Eye on Extremism: September 17

ABC News: Last Stand: Syria's Rebel Idlib Prepares For A Losing Battle

“They dug trenches around towns, reinforced caves for cover and put up sand bags around their positions. They issued calls to arms, urging young men to join in the defense of Idlib, the Syrian province where opposition fighters expect to make their last stand against Russian- and Iranian-backed government troops they have fought for years. This time, it's "surrender or die." As the decisive stand for their last stronghold looms, this motley crew of tens of thousands of opposition fighters, including some of the world's most radical groups, is looking for ways to salvage whatever is possible of an armed rebellion that at one point in the seven-year conflict controlled more than half of the country. In its last chapter, just as it has throughout the long, bloody war, the Syrian rebellion's fate lies in foreign hands. This time, the splintered and diverse rebels have only Turkey. "The whole world gave up on us, but Turkey will not," said Capt. Najib al-Mustafa, spokesman for the Turkish-backed umbrella group known as the National Front for Liberation.”

New York Post: US-Backed Syrian Forces Enter Village Held By ISIS

“Islamic State terrorists are still clinging to part of Syria. U.S.-backed Syrian forces entered an eastern village held by the Islamic State where intense clashes were ongoing on Saturday. The move came a day after the extremists reportedly killed 20 fighters, the forces and a war monitor said. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said its fighters stormed Bagouz and were close to the center of the village. The forces added that they planned to open another front in an area along the Euphrates River to increase pressure on the extremists. This week, the U.S.-led coalition helped SDF launch a wide offensive to capture the last pocket held by IS in Syria. Despite losing most of the territory it held between Iraq and Syria since its peak in 2014, the jihadist IS remains a disruptive force in both countries. Its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, urged his followers to “persevere” in an audio tape attributed to him last month.”

PBS Newshour: ISIS Returns To Iraq, And A Town Confronts A New Wave Of Terror

“In October 2017, Iraqi forces captured the town of Hawija from the Islamic State, taking back one of the militant group’s last remaining strongholds. But now, ISIS has regrouped in the area and continues to terrorize residents. NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Simona Foltyn recently traveled near Hawija to find out how much control the militants continue to assert over the civilian population for this report in cooperation with the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute.”

Bloomberg: Iran’s Callous, Deadly Message

“When a regional power wants to assert itself and intimidate its rivals, it has several options: Stage a military exercise, test a missile, maybe even have a high-ranking general deliver a threatening speech. Rarely does signaling deterrence mean killing innocents. Yet this is exactly what Iran did earlier this month when it launched a barrage of missiles at the headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran, or KDPI, during a meeting of its 21-member central committee. Six of its members were killed, according to one of the survivors, Khalid Azizi, a member of the committee. The strike was significant for a few reasons. First, its location: outside of Iranian territory, in northern Iraq. Iran has supported militias that have killed Iraqis and coalition forces in Iraq since the U.S.- led invasion in 2003. But it has not launched a direct military strike into Iraqi territory since the mid-1990s, during the Kurdish civil war. More important, Iran faces no real danger from the Kurds, especially the KDPI. Some Kurdish separatists in Iran have conducted attacks on Iranian targets over the years. But the KDPI has pursued a nonviolent strategy for equal political rights in Iran. There is “no evidence” that the KDPI was launching terrorist attacks, said Michael Rubin, an expert on Iran and Iraq at the American Enterprise Institute. He called the group “basically a coffee klatch for Iranian Kurdish exiles.”

The National: Hezbollah Is Flaunting Its Support For Yemen’s Houthis

“Hassan Nasrallah, the elusive leader of Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah, has recently voiced his support for the Iranian-backed Houthi insurgency in Yemen. While his statements have angered Gulf countries and embarrassed Lebanon’s Saudi-allied leadership, they have proven popular with his base. His June 29 speech paid a particularly vibrant homage to the Houthis. “I, and all my brothers and the resistance in the world ... should bow in tribute to those fighters” he said, before adding: “I am ashamed to not be among you.” The Yemeni government, which is backed by the Arab Coalition, responded indignantly. Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled Al Yamani wrote to his Lebanese counterpart Gebran Bassil complaining that Nasrallah was “blatantly interfering in internal [Yemeni] affairs”. In mid-August, two months after the Arab Coalition began a major offensive to retake the Yemeni port of Hodeidah, Hezbollah pushed the display of solidarity even further during its annual commemorations of the 2006 war it fought against Israel.”

The Conversation: Big Tech Is Overselling AI As The Solution To Online Extremism

“The big tech giants have been overselling the effectiveness of AI in countering hate on their platforms. Our democratic and open societies must put aside the notion that AI is the panacea for the problem at hand. Social polarization and growing mistrust across the planet will continue unless elected officials regulate Big Tech. In 2017, 250 companies suspended advertising contracts with Google over its alleged failure to moderate YouTube’s extremist content. A year later, Google’s senior vice president of advertising and commerce, Sridhar Ramaswamy, says the company is making strong progress in platform safety to regain the lost confidence of its clients. However, a recent study by the NGO Counter Extremism Project refutes the effectiveness of the company’s effort to limit and delete extremist videos. More transparency and accountability from YouTube is needed, given that the study found that over 90 per cent of ISIS videos were uploaded more than once, with no action taken against the accounts that violated the company’s terms of service.”

Syria

The Jerusalem Post: U.S.-Backed Syrian Forces Launch Offensive On Last ISIS Bastion

“A major offensive launched by U.S.-backed Syrian forces in the country’s east will likely lead to the downfall of Islamic State’s last major stronghold, but will not spell the end of the extremist group, analysts believe.  Backed by the U.S. coalition, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) launched an assault on the last remaining pockets of Islamic State (ISIS) territory in the villages near the city of Deir ez-Zor and the eastern bank of the Euphrates River where the terrorist group’s leaders, including Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, are believed to be hiding. The SDF, made up of Kurdish and Arab militias, is engaged in intense clashes with thousands of ISIS fighters near Hajin and other nearby villages as they increase pressure on the extremist group by pushing deeper into ISIS-held territory. The U.S. coalition has been supporting the offensive via air attacks and artillery strikes. “The American military support to SDF in fighting Daesh [the Arabic term for ISIS] is quite extensive,” Professor Ofra Bengio, the head of the Kurdish Studies Program at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, told The Media Line. “However, the big question mark is for how long the Americans will continue this support and if they will not turn the Kurds into a bargaining chip with Russia and Turkey.” The conquest of Hajin and nearby villages near the Iraqi border would mark an important victory in the ongoing fight against ISIS in Syria.”

The Independent: Battle For Syria's Last Major Rebel Bastion On Hold As Putin And Erdogan Meet To Discuss Next Moves

“The leaders of Turkey and Russia are meeting in Sochi on Monday for hastily arranged talks over the fate of Syria’s last major rebel stronghold. For now the impending offensive on Idlib province, touted for weeks by Damascus and its Russian and Iranian backers, appears to be on hold as a result of Turkish diplomatic agitation and military manoeuvres. Turkey is struggling to prevent an onslaught by pro-Damascus forces on the rebel-held Idlib province, but its moves may have also escalated the potential dangers of the conflict.  “We will continue our efforts with Iran and with Russia,” Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a press conference in Islamabad late last week. “We will continue our efforts on international platforms as well.” In recent days, Turkey has begun fortifying positions in Idlib ahead of the Russian-backed Syrian government offensive. Turkey has amassed armoured vehicles, artillery guns, and tanks along the border with Syria, with some equipment moving across the frontier, according to Turkish news outlets and video footage posted to the internet. It has transferred arms and ammunition to its Free Syria Army (FSA) rebel allies, pro-Ankara newspapers reported, though some experts say the distribution of weapons won’t affect the outcome of any conflict.”

Daily Beast: The ‘Final Offensive’ In Syria By Putin And Assad Suddenly Looks Like It’s On Hold

“Just a week after Syria’s northern Idlib province seemed on the brink of a massive military assault by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad backed by Russian air power, tens of thousands of defiant residents took to the streets of Idlib province and beyond on Friday in demonstrations calling for the overthrow of the Assad regime. They may be far from that goal, but it appears that the threat of annihilation has abated as well. The impending military operation feared by those on the ground and condemned by Turkey, European nations, and the United States, has not happened. For the past four days, there have been no airstrikes, no major shelling incidents, no menacing movements of troops. Instead, there is a growing sense that the threat from the regime and Russia had been suspended. The hiatus began unannounced Tuesday.  “We absolutely see something of a pause,” a U.S. defense official said.  “We’re not willing to define why at this point.”

Iran

The Wall Street Journal: Israel Strikes Iranian Arms Shipment At Damascus Airport

“Israeli missiles are suspected to have struck an Iranian arms shipment at Damascus airport late Saturday, the latest in a string of attacks aimed at eroding Tehran’s military foothold in Syria. The strikes play into a broader conflict unfolding in the Middle East. The fight against Islamic State militants, who have been driven from their strongholds in Syria and Iraq, has given way to a jostling for power among foreign and regional actors. Israel has watched with concern as Iran has entrenched itself deeper in Syria on the back of its support for the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, which has reclaimed most of the territory once held by antigovernment rebels. Over the past year, Israel has sharply increased airstrikes against Iranian assets in Syria, striking targets from its own border area to the far eastern part of the country to neighborhoods near the capital, Damascus. Saturday’s strike seemingly targeted a warehouse and a recently arrived arms shipment from Iran to the Lebanese Hezbollah militia, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based monitoring group, which said the launched missiles were likely Israeli.”

Reuters: Europe Must Offset U.S. Pullout From Nuclear Deal: Iran Minister

“Europe should take action to neutralize the consequences of the U.S. decision to quit a 2015 Iran nuclear accord to ensure its own long-term economic interests, Iran’s Foreign Minister said in an interview published on Saturday. Mohammed Javad Zarif told Germany’s Der Spiegel news magazine that Iran could “reduce its implementation” of the agreement and possibly increase uranium enrichment activities if the nuclear agreement was jeopardized by “the actions of the Americans and the passivity of the Europeans.” “The Europeans and other signatories must act to offset the consequences of the U.S. sanctions,” Zarif told the magazine, calling a package of measures drafted by Europe an important step that should now be implemented. “What is paramount: Europe should do so not for Iran, but for its own sovereign and long-term economic interests.” European Union officials strongly oppose the May decision by the United States to withdraw from the nuclear agreement, and have sought to salvage the deal in some form.”

Fox News: Pompeo Slams Kerry For 'Actively Undermining' US With Iran Shadow Diplomacy

“Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blasted predecessor John Kerry on Friday for “actively undermining” the U.S. by holding meetings with Iranian officials -- although he stopped short of endorsing President Trump’s view that the meetings were illegal. "You can't find precedent for this in U.S. history, and Secretary Kerry ought not to engage in that kind of behavior," Pompeo said in a press conference at the State Department. "It's inconsistent with what foreign policy of the United States is as directed by this president, and it is beyond inappropriate for him to be engaged." Reports of Kerry’s meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif first emerged in May, sparking significant criticism -- including from Trump. The Boston Globe, which first reported on Kerry’s talks, described them as an “aggressive yet stealthy” effort to keep the U.S. part of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which Kerry helped negotiate. Trump would nonetheless pull the U.S. from the deal and reimposed sanctions on Iran last month. The U.S. is expected to reimpose sanctions on the Islamic regime’s oil exports in November.”

Associated Press: US Says Thai Company Helped Blacklisted Iran Airline

“The U.S. government on Friday imposed sanctions on a Thailand-based company it says provides services to an Iranian airline that Washington accuses of supporting terrorist activities directed by Iran's government. The U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement that My Aviation Co. Ltd., headquartered in Bangkok, "provides cargo services to Mahan Air, to include freight booking," as well as passenger booking services. Mahan Air's website lists six weekly flights to the Thai capital, Bangkok. It said the privately owned Iranian airline "has routinely flown fighters and materiel to Syria to prop up the Assad regime, which has contributed to mass atrocities in the country and the displacement of millions of innocent civilians." The sanctions order blocks the Thai company's assets in the United States and generally prohibits U.S. citizens from doing business with it. The order was announced after working hours in Thailand, and no comment was immediately available from My Aviation. "Mahan Air continues to fly into Syria every week, even as millions of innocent civilians in Idlib province are under threat of imminent attack from the murderous Assad regime and its backers in Iran and Russia. Treasury is cutting off yet another service provider acting on behalf of Mahan Air, a sanctioned airline that transports soldiers and supplies to Assad and fuels terrorist activities across the region," the statement quoted Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as saying. "This Thailand-based company has disregarded ‘numerous U.S. warnings, issued publicly and delivered bilaterally to the Thai government, to sever ties with Mahan Air," Mnuchin said.”

Iraq

Middle East Eye: At Least 20 US-Backed Fighters Killed In Islamic State Ambush In Syria

“At least 20 fighters from a US-backed force in Syria were killed on Friday in an Islamic State (IS) group ambush in eastern Syria, a war monitor said. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces are waging an offensive around the town of Hajin in the province of Deir Ezzor, the militant group's last stronghold in the country's east. "The fighters were advancing during a sandstorm, they were surrounded, IS members used explosives and opened fire," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The US-backed SDF had been closing in on the IS pocket for months before launching its offensive on Monday. Since then, 53 militants and 37 SDF fighters have been killed in fierce clashes, according to the Britain-based Observatory. After a salvo of outgoing fire on Friday, thick columns of smoke rose from As-Susah, which along with Hajin and other nearby villages make up IS's last enclave in eastern Syria. "Daesh has strong fortifications. We're seeking to break the defences and bring its presence east of the Euphrates to an end," said a commander, Ibrahim al-Dairi, using an Arabic acronym for IS. IS once held nearly all of Deir Ezzor, but separate offensives last year by the SDF and Russian-backed government forces left the militants clinging to a small area of territory near the Iraqi border. The SDF estimates IS has about 3,000 fighters in the besieged holdout, many of them foreigners. Dairi told AFP he expects the remaining militants to "fight to the death". New video shows dozens of IS-held Syrian Druze pleading to be saved A senior US diplomat visited Kurdish-held territory in Syria last month and pledged Washington's support.”

Iraqi News: 23 Bodies Of Islamic State Leaders Found In Mass Grave, South Of Mosul

“A mass grave, composed of human remains of Islamic State leaders, has been found, south of Mosul, an official from the media department of Nineveh Operations Command said on Friday. Speaking to BasNews, Col. Saleh Sheef, said “security troops found 23 bodies of Islamic State leaders, south of Mosul. Their identity cards and positions within the group was found in their possession. The group, according to Sheef, “executed the leaders due to their reluctance and fleeing battles against security troops.” Earlier today, the Iraqi Defense Ministry announced arresting two Islamic State members in an ambush, south of Mosul. On Thursday, the Interior Ministry said six Islamic State members were arrested in west of Mosul. One of them was working for the group’s Hisbah (Vigilantism) department, while the group was in control of the town. Thousands of Islamic State militants as well as Iraqi civilians were killed since the government campaign, backed by paramilitary troops and the coalition was launched in October 2016. In December, the Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi announced gaining control on all the territories that were captured by Islamic State, since 2014. Islamic State continues to launch sporadic attacks across Iraq against troops. Security reports indicate that the militant group still poses threat against stability in the country. The group still has dormant cells, through which it carries out attacks, across Iraq like it used to do before 2014.”

Afghanistan

UPI: Taliban Night Raids Kill At Least 37 Afghan Police, Soldiers

“Taliban fighters launched several coordinated attacks against Afghanistan checkpoints, killing more than three dozen people, officials said Friday. The violence spread across four Afghan provinces, from the west near Farah to the northern Samangan province. The hours-long night-time gun battles killed 29 police officers and Afghan national army soldiers in Farah province alone. At least 37 deaths were reported. Friday's attacks continued what's been a particularly bloody month in Afghanistan. A suicide bomber killed 68 people who were protesting in the Momandara district on Tuesday. An attack in Safiullah earlier this month killed 14 and an August assault on Ghazni killed and injured 150. The show of force by the Taliban preceded peace talks set to start between the Taliban and the United States. U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis made a surprise visit to Afghanistan last week as a prelude to negotiations. The war in Afghanistan has gone on for more than 17 years and is the longest-running war in U.S. history.”

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.”

Pakistan

The Hindu: Belying Police Claims, Islamic State Shadow Lengthens Over Kashmir Valley

“Asif Nazir Dar, an engineering dropout, is remembered by locals and friends in Pulwama’s Panzgam area as a “polite and religious person who never participated in street protests”. Dar was found dead on September 8 outside Srinagar’s Kashmir University campus. Social media tussle Soon messages on social media platforms affiliated to the Islamic State said he had been killed on the orders of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo. However, a day later, another message was posted that Dar was killed by “Indian agencies.” Confirming the latter post, a senior J&K police official said Dar was the tenth militant influenced by the Islamic State (IS) ideology to be killed in the past 10 months in the Valley. The social media post showed him posing with a sophisticated weapon with the typical, black IS flag in the background. The latest death also challenges the police narrative that the strength of IS-influenced cadre in Kashmir is in single digits, and was limited to the unfurling of black flags at the funerals of militants. Dar alias Abu Anwar al-Kashmiri, according to the police, was the third amir (chief) of ISJK to be killed, after Eisa Fazli in March and Dawood Ahmad Sofi in June. “Numberwise their presence is minuscule. But it is the radical ideology propagated by this group that is spreading fast.”

The Nation: Taliban Ex-Commander Shot Dead In Bannu

“Unknown armed men gunned down a former Taliban commander and escaped the scene here on Saturday, police said. According to details, unidentified miscreants opened indiscriminate fire on former Taliban commander Gul Muhammad alias Qari Saifullah in Bannu Township killing him on the spot. The attackers fled the scene after committing the murder and the body was shifted to hospital for postmortem. The police after registering a case against unknown assailants have started an investigation.”

Yemen

Al Arabiya: After Skipping Geneva Talks, Yemen’s Houthis Set Conditions For Second Meeting

“The UN’s envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths arrived in Sanaa on Sunday in an attempt to revive peace talks, after the Houthi militias refused to attend the much-anticipated Geneva peace that the envoy had brokered between them and the Yemeni government. The Houthis’ conditions, however, do not hint that there will be any political solutions reached soon as prior to meeting with Griffiths, they have demanded cashing the wages of all state employees in all provinces, and reopening the Sanaa International Airport for commercial and international flights. Griffiths will meet with a number of Houthi officials and officials from the General People’s Congress during his visit to Sanaa. The Houthi delegation rejected an offer to be transported by an Omani plane to Geneva last week after the aircraft was searched by the coalition backing the Yemeni legitimate government, according to Western sources.”

Khaleej Times: Houthi Militias Target Yemeni Family With Mortar Shell

“A Yemeni family was hit by a mortar shell fired by the Houthi militia at their home in a village in Al Jah, Hodeidah Governorate. The latest aggression is part of a series of attacks by the militias against civilians, especially children. The shell, which was fired on a residential neighbourhood, injured Muslah Saeed Al Ahdal and his children, Khaldoun, Nadher and Duaa, who are aged between one to five years. It also injured a fourth child from another family named Nesrin, who is under the age of five years. In a quick response to their humanitarian situation, the Emirates Red Crescent provided relief assistance to the injured in order to alleviate their suffering due to the difficult humanitarian conditions they are experiencing as a result of the continuous violations by the Houthi militias against innocent civilians. Hamad Al Kaabi, UAE Humanitarian Operations Deputy Director for Yemen, said that the provision of emergency relief assistance to the injured comes within the framework of the UAE's humanitarian responsibility towards the brothers in Yemen to help them overcome the difficult conditions inflicted by the Houthi militias who are consistently intimidating the people. For his part, Adham al-Shabhi, Deputy Director of Al Khokha Surgical Hospital, said that the injured were received in a difficult health conditions, pointing out that they received immediate and appropriate medical care upon arrival at the hospital.”

Saudi Arabia

Reuters: Saudi Says It Destroyed Missile Houthis Fired At Jizan Province

“Houthi forces fighting a Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen fired a missile over the border targeting the Jizan Industrial City in southern Saudi Arabia on Saturday, but Saudi air defense forces said they had intercepted and destroyed the projectile. “The rocket force fired a Badr ballistic missile at the Industrial City of Jizan,” the Houthis’ al-Masirah TV said. The Saudi state news agency quoted the spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen as saying the missile had been heading for residential areas and had been intercepted over Jizan. “No casualties or damage were recorded when the missile was intercepted,” Colonel Turki al-Maliki said. The Iran-aligned Houthis regularly announce they have fired missiles over the Saudi-Yemeni border into Jizan province in an effort to hit important facilities, including an oil refinery operated by Saudi Aramco. The Houthis say their missile attacks on the kingdom are in retaliation for air raids on Yemen by the Western-backed coalition, which entered Yemen’s war in 2015 to try to restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Hadi was ousted from the capital Sanaa by the Houthis in 2015.”

Voice Of America: Ethiopia, Eritrea Sign Agreement In Saudi Arabia

“Eritrea and Ethiopia signed an agreement at a summit in Saudi Arabia Sunday, further bolstering relations between the two countries which had been at war for twenty years. The details of Sunday's specific agreement, signed in the presence of Saudi Arabia's King Salman and U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, were not immediately made clear. "The Jeddah Peace Agreement signed today before the CTHM is a historic milestone for the peoples of Ethiopia and Eritrea and will contribute to strengthening security and stability in the region at large," Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said in a Tweet. Relations between the Horn of Africa neighbors have improved since Prime Minister Abiy announced in June that Addis Ababa would finally honor a U.N.-brokered deal signed in 2000 to end a two-year border war that killed an estimated 70,000 people. The war was followed by nearly two decades of cold war, proxy conflicts and, at times, open hostilities.”

Lebanon

Tablet: Hezbollah Ritually Humiliates The UN

“In what is becoming a yearly ritual, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2433 end of August, extending the mandate of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) for another year. The usual actors played their familiar scripted roles: Hezbollah restated its red lines through its habitual threats. Hezbollah’s little helper, “the Lebanese government,” demanded the world continue with the status quo and otherwise keep quiet, and, finally, the Europeans, namely France, led the charge at the UN Security Council to ensure the Lebanese got what they wanted, and blocked any attempt by the United States to introduce amendments to the mandate. There was one change from last year’s performance, however. Whereas a year ago U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley expressed optimism at the minor and entirely cosmetic changes the United States did manage to introduce, this year, Amb. Haley didn’t even attend the voting session and declined to issue a statement afterwards.”

Nigeria

AllAfrica: Nigeria: Fighter Planes, Gunships Halt Another Boko Haram Attack, Destroy Logistics Base

“Nigerian Air Force (NAF) fighter planes and helicopter gunships last night pounded vehicles belonging to terrorist group, Boko Haram as they attempted another attacks on ground troops at Gudumbali and Damasak in Borno State. The fighter planes were deployed following intelligence gathered by the air force on movement of the insurgents towards troop locations in addition to the identification of its logistics base, prompting aerial bombardment. A statement issued last night by NAF'spokesman, Ibikunle Daramola, said, "the Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation LAFIYA DOLE, over the night of 14 September and early morning of September 15, 2018, tracked and destroyed some Boko Haram Terrorists (BHT) vehicles as they were attempting to launch fresh attacks on ground troops locations at Gudumbali and Damasak in Borno State. "The mission was initiated following intelligence reports indicating that a convoy of BHT vehicles had been sighted within the Damasak - Gudumbali axis.”

The Guardian: Senior Boko Haram Figure Reportedly Killed By Allies

“One of the most senior leaders of the violent Nigerian extremist group Boko Haram has reportedly been killed by his own men. Mamman Nur, who is thought to have led one of the group’s three main factions, was killed by some of his close lieutenants on 21 August, according to Nigerian media and other sources. Nur was seen by some as the slightly “softer” faction of the group that has killed tens of thousands of people and uprooted more than two million from their homes. His faction is believed to target the military and the few Christians left in the parts of north-east Nigeria where the group operates, unlike Shekau’s faction which overwhelmingly targeted Muslim civilians. Some reports said Nur was killed over a dispute relating to the Dapchi girls, a group of school students who were abducted in February and later released. Boko Haram began as a movement against the Nigerian government and went underground when its founder, Mohammed Yusuf, was killed after being taken into police custody in 2009. When it was taken over by Yusuf’s feared former deputy, Abubakar Shekau, he turned it into a full-blown armed insurgency, which at one point controlled enough territory that he declared a caliphate. Shekau’s militants notoriously kidnapped the Chibok girls, a group of schoolchildren whose cause was taken up by global figures including the former US first lady Michelle Obama, but those children – many of whom were later released – represented a fraction of the total abducted over the years. As the group lost territory, it increasingly turned to bomb attacks on key towns, frequently sending children strapped with explosives to blow themselves up in busy markets or checkpoints.”

France24: Nigeria: The Fight Against Boko Haram

“As Nigeria’s army continues its offensive against Boko Haram extremists, our reporters Catherine Norris-Trent and Jonathan Walsh travelled to the northeast of the country, still plagued by violence. For this special 26-minute documentary, they bring us rare eyewitness accounts from victims of the jihadist group, but also those who persecuted them. Security forces and ordinary citizens also speak out about the fight against Boko Haram and their hopes for reconciliation. “The ground war aginst Boko Haram has been won”: that's what Nigeria's Chief of Army Staff told us when we managed to grab him for an on-the-hoof interview on the country's National Army Day. The annual celebration is a chance for the Nigerian military to show off its strength, and this year, they were holding festivities in the far northeast of the country, near Lake Chad. It was a highly symbolic move, designed to hammer home just how far they've advanced into former Boko Haram territory. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari flew in by helicopter to thank Nigerian troops for their “defeat” of the jihadist group. In this crucial period leading up to the February 2019 elections in which Buhari hopes to win another term, Nigerian authorities are keen to underline the progress they've made in securing the northeast. The city of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, is bustling and colourful, with yellow tuk-tuks honking on busy roads and markets rammed full of people.”

Somalia

Global News: Ethiopian Airstrike Kills 70 Al-Shabab Militants In Somalia: Report

“A new report says Ethiopia‘s air force has killed about 70 al-Shabab extremists in an airstrike in neighbouring Somalia. The state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate says the airstrike was meant to thwart an al-Shabab attack on an Ethiopian contingent of the multinational African Union force. The report says “two vehicles packed with weapons” were destroyed. It does not say where or when the airstrike occurred. It cites Brig. Gen. Yilma Merdassa with the air force as saying “we achieved 100 per cent of our plans.”

Standard Reporter: Al-Shabaab Terrorists Kill Two In Ambush In Garissa

“Two people were Friday executed after thugs believed to be Al Shabaab militants stopped and profiled passengers in a bus heading to Garissa. Witnesses and police said the seven terrorists flagged down the bus at Handaro, which is between Ijara and Sangailu towns. After directing the driver to stop, the militants ordered the passengers to produce their IDs and picked out three non-locals. "The passengers were then asked to recite the Muslim Shahada and the seven verses of Suratul Fatiha," a teacher, who witnessed said. He said only one of the three recited the verses and was set free. He later alighted at Bura East, some 100 kilometres from Garissa town. The two, one of them being the bus' turn boy and the other a casual labourer based in Masalani, had their hands tied before being slaughtered. The militants escaped into a bush after committing the heinous act. Military officers responded to the distress call by the passengers some minutes afterwards.”

North Korea

The New York Times: North Korea’s Trump-Era Strategy: Keep Making A-Bombs, But Quietly

“For seven years, Kim Jong-un has pursued an in-your-face strategy for building his nuclear arsenal: detonating blasts underground and firing missiles into the sky, all to send the message that his country’s nuclear buildup is irreversible. Now he appears to be changing his approach, current and former American intelligence officials say, tailoring it to his reading of the man he met for a few hours three months ago in Singapore: President Trump. North Korea is making nuclear fuel and building weapons as actively as ever, the publicly available evidence suggests. But he now appears to be borrowing a page from Israel, Pakistan and India: He is keeping quiet about it, conducting no public nuclear demonstrations and creating no crises, allowing Mr. Trump to portray a denuclearization effort as on track. Mr. Kim’s new forbearance has helped keep a stream of warm words coming from Mr. Trump. A week ago, the president praised Mr. Kim, with whom he says he has forged a special relationship, after the North Korean leader refrained from parading missiles down the streets of Pyongyang during a military celebration.”

China

The Wall Street Journal: Why China Is Brutally Suppressing Muslims

“The repression of the Turkic Uighur Muslim community in western China—including the reported internment of up to a million people in secret camps—is a key part of Beijing’s new imperial policy. Only by understanding the dynamics of Chinese empire can one grasp this brutal campaign. Xinjiang, a province home to millions of Uighurs, translates to “New Dominion.” The area has been historically and geographically known as East Turkestan. Though the Chinese state has existed for more than 3,500 years, Xinjiang first became part of China’s Qing Dynasty only in the mid-18th century. Since then it has often been in a condition the British explorer Fitzroy Maclean labeled as “sustained turbulence.” When I first traveled through Xinjiang and interviewed Uighurs in 1994, their hatred of what they considered ethnic Han Chinese occupiers was complete. “This is Turkestan, not China. Chinese don’t learn our language, and many of us don’t learn theirs. Even on a personal level, relations are bad,” one young Uighur man told me.”

Russia

Bloomberg: Russia, Turkey Tensions On Syria Persist As Putin Meets Erdogan

“Russia and Turkey remained at odds over a threatened assault by Russian-backed government forces on the last major rebel bastion in Syria as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin prepared to meet in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. “The situation with Idlib is acute,” President Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said on Monday, state media reported. “There are differences in our approach.” Erdogan urged against using “pretexts” for military action in the northwestern Syrian province, while saying he backs joint steps against “terrorists,” according to Hurriyet newspaper. Monday’s will be the second meeting between the two leaders in less than two weeks. Russia and Iran, the two allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, clashed with Turkey at a summit on Sept. 7 in Tehran, rejecting Erdogan’s call for an immediate cease-fire in Idlib. Still, amid a Turkish military build-up inside Syria to deter an attack on rebels there, government troops have held back from a full-scale offensive.”

United Kingdom

The Telegraph: A Terrorist Is Freed In Britain Every Week - With Choudary And His Acolytes Out Next

“convicted terrorist is being released onto the streets of Britain nearly every week, according to new figures published by the Government. A snapshot of Home Office figures shows that 46 prisoners held for terrorism offences were released between March 2017 and 2018. Next month hate preacher Anjem Choudary will be one of more than 500 terrorists to be freed in the UK since the September 11 terror attacks in 2001. The Sunday Telegraph can reveal that at least 22 of Choudary's acolytes have been released from prison since 2001, with another five expected to be freed within months.”

Evening Standard: Briton Jailed In Turkey For Nearly Eight Years After Fighting Islamic State In Syria

“A former British Army soldier has been sentenced to nearly eight years in jail in Turkey after he fought against the Islamic State terror group in Syria. 25-year-old Joe Robinson was arrested on holiday accused of fighting the Islamists alongside the People’s Protection Units of Syrian Kurdistan. The Turkish state is hostile towards the group. Mr Robinson, formerly of Accrington, Lancashire, was sentenced to seven years and six months in prison, but he reportedly remains on bail while planning an appeal. He has previously admitted fighting IS but went on to deny he acted alongside the Kurdish militia, considered by Turkey as a terror organisation because of its links to the Kurdistan Workers' Party which is fighting for autonomy for the region. Robinson instead insisted he travelled to Syria to provide medical aid. He was arrested last year alongside partner Mira Rojkan, a Bulgarian citizen who had been living in Leeds studying law, and she was accused of engaging in terrorist propaganda. Ms Rojkan was given a suspended sentence, the BBC reported Robinson's mother as saying. On Saturday, the Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign praised Mr Robinson for "selflessly" battling IS, and called on the Government to stand up for the former soldier. "Joe is a hero to all who value peace and freedom against the dark forces of oppression, enslavement, rape and terrorism which IS represent," a statement said The YPG is not a proscribed organisation in the UK. The Foreign Office said: "We stand ready to provide consular assistance to a British national in Turkey.”

Southeast Asia

ABC: Adelaide Woman Found Guilty Of Being A Member Of Islamic State Terrorist Group

“A 23-year-old Adelaide woman has been found guilty of being a member of Islamic State in South Australia's Supreme Court. In May last year, she was again arrested and charged by Australian Federal Police with knowingly being a member of a terrorist organisation. Following a three-week trial, it took the jury of five women and seven men about three hours to reach an unanimous verdict. The court heard 378 audio files associated with IS were found on her phone, along with 125 videos from an IS media organisation, 62 of which contained extremist material including vision of buildings being blown up, captives being executed and dead bodies on the ground. Abdirahman-Khalif was also in communication with three young African women who carried out a bombing in Mombasa, Kenya, in September 2016, for which IS later claimed responsibility. The court heard she had been repeating oaths and singing songs connected to Islamic State in her bedroom. But her defence lawyer, Bill Boucaut SC, told the jury the prosecution had not proven beyond reasonable doubt that his client ever planned to go to Syria to join the terrorist group. Ms Abdirahman-Khalif lived with her mother and two brothers at Mansfield Park, in Adelaide's north-west.  South Australian Supreme Court in Adelaide PHOTO: Zainab Abdirahman-Khalif was found guilty in South Australia's Supreme Court today. (ABC News: Eugene Boisvert) She studied at the Islamic College of South Australia until 2011 and completed Year 12 at Roma Mitchell Secondary College. In March 2016, she quit her diploma of science and technology at the University of South Australia, which she had been studying with the hope of becoming a nurse, and decided to "follow a different path.”

Terror Financing  

Al-Ain: Libya: Armed Groups Must Be Removed From All Centers Of Finance And Power

“Experts on Libyan affairs claim that Qatar has looted Libya's treasury by means of armed militants in Tripoli, pointing out that the {main} cause of the crises in the Libyan capital is the proliferation of these militants. Issa Rashwan, an expert on Libyan politics, told Al-Ain that "all the centers of money and power must be provisionally removed from the areas controlled by militant groups" in order to trim their activities as a first step toward disbanding them altogether. "The natural requisite for solving the security crisis in the Libyan capital of Tripoli is the presence of a strong military foundation, a civilian police force and highly efficient institutions that safeguard the security and lives of Libyan citizens," said Dr. Saleh al-Zubayk, a Libyan political analyst and secretary of the Libyan Media Association in Cairo. "The continued divisiveness and the failure of the Presidential Council, under the leadership of Fayez al-Sarraj, to ensure security makes terrorist groups operate unhurriedly, organizing their ranks from time to time to target the Libyans and their wealth," the Libyan political analyst said.”

Muslim Brotherhood

Al-Arabiya: Expert Enumerates Muslim Brotherhood's Funding Sources

“Dr. Abdel-Khaleq Farouq, an Egyptian economics expert, stated that the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood used a wide range of funding sources to amass its wealth over the past several years. These diverse income sources included membership fees, charities and donations etc. {Zakat}, returns on internal investment projects {particularly trade, currency exchange, schools and hospitals}, aid and assistance from foreign associations and certain countries, in addition to returns on overseas investment projects {particularly trade, banks and stock exchange}. In the early 1980s, two additional elements bolstered the funding sources of the Muslim Brotherhood: international relief, which was dominated by the banned Islamist group and its branches across the globe, and the so-called Jihad funds, the former director of the Nile Center for Economic & Strategic Studies disclosed.”

Seventh Day: Egyptian Parliamentarian: Seizure Of Muslim Brotherhood's Funds Paralyzes Its Movements

“Dr. Abdel Rahim Ali, an Egyptian journalist and Member of Parliament, said that by carefully reviewing the recent decision to appropriate the Muslim Brotherhood's funds and assets, one can understand how the blacklisted group poisoned the minds of Egyptian children by controlling nearly 104 local schools. Similarly, by owning 39 hospitals, the Muslim Brotherhood exploited the health conditions of impoverished citizens to promote its extremist ideologies, Ali further noted. The Egyptian MP added that the outlawed organization operated its currency exchange bureaus to manipulate the exchange rate of the US dollar and other currencies, thereby continually inducing economic crises in Egypt. The decision to appropriate the money and properties of the banned group is expected to paralyze its movements and activities as far as terrorist financing is concerned, MP Ali asserted. He urged all countries that face extremist and terrorist movements to act like Egypt by drying up the financing of terrorist activities.”

Mobtada: Yemen's Muslim Brotherhood Accused Of Stealing Money Allocated For War-Wounded

“Yemeni social media activists recently spurred heated controversy over the fate of a large sum of money that was stolen by the local Muslim Brotherhood. These activities exposed official documents in which the local authority in Taiz questioned Major General Khalid Fadel, a pro-Muslim Brotherhood commander of the Taiz military front, about the fate of YR 3 billion ($12 million) that had been allocated for wounded Yemenis in the region. According to the media activists, certain army figures, who are affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, waged a fake war against the Houthi rebels in order to get their hands on vast public funds, under the pretext of financing and supporting the war-wounded.”

Houthi

Alarabiya: Houthi Militants Transfer Funds From Hodeidah To Sana'a

“Reports claimed that the Houthi militants transferred funds from banks in Hodeidah to Sana'a, as Yemeni army and Coalition forces advance in the southern parts of the city. The local media quoted sources close to the Houthis as saying they had begun transferring money from banks in the city of Hodeidah to the Yemeni capital. A Yemeni news website revealed that during the past two days, Houthi supervisors and military leaders have been overseeing an operation to transfer large amounts of money aboard armored trucks accompanied by vehicles loaded with gunmen. Banking sources also confirmed that banks in Sana'a received large amounts of money on Saturday originating from Hodeidah. According to the sources, the transfer of funds included both government and private banks.”