Eye on Extremism: September 14

Business Insider: The US Is Ready To Send In F-35s Into Combat If Tensions With Russia And Syria Boil Over

“The US has a small aircraft carrier hosting F-35B stealth fighter jets in the Middle East as Russia threatens US forces in Syria — and if fighting breaks out the US will have no choice but to send in the advanced fighters. Russia and its ally, Syria, have launched a massive offensive against Idlib, the last rebel-held area in the country, and appeared to predict chemical weapons use in the process. Syria's government has been linked to 33 cases of chemical weapons use against its own people during the 7 year-long civil war, and along with Russia stands accused of war crimes such as the indiscriminate bombing of hospitals and schools. Russian media has accused terrorists and groups with US-backing of plotting to stage, and to actually carry out, a chemical weapons attack on children and families in Idlib to justify attacking the Syrian regime. But Russia has made these claims before, and it hasn't stopped the US from striking Syria in the past. This time, as Syria and Russia eye a bloody victory over the last remaining rebels, Russia has telegraphed that it would counter-attack the US if US missiles hit Syrian targets over chemical weapons use.”

Reuters: Turkey Is Working To Reach Ceasefire In Syria's Idlib: Foreign Minister

“Turkey is working to achieve a ceasefire in Syria’s rebel-held northwest and is ready for cooperation to fight terrorist groups in the Idlib area, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday. Speaking at a joint news conference with his Pakistani counterpart, Cavusoglu said Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the topic of Syria on Monday. Erdogan met with the leaders of Iran and Russia last week in Tehran to discuss Syria, but failed to win a ceasefire pledge.”

Military Times: Airstrike Kills Two Militants After US Troops Come Under Fire In Somalia

“The United States conducted an airstrike in Somalia Tuesday after U.S. and partner troops came under attack. The incident occurred 37 miles west of Mogadishu, the country’s capital, in the central Somali village of Mubaraak. U.S. troops were participating in a “Somali partner forces-led operation against al­ Shabab, an al-Qaida-affiliated terrorist group,” according to a press release from U.S. Africa Command Thursday. The airstrike was conducted against an enemy fighting position after the joint patrol had already come under fire. AFRICOM reported that two al Shabab Islamist militants were killed in the strike, and one other militant was wounded. “We currently assess no civilians were injured or killed in this airstrike,” according to the AFRICOM release. “No U.S. personnel were injured or killed and all are accounted for following this operation.” However, one Somali partner force member was killed during the operation and two others were wounded in action.”

Euractiv: ‘This Is Not Censorship’ Says King, Amid Online Terrorist Content Crackdown

“Security commissioner Julian King assured EU citizens on Thursday (13 September) that plans to tackle the spread of terrorist content online do not amount to “anywhere near censorship.” Speaking on Thursday’s plans to counter the spread of terrorist material, King said: “Every single one of the attacks in Europe over the last eighteen months has had an online dimension, though incitement to carry out an attack and often glorification.” The commission’s proposal to regulate against the offending content includes a ‘one-hour’ rule for the removal of material, addressing the issue of how terrorist material is often used as propaganda to radicalise others and reaches many more potential targets the longer it is left online. “The damaged caused by this terrorist content rises every hour it is online,” King said. The Counter Extremism Project has called upon for the commission to revise the plans so that the one-hour rule applies to the time in which the terrorist material was uploaded online, and not from the time in which it was reported to the service provider.”

United States

Reuters: U.S. Marines Conduct Big Drills With Rebels In Southern Syria

“A Syrian rebel commander said on Thursday rare military exercises with U.S. marines in southern Syria sent a strong message to Russia and Iran that the Americans and the rebels intend to stay and confront any threats to their presence. Colonel Muhanad al Talaa, commander of the Pentagon-backed Maghawir al Thawra group, told Reuters the eight days of drills that ended this week at the U.S. military outpost in Tanf were the first such exercises with live-fire air and ground assault, involving hundreds of U.S. troops and rebel fighters. “These exercises have a big importance and have beefed up the defenses of the area and raised the combat capabilities and morale and that of civilians in the area,” Talaa told Reuters by phone from Tanf, near Syria’s borders with Jordan and Iraq. A U.S. military spokesman said the exercises were a show of force and that the Pentagon had notified Moscow through “deconfliction” channels to prevent “miscommunication or escalate tension”. “The exercise was conducted to reinforce our capabilities and ensure we are ready to respond to any threat to our forces within our area of operations’” Colonel Sean Ryan told Reuters in an email response to a question on the exercises.”

Newsweek: U.S. Tells Russia And Iran Not To Attack In Syria, Conducts Major Military Drills

“The U.S. military has conducted rare, large-scale exercises with allied Syrian rebels at a time when Washington was urging Russia and Iran to restrain their ally from pursuing a major operation against an Islamist-led insurgency elsewhere in the country. Colonel Muhanad al-Talaa, commander of the Pentagon-sponsored Maghawir al-Thawra rebel group, told Reuters on Thursday that his forces had just completed the first training of its kind with the U.S. military, which oversaw saw hundreds of insurgents and U.S. troops participate in eight days of simulated assaults from land and air. He said the drills "have a big importance and have beefed up the defenses of the area and raised the combat capabilities and morale and that of civilians" in the U.S.-controlled deconfliction zone around Al-Tanf in southern Syria. The CIA was forced to abandon its support for fighters seeking to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, an ally of Russia and Iran, as the opposition's Islamist nature became increasingly prominent throughout the nation's seven-year civil war. The Pentagon, however, has continued to provide assistance for Maghawir al-Thawra, which operates in a U.S.-controlled de-confliction zone surrounding a base in Al-Tanf near Syria's southeastern border with Iraq and Jordan.”

The Minneapolis Star Tribune: US Mechanic Denies Lying To Agents In Terrorism Probe

“An automobile mechanic has been charged with lying to federal agents who were investigating his shipments of medical supplies to his native Pakistan. Farheed Ahmed Khan, 60, of Manchester, was indicted by a grand jury Sept. 6 on one count of making a false statement in a terrorism investigation. His lawyer, Faisal Gill, denies his client lied or had anything to do with terrorism. "It is such a nothing case," Gill said. "I can barely contain my outrage that this is even going to trial. They haven't alleged he was sending anything to any terrorist groups in Pakistan. I'm trying to see where the terrorism link comes in." Homeland Security agents were investigating whether Kahn's shipments of medical equipment were intended to support terrorism-related activities or organizations, Homeland Security agent Christopher Evans testified in an affidavit. Agents looking into where Khan received the money to buy the medical equipment found "significant unexplained cash deposits" in his bank account between 2007 and 2015 that totaled over $200,000 and came from outside Connecticut, including from Texas, California, and British Columbia, according to Evans. Evans testified that Homeland Security learned Khan had "expressed the belief that all Muslims should support jihad, including through fundraising" and that a confidential source saw Khan at a charity event wearing a scarf that included an image of the Israeli flag with an X over it.”

Voice Of America: Former US Officials Challenge Report Linking Terrorism, Immigration

“A group of former national security officials is urging the Trump administration to reconsider a controversial report on the connection between terrorism and immigration, saying the report falsely gives the impression that immigrants are responsible for the majority of terrorist attacks in the United States. The officials, including former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former White House terrorism czar Richard A. Clarke made the call in a letter sent Thursday to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen. “Overall, the report appears designed to give the misleading impression that immigrants — and even their citizen family members — are responsible for the vast majority of terrorist attacks that have occurred in the United States, whereas statistical studies and our experience have shown no identifiable correlation between ‘foreignness’ and terrorist activity in the past 15 years,” the 18 former officials who served in both Democratic and Republican administrations wrote. Report linked to travel ban At issue is a report released in January by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security that said three in four individuals convicted of international terrorism-related charges since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were foreign born. President Donald Trump ordered the report when he issued an executive order in March 2017 imposing a travel ban on citizens of six predominantly Muslim countries.”

Associated Press: Court: Ex-Terror Defendant Facing Deportation Is US Citizen

“A one-time Maryland high school honors student who admitted aiding Muslim extremists overseas and helped the U.S. pursue terrorists after his 2011 arrest is a U.S. citizen, a federal appeals panel said Thursday as it erased a pending deportation order. The ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan means 24-year-old Mohammad Hassan Khalid can continue his studies at a Maryland college. His Philadelphia lawyer, Wayne Sachs, called the decision a "very satisfying victory for a well-deserving young man with a bright future." He said the three-judge appeals panel, unlike four earlier courts, "properly focused on the law rather than the petitioner's 'notoriety.'" The U.S. government did not immediately say if it planned to appeal. Circuit Judge Dennis Jacobs wrote that he cannot congratulate Khalid, given that he "plotted sneaking violence against Americans." "He cooperated with the authorities only when, having been caught, he found himself needing another kind of refuge," Jacobs said. Circuit Judge Christopher F. Droney, who wrote the main opinion, explained that Khalid was entitled to citizenship because he was under age 18 when his father gained citizenship. In a footnote, the 2nd Circuit noted that the government indicated that it had no information that Khalid presents a continuing threat to the United States. The appeals court also noted that Khalid maintained that he would be tortured if removed to Pakistan because of his cooperation in federal terrorism investigations.”

Syria

Reuters: Syria And Jordan Begin Talks On Opening Vital Border Crossing

“Jordan and Syria held their first technical talks on opening a major border crossing in southern Syria that was recaptured from the opposition last July, a Jordanian official source said on Thursday. Damascus, which took back the crossing from the opposition, hopes to reopen the Nassib route vital to its hopes of reviving Syria’s shattered economy and rebuilding in territory under its control. Amman also hopes the opening of the border crossing will reactivate billions of dollars of annual transit trade between Europe and Gulf markets across Syria. The source told Reuters the meeting that was requested by Syria was held on Wednesday at the Jaber crossing, on the Jordanian side of the border, where technical teams began talks on the practical arrangements from customs to security needed to reopen the crossing. “The meetings will continue to put a complete view of all the arrangements linked to reopening the crossings in the coming period,” the source said.”

Agence France Presse: Syria War Has Killed More Than 360,000: Monitor

“More than 360,000 people have been killed across war-ravaged Syria in seven years, a monitoring group said Thursday, in a new toll for the brutal conflict. It came amid rising international concern that a looming Syrian government assault against rebels in the northwest province of Idlib would be a "bloodbath." The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it had recorded the deaths of 364,792 people, nearly a third of them civilians, since protests erupted in March 2011 against President Bashar al-Assad. The toll represents an increase of about 13,000 people in the past six months, according to the Britain-based monitor, which uses a vast network of sources including fighters, officials and medical staff. The war has killed 110,687 civilians, including more than 20,000 children and nearly 13,000 women. More than 124,000 pro-government fighters have died, around half of them regime troops and the rest an assortment of Syrian and foreign militiamen loyal to Assad.”

Agence France Presse: Alleged Italian Islamic State Member Held In Syria, Say Kurds

“Kurdish fighters in northern Syria detained an alleged Italian member of the Islamic State group as he was trying to flee across the border to Turkey, they said Thursday. The People's Protection Units (YPG) have captured several foreign IS fighters since the jihadists' so-called caliphate collapsed nearly a year ago. "On August 27, a mercenary called Semir Bogana was captured as a result of a special operation conducted by our Anti-Terror Units, when he was trying to flee to Turkey," said the YPG. It said Bogana -- an Italian citizen known also as Abu Hureyre al-Muhajir or Abu Abdullah al-Muhajir -- was responsible for weapons shipments to IS. The YPG makes up the bulk of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed alliance of Kurds and Arabs that spearheaded the fight against IS. The detained Italian was currently being interrogated and "his fate will be determined at the end of the investigation," an SDF source told AFP. "We are coordinating with the international coalition, which includes Italy, about all the Daesh detainees," he added, using an Arabic acronym for IS. At the peak of its "caliphate" in Syria and Iraq, IS attracted thousands of foreigners to join it. But it has since lost almost all of its territory, including its de facto capital in Syria, the northern city of Raqa. Since then, US-backed forces have been detaining foreign IS members in both Syria and Iraq.”

Times Of Israel: Syrian Rebel Commander Claims US May Go On Offensive To Push Iran Out Of Country

“Hundreds of US soldiers and Syrian rebel fighters on Thursday wrapped up a week-long military exercise, with an anti-regime commander claiming the US could hit Iranian forces in the country in a bid to force them out, Reuters reported. The drill, held at the American-held Al-Tanf base in southern Syria, involved live-fire as well as air and ground assaults, the report said. The exercise was confirmed by an army spokesman. The Al-Tanf base, set up in 2016 near the nation’s borders with Iraq and Jordan, has been used for the training of so-called “vetted opposition” to the regime of President Bashar Assad. Colonel Muhanad al-Talaa, commander of Pentagon-backed rebel group Maghawir al-Thawra, spoke with Reuters by telephone and said the drill sent a message to Russia and Iran that the American and opposition forces weren’t going anywhere. “These exercises have a big importance and have beefed up the defenses of the area and raised the combat capabilities and morale and that of civilians in the area,” Talaa said. “We are staying whether the Russians or Iranians want or not,” he added.”

The Independent: A Murder In Aleppo Shows The Syrian War Is Not Over Yet

“The Syrian government has been advertising its victories of late. A vast international fair in Damascus, the reconstruction of the old city of Homs – though it has a long, long way to go – and a spankingly restored Sheraton Hotel next to the still sepulchral ruins of eastern Aleppo. But you cannot wash away either the darkness or the ghosts. For in the past few weeks, security officers, police officials and other servants of the Syrian state have suddenly – shockingly for the regime – become victims of assassins, from Aleppo in the north to Damascus. The latest murder, just a week ago, cost the life of a Syrian police major in Aleppo, a man who (so Aleppo friends tell me) was widely respected, one of the more moderate figures in the security state who refused to take bribes from both businessmen and local tribes. Refusing “baksheesh” on a grand scale in a Middle East long suffering from the cancer of corruption is almost worthy of a medal of valour. Or death. Major Ali Ibrahim was in fact trying to arrest a man for alleged corruption – a member of the Al-Bagaran tribe which had, on and off, fought the Syrian army during the war. He was met by a fusillade of gunfire and killed instantly. The alleged murderer was captured and will probably be sent to the gallows. His imprisonment was followed by the usual inspired rumours of his depravity.”

Iran

The Wall Street Journal: Falling Rial Stymies Iranian Travel Abroad

“Iran’s falling currency is causing many Iranians to cancel vacations, business trips, college studies and medical treatment abroad, a retreat in consumer spending that is weighing on the country’s troubled economy. The Iranian rial has lost almost three-quarters of its value against the U.S. dollar since January to hit a low of about 140,000 to the dollar this month. That means goods and services priced in dollars are far more costly, including aviation fuel, making travel prohibitively expensive for many middle class Iranians. Foroozan, a 46-year old Iranian mother of two, said the collapsing currency foiled plans to send her teenage daughter to the Canadian university where she had been enrolled. As a result, she said, her daughter was scrambling last minute to find a spot at a lower-quality college in Iran. “We had a certain budget that doesn’t match the dollar-rate growth and ticket prices,” said Foroozan, who gave only her first name because she didn’t want to be identified publicly as complaining.”

Associated Press: Adviser Says Iran Failed Detained US Resident

“A top adviser to Iran’s president on human rights said that the government “failed” to help a U.S. permanent resident imprisoned over spying allegations that she personally invited to the country for a conference. In a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press, Shahindokht Molaverdi acknowledged the limits a civilian government faces when challenging the actions of the judiciary in the Islamic Republic, especially when dealing with cases involving the imprisonment of foreigners and activists. She cited the case of Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese-born internet freedom advocate living in the U.S., who she invited to a conference in September 2015. The hard-line Revolutionary Guard later arrested Zakka on his way to the airport, and he was later sentenced to 10 years in prison on spying charges in a closed-door trial before a Revolutionary Court. “This is in no way approved by the government,” Molaverdi said. “We did all we could to stop this from happening, but we are seeing that we have failed to make a significant impact.”

Reuters: Iran Says Missile Attack On Kurdish Dissidents A Warning To Hostile Powers

“The chief of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps said on Thursday that Tehran’s missile attack on an Iranian Kurdish rebel base in northern Iraq last week was a warning to hostile powers, Iranian state television reported. The Guards fired seven missiles at the headquarters of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), an armed opposition group that fights for greater autonomy for Iran’s Kurdish community. Iranian media said at least 11 people were killed. “The attack against the terrorists in Iraq’s Kurdistan conveys a message to the enemies, particularly those superpowers who think they can impose their evil plots on Iran and bully us,” state TV quoted Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari as saying. Iran has repeatedly threatened to destroy U.S. military bases across the Middle East and target Israel within minutes if attacked by the United States and its regional allies. “All those who have forces, bases and equipment within a 2,000 km (1,200 mile) radius should know that our missiles are highly precise.” Israel sees Iran’s regional influence and involvement in conflicts from Yemen to Syria as a threat to Israel’s own existence. The tension between Tehran and Washington, foes for decades, has heightened since May, when President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of a 2015 international nuclear deal with Tehran. France’s Foreign Ministry “strongly condemned” the missile strikes and said it was worried by Iran’s activities, notably its missile development.”

Iraq

Foreign Affairs: Iraq's Next War

“When Iraq and the international community liberated Mosul last year, the Iraqi government declared victory: the three-year conflict against jihadist terrorists who had seized much of the country’s north was over. But the declaration was premature. ISIS remains a major threat, not only because of its own acumen as an insurgent movement but because Iraq’s ruling elites have failed to address the conditions that enabled ISIS in the first place. Their failure to address the basic needs of a deeply destitute and conflict-weary population, to remedy political and social divisions, and to forge a common national framework that unifies the country could soon pave the way for yet another devastating civil war as rival groups compete for control of the Iraqi state. After the parliamentary elections in May 2018, Iraq was supposed to turn the page to a new, post-ISIS, even post-sectarian chapter, in which politicians would remedy the country’s polarization, endemic corruption, and violent instability. Yet things are getting worse, not better, for Iraq. Iraq’s weakened Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, who came in third in the elections, put forward a series of tokenistic anti-corruption initiatives that failed to convince Iraqis who are impatient with piecemeal, symbolic reforms. Corruption can take years to remedy, Iraq’s politicians explain—patronizing a population that has already waited more than fifteen years for reform. The elections were followed by mass demonstrations in much of southern Iraq, including Basra, where protestors burned provincial council buildings and the Iranian consulate and stormed the offices of political parties. Iraq’s security forces and government-sanctioned Shiite militias responded with deadly force and human rights abuses. Basra holds Iraq’s largest oil reserves, accounts for 80 percent of the country’s oil exports, and provides more than $7 billion a month to the government coffers. It should be Iraq’s richest province, but it is among its poorest.”

The Jerusalem Post: How The U.S. Could Lose Iraq To Creeping Iranian Influence

“US Congressman Ted Poe has been pushing to sanction Iranian-backed militias in Iraq. In mid-August he spoke about the need to “stand up to Iran’s proxies” in Iraq. “The country is attempting to rebuild,” he said. But the Shia militias were not disbanding and their presence was undermining the government’s authority. Now the US risks losing in Iraq again as enemies of Washington seek to form a government coalition and Congress seeks to sanction militias that hold sway in Baghdad. Poe is just one of many voices in Washington who have been warning about Iran’s creeping influence over Iraq.  Earlier this week, the White House warned that Tehran would be held accountable for the actions of the proxies it backs in Iraq. But the US administration is less willing to say which proxies it means. Poe has singled out Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq and Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba. When Congress was debating the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) there was a provision to impose sanctions on them in the version of the bill presented in the House.”

Associated Press: Iraq’s Premier Says He Is Not Seeking Re-Election

“Iraq’s outgoing Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, credited with leading the country’s victory over Islamic State militants, said Thursday he is not seeking a second term in office amid wrangling among rival political groups. Al-Abadi’s bloc finished third in the May parliamentary elections that were marred by allegations of fraud. Two alliances — one of them including al-Abadi — claim that they have formed the largest parliamentary bloc with the right to name the new prime minister. Al-Abadi, a Shiite Muslim politician, took office in 2014 and rebuilt the country’s security forces that had collapsed in the face of a blitz by Islamic State a year earlier. The 66-year-old said Thursday that he does not “cling to” power. “I do not want a second term. I don’t cling to a second term. We will rotate power peacefully,” he told reporters in Baghdad. His remarks came after Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, Ali al-Sistani, said he does not favor picking a new prime minister from ex-officials. Al-Abadi said Thursday he “respects” al-Sistani’s directives. In recent months, the mostly Shiite province of Basra, which is Iraq’s oil hub, has been rocked by deadly protests against poor services and unemployment. By custom, Iraq’s prime minister should be a Shiite, the parliamentary speaker a Sunni and the president a Kurd. The May 12 legislative vote was Iraq’s first since al-Abadi declared victory over Islamic State in December after a U.S.-backed campaign of three years.”

Afghanistan

Express Tribune: Afghan Conflict Could Be Deadlier Than Syria In 2018: Analysts

“The Afghan conflict could overtake Syria as the deadliest conflict in the world this year, analysts say, as violence surges 17 years after the US-led invasion. The grim assessment contrasts sharply with the consistently upbeat public view of the conflict from NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Kabul, and underscores the growing sense of hopelessness in the war-torn country. It suggests that US President Donald Trump’s much-vaunted strategy for Afghanistan is, like those of his predecessors, failing to move the needle on the battlefield, observers said, as a generation of Americans born after 9/11 become old enough to enlist. “The soaring casualties in Afghanistan and the potential endgame in sight in Syria… could leave Afghanistan as the world’s deadliest conflict,” said Johnny Walsh, an Afghanistan expert at the United States Institute of Peace. “Most years have become the new ‘most violent year’. This is continually getting worse.”

BBC: Why Afghanistan Is More Dangerous Than Ever

“Huge death tolls that would once have made headlines are becoming commonplace in Afghanistan, as the Taliban and other militant groups flex their muscles daily against a US-backed military struggling to cope. There remains no clear end in sight for a war that has turned into a bloody stalemate, as the BBC World Service's Dawood Azami explains. Is the violence getting worse? Since the US-led invasion in 2001, Afghanistan has never been as insecure as it is now. The Taliban control more territory than at any point since the removal of their regime 17 years ago. The Afghan war has already become the longest war in US history. With the passage of time, the conflict has not only become more intense - it has also become more complicated. The attacks are becoming bigger, more frequent, more widespread and much deadlier. Both sides - the Taliban and the US/Nato-backed Afghan government - are trying to gain the upper hand. On 10 August, the Taliban entered Ghazni, a strategic provincial capital on a key highway south of Kabul, before the Afghan security forces supported by US advisors and air strikes pushed them back. On 15 May, the Taliban entered the capital of Farah province in western Afghanistan, close to the Iranian border. Many Taliban fighters are killed and injured as they are pushed back after attacks on provincial capitals, but such attacks have a huge propaganda value for the group and boost their morale and recruitment.”

Associated Press: Official: Taliban Attack Security Outpost Killing 6

“An Afghan official says Taliban insurgents attacked a security outpost in northern Samangan province, killing six members of the local security force including local police and members of a militia loyal to the government. A gun battle lasted several hours before reinforcements arrived and repulsed the attack, which took place late Thursday, Abdul Munir Rahimi, spokesman for the provincial police chief, told The Associated Press on Friday. Elsewhere, a roadside mine exploded in eastern Nangarhar province's Khogyani district, wounding five civilians, said Provincial Police Chief Ghulam Sanayee Stanikzai. He blamed the Taliban saying they were targeting security forces. There was no claim of responsibility for either attack.”

Associated Press: Official Says Taliban Attacks Kill 12 Security Forces

“An Afghan official says Taliban attacks have killed at least 10 soldiers and two policemen. Provincial council chief Farid Bakhtawar in Farah province says that Taliban fighters tried to overrun the army base in Pusht Road district early on Thursday morning. He says they were using artillery to attack the troops and at least 10 soldiers were killed and three wounded in the four-hour-long gun battle. Also 22 Taliban were killed, and another Taliban attack on a police security post in Bala Buluk district Farah province killed three policemen. No one claimed responsibility for the attack. Elsewhere A car bomb exploded in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, wounding two civilians, said army spokesman Abdul Qadir Bahadorzai.”

Yemen

Arab News: Yemeni Information Minister Says Houthis Hiding In Food Stores, Civilian Sites In Hodeidah

“Yemen’s Information Minister Muammar Al-Iryani said on Thursday that Houthi militias are hiding in the warehouses of the UNICEF and the World Food Program in Al-Hammadi district of Hodeidah. Al-Iryani said in a statement quoted by the Yemeni official news agency that the militias of the Houthis began to use these areas after the fighting intensified with the Yemeni National Army in Hodeidah. “The militias know that coalition fighters do not bombard protected areas,” he said, pointing out that this shows the Houthis desperate attempts on the battlefields by using civilian sites, including sites of international relief organizations.”

Arab News: Yemeni Army Finds Houthi Underground Communication Network In Saada

“The Yemeni army found operation and communication underground chambers on Thursday belonging to the Iranian-backed Houthi militia in the Kataf district of Saada province in northern Yemen, Saudi State TV Al-Ekhbariya reported. “The army found operation and communication chambers as they progressed in the field in the Bujbara Valley,” Brigadier General Raddad Al-Hashemi said. “They were underground and connected to a mountain cave, consisting of 5 rooms, each room was carrying out specific hostile tasks,” he added. “The Houthi militias used this secret underground network to carry out its hostile operations and to communicate with its elements in various locations, as well as to hold meetings,” Al-Hashemi said. He explained that inside the rooms wireless communication devices were found along a number of signs used by the militias to communicate between elements. Sectarian leaflets and pictures of the Houthi leaders were also found.”

Saudi Arabia

Al Arabiya: Saudi Forces Intercept Houthi Ballistic Missile Targeting Najran

“Saudi air forces intercepted a ballistic missile fired by the Houthi militias from Yemen towards the southwestern city of Najran on Thursday evening. The Houthis have stepped up missile attacks on the Kingdom in recent months. The total number of ballistic missiles launched by the Iranian-backed Houthi militias toward Saudi Arabia has so far reached 191.  The Yemeni legitimate forces have repeatedly highlighted the continued involvement of the Iranian regime in supporting the Houthi militias and supplying them with rockets carrying qualitative capabilities, in clear defiance of United Nations Resolutions 2216 and 2231 in order to threaten the security of Saudi Arabia and destabilize regional and international security.”

Nigeria

Agence France Presse: Nigeria Troops Repel Fresh Boko Haram Base Attack

“Soldiers have thwarted another Boko Haram attack on an army base in northeast Nigeria, the latest in a series of offensives against military targets in the remote region. Scores of fighters attacked the base in Damasak, in the far north of Borno state, on Wednesday evening, firing heavy artillery in an apparent bid to overrun it. Hours of fighting ensued but the attack was repelled with the help of aerial support, military sources in the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, told AFP on Thursday morning. Nigerian Army spokesperson Brigadier General Texas Chukwu confirmed troops from 145 battalion were fighting the jihadists, calling the battle "fierce". "The troops are dealing with the terrorists," he said on Wednesday evening. Chukwu's statement was a departure from the military's repeated denials of Boko Haram attacks in recent weeks, which have seen dozens of troops killed and weapons stolen. Last month, 48 soldiers were killed in a raid in the village of Zari, near Damasak, while last Friday, a base was sacked in the town of Gudumbali. Gudumbali is 80km from Damasak. Thousands of civilians were forced to flee and Boko Haram temporarily seized the town before withdrawing the next day. On Saturday, a regional fighting force set up to stop cross-border attacks helped to repel another attack on a base near Baga, on the shores of Lake Chad.”

Sahara Reporters: Boko Haram Leader Mamman Nur 'Killed By His Closest Lieutenants' For Releasing Dapchi Girls

“A factional leader of Boko Haram loyal to Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA), Mamman Nur, has been killed by his fighters who rebelled against him. Nur, the brain behind the ties between Boko Haram and the Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi led Islamic State, was said to have been killed by his closest lieutenants on August 21, for releasing the Dapchi girls, without demanding ransom, among other reasons. In 2014, Nur led the rebellion against Abubakar Shekau, which saw the emergence of Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawy faction of the group. The breakaway faction, which moved to shores of Lake Chad region in Northern Borno, was later recognised by the Al-Baghdadi. The new leader Al-Barnawy, whose real name is Habib, is the son of Boko Haram founder Mohammed Yusuf, who was killed in 2009. A source, who spoke to Daily Trust, said: “Mamman Nur, who was killed on August 21, is the actual leader of the Boko Haram faction after they parted ways with Shekau. He (Nur) only put Habib in the front as shadow leader because of his father (Mohammed Yusuf).”

Pulse Nigeria: NAF Neutralises Boko Haram Vehicle, Fighters In Tumbun Rego

“The Nigerian Air Force says the the Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation LAFIYA DOLE has destroyed a Boko Haram vehicle and neutralised scores of the insurgents at Tumbun Rego on the fringes of Lake Chad in Borno. Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, who disclosed this in a statement on Thursday in Abuja, said that the operation was carried out on Wednesday. “As Operation THUNDER STRIKE 2 entered the tenth day, Sept. 12, the Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation LAFIYA DOLE has recorded significant successes against Boko Haram Terrorists (BHT) in air raids conducted at Tumbun Rego on the fringes of Lake Chad in Borno State. ” The attacks were conducted in successive waves, involving Nigerian Air Force (NAF) F-7Ni and Alpha Jet combat aircraft. ” As well as Mi-35M Helicopter Gunships supported by Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) platforms.resulting in the destruction of a BHT vehicle and neutralization of scores of insurgents. ” Characteristic of the insurgents’ tactics, the BHT fighters were initially well camouflaged under foliage and inside abandoned buildings within the settlement. ” However, timely intelligence enabled the ISR platforms to track and locate one of the BHT vehicles as it was entering the settlement,” he said.”

Canada

Global News: Toronto Terrorist Leader Is Locked Up, But Was Still On Social Media

“The former terrorist leader Zakaria Amara is locked away at Millhaven maximum-security prison, serving a life sentence for plotting Al Qaeda-inspired truck bombings in downtown Toronto. But for the past six months, a Facebook page in his name has been posting his prison photos as well as what purported to be his jailhouse prose, including a telling of what made him a terrorist. Facebook deleted the account on Wednesday, an hour after Global News asked about it. The social media company said the Amara page was taken down “for violating our community standards.” “We don’t allow mass murderers to maintain a presence on Facebook,” the company said, adding it also did not let impersonators maintain accounts. The Correctional Service Canada said Thursday it was “currently looking at ways we can work with social media companies to identify questionable content and respond appropriately.”

United Kingdom

The National: UK Lashes Out At Iran Over Missile Attack In Iraqi Kurdistan

“The White House has also accused Iranian-backed militias of “life-threatening attacks” on US facilities in Baghdad and Basra recently. A report by the Counter Extremism Project said three of the most powerful of these groups were Asaib Ahl al-Haq, The Badr Organisation Kata'ib Hezbollah. The latter has been officials designated as a terrorist organisation by the US. All the groups are part of an Iraqi government approved umbrella group of predominantly Shiite fighters with strong ties to Iran. They are all hostile to the US and have carried out repeated attacks before, during and after the Iraq War.”

Daily Mirror: Extremist With Islamic State Propaganda Arrested At Primary School Told Teacher She Would ‘Burn In Hell

“An extremist who was arrested at a primary school told a teacher that she was an 'infidel' and would 'burn in hell'. Atiq Ahmed, from Oldham, was also found to have issues of an Islamic State propaganda magazine on a tablet computer. The material came to light after Ahmed was arrested following an incident at Werneth Primary School in Oldham in October last year, Manchester Crown Court heard. Staff saw Ahmed, 35, was seen talking to children near the entrance of the school Manchester Evening News reports. At first they thought he was a parent, but Ahmed became aggressive when questioned by a teacher. He then shouted at the teacher, saying: “You are an infidel. You are going to burn in hell. "You are a kafir (a derogatory term referring to non-Muslims).” Ahmed was arrested and after police found Islamist material on his phone, they raided his home in Copster Hill Road. The 35-year-old, who was previously jailed for terrorism offences, has now been sent down again. A tablet was recovered which included a number of issues of Rumiyah magazine, described by prosecutor Jonathan Polnay as a ‘practical guide for committing terrorist acts’. Material in the magazine included how to conduct lone wolf knife attacks, the most effective car to use for terrorist attacks, how to carry out arson attacks and the best way to take a hostage. It also included advice on how to to cause maximum injury through terror, and how to ensure they would be credited to Islamic State. "These are matters that have been put into action by those that support Islamic State," Mr Polnay said.”

Europe

Coin Rivet: Neo-Nazis Raise Cash To Buy Guns While Encouraging Followers To Mine Monero

“A NEW far-right group calling themselves Order of Dawn has started a cryptocurrency crowdfunding campaign for their violent ‘Reconquest’ of Europe, terror experts claim. rder of Dawn is opposed to African and Middle Eastern migration to Europe, calling it an ‘invasion’ and a ‘genocide’. The group is also anti-Semitic and claims that Jews control the media and the Holocaust is a hoax, according to the Counter Extremism Project (CEP), an international policy organisation formed to combat extremist ideologies. A CEP spokesman said: “The fact that the group is crowdfunding cryptocurrency on their website allows individuals to contribute with little effort or mobilisation needed. “Internet services companies, such as Cloudflare, should be on guard to make sure that they do not aid or assist terrorists.”

Agence France Presse: Swiss Man Arrested En Route To Idlib, Charged With Terrorism

“A Swiss man seeking to travel to the Syrian town of Idlib with a load of weapons was arrested at the Bulgarian-Turkish border and charged with "terrorism", the Bulgarian prosecutor announced on Thursday. The man was arrested Tuesday evening at the Kapitan-Andrevo border post in a 4x4 vehicle in which three rifles, a pistol, some 400 cartridges and 24 knives were found, as well as an itinerary leading to Idlib, a rebel stronghold in northwest Syria increasingly targeted by the Damascus regime. The United Nations and relief organisations fear that a major assault in Idlib, which borders Turkey, could spark one of the worst humanitarian disasters of the Syrian conflict to date. The Swiss national explained that he wanted to help "civilians" in Syria. The suspect had been flagged by the Swiss authorities, to whom his father had reported his disappearance. He has been charged with terrorism and weapons smuggling. Bulgaria is located on one of the main land routes used by suspected combatants seeking to travel to or from Syria. Arrests are declining after peaking in 2015, at the height of the activities of the Islamic State group.”

The Jerusalem Post: Turkish Teenager Who Plotted To Blow Up Gay Club In Frankfurt Arrested

“German police in the state of Hesse arrested a teenager in September for plotting an Islamic terror attack on a gay club and church in the city of Frankfurt. An intelligence source in Germany told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that the state police "arrested a guy named Yusuf Erkocoglu, a young Turkish kid caught planning to blow up a gay club in Frankfurt."  The Post is the first publication to obtain the name of the suspect. The intelligence source confirmed that Erkocoglu also targeted a Catholic church in Frankfurt -- the financial center of Germany. German media outlets reported that the 17-year-old suspect has both Turkish and German citizenship. The United States Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, told the Post : "The US will always work with our German Government partners to thwart acts of terror. This case highlights the urgent need to work together." The US government played a role in preventing Erkocoglu 's suspected attack, according to the intelligence source in Germany. The Post reached out to the Frankfurt prosecutor's office on Thursday night but the office did not immediately respond. Frankfurt has seen Islamic-animated terrorism targeting US soldiers. In 2011, Arid Uka, a Kosovan Albanian , told a Frankfurt court that online Islamist propaganda motivated him to murder two US soldiers at the Frankfurt airport. Arid Uka was convicted of the murders of Nicholas J Alden, 25, from South Carolina, and Zachary R Cuddeback, 21, from Virginia.”

Southeast Asia

Associated Press: Indonesian Court Rules Militant Guilty Of Terrorism

“An Indonesian court sentenced an Islamic militant on Thursday to 11 years in prison after finding him guilty of conducting training in preparation for a terrorist attack. Wawan Kurniawan was arrested along with four other militants last October by the anti-terror squad in Pekanbaru, the capital of Riau province. Judge Suhartono, who presided over the trial at West Jakarta District Court, said Wawan had been proven guilty under the anti-terror law. Wawan, 43, was the local leader of Jemaah Anshorut Daulah, an Indonesian militant network affiliated with the Islamic State group that has been implicated in attacks in the country. Wawan was accused of having provoked a riot in May at a high-security police detention center in which six officers were killed by Islamic inmates who took control of part of the prison near Indonesia's capital. One militant was also killed. A week later, four sword-wielding men who allegedly belonged to Jemaah Anshorut Daulah attacked a police headquarters in Pekanbaru and were fatally shot by police. A fifth man who drove their vehicle was arrested while trying to escape. One officer died and two others were injured. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement carried by its Aamaq news agency.”

Technology

Reuters: Air Strike Warning App Helps Syrians Dodge Death From The Skies

“A Russian military aircraft thunders into the sky at 4.47 pm from Russia’s air base at Hmeimim in western Syria, veering to the east. An observer takes note of all three details, opens a phone app and enters the information into three designated fields. Fourteen minutes later and 100 kilometers away, Abdel Razzaq sees the aircraft flying over his town of Maaret al-Numan. He opens his own app and types: Maaret al-Numan, Russian military aircraft, headed northeast. The data is processed by a program, known as Sentry, that estimates the plane’s trajectory and sends a warning, triggering Facebook and Telegram messages, Tweets and, most importantly, loud sirens throughout cities in opposition-held Syria. Air strikes have been a fact of daily life for millions of Syrians living in rebel-held areas, becoming far more intense since Russia joined the war in 2015. Before Sentry was introduced, the main warning people had of an air strike was when they heard the planes themselves — when it was already too late, said Omayya, 50, who was displaced from Aleppo to its northwestern countryside. “There was no use for one to do anything. Sometimes we would actually see the barrels as they fell,” she said by Skype, referring to the barrel bombs — oil drums filled with shrapnel and explosives — dropped across rebel areas. “We would watch and see the barrels fall and the children would cry.” Omayya attended a course run by volunteers about Sentry and how best to survive air strikes.”

The Wall Street Journal: Facebook To Start Fact-Checking Photos, Videos

“Facebook Inc. FB -0.40% will begin fact-checking photographs and videos posted on the social media platform, seeking to close a gap that allowed Russian propagandists to promote false news during the last U.S. presidential election. The company said Thursday it will use technology and human reviewers to try to staunch what it called in a statement “misinformation in these new visual formats.” Previously, the company’s efforts had been focused on rooting out false articles and links. “The same false claim can appear as an article headline, as text over a photo or as audio in the background of a video,” Facebook product manager Tessa Lyons said in the statement. “In order to fight misinformation, we have to be able to fact-check it across all of these different content types.” During the 2016 presidential election, a Russian group called the internet Research Agency helped its workers create graphics and videos that could spread misinformation via social media networks, according to special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment earlier this year of three Russian companies and 13 citizens of the country.”

The New York Times: The Real Google Censorship Scandal

“This week on the right-wing site Breitbart News, a video surfaced of one of Google’s weekly “T.G.I.F.” meetings, where employees and the leadership engage in heated debates over everything from healthier snack stations to the election of Donald Trump. Breitbart News described the 2016 video as a “smoking gun” because it showed Sergey Brin, the Google co-founder, telling everyone how he felt about the new leader of the free world. Spoiler: Not good. “Myself, as an immigrant, as a refugee, I certainly find this election deeply offensive, and I know many of you do, too,” he said in his flat, nasal voice. He was obviously rattled, as were the other top Google executives on stage with him. “I think it’s a very stressful time, and it conflicts with many of our values.” Conservatives who have been spreading the canard that social media companies oppress their views — a drum Mr. Trump has himself been banging on lately — seized on the video as proof of Google’s bias. But it should not have shocked anyone to find that Mr. Brin, a Russian exile who built the quirkiest of companies on the planet, is no fan of the president.”