requests for comment about Ms. King and Mr. Firkin. Pouria Zeraati, a prominent Iranian journalist, said the pair had been detained after flying a drone near Tehran without a permit.”

Radio Farda: Iran To Arrest Superstar For Sympathizing With Dead Female Football Fan

“While the International Football Federation (FIFA) is set to dispatch a delegation to Tehran to look into the case of a female football fan who recently committed suicide by self-immolation, the Islamic Republic has issued a warrant to arrest a movie superstar in Iran for supporting the victim. A news agency affiliated with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), Fars, reported that a judge had issued a warrant for arresting Saba Kamali, a famous movie and theater actress. Saba Kamali had published a post on her Instagram page that, according to Fars, the prosecutor has found insulting to the third Shiite Imam, Hussain ibn Ali. In a post on Instagram, Kamali had rhetorically said the female football fan Sahar Khodayari had suffered more ruthless treatment than the Imam and his companions who are considered martyrs by Shiites when they were killed in Karbala, Iraq in the 7th century. However, hours later, Ms. Kamali removed the post and explained that her remarks on Instagram were merely a personal and intimate dialogue with the third Imam, but a few "biased and bigoted individuals" misunderstood it, attributing stupid tendencies to her.”

Global News: Iran’s Properties In Canada Sold, Proceeds Handed To Terror Victims

“Tens of millions worth of seized Iranian government properties have been sold off in Canada and the proceeds handed to victims of terrorist groups sponsored by the regime, Global News has learned. According to a document filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice last month, the victims got a share of the money earned through the sale of Iran’s buildings in Ottawa and Toronto. The properties went for more than $28-million, documents show. The recipients were victims of Hamas and Hezbollah — terrorist groups bankrolled, armed and trained by Iran. “The distribution to creditors as authorized by the court has been made,” the Toronto law firm appointed as the court-appointed receiver, Albert Gelman Inc., informed the judge on Aug. 7.”

Iraq

Fox News: Satellite Image Shows 'ISIS-Infested' Island Bombed By US Reduced To Smoking Craters

“A satellite image taken this week shows the aftermath of a massive U.S. bombing campaign against an ”ISIS-infested” island in northern Iraq. American jets dropped more than 80,000 pounds of laser-guided bombs on Qanus Island on Tuesday. The new image from Planet Labs, Inc., shows smoking craters in decimated areas that were previously covered in green foliage and forest. The bombing was meant to destroy an area the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group was using for operations in the region, U.S. officials said. Iraqi forces searched and cleared the area following the bombing. Wim Zwijnenburg, a senior researcher at PAX, a Dutch nongovernmental organization specializing in conflict and the environment, told Fox News that historical images show the island doesn’t have any structures, indicating it’s unlikely there are underground facilities. Zwijnenburg said the island, on the Tigris River south of Mosul, has been targeted in the past. The nearest U.S. military presence is at Qayyarah Airfield West, about 10 miles away; it's occupied by the U.S.-led coalition battling the terrorist group. Roughly a dozen terrorists were killed in a previous airstrike on the island, Col. Myles B. Caggins III, spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), told Fox News on Thursday.”

The Arab Weekly: ISIS Legacy In Iraq Has An Enduring Effect On Yazidi Survivors

“Two years ago, the Islamic State was defeated in Iraq. Whether it was the US-led strikes or Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani’s support to Iraqi forces that played a key role in defeating the militant group, it still poses a threat to Iraq’s stability. A report written by Glenn A. Fine, principal deputy inspector general for Operation Inherent Resolve, stated that US President Donald Trump’s choice to withdraw troops from Syria and pay little attention to diplomacy in Iraq triggered the “resurgence” and “regrouping” of Islamic State (ISIS) forces in Syria and Iraq. The report said approximately 14,000-18,000 troops are active within ISIS. That number suggests the remaining troops are to be considered responsible for recent attacks, killings and agricultural burning in Syria, Iraq and other parts of the world. The potential comeback of ISIS raises fears, especially considering that trying to claim justice from a brutal terrorist organisation like ISIS is difficult. In 2016, Nadia Murad, an Iraqi Yazidi once held captive by ISIS, gave a powerful and heartfelt speech to the United Nations. Speaking with a bold yet fragile tone, Murad said she wanted to “look the men who raped me in the eye and see them brought to justice.” However, what really touched the audience was Murad’s wish that she wanted to be “the last girl in the world with a story like mine.”

Xinhua: Iraqi Forces Discover IS Ammunition Cache In Western Iraq

“The Iraqi military said Thursday that an ammunition cache belonging to Islamic State (IS) militants was discovered in Iraq's western province of Anbar. A force from Anbar's Operations Command uncovered the ammunition cache during an operation in the area of Wadi al-Qadhif in Anbar desert, the Iraqi Defense Ministry said in a statement. Nasir al-Ghannam, commander of Anbar's Operations Command, said that the ammunition cache contains 570 newly-made explosive belts, bombs, hand grenades and anti-tank mines. The place was used by IS militants to store their ammunition before distributing them to carry out attacks in the cities of Anbar province and in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, the statement said. In a separate operation, another force from Anbar Operations Command, in cooperation with civilians in the province, captured two wanted IS militants, the statement added, without giving further details. The security situation in Iraq has dramatically improved after Iraqi security forces fully defeated the extremist IS militants across the country in later 2017. IS remnants, however, have since melted into urban areas or resorted to the deserts and rugged areas as safe havens, carrying out frequent hit-and-run attacks against security forces and civilians.”

VOA: Iraq Sentences Islamic State’s Woman Chemical Weapons Expert

“The Iraqi government on Thursday said it has issued life imprisonment for a female Islamic State (IS) member who helped the group develop chemical and biological weapons. The woman, identified by the Iraqi Interior Ministry as Abrar al-Kubaisi, reportedly played a key role in research as a part of IS’s team to develop chemical and biological weapons. Iraq’s Falcon Intelligence Cell did not disclose the time of her arrest, saying only that she had been arrested during an operation at an earlier date. Life in prison: “The convicted terrorist Abrar al-Kubaisi, who was recently sentenced to life imprisonment, was one of the most prominent biological researchers involved in the IS program to manufacture and train special elements within the Development and Manufacturing Body of the terrorist organization responsible for preparation, production and use of chemical weapons in the country and abroad,” said Abu Ali al-Basri, the head of Iraqi Interior Ministry’s Directorate of Intelligence and Counterterrorism, in a statement for semi-official al-Sabah newspaper.”

Afghanistan

The Wall Street Journal: Taliban Urge U.S. To Resume Talks After Bolton’s Departure

“The Taliban on Thursday called on the U.S. to restart talks on ending the 18-year-old conflict in Afghanistan, urging the Trump administration to revisit a nearly completed deal after it abruptly withdrew from the process last week.  President Trump, a longtime critic of the Afghan war, this week declared peace talks with the Taliban to be dead after canceling a secret meeting with Taliban and Afghan officials at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland. However, he added in the same remarks, on Monday, that meetings are the only way to end wars. The resignation this week of national security adviser John Bolton, a vocal critic of the proposed summit being planned in secrecy and known only to a small number of officials, could open the door to further engagements with the insurgent group. “The removal of such a prominent administration foe of talks could signal Trump’s intention to circle back to negotiations,” said Michael Kugelman, of the Wilson Center, a think tank in Washington. “By removing Bolton, he reduces the likelihood of White House resistance the next time around,” The chief U.S. negotiator, Zalmay Khalilzad, remains on the job and has continued to schedule meetings with counterparts for the remainder of September, according to people familiar with his plans, a sign that there may still be a chance to resuscitate the process.”

Al Jazeera: Taliban Suicide Attack In Kabul Kills Afghan Troops

“A Taliban suicide car bomber has targeted an Afghan special forces' base on the outskirts of the capital, Kabul, killing at least four troops, an official said on Thursday. Three other soldiers were also wounded in Thursday's attack in the Chahar Asyab district in Kabul, Fawad Aman, deputy spokesman for the Afghan Defence Ministry, said. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the bombing in an email statement. The attack came as US President Donald Trump pledged to hit the Taliban ”harder than they have ever been hit before”. Last week, he abruptly called off US-Taliban peace talks as the two sides were on the verge of signing a draft deal to end the US's longest war. Two Taliban car bombs shook Kabul last week, killing several civilians and two members of the NATO mission, including a US soldier.”

Lebanon

Reuters: New Sanctions Could Extend To Allies Of Hezbollah In Lebanon: U.S. Envoy

“Future U.S. sanctions could target allies of Hezbollah in Lebanon, extending beyond direct affiliates of the Iran-backed Shi’ite Muslim group, a U.S. envoy said on Thursday. “In the future we will designate, because we have to, individuals in Lebanon who are aiding and assisting Hezbollah, regardless of their sect or religion,” the new U.S. assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs David Schenker said in an interview with Lebanon’s LBCI television. When asked by the interviewer if this means sanctions will target allies of Hezbollah, Schenker said “absolutely”, adding that the United States is constantly reviewing its sanctions lists. The proposed targeting of allies of Hezbollah has been a sensitive subject for Lebanon in the past. In 2017 a draft copy of proposed, tighter U.S. sanctions on Hezbollah caused disquiet in Lebanon because the wording, seen by Reuters, implied the legislation could target the Shi’ite Amal movement of parliament speaker Nabih Berri for investigation.”

Middle East

Asharq Al-Awsat: Bahrain Convicts 2 Citizens Over Transfer Of Funds For Terrorist Purposes

“The Bahraini judiciary convicted Thursday two Bahraini citizens, one of them a member of Al Ashtar Brigades, which is designated as a terrorist organization by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE and Bahrain and blacklisted by the US administration for terror crimes against Bahrain’s stability and security. Bahrain’s Grand Criminal Court sentenced the men to three years in prison with a fine of up to BHD100,000. A third man who was accused in the same case was later acquitted. Chief of Terror Crime Prosecution Advocate General Ahmed al-Hammadi stated Thursday that the Fourth Grand Criminal Court has issued its sentence in the incident of transferring cash allocated for promoting terrorist groups. Both men provided financial support to terrorist members and outlaws for the sake of conducting terrorist plots and spurring chaos. Their quest was to destabilize the kingdom and target security guards.  The first convict assigned the second to hand out money to terrorist members. Moreover, some of the received amounts were distributed to the households of those arrested on security grounds. The Public Prosecution relied on the witnesses, the first convict's confession, as well as the technical evidence to issue charges. The case was referred to the Fourth High Criminal Court.”

The National: Alleged Hezbollah Drone Supplier And Iraqi Militia Leader Founded Aviation Company

“A Lebanese man wanted by the US for allegedly supplying drone technology to Hezbollah once formed an aviation company in partnership with an Iraqi militant who has been sanctioned for assisting Iran's Revolutionary Guard, an investigation by The National has found. Lebanese corporate records show that Samir Berro was a co-founder of Beirut-based Gulf Bird in 2007 along with an Iraqi national identified as Shibl Muhsin Obaid. The National cross-referenced information provided on the Iraqi's ID document with US and Iraqi government data as well as the corporate documents to determine that the person in question is Shibl Muhsin Obaid Al Zaydi, the leader of the Iran-backed Kataib Al Imam Ali militia in Iraq. In November 2018, the US Treasury Department sanctioned Mr Al Zaydi for working on behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force (IRGC-QF) to support Hezbollah. Months earlier, the US unsealed an indictment against Mr Berro for conspiring to illegally export drone parts and technology to Hezbollah. He was charged along with two individuals arrested in South Africa but remains at large.”

Egypt

The Wall Street Journal: Security Threats Delay Egypt-Israel Gas Deal, Says U.S. Official

“Egypt’s plan to import Israeli natural gas is being upended by security threats in the region where the military is fighting Islamic State, a senior U.S. energy official said, delaying implementation of a landmark 2018 Israel-Egypt deal. U.S. Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, visiting Cairo for talks with Egyptian officials, said Thursday the security situation in North Sinai has disrupted plans to repair pipeline infrastructure that connects Egypt and Israel.Israel and Egypt plan to revive use of an existing natural-gas pipeline between the two countries whose overland portion in the Sinai Desert has been attacked by militants.*Eastern Mediterranean Gas Co. †Egyptian Natural Gas Co. Source: Energy EgyptUnder a $15 billion deal struck in February 2018, natural gas was supposed to begin flowing to Egypt from Israel across the North Sinai pipeline in March, but Israeli and Egyptian officials say the imports won’t begin until late this year or early 2020.  “I do think the security issues factor into this,” said Mr. Brouillette, as he pressed Egypt’s Oil Minister Tarek al-Molla to take into account safety concerns. “There’s some infrastructure that needs to be repaired in that area. That’s part of the holdup for shipping the gas,” said Mr. Brouillette. “No one wants to send individuals into harm’s way.” Egyptian officials, who haven’t given a reason for delaying the gas deal’s implementation, didn’t respond to a request for comment on Mr. Brouillette’s remarks. In a recent interview, Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said security issues weren’t to blame.”

Nigeria

Xinhua: Nigerian Military Says Kills 3 Boko Haran Militants In Clearance Operation

“Three Boko Haram militants were confirmed killed during a clearance operation by troops in Nigeria's northeastern town of Gwoza, said the army on Thursday. The operation, aimed at clearing the remnants of Boko Haram militants in the town located in the northern state of Borno, was carried out in collaboration with a government-backed militia group, the Civilian Joint Task Force, on Wednesday. Army spokesman Sagir Musa said a gunfight ensued between the troops and the Boko Haram group in Kirawa community of the town, leading to the death of the militants. Some of the militants fled, he said. An unconfirmed number of militants were also wounded during the gunfight, Musa said. “No soldier was killed, wounded or missing in action during the encounter,” he said. The northeast region of the most populous African country has been destabilized for over a decade by Boko Haram, which kidnapped hundreds of schoolgirls in 2014.”

Somalia

Xinhuanet: Senior Al-Shabab Leader Surrenders To Somali Forces

“A senior member of the militant group al-Shabab on Thursday surrendered to government forces in the Bakool region, southwestern Somalia, the military said. The militant, identified as Yarow Hassan Aden, handed himself over to the 51st division of  the Somali National Army (SNA), SNA commander in the region, Derow Abdi Ali, told journalists. "The militant gave himself up and laid down his weapon and he informed us he was ready to assist government forces in their fight against al-Shabab extremists," the commander said, adding that the defected militant is in the hands of National Security and Intelligence Agency. The former senior al-Shabab leader said he was misguided in joining the terrorists. "I have found out that al-Shabab has deviated from the right path and they are fighting to harm Somali people so I decided to quit that wrong ideology," Aden said.”

Africa

Bloomberg: Al-Qaeda Issues Rare Apology After Land Mine Kills Bus Riders

“We’re sorry” is something militant groups that have made deadly violence their trademark rarely say. But that’s what an al-Qaeda affiliate responsible for scores of attacks across West Africa said Wednesday as it apologized for the deaths of “our brothers and sons” who died in Mali as a bus they were traveling in hit a landmine meant for the “French occupier and its acolytes.” About 60 people were on the bus when it passed through a region in central Mali notorious for jihadist violence despite French-led military efforts to repel the militants. Fourteen people died and 15 others were injured in the Sept. 3 attack, according to the government. The apology from the Group of Support for Muslims and Islam, known as JNIM, was first published by its media outlet Az-Zallaqa and shared on social media. Though rare, al-Qaeda and its affiliates have apologized for incidents in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. For Mali, plagued by Islamist violence since 2012, it’s a first.”

Africanews: Ethiopia Army Arrests Islamic State Members Recruiting, Arming Locals

“An Ethiopian army official says members of the Islamic State extremist group have been detained in the East African country. Berhanu Jula, deputy chief of Ethiopia’s military, told the state-owned Ethiopian News Agency on Wednesday that there is evidence the extremist group “has recruited, trained and armed some Ethiopians.” He did not say how many were arrested and how. He said other members of the group still at large are being hunted down and warned that the Islamic State group had tried many times in the past to set up base in Ethiopia. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has recently warned about attempts by the Somalia-based al-Shabab extremists to make inroads into Ethiopia. Ethiopia’s army has a heavy presence in border areas with Somalia, where al-Shabab mounts regular bomb attacks.”

The National: West African Leaders Hold Summit On Sahel Anti-Terror Battle

“West African leaders will meet in the capital of Burkina Faso on Saturday for a summit expected to lead to an overhaul in the unsuccessful attempt to defeat terrorism in the Sahel region. Most of the heads of Ecowas, the group of 15 countries on West Africa's coast and hinterland, are expected to attend the one-day meeting, which Chad, Cameroon and Mauritania will also attend. Leading the agenda will be a review of the G5 Sahel, a five-nation alliance to combat terrorism in the fragile region, which lies between the Sahara and Atlantic. Backed by former colonial power France, the G5 Sahel was formed to great fanfare in 2014. The centrepiece of its strategy has been an initiative, launched in July 2017, to pool 5,000 troops from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger and wrench back control from insurgent groups in the region. But hamstrung by insufficient funds, training and equipment, the force has only now reached 4,000 troops, and for many analysts it seems to be losing the battle.The extremists have spread from Mali to Burkina Faso and Niger, as well as Chad. Their hit-and-run raids are inflicting growing human, economic and political tolls, sparking fears that the coastal countries to the south are next in line.”

Europe

CBS News: This Smuggler Claims He'll Move ISIS Members Throughout Europe. The Price: $8,000

“Human smuggling is a big business in Athens and CBS News has found evidence that ISIS members are being moved through Greece to the rest of Europe. In central Athens, an area around Omonia Square is notorious as a center of criminal activity where human smuggling gangs operate. Filming with a hidden camera, CBS News set up a meeting with Alrayes. He comes from North Africa and runs a smuggling syndicate, moving people from Athens to western Europe for around $8,000 each. “'From Athens, you go [to] Italy, you arrive there in Italy. I have people will help you with everything. It's very easy,” he said. His usual customers are migrants and refugees. Hundreds of thousands have come to Greece from the Middle East, many making the dangerous crossing by boat. They're dreaming of a better life in western Europe, and Alrayes and other smugglers can get them there. I posed not as a refugee, but as an ISIS wife, who wanted safe passage to Germany. “No problem,” Alrayes said. In fact, he said, he's moved other ISIS members before. He even bragged that he'd smuggled three brothers of notorious al Qaeda terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a claim CBS News cannot confirm. The smugglers use stolen identity documents.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: European Report: ISIS Wives Should Be Seen As Threats

“A European report issued in Brussels has revealed information on the wives of ISIS militants who have returned from areas that the terrorist group had control over before its collapse.The study, issued by the Slovakia-based non-governmental group GLOBSEC, said those returning from areas such as ISIS' former “caliphate” should be regarded not as “brides” but as militants capable of active roles in future attacks. The report warned that there are continuous attempts to convince girls and women in Europe to join ISIS.It referred to a recent case when a man in France radicalized two Belgian teens and tried to enlist them and convince them to go to Syria. The study, which looked at data from 326 European militants captured, deported or killed since 2015, found that though women and girls were a tiny minority of so-called “foreign terrorist fighters”, many still represented a significant threat. Out of the 43 female suspects in the study, there were cases of attack planners, active female recruiters, propagandists and what effectively could be called a logistical officer who had sheltered fighters, it said.”

The Wall Street Journal: Truth And No Consequences In Russia

“Moscow keeps assassinating (or trying to) opponents of Vladimir Putin ’s regime in Western Europe. The latest case, according to U.S. officials, is the murder in a Berlin park on Aug. 23 of a Georgian who fought against Russia in a Chechen uprising. So why does the West seem to want to let Mr. Putin get away with it? The murder of Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, described as a midlevel commander during Chechnya’s second war with Moscow, follows the Kremlin’s attempt last year to poison former spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, England. That attack left Mr. Skripal and his daughter in the hospital, one innocent Briton dead, and another citizen and two police officers ill. The Kremlin also murdered Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006. The surprise now is that even as Mr. Putin extends his killing streak, the West’s resolve is faltering. The Salisbury attack triggered a welcome moment of unity as Britain, the U.S. and other European allies simultaneously expelled Russian diplomats in retaliation for the attack. Yet more recently leaders such as French President Emmanuel Macron and President Trump want to bring Mr. Putin in from the cold.”

Technology

The Daily Dot: Neo-Nazis Are Using Telegram To Incite Terrorism—And It’s Worse Than You Think

“An anonymous activist compiled a list of 367 neo-Nazi and white supremacist Telegram channels to illustrate how the secure messaging platform is now home to the internet’s most hardcore far-right communities. The extensive list, which was posted to PrivateBin, includes URLs for hundreds of openly accessible and active channels where users can be found glorifying or advocating for violence and spreading white supremacist ideas.  Extremist groups, from Islamic State jihadists to militant Nazi dissidents, have been using Telegram to organize themselves online for years. The communication app was founded by two Russian brothers in 2013 and recently became a safe haven for controversial pro-Trump right-wing internet personalities, such as former Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos and activist Laura Loomer, in the wake of permanent bans from the likes of YouTube and Twitter.  Controversial and often-sexist sports blog Barstool, with its seven million Instagram followers, announced this week that it would start a Telegram community to post content Instagram was censoring.”

The New York Times: Google Settles With U.S. Over Workers’ Complaints It Stifled Dissent

“Google said Thursday that it had reached a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board over complaints from multiple employees who say the company has stymied dissent, including one who has said he was fired for being an outspoken conservative. Google plans to explain to employees the rights they have as workers under federal law, like the ability to discuss workplace conditions, said Jenn Kaiser, a Google spokeswoman. And it will tell the employees that Google will not retaliate against them for exercising those rights. “Under that settlement, we have agreed to post a notice to our employees reminding them of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act,” Ms. Kaiser said in a statement. “As a part of that notice, we will also remind employees of the changes we made to our workplace policies back in 2016 and 2017 that clarified those policies do not prevent employees from discussing workplace issues.”

Euronews: France Wants To Block Facebook's New Libra Cryptocurrency From Europe

“France's finance minister has said the European Union should introduce a common set of rules to govern virtual currencies, which at the moment are regulated at the national level. This comes on the back of his Thursday's comments when he said he planned to try and block the development of Facebook's newly-unveiled cryptocurrency Libra in Europe. Bruno Le Maire made the comments at an OECD conference on Thursday, adding that such a block would protect "monetary sovereignty". He said: "I want to be absolutely clear: In these conditions, we cannot authorise the development of Libra on European soil." Arriving at a meeting of EU finance ministers in Helsinki on Friday, Le Maire said a "common framework" on digital currencies was needed at the EU level. He also urged the creation of a European "public digital currency," but failed to give any more details. Facebook unveiled its new venture in June, with plans to allow users to make payments across Facebook-owned apps, including Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger.”

Forbes: Facebook, Instagram And YouTube Will Now Be Banned, Russians Warned

“Russian authorities are (unsurprisingly) no fans of U.S. social media sites peddling their wares inside the heavily-controlled country. And there has been speculation in the past that Russia might make its move to ban social media sites from the country. Now, according to the Internet Protection Society—an NGO that fights for online freedom, the time has finally come and such government plans are afoot. In truth, the breadcrumbs for such a move have been there for all to see. There has been pressure on Facebook and others to shift data storage of Russian citizens’ information to Russia, and to open offices and hire staff. And from time to time, the country’s communication regulator threatens to take action against the U.S. companies—as we saw in recent days with the allegation of election interference. Now Mikhail Klimarev, the head of the Internet Protection Society, has told me that plans for just such a ban are being progressed—and this time, Russia’s lawmakers are serious about following through. “I think YouTube, Facebook and Instagram will be blocked,” he explained. “This was actually announced at a meeting of the Federation Council.” The plan, he said, is for parliament to hold “regular hearings about interference in Russia's internal affairs,” leading to a case for action to be taken.”