Eye on Extremism: September 16

The New York Times: Saudi Oil Attack Photos Implicate Iran, U.S. Says; Trump Hints At Military Action

“The Trump administration intensified its focus on Iran Sunday as the likely culprit behind attacks on important Saudi Arabian oil facilities over the weekend, with officials citing intelligence assessments to support the accusation and President Trump warning that he was prepared to take military action. The government released satellite photographs showing what officials said were at least 17 points of impact at several Saudi energy facilities from strikes they said came from the north or northwest. That would be consistent with an attack coming from the direction of the northern Persian Gulf, Iran or Iraq, rather than from Yemen, where the Iranian-backed Houthi militia that claimed responsibility for the strikes operates. Administration officials, in a background briefing for reporters as well as in separate interviews on Sunday, also said a combination of drones and cruise missiles — “both and a lot of them,” as one senior United States official put it — might have been used. That would indicate a degree of scope, precision and sophistication beyond the ability of the Houthi rebels alone.”

The Financial Times: ISIS Gains Traction In Afghanistan As US Talks Collapse

“Minutes after the younger brother of Afghanistan’s Taliban chief rose to lead Friday prayers at a Pakistan mosque last month, a bomb ripped through the building. The brother of top leader Mullah Habatullah Akhundzada was one of five people killed in an attack police link to Isis’s growing Afghanistan affiliate. The Islamist movement is locked in a fierce rivalry with the Taliban, whose influence straddles the border of the two countries. A surge of Isis violence this year, including a horrific bombing at a Kabul wedding that killed 63 people in August, and the assault on Taliban leadership has revealed its increasing traction in war-ravaged Afghanistan. Taliban hardliners angry about negotiations with the US over a troop withdrawal in exchange for counter-terrorism pledges have joined Isis in droves, said experts, raising fears of an Isis resurgence despite it being ousted from its last remnants of territory in Syria this year. “When Isis started to claim attacks in Kabul, they showcased their power, arms and money,” said Kabir Taneja, from the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi. “You need a strong ecosystem to conduct attacks in what the Taliban consider their sacred ground.”

CNN: Trump Confirms Osama Bin Laden's Son Hamza Killed In US Counterterrorism Operation

“President Donald Trump in a statement on Saturday said late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's son Hamza bin Laden had been “killed in a United States counterterrorism operation in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region.” He did not give a time period for the operation or the death. “The loss of Hamza bin Ladin not only deprives al-Qa'ida of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father, but undermines important operational activities of the group,” the President said in the statement. Trump also said “Hamza bin Ladin was responsible for planning and dealing with various terrorist groups.” CNN previously reported on July 31 that the US believed Hamza bin Laden was dead. At that time, two defense officials with knowledge of the operation told CNN that bin Laden had been killed at least several months prior.  CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank told CNN at the time that one thing puzzled researchers who are closely tracking al Qaeda: “If Hamza bin Laden has indeed been dead for months, you would expect al Qaeda to have released some form of eulogy before today. The fact they haven't is highly unusual, given his status in the group.”

Voice Of America: Somalia: Al-Shabab Attacks Kill 17

“The al-Shabab militant group launched a series of attacks since Saturday that led to the death of at least 17 people in Somalia. Lower Shabelle region officials told VOA Somali that the militants attacked the town of Qoryoley late Saturday using rocket propelled grenades and heavy machine guns, killing nine people. The town’s Mayor Sayid Ali Ibrajim told VOA that an RPG fired by the militants caused most of the casualties. Somali government forces with support from African Union forces, who are based outside the town, repelled the attack, according to officials. Some of the residents in Qoryoley alleged that heavy weapons fired by AU troops caused some of the civilians casualties. The Governor of the region Ibrahim Adan Najah told VOA Somali that they are investigating the allegations. AMISOM forces did not immediately respond to the allegations. Also in Lower Shabelle region on Saturday, two civilians were killed after al-Shabab militants fired mortars on the ancient port town of Marka during a visit by the Prime Minister of Somalia Hassan Ai Khaire. Al-Shabab claimed they were targeting the prime minister but the Governor Najah told VOA Somali that the incident took place outside the town. Residents and security sources said one of the mortars landed in a residential area killing two women.”

Al Jazeera: West African Leaders Pledge $1bn To Fight Armed Groups

“West African leaders meeting in Burkina Faso have announced a one-billion-dollar plan to combat rising insecurity in the Sahel region. The pledge, to be funded from 2020 to 2024, was announced on Saturday at the end of the Economic Community Summit of West African States (ECOWAS) in Ouagadougou, where members of the bloc were joined by Mauritania and Chad. ECOWAS had decided to mobilise “the financial resources of up to a billion dollars for the fight against terrorism”, said Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou. The money, paid into a common fund, would help reinforce the military operations of the countries involved - and those of the joint military operations in the region. Full details of the plan would be presented to the next ECOWAS summit in December. Fighters with links to the al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) armed groups have strengthened their foothold across the arid Sahel region in recent years, making large swathes of territory ungovernable and stoking local ethnic violence, especially in Mali and Burkina Faso. Backed by France, a multinational military force in the Sahel region began operations in 2017, pulling troops from Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania in a bid to drive back the armed groups.”

Voice Of America: Governments Increase Efforts Against Online Extremism, Raising Hopes

Lara Pham, an expert with New York-based Counter Extremism Project, argued that countries in Europe have particularly made significant achievements through enacting transnational laws that target online extremist content. “These efforts show that the EU as a whole in parliament will not stand for the continued proliferation and the spread of extremist and terrorist material online. We will probably see more action from member states and from individual states, but there is a clear public understanding of the potential public safety and security concerns that come with proliferating terrorist material online,” Pham told VOA."

United States

NBC News: Two Arrested In Racist Attack On Black Student At University Of Arizona

“Several dozen students at the University of Arizona on Friday protested campus police handling of a physical and racist attack on a black student this week. The protests took place less than an hour after the university announced that the two assailants, who are white, had been arrested and faced a misdemeanor count of assault. The students, who haven't been identified, had initially been directed to a social justice diversion training program instead of facing charges in the Tuesday attack, according to the protesters. University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins said in a statement Thursday that he was angered and disappointed by the incident. “We need to come together and let people know, without qualification, that intolerance and discrimination have no home here. Unless we have a safe environment, free from violence, discrimination and hate, students will not be free to learn and pursue their dreams,” Robbins said. A police report released by the university's police department said officers were called to the front of the Arbol de la Vida residence hall about 11:20 p.m. Tuesday on a report that people were fighting. The African American student told officers that two young white men called him the n-word and punched him in the head, the report says.”

The Daily Caller: Qatar-Funded Group Engages In ‘Propagandistic Activities’ While Divvying Out Millions To US Schools, Experts Say

“A U.S.-based organization funded by Qatar and tasked with furthering the allegedly terror-linked country’s national vision is openly influencing K-12 public school curriculums across America. A legal loophole allows it to do so without registering as a foreign agent, but experts say the group has at times stretched that boundary by pushing overt propaganda. The Washington, D.C.-based Qatar Foundation International (QFI) has disbursed more than $30 million to U.S. public schools to fund Arabic language programs, The Wall Street Journal reported in 2017. Public documents and news reports indicate the Doha, Qatar-based Qatar Foundation has funded QFI from its 2009 founding through at least 2017. The Qatar Foundation has been registered as a foreign principal since 2006 and is tasked with carrying out the vision of the country’s royal family. QFI memos state that it exists to further the Middle Eastern nation’s goals, and its executive director has stated publicly that her bosses include a member of the Qatari royal family and the CEO of the foreign Qatar Foundation. Despite this, QFI is not required to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, because it says it’s strictly an educational organization.”


Deseret News: He Was A Neo-Nazi Leader. Now He’s Standing In A Synagogue Seeking One Thing From His Jewish Audience

“In the days leading up to the Jewish high holidays in 2017, Tony McAleer found himself on a stage with the rabbi of Temple Sholom in his hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia. A YouTube video of the event shows a somewhat nervous, yet resigned, McAleer listening to Rabbi Dan Moskovitz explain the observance of Slichot or the offering of prayers for divine forgiveness that begin a process of reflection and repentance during the holidays of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Setting up the evening in the context of repentance and forgiveness is more than just a refresher for the 100 or so congregants. They were about to hear an apology from a man who accelerated his descent into the violent world of anti-semitism and white supremacy just outside the synagogue where they were now assembled. McAleer would rise to become a leader and spokesman of the neo-Nazi movement in Canada in the 1990s before making the long, difficult journey to a “former.” He is a co-founder of Life After Hate, which supports people escaping the intoxicating social and ideological clutches of white supremacy. The organization also consults with government and law enforcement seeking to understand what makes a white supremacist tick so they can better address the rise of anti-semitic, anti-immigrant and racist sentiment fueling violence in the United States and around the world.”


The National: Syria: Car Bomb Kills 11 Civilians In Rebel-Held Area

“A car bomb near a hospital in a town held by Turkey-backed Syrian rebels in northern Syria killed 11 civilians on Sunday, a monitor said. The blast struck in Al Rai near the Turkish border, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing near the town's entrance, the second such deadly blast in the wider rebel-held area since June. A member of the rebel security forces, Osama Abu Al Kheir, told AFP that a refrigerator truck blew up outside a healthcare centre. The deputy head of the town council, Alaa Al Hammad, said the truck appeared to have been detonated by remote control. A pharmacist and two of his children were among those killed, he said, adding that nearby homes were reduced to rubble. Turkish troops and allied Syrian rebels launched a military operation against both ISIS and Kurdish fighters in northern Syria in 2016, seizing Al Rai and the nearby town of Azaz. In June, another car bomb killed 19 people near a bustling market and mosque in Azaz. Ankara keeps Turkish troops and intelligence forces in the area, and it backs Syrian rebels serving as police officers. Turkish troops and Syrian rebels also seized the northwestern enclave of Afrin to the west of Al Rai from Kurdish fighters last year.”

The Defense Post: Syrian Government Labels SDF ‘Separatist Terrorist Militias’ Ahead Of Ankara Talks

“In a rare shift of rhetoric, Syria’s foreign ministry labeled the Syrian Democratic Forces as “separatist terrorist militias” in a letter to United Nations Secretary-General. The letter accuses the SDF of operating in line with “schemes” by the United States and Israel and says the Syrian government will “liberate” territories captured by the militias, state news agency SANA reported on Sunday, September 15, ahead of a Monday meeting of the presidents of Russia, Iran and Turkey to discuss Syria. According to SANA, the letter claims the SDF has moved on from taking part in “committing crimes of the “International Coalition” against the Syrian people,” accusing the SDF of now “kidnapping, torturing, killing and displacing civilians.” An alliance of militias led by the predominantly Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and supported by the U.S.-led international Coalition against Islamic State, the SDF fought the ground war against the jihadist group, capturing nearly all Syrian territory east of the Euphrates river between 2016 and 2019. The General Command of the SDF in a Sunday statement said the government was “making fake accusations against our forces,” noting that 11,000 fighters were killed and 24,000 injured battling ISIS.”


The Wall Street Journal: Iran’s Return Handshake

“Since President Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the Islamic Republic has tested U.S. resolve with military escalation across the Middle East. Likely Iranian involvement in attacks on Saudi oil production over the weekend marks a new phase in this destabilizing campaign, and it’s no coincidence this happened as Mr. Trump is considering a softer approach to Tehran. Saudi Arabia reduced daily oil production by about 5.7 million barrels after strikes against facilities in the country’s east on Saturday. Iran-backed Houthi rebels claimed credit, though Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted that Iran was responsible and there was “no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.” Iran denies this, but it usually uses proxies to avoid a direct confrontation and there are no other plausible culprits. This is more than a local dispute between two regional powers. The attacks have caused a roughly 5% reduction in global daily oil production. The Saudis have promised to dip into reserves to offset the losses, but oil prices could rise and harm an already fragile global economy if the Kingdom isn’t able to restore production fast enough.”

The New York Times: Iran Rules Out Meeting Between Trump And Rouhani

“Iran has dismissed the possibility of a meeting between the country’s president, Hassan Rouhani, and President Trump on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly next week, the country’s state-run news media reported on Monday. “Neither is such a plan on our agenda nor will such a thing happen,” Seyed Abbas Mousavi, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, said at a news conference, according to Fars, a state-run outlet. “This meeting will not be held.” Mr. Mousavi added that if the United States “stops economic terrorism and returns to the nuclear deal, then they may sit at a corner and be present within the framework of the nuclear deal member states.” His comments come after an attack on two major oil installations in Saudi Arabia on Saturday further escalated tensions between Iran and the United States. The Houthi rebels in Yemen, who receive support from Iran, claimed responsibility for the strikes, but the Trump administration has accused Tehran of being behind the attack.”

CNN: Australia Names Academic Held In Iran For Almost A Year

“The Australia government has identified the person who has been held in Iran for almost a year as university lecturer Kylie Moore-Gilbert. Moore-Gilbert is one of three Australian citizens detained in Iran, according to the government. The other two Australians were previously identified as Jolie Ellen King and Mark Firkin. News of the arrests came amid tensions between Iran and United States and its allies, including Australia and the UK. Since the decision by US President Donald Trump in 2018 to abandon the Iran nuclear deal, Washington has attempted to use what it calls "maximum pressure" to change Iran's behavior and limit its nuclear ambitions. Earlier this year, tensions between the US and Iran soared to levels that prompted fears of a conflict. Oil prices jumped as investors feared that attacks on oil tankers risked a disruption of shipments in the Strait of Hormuz, which passes by Iran and is the most important place on the planet to the global supply of oil.”


Foreign Policy: They Left To Join ISIS. Now Europe Is Leaving Their Citizens To Die In Iraq

“There was no other way out. After months under siege in the Syrian city of Raqqa, the Belgian Islamic State member Bilal al-Marchohi decided to escape. He fled his post as a religious police officer at the break of dawn on August 29, 2017, and ran with his wife and son to the closest enemy checkpoint. With his arms up, he handed himself over to the Kurdish militants in the hope of eventually being repatriated to Belgium. The family was immediately separated, and his spouse and child were transferred to a nearby Islamic State relatives camp. Along with other jihadi comrades, al-Marchohi was driven to a prison near the city of Tabqa, where he was interrogated by U.S. officials on his role in the organization, his closest companions, and on weaponry manufacturing. The 23-year-old jihadi told them he used to attend the Friday prayers at De Koepel mosque in Antwerp, whose imam, Youssef, ended up joining the fight in Syria. Al-Marchohi waited until he turned 18 to cross the Turkish-Syrian border with his girlfriend and other acquaintances, first joining the Nusra Front and later deserting to the Islamic State, after internal clashes erupted within the armed opposition brigades.”

Iraqi News: Iraqi Police Arrest Four Islamic State Jihadists In Mosul

“Iraqi police announced on Sunday that four Islamic State militants were arrested during a security operation in Mosul city. The four terrorists were nabbed in al Haramat district in the western side of Mosul, Nineveh Police Chief Brigadier General Hamad al-Jabouri told Iraq’s privately-owned IKH News website. “Three of them were members of Islamic State’s Jund (soldiers) diwan and fought against security forces during the security operations to liberate Mosul from terrorism,” he added. All legal procedures were taken against the arrestees, he noted. Iraq declared the collapse of Islamic State’s territorial influence in November 2017 with the recapture of Rawa, a city on Anbar’s western borders with Syria, which was the group’s last bastion in Iraq. IS declared a self-styled “caliphate” in a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria in 2014. A government campaign, backed by a U.S.-led international coalition and paramilitary forces, was launched in 2016 to retake IS-held regions, managing to retake all havens, most notably the city of Mosul, the group’s previously proclaimed capital.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Iraq: ISIS Resorts To Fish Farming In Kanaous For Financing

“The ISIS terror organization began regrouping its ranks whether by moving to mountains and deserts, or using propaganda to boost the morale of its elements, especially after the recent emergence of its leader in April, five years after his first appearance at al-Nuri mosque in Mosul. ISIS resurgence comes after a series of strikes, which the extremist group received since its military defeat by Iraqi forces in late 2017. However, the recent surprise was in the large number of ISIS militants on Kanaous island, south of Saladin province, along the Tigris River, which is a transit point for ISIS travelers to Iraq. The island was air bombed by US aircraft given that it was difficult to attack from the ground. The aircraft took satellite images showing the state of the island after the bombardment. According to the international coalition, its planes dropped 36 tons of bombs on the island, which is teeming with ISIS extremists. The coalition said the raids by F-15s and F-35s targeted the island. The spokesman for joint operations in the Ministry of Defense announced the death of 25 terrorists in the raids carried by coalition aircraft. The attack is part of the Iraqi forces and the US-led coalition operations against ISIS, dubbed “Will to Victory.”


The Washington Post: Leaders Of Iran, Russia, Turkey Meet Over Syria Conflict

“The leaders of Russia, Iran and Turkey are to meet in the Turkish capital of Ankara on Monday to discuss the situation in Syria, with the aim of halting fighting in the country’s northwestern province of Idlib and finding a lasting political solution to Syria’s civil war, now in its ninth year. Topping the agenda of the meeting is the volatile situation in Idlib — the last remaining rebel stronghold in Syria — where a cease-fire went into effect at the end of August, following a wide four-month offensive by government forces. The cease-fire has been holding despite some violations that left six people dead last week. A major conflict in Idlib has raised the possibility of a mass refugee flow to Turkey, which already hosts 3.6 million Syrian refugees. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians, some already displaced from other parts of the war-torn country, have moved toward Turkey’s border to flee Syrian airstrikes, backed by Russia."


The Wall Street Journal: Taliban Negotiators Meet With Russian Officials After Trump Ends Talks

“Taliban negotiators have held talks with Russian officials in Moscow, in an apparent effort to restart discussions with the U.S. just days after President Trump killed a nearly completed deal to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan and declared negotiations with the insurgent group dead. The Taliban’s representatives met President Vladimir Putin ’s envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, on Friday in the Russian capital, the state news agency Tass said. Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman, confirmed on Saturday that the consultations had taken place. Neither Mr. Shaheen nor the Russian government disclosed the agenda of the discussions. The Russian Foreign Ministry said Taliban officials confirmed their interest in continued talks with Washington. During the discussions, Mr. Kabulov also stressed the importance of resuming the U.S.-Taliban talks, Russia’s Interfax news agency said. The meeting in Moscow follow a tumultuous week in the Afghan peace process and efforts to reach a negotiated settlement of the nearly 18-year war—as well as a turbulent spell for Washington’s foreign-policy establishment. In a tweet last Saturday, President Trump canceled a secret meeting with Afghan and Taliban officials at Camp David and killed a proposed U.S.-Taliban troop-withdrawal deal.”

Bloomberg: Taliban Seeking Support To Force U.S. From Afghanistan

“The Taliban sent a team to Russia, and plans to visit China, Iran and Central Asian states to gauge support for the U.S. to be forced to leave Afghanistan, Reuters reported, citing the group’s officials. The group wants to keep regional leaders informed about the breakdown of the talks and U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to suspend the process just before a peace treaty, the report said, citing an unidentified a senior Taliban leader. The planned visits are not intended to try to resume talks with the U.S., according to the report. Discussions between Trump and the Taliban were called off and the American envoy to Afghanistan was recalled after the U.S. leader said he canceled secret meetings at Camp David, intended to allow for a draw-down of American forces after 18 years in the war-torn country.”

Reuters: Two Afghan Taliban Shadow Governors Killed As Air Strikes Step Up

“Afghan security forces, backed by U.S. air strikes, killed two of the movement’s shadow provincial governors on Sunday, as fighting stepped up in the wake of the collapse of talks aimed at ending the conflict, officials said. The operations, launched on Saturday night, were aimed at foiling attacks planned by the Taliban on Afghan forces, said a senior security official in the capital Kabul, adding that clashes have escalated following the collapse of diplomatic talks between the United States and the Taliban.  The defense ministry in a statement said at least 85 Taliban fighters were killed in a joint ground and air operation in southern Paktika province on Saturday night.  The figure was rejected by the Taliban, who said seven fighters had been killed and 11 wounded while casualties among the security forces were over 20.  “The rest of the claims are baseless,” the movement’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said. Clashes between the hardline insurgent group and Afghan forces intensified in northern Samangan province on Saturday where the Taliban’s shadow provincial governor, Mawlavi Nooruddin, was killed along with four fighters in an air strike in Dara-e-Soof Payeen district, local officials said.”

Xinhua: Over 110 Militants Killed As Afghan Forces Increase Pressure: Officials

“More than 110 militants have been killed in Afghanistan over the past 24 hours as government forces have increased pressure on the Taliban outfit, officials said Sunday. In the latest crackdown, the government forces launched massive offensive from the ground and air against the Taliban in Yangi Qala district of the northern Takhar province Sunday morning. Besides recapturing the restive district and killing five armed militants including their commander Mullah Wazir, the military also attacked Taliban positions in the neighboring Darqad district, provincial government spokesman Mohammad Jawad Hajari said. Similarly, fighting aircrafts stormed a Taliban hideout in Dara-e-Suf Payan district of the northern Samangan province on the same day Sunday, killing 12 militants including Mawlawi Noorudin, the shadow governor of the armed group for the troubled province, army spokesman in the northern region Mohammad Hanif Rezai told Xinhua. Seven more militants have been killed in Garziwan district of the northern Faryab province over the past 24 hours, Rezai added. More than 90 militants have been killed and 20 others injured as security forces backed by fighting planes stormed Taliban hideouts in parts of the eastern Paktika province since Saturday, provincial police spokesman Shah Mohammad Aryan said.”

CBS News: Afghan Security Chief Warns Of "Connections" Between Foreign Extremists And The West

“A U.S. airstrike killed a major ISIS recruiter in eastern Afghanistan. No other details are known, but this comes as ISIS, al Qaeda and the Taliban are all increasing their attacks in Afghanistan. The Taliban may have doubled down on their efforts to gain leverage over the U.S. in recent talks, but Brigadier General Khoshal Sadat told CBS News they paid a heavy price. "We inflicted a huge amount of casualties, it's been unprecedented. Within a matter of hours, hundreds of them just gone," Sadat said. The country's top security chief issued a sober warning to Americans. "We have seen connections, communications between ISIS fighters and some al Qaeda here and Europe and the United States," Sadat said. Contact between ISIS and al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan and the U.S. is the very reason why U.S. forces invaded the country in the first place. The mission then and now, is to destroy Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network. Eighteen years on, that terrorist group is still in Afghanistan.”


The Washington Post: Kashmiris Allege Night Terror By Indian Troops In Crackdown

“The Indian soldiers descended on Bashir Ahmed Dar’s house in southern Kashmir on Aug. 10, a few days after the government in New Delhi stripped the disputed Himalayan region of its statehood and launched a crackdown. Over the next 48 hours, the 50-year-old plumber said he suffered two separate rounds of beatings by soldiers. They demanded that he find his younger brother, who had joined rebels opposing India’s presence in the Muslim majority region, and persuade him to surrender or else “face the music.” In the second beating, at a military camp, Dar said he was struck with sticks by three soldiers until he was unconscious. He woke up at home, “unable to sit on my bruised and bloodied buttocks and aching back,” he added. But it wasn’t over. On Aug. 14, soldiers returned to his house in the village of Heff Shirmal and destroyed his family’s supply of rice and other foodstuffs by mixing it with fertilizer and kerosene. Dar’s account of violence and intimidation by Indian soldiers was not unusual. In more than 50 interviews, residents in a dozen villages in Kashmir told The Associated Press that the military had raided their homes since India’s government imposed a security crackdown in the region Aug. 5.”

The New York Times: Abused By Soldiers And Militants, Kashmiris Face Dangers In Daily Life

“Four men carrying pistols and wearing black masks knocked a week ago on the Hamidullah family’s gate. Furious that the wealthy apple traders had violated their ban on doing business, the militants announced that there was a price to pay. They took three men into a sitting room in this Kashmiri town and shot them in the leg, right below their knees. When 5-year-old Asma Jaan heard her father scream, she ran into the room to see what was wrong. The militants shot her, too. Now, confused and in pain, she lies bandaged up in a hospital bed and may not be able to walk for months. “This has never happened before, that they hit out at a 5-year-old so mercilessly,” said her distraught aunt Nighat. As the crisis in the Kashmir region drags into its sixth week, a visit by a New York Times journalist showed that the violence is morphing. The tensions, set off by India’s swift and unilateral decision last month to wipe out Kashmir’s autonomy, are no longer as simple as protesters pelting security officers with rocks and the officers firing shotguns back. Kashmiri separatists are conducting their own reign of terror, threatening or even attacking civilians in a campaign to destroy any semblance of normality that may be creeping back after more than a month of heavy military crackdowns.”

Voice Of America: Militant Fire From Across Afghan Border Kills 4 Pakistani Soldiers

“Pakistan said Saturday that four of its soldiers were killed and another was injured when “terrorists” from across the Afghanistan border opened fire at two locations. The deadliest of the shootings occurred in the remote Dir district where Pakistani troops were building a border fence. They came under attack from the other side; three soldiers were killed and another was injured. The military’s media wing said another soldier was killed when “miscreants” from the Afghan side ambushed a routine border patrol party late Friday in North Waziristan district. It added that two of the assailants were also killed in an exchange of fire. The Foreign Ministry later summoned the Afghan charge d' affaires in Islamabad to lodge a “strong protest” about the deadly attack on security personnel building the border fence.  Cross-border militant attacks are not uncommon on Pakistani troops constructing a fence along the country’s nearly 2,600 kilometer border with Afghanistan. Islamabad began the unilateral fencing of the largely porous frontier two years ago to plug hundreds of informal crossings that were encouraging terrorist infiltration in both directions. Military officials expect the massive border project will be in place by end of next year, addressing to a large extent mutual concerns of illegal crossings of both militants and drug traffickers.”


Asharq Al-Awsat: Yemeni Security Officials Say Houthis Killed 13 Civilians

“Yemeni security officials said on Saturday that shelling by Houthi militias has killed at least 13 civilians in the provinces of Hodeida and Taiz. The victims included women and children, the Associated Press (AP) reported. The officials said the attacks killed at least 11 people, including six from one family, south of the Red Sea city of Hodeida in the past 24 hours. They also said another two children were killed by mortar fire late Friday in the Salih district in the southwestern province of Taiz. The officials were not authorized to brief the media and spoke on condition of anonymity. According to AP, Yemen's war has claimed tens of thousands of lives and thrust millions to the brink of famine.”

Arab News: Houthis To Blame For Thousands Missing In Yemen Says Rights Group

“The Houthis are responsible for the disappearance of more than 3,500 people in four years, according to a report by the Yemeni Coalition for Monitoring Human Rights Violations. The arrests of 3,544 people were carried out across Yemen between September, 2014 and December 2018, Saudi state news agency SPA reported. Those who have disappeared include 64 children, 15 women and 72 elderly people. Now the Arab coalition has called on the international community to pressure the Houthi militia to reveal the whereabouts of the disappeared.”

Saudi Arabia

The Washington Post: Saudi Arabia Oil Output Takes Major Hit After Apparent Drone Attacks Claimed By Yemen Rebels

“Explosions and towering fireballs struck the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil empire on Saturday in an apparent wave of drone attacks claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. The blows knocked out more than half the kingdom’s oil output for days or more and threatened to drive up already high tensions between Iran and its foes in the Persian Gulf. The predawn blasts on facilities of the state-run oil giant Aramco — which the rebel group claimed were carried out by a fleet of 10 drones — marked one of the most devastating strikes into Saudi territory claimed by the Iranian-allied Houthis in more than four years of war in Yemen. It was also the most serious attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure in decades, which includes barrages of Scud missiles fired by Saddam Hussein’s forces during the 1991 Gulf War. A NASA satellite image showed what appeared to be a long streak of black smoke flowing to the southwest from the Aramco site. An Aramco statement said production of 5.7 million barrels of crude was suspended by the attack from “projectiles.” That represents more than half of the kingdom’s output and about 6 percent of global oil supply — a shortfall that could send oil prices sharply higher.”

CNN: Saudi Attack Likely Originated In Iran Or Iraq, Senior Administration Official Says

“A day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the attack on Saudi oil facilities and argued there is “no evidence the attacks came from Yemen,” a senior administration official briefed CNN on information to back up Pompeo's claims. The official pointed to the angle at which Saudi oil facilities were attacked, the numbers of points of impact and other information to argue that it is unlikely the attacks were carried out by Yemen. Instead, the official suggested the attack most likely originated in Iran or Iraq. “It is very difficult to see how these things could have come from anywhere but Iran or Iraq,” the senior administration official said. The official said 19 Saudi targets were struck in Saturday's attack and argued that such an attack could not be carried out with 10 drones, which the Houthis claimed to have used. “You can't hit 19 targets with 10 drones like that,” the official said. The official, drawing on commercial satellite imagery shared with CNN, also noted that “all the points of impact on Saudi facilities were on the northwest side of them, which is somewhat difficult to do from Yemen.” The official could not say whether it's possible drones from Yemen could have angled around to attack northwest facilities.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Crown Prince: Saudi Arabia Capable Of Confronting Terrorist Attack

“Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense received on Saturday a telephone call from US President Donald Trump, the Saudi Press Agency reported. During the conversation, the US President told the Crown Prince that Washington was ready to work with the Kingdom to guarantee its security and stability, SPA said. According to the state-run agency, Trump said the attacks on two Aramco facilities had a negative impact on the American as well as global economies. The Crown Prince said Riyadh had the will and capability to confront this “terrorist attack”, SPA added.”


The Jerusalem Post: Hezbollah's New Missile 'Capable Of Destroying All Military Battleships'

“The twitter account affiliated with Hezbollah posted a photo of the terror organization's new missile on Sunday afternoon, which he says is capable of destroying all military battleships. “Our new missile is capable of destroying all military battleships, killing all who are on board,” wrote the Hezbollah activist, who often posts photos of South Lebanon Army (SLA) members and their families who have moved to Israel, announcing that they are being called to trial. In August, Hezbollah released footage and pictures of the anti-ship missile that struck the INS Hanit during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, an incident that killed four Israeli soldiers in one of the most significant attacks against the IDF in the war. In a documentary called #Army_To_Be_Drowned aired on Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV channel marking the war the group aired reconnaissance footage of the ship from the Lebanese coastline, preparations for the launch of the missile, the operations room which directed the strike as well as nighttime footage which showed the impact of the Chinese-made C-802 anti-ship cruise missile. According to al-Manar, Hezbollah’s navy commander “Hajj Jalal” said the rocket was launched from the Beirut suburb of Ouzai after “the Zionist enemy esaclated its attacks on various Lebanese areas.”

The National: US Treasury: Hezbollah Illicit Activities Involve Lebanon’s Airport And Seaports

“Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing Marshall Billingslea warned that US sanctions on the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah will target anyone that provides material support for the group, regardless of the sectarian or political affiliation. Speaking at the Atlantic Council in Washington on Friday, Mr Billingslea appeared buoyant on the impact of the Trump administration sanctions on Iran and its juggernaut proxy, Hezbollah. “Our efforts are having a clear impact, leaving Iran with scarce funds to spend in its perfidious pursuits,” he said. “Hezbollah is also feeling the squeeze - its fighters have been furloughed or assigned to reserves, where they earn far lower salaries, its media employees laid off, payment to families slashed,” the US official argued. These sanctions are expected to continue. Over the summer, Washington has put increased pressure on Hezbollah and sanctioned its security official Wafic Safa and ranking parliamentarian Mohamad Raad in July.”

Middle East

Asia Times: ISIS Comeback Increasingly Likely

“In politics, as in life, the urgent always trumps the important. The urgent question about ISIS these days is the fate of thousands of foreign former fighters now languishing in limbo in makeshift prisons. The countries these militants come from are reluctant to take them back. Not surprisingly, the Syrian Kurdish forces who did most of the legwork against this murderous cult are frustrated by the lack of gratitude and have threatened to release the ISIS prisoners they hold. The problem is certainly urgent and needs attention. The less urgent – but much more important – challenge, however, centers on a very different question: Is an ISIS comeback possible? The short answer is “yes.” There is no doubt that the so-called caliphate has been defeated at the military level. But military defeats rarely equal strategic victories when it comes to fighting jihadist groups. Eradicating the ideology of violent jihadism is much harder than physically decimating its foot soldiers. Most crucially, the political and economic conditions that led to the emergence of ISIS have not been addressed.”


Xinhua: Egyptian Police Kill Terrorist Group In North Sinai

“Egyptian police forces killed a terrorist group during a shootout in the country's restive North Sinai Province, Egyptian Ministry of Interior announced Sunday. Three officers and one policeman were also injured in the exchange of fire, the ministry said in a statement. According to the statement, the national security sector obtained information that terrorist elements were present in the Gilbana area of North Sinai and were preparing and planning a series of attacks against the armed forces and police. The ministry said police forces spotted the terrorists inside a pickup truck, adding that the terrorists fired heavily at the police once they realized they were tightly cordoned. The exchange of fire resulted in the death of all the terrorists, the ministry said, revealing that a number of automatic guns and tools used in the manufacture of bombs were found in the truck. The truck was reported to be stolen on September 9 from a citizen while traveling in Gilbana, according to the statement. Also in Gilbana, a member of the same group was killed during a shootout when the police besieged his hideout, the statement added. The police said the national security spotted his hiding place according to trusted information. Terrorism has been plaguing Egypt since the 2013 ouster by the military of former President Mohamed Morsi, who died in court in June, in response to mass protests against his government and his currently outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group.”


The Washington Post: Nigerian Children Who Escaped Boko Haram Say They Faced Another ‘Prison’: Military Detention

“Four hundred nights. Fatima counted each one as she lay on the ground with her toddler, crammed between strangers, swatting away mosquitoes in a room that stank of feces. She remembers thinking: Why did I escape the terrorists for this?  “Boko Haram treated us better,” she said, tears sliding down her cheeks. Fatima, now 18, is among thousands of children detained in recent years by Nigerian armed forces — including many who had fled extremist captors — amid a decade-long conflict that often turns victims into suspects. Defense officials deny claims of abusive confinement and say they must vet everyone who emerges from the restive countryside: Boko Haram and other Islamist groups in Nigeria’s northeast are known for sending children to carry out attacks. But human rights advocates say conditions in the holding centers are so appalling they thwart the military’s goal of protecting — and deradicalizing — young people by breeding resentment of the government. In interviews with The Washington Post, seven children who spent time in the Giwa barracks near the city of Maiduguri, as well as other military facilities, said they were allowed no outside contact. None of the seven, now ages 10 to 18, met with lawyers.”

Reuters: Islamic State Fills The Void In Nigeria As Soldiers Retreat To 'Super Camps'

“When Islamic State gunmen stormed the northeast Nigerian town of Magumeri on the night of August 21, they had free rein. Nigerian soldiers had left the town earlier that month under a new strategy of withdrawing to “super camps” that can be more easily defended against insurgents the army has been struggling to contain for a decade. Unchallenged, the Islamist militants torched a clinic in Magumeri, ransacked government buildings and looted shops before returning to another town they had raided that night called Gubio, residents said. The new military strategy announced by President Muhammadu Buhari in July to concentrate soldiers in big bases is designed to give troops a secure platform from which they can respond quickly to threats in the region and raid militant camps. People familiar with the military’s thinking and security officials, however, say the new tactic for fighting Islamic State’s West Africa branch and Boko Haram is mainly an attempt to stem casualties. The military did not respond to requests for more details about its strategy or the impact it will have on the region. ”We strongly believe the days of BH (Boko Haram) moving freely and passing in between static defensive locations are over,” Major General Olusegun Adeniyi, who commands the anti-insurgency operation, told reporters last month.”

The Defense Post: Cameroon Soldiers Killed In ‘Boko Haram’ Attack Near Fotokol

“Six Cameroonian soldiers were killed in the Far North Region near the border with Nigeria in an attack blamed on “Boko Haram,” authorities said on Sunday. Nine other soldiers were injured in the attack on a military post at Soueram near Fotokol in the Lake Chad area by armed men, an army officer and two high-ranking officials in the local administration told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity. Fotokol is a major crossing point to Gamboru on the Nigeria side of the border. CamerounWeb on Sunday reported the attack occurred overnight on Friday, September 13, and the casualty toll as five soldiers killed and eight injured. One of the officials told AFP that five soldiers died during the attack and a sixth died from his injuries on Sunday. The number was confirmed by the other official, as well as an army officer, who also said the killers were members of Boko Haram. On June 10, 17 Cameroon soldiers were killed in an attack in the same region. It is unclear which faction of Boko Haram carried out the Soueram attack.”


Bloomberg: Al-Shabaab Militants Kill Eight Government Officials In Somalia

“At least eight government officials were killed in Somalia in attacks claimed by al-Shabaab militants. The deputy governor of Somalia’s Middle Shabelle region was among five people killed when a roadside bomb hit the vehicle they were traveling in, Mohamed Abdi Ware, president of Hirshabelle state, said Saturday. Ware’s adviser was also killed in the same attack. In a separate raid, three district-administration officers were forced out of their homes in Beled Hawo town near Somalia’s border with Kenya, shot and killed, according to the region’s authorities. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attacks on Radio Andalus, a Somali-based broadcaster that backs the militants who have waged an insurgency in the Horn of Africa since 2006 in a bid to impose their version of Islamic law.”

North Korea

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Treasury Sanctions North Korean Cyber Groups

“The U.S. Treasury Department on Friday imposed sanctions on three hacking operations it says are run by North Korean intelligence services and have stolen millions from banks and others around the world. The groups are allegedly run by North Korea’s primary intelligence bureau, the Reconnaissance General Bureau. U.S. officials say they and others directed by Pyongyang represent a key source of revenue for the government. That illicit finance is used by the government to fund its weapons programs and to insulate it against the global sanctions program meant to coerce leader Kim Jong Un into giving up his nuclear weapons, officials say. The sanctions freeze any assets those entities may have within U.S.’s jurisdiction and prevent anyone involved with them from traveling to the U.S. Members of the groups also are at risk of being sanctioned themselves.”

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Targets North Korean Hacking As Rising National-Security Threat

“New U.S. sanctions against North Korean hackers and revelations about North Korean malware show how Pyongyang’s cyber operations have become a crucial revenue stream and a security threat that soon could rival its weapons program, U.S. and industry officials say. North Korea’s hacks of financial systems and critical infrastructure world-wide reveal sophisticated cyber capabilities developed to counter global sanctions and expand Pyongyang’s geopolitical power, according to these officials. The U.S. Treasury Department, in blacklisting the three hacking groups allegedly run by North Korea’s primary intelligence service, said Friday they collectively were responsible for operations across 10 countries, stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from banks and cryptocurrency exchanges, pilfering military secrets, destabilizing infrastructure and intimidating adversaries. Treasury says one collective, called Lazarus Group, and two subsidiaries, known as Bluenoroff and Andariel, have stolen around $700 million in the last three years and have attempted to steal nearly $2 billion.”

Associated Press: N. Korea Says Talks With US Could Resume In A ‘Few Weeks’

“North Korea said Monday that diplomatic talks with the United States could resume in a “few weeks,” but that it will not consider abandoning its nuclear weapons unless external threats are fully removed. A statement Monday attributed to a North Korean foreign ministry official said potential upcoming working-level talks would be decisive in determining the fate of the country’s diplomacy with Washington. It called for unspecified U.S. security and economic concessions, saying the discussions of North Korea’s denuclearization will only be possible when “threats and hurdles endangering our system security and obstructing our development are clearly removed beyond all doubt.” “Whether the DPRK-U.S. negotiations will be a window for chance or an occasion to precipitate crisis is entirely up to the U.S.,” the statement said, referring to North Korea by its formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Negotiations have stalled since a February summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump in Hanoi, Vietnam, collapsed over disagreements over sanctions relief in exchange for disarmament measures.”

United Kingdom

BBC News: Bomb Team Searches Maidenhead Property After Terror Arrest

“Counter terrorism officers and a bomb disposal team are searching a property in Maidenhead after a man was arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences. Officers from Counter Terrorism Policing South East (CTPSE) arrested the 52-year-old Berkshire man under the Terrorism Act on Friday afternoon. He has since been released on bail. Despite the involvement of the EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) team, CTPSE said there was “no immediate risk to the public”. It said it was working with “partner agencies to ensure necessary safeguarding assessments are conducted.”


Asharq Al-Awsat: Eu Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Says Many ISIS Militants Back From Conflict Zones

“Many ISIS members have actually returned to Europe, said EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles De Kerchove. He added that some have been killed in fighting areas and others’ fate is unknown as they might have gone to Libya or Afghanistan. In his statement to Asharq Al-Awsat, De Kerchove warned of ISIS activities elsewhere, following their defeat in Syria and Iraq, with the continued activity of their leaders there so far. The European official pointed to the terrorist group’s activities in other parts of the world. His remarks were made on the sidelines of launching the first European anti-terrorism judicial record under the supervision of the European Justice Agency (Eurojust). Responding to a question on the importance of this judicial record, De Kerchove said it aims at linking parts of the case together in order to have access to its details. Intelligence and security agencies exchange information and this is what we need to do for judicial information, he explained. Such record allows concerned parties to know about the ongoing trials and verdicts, which facilitates linking figures and organizations and finding the relationship between terrorism and organized crime, he further noted. Regarding the return of European foreign fighters from conflict zones, he said “there is no unified decision on the European fighters detained in Syria and Iraq.”


The Washington Post: From Helicopter Repairman To Leader Of The Internet’s ‘Darkest Reaches’: The Life And Times Of 8chan Owner Jim Watkins

“He was an unknown former U.S. Army repairman of attack helicopters when he arrived in the Philippines in 2001, where he would run websites featuring Japanese pornography, tend to a pig farm and pursue his interests in yoga and fountain pens. Jim Watkins also would become the face of one of the Internet’s most notorious sites, 8chan, defending the anonymous message board as a beacon of free speech even as it became a platform for announcing and celebrating mass murder. Subpoenaed by the House Homeland Security Committee, Watkins, now 55, came to Washington last week for closed-door questioning by congressional staff on the site that before its recent collapse had styled itself “the darkest reaches of the Internet.” But 8chan was only the most infamous of Watkins’s strange and tangled business web, which expanded for years from a shabby Manila office to millions of computers around the world — fueled by the strange chemistry of the Internet, where virtually anyone can turn a few servers into an online kingdom with its own culture, followers and code.”

The New York Times: House Antitrust Panel Seeks Documents From 4 Big Tech Firms

“Congress showed the breadth of its investigation into the big tech companies on Friday, making a public demand for scores of documents, including the personal emails and other communications from dozens of top executives. Republicans and Democrats alike on the House Judiciary Committee, which is investigating the market power and behavior of the companies, sent letters directly to Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Tim Cook of Apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Larry Page of Google. The requests called for all communications to and from eight executives at Amazon, 14 at Apple, 15 at Facebook and 14 at Google. With the request, which was posted  on the committee’s website, the lawmakers sent a not-so-subtle message that executives would be held responsible for the replies, and that the investigation would continue to play out publicly. That has the potential of damaging the brands’ reputations.”