Eye on Extremism: September 17

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Tells Saudi Arabia Oil Attacks Were Launched From Iran

“U.S. intelligence indicates Iran was the staging ground for a debilitating attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry, people familiar with the matter said, as Washington and the kingdom weighed how to respond and oil prices soared. Monday’s assessment, which the U.S. hasn’t shared publicly, came as President Trump said he hoped to avoid a war with Iran and as Saudi Arabia asked United Nations experts to help determine who was responsible for the airstrikes. The attack sent Brent crude, the international benchmark for crude prices, soaring 15% to $69.02 a barrel on Monday, the largest gain recorded in over three decades. Higher fuel prices pose another threat to the world economy amid a U.S.-China trade dispute, although Saudi and U.S. officials said they would ensure that the oil market remains well supplied.”

Voice Of America: US Service Member Killed In Action In Afghanistan

“A U.S. service member was killed in action in Afghanistan on Monday, NATO said, without providing further details. Last week, President Donald Trump abruptly called off talks with the Taliban to end American's longest war, citing the killing of a U.S. service member in a Taliban attack days earlier. Monday's death was the 17th U.S. combat death in Afghanistan this year, according to the Pentagon's count. There also have been three non-combat deaths this year. More than 2,400 Americans have died in the nearly 18-year war. Across Afghanistan, militant attacks and more violence killed at least seven people as the country prepares for presidential elections later this month, Afghan officials said. At least five civilians, including women and children, were killed when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb in western Farah province on Sunday, according to Mohibullah Mohib, spokesman for the provincial police.”

The Washington Post: ISIS Leader Baghdadi Urges Followers To Continue Attacks, Storm Prisons In Purported New Recording

“The Islamic State released an audio recording Monday that purportedly features its fugitive leader exhorting followers to carry out attacks where they can, striking security forces and storming prisons and camps where the militant group’s adherents now languish.  In the half-hour recording, released by the group’s al-Furqan media wing, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi praised what he described as “daily operations” across ”different fronts” spanning the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The provenance of the recording is not known, though its authenticity was not immediately questioned. Since losing control of its self-proclaimed caliphate, which spanned parts of Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State has slipped back to its guerrilla roots: Sleeper cells lie low and strike when they can. Crude bombs target security forces. Places of worship are singled out for mass-casualty attacks.  Baghdadi is one of the world’s most wanted men, having eluded a global coalition of states for more than five years and inspiring attacks around the globe. The United States is offering $25 million for credible information about his whereabouts.”

Associated Press: Bombing Kills 24 At Afghan President’s Rally; Ghani Unhurt

“A Taliban suicide bomber on a motorcycle targeted a campaign rally by President Ashraf Ghani in northern Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing at least 24 people and wounding 31. Ghani was present at the venue but was unharmed, according to his campaign chief. Just hours later, an explosion struck near the U.S. Embassy in Kabul but details on that blast were not immediately known. The Taliban claimed both attacks. The violence comes as Afghanistan faces presidential elections on Sept. 28 — a vote the Taliban vehemently oppose. The insurgent group has warned Afghans not to vote in the election, and said their fighters would target election campaigns as well as polling stations. In Tuesday’s attack in northern Parwan province, the bomber rammed his motorcycle packed with explosives into the entrance of the venue where Ghani was campaigning on the outskirts of the city of Charakar.”

Haaretz: Airstrike Targets Iran-Backed Militias Near Iraq-Syria Border, Media Reports Say

“An airstrike targeted Iran-backed militias near the border between Iraq and Syria overnight Monday, according to media reports in both countries. One Iraqi news channel attributed the attack in Al Bukamal to Israel. The purported strike came a week after twenty-one people were reportedly killed in an explosion at a weapons warehouse used by Iran-affiliated militias in Iraq's Anbar province. Iraqi military sources and reports in Arab media outlets didn't say who was responsible for it, but the incident was linked to recent attacks in the country, some attributed to Israel. The explosion came a day after drones struck Iran-backed militias in eastern Syria, killing at least 18 militia fighters. A Syrian security official said Israeli jets staged the airstrikes, but denied there were any casualties. A series of recent strikes in Iraq have been attributed to Israel, some taking place near the Syrian border. The attacks were aimed at Shi’ite militias affiliated with Iran, aimed at foiling attempts to smuggle weapons into Syria.”

LabourList: How Should We Regulate Online Extremism?

"Preventing online extremism has become a priority for policy-makers in Europe. Germany was the first to legislate against extremist content in 2018, with its NetzDG Law, and earlier this year the EU has put forward a proposal for a regulation on preventing the dissemination of terrorist content online. In the UK, the Home Office and DCMS have proposed to regulate internet platforms in the online harms white paper, which considers a much wider range of harms than extremism and terrorism, such as bullying, child sexual exploitation and gang-related content."

United States

Voice Of America: Some US Lawmakers Consider Designating White Supremacists As Terrorists

“In June, Canada labeled the white supremacist group Blood & Honor and its armed branch, Combat 18, as terrorist organizations. In announcing the move, Canada's public safety department said Blood & Honor derives its ideology from “the National Socialist doctrine of Nazi Germany” and, through Combat 18,  has carried out murders and bombings. The designation of a white supremacist group as a terrorist organization, the latest of several by Western nations, comes as U.S. allies respond to a recent rise in violence committed by right-wing groups. But the U.S. government is powerless to take such action because of the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment protections, even though it would strengthen the hand of law enforcement agencies in cracking down on extremist groups.   “A white supremacist organization is an ideology, it's a belief,” assistant FBI Director Michael McGarrity testified before the House Homeland Security Committee in May. “But they're not designated as a terrorist organization.” While prosecutors have successfully charged dozens of Islamic State sympathizers with providing “material support” to a foreign terrorist organization included on a government watch list, they can't bring similar charges against individual white nationalists.”

AL.com: 16-Year-Old Charged With Making Terrorist Threats Against Alabama Schools

“A 16-year-old faces charges connected to threats against Douglas High and Douglas Middle schools in Marshall County. Marshall County Sheriff Phil Sims said the male student was arrested at DHS today. He is charged with making terrorist threats involving the schools, a class C felony, and is being held by juvenile authorities. The sheriff’s office and Douglas Police Department began investigating the threats after becoming aware of posts on social media on Sept. 14. “We were able to quickly assess the information and make an arrest today based on the hard work of our deputies and investigators. We will hold students accountable for their actions that disrupt school and related school activities,” Sims said. Authorities said during the course of the investigation they did not believe the student or faculty were in danger. Heavy law enforcement presence was at both schools today as a precaution.”

The Dallas Morning News: Arlington Teen Who Tried To Recruit Man To Terrorist Group Gets 20-Year Sentence

“An Arlington teenager who tried to help a man join a Pakistani terrorist group has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison. Michael Kyle Sewell, 18, pleaded guilty in May to conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor gave him the maximum sentence Monday. According to authorities, Sewell encouraged another man to join Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamic extremist group based in Pakistan that wants to establish a caliphate in South Asia. The group was behind a series of attacks in Mumbai, India, that killed 166 people in 2008. In November, Sewell conversed with the man — who is not named in court documents — through social media and advised him to join either Lashkar-e-Taiba or the Taliban. He gave the man the contact information for someone who could facilitate his travel to Pakistan. Unbeknownst to Sewell, that facilitator was an undercover FBI agent. (According to court documents, Sewell previously had bragged to the undercover agent about his skills, including Greco-Roman wrestling, marksmanship and boxing, but said he would need several years of training and Lasik surgery before he himself would be able to join the extremists.)”


Voice Of America: Isolated Among Extremists: Conditions Deteriorate For Children Of Islamic State

“Small children usually flock to photographers as they snap pictures in refugee camps.  They make silly faces, flash victory signs and jostle to be in the front of the shot. But nothing is usual about the children of Islamic State militants in Syria.  At the Ain Issa camp, some children of foreign IS fighters shun the camera while others flash their middle fingers or pretend-shoot the cameraman as if their hands were guns. They are among the more than 50,000 children of militants now stuck in camps after the last IS stronghold in Syria fell in March.  Most are with their mothers, the wives and other female relatives of the fighters of the so-called “Caliphate.” Their fathers are almost all dead or in jail. The international media have called these camps “incubators” for an IS resurgence.  But aid organizations say that despite their exposure to violence and extremism, children in these camps can be rescued, rehabilitated and reintegrated into the outside world.  However, action must be taken soon to be effective, they add, as the trauma deepens day by day. The children are mostly under 12-years-old, according to UNICEF, and were born in IS-controlled areas or brought in by parents.  Some were coerced or forced into supporting the group.”

Kurdistan24: Syrian Gov. Threatens US-Backed SDF, Calls Them 'Terrorists’

“The Syrian Foreign Ministry on Sunday described the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as “separatist terrorist” forces and asserted Damascus is determined “to reclaim every inch of Syrian territory.” The ministry made the statement in a letter directed to the United Nations Secretary-General, the pro-Syrian government channel SANA reported. It claimed the SDF was implementing “US and Israeli schemes in the region and prolonging the war of terror in Syria.” The statement comes after recorded video messages by Fadi Efais, a leader of the pro-Iranian Liwa al-Baqir militia, affiliated to Nawaf al-Bashir, the leader of the Baggara tribe, went public. In a video released on Sept. 12, Efais urged Syrian tribes to join regime forces to “liberate all areas controlled by SDF forces,” and claimed the Baggara and other tribes were supporting Damascus. “We do not allow the Kurds to occupy [us], neither the Americans nor the Israeli Zionists.”


The Financial Times: Iran Has Embarked On A Dangerous Provocation

“The confrontation between the US and Iran risks spinning out of control. If the weekend attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities were launched by Iranian proxies, they will mark a reckless escalation both of Tehran’s resistance to US pressure and of its struggle for supremacy with its biggest regional rival. The incident has laid bare, too, the vulnerability of the Saudi oil industry despite its vast military spending — and the influence the kingdom still exerts on global crude prices despite the US shale boom. The pressure on President Donald Trump to retaliate may be irresistible. A wiser, though difficult, course would be to seek ways to de-escalate the situation. Much is still unclear about Saturday’s attacks. There are claims that they could have originated in Iranian territory, which would amount to an act of war. If Iranian proxies were responsible, it has yet to be established whether they were by drones launched by Houthi rebels from Yemen, or missiles fired from Iraq by Iranian-linked militias. If the former, their sophistication suggests they could only have been carried out with Iranian assistance. If the attacks originated from Iraq, a US ally, that complicates any US response.”

NPR: Sophistication Of Saudi Airstrike Points To Iranian Involvement

“An attack over the weekend crippled a major Saudi Arabian oil facility. Evidence suggests the strike may have involved both missiles and drones and means Iran probably played a role.”

The New York Times: Trump Says Iran Appears Responsible For Saudi Attack But That He Wants To Avoid War

“President Trump said Monday that Iran appeared to have been responsible for the weekend attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities. But he also said he would “like to avoid” a military conflict with Tehran, emphasized his interest in diplomacy and played down the attack’s jolt to the global oil market. Asked at the White House whether Iran was behind the strikes on Saturday that crippled much of Saudi Arabia’s oil output, Mr. Trump said, “It’s looking that way.” But he stopped short of a definitive confirmation, adding, “That’s being checked out right now.” The attack was the most destructive blow to Saudi Arabia since it began waging war in Yemen more than four years ago. The damage inside Saudi Arabia helped drive world oil prices up by 10 percent on Monday, the fastest rise in more than a decade. Mr. Trump warned that the United States has fearsome military capabilities and is prepared for war if necessary. “With all that being said, we’d certainly like to avoid it,” he said. “I know they want to make a deal,” he said of Iranian officials, whom he has been trying to draw into talks over their nuclear program and other issues. “At some point it will work out.”


Iraqi News: Seven Iraqis Wounded In Two Bomb Blasts In Baghdad

“Seven Iraqi people were wounded Monday in two bomb explosions in northern Baghdad, a security source said. Speaking to Alsumaria News, the source said that a roadside bomb exploded in al Shaab area, north of Baghdad, leaving two civilians wounded. Two other explosive charges went off in al Shorta and al A’lam districts in southern Baghdad, leaving five people wounded, the source added. Violence in the country has surged further with the emergence of Islamic State extremist militants who proclaimed an “Islamic Caliphate” in Iraq and Syria in 2014. The surge in violence between armed groups and government forces has resulted in over five million internally displaced persons across Iraq and left more than 11 million in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.”

Iraqi News: Iraqi Troops Destroy Four Islamic State Terrorist Hotbeds In Diyala

“Iraqi security forces have destroyed four terrorist hotbeds of the Islamic State group in the eastern province of Diyala, a police spokesman said. “A security operation was launched in Mandali town, 90 km east of Baqubah, where troops of the Iraqi army and police destroyed four Islamic State terrorist hotbeds and seized a large cache of ammunition and four locally-made explosive charges,” the Iraqi Baghdad Today news website quoted Diyala police spokesman Col. Ghaleb al-Attia as saying in a press statement Monday. The operation was conducted by a joint force of Diyala emergency and SWAT directorates, the spokesman added. Also, troops of the Iraqi army and Diyala intelligence took part in the operation. In January 2015, Iraqi forces announced liberation of Diyala province from Islamic State extremist militants who proclaimed an “Islamic Caliphate” in Iraq and Syria in 2014. The province has seen months of fighting between Iraqi troops and IS militants especially in the Jalawla and Saadiyah areas in the province’s north and areas near the town of Muqdadiyah.”

Kurdistan 24: Iraq Launches Anti-ISIS Operation Near Saudi Border

“Iraq’s Joint Operations Command announced on early Monday the start of a military operation to “dry up the sources of terrorism” in the desert areas between the provinces of Anbar and Najaf along the Saudi Arabian border. This marks the latest military campaign Iraq has launched among four other operations that took place in Anbar and north of Baghdad and then in remote areas of Diyala and Nineveh. The military operation, dubbed “The Will of Victory,” is being carried out almost weekly and in phases to pursue sleeper cells and remnants of the so-called Islamic State, which continues to reorganize and launch attacks across different parts of the country. “The fifth stage of this operation began at dawn on Monday in the desert of Anbar, south of the international road that borders Karbala and Najaf to the Saudi-Iraqi border,” the Joint Operations Command said in a statement seen by Kurdistan 24. It added that the detachments from different parts of the Iraqi security apparatus are participating in the military push, including the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), with aerial support from the Iraqi air force and the international anti-ISIS coalition.”


BBC News: Turkey Says Three Million Could Return To Safe Zone In Syria

“Turkey's president has said that up to three million Syrian refugees could return to their country to live in a "safe zone" in the north. Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the zone - which is already being set up in co-operation with the US - needed to be extended for the goal to be met. US-backed Kurdish fighters earlier moved back from a strip of Syrian territory along the Turkish border. Turkey regards the Kurdish forces as terrorists. Mr Erdogan's comments came after talks in Ankara with the presidents of Russia and Iran, Vladimir Putin and Hassan Rouhani. The Kurds have yet to respond to Mr Erdogan's plan, but they are almost certain to bitterly oppose it, the BBC's Alan Johnston reports. Earlier this month, Turkey warned it might reopen the route for Syrian refugees to enter Europe if it did not get more international support for the "safe zone" in northern Syria. Turkey is hosting more than 3.6 million Syrians who have fled the civil war that began in 2011.”


Associated Press: Jihad, History Link Taliban To Al-Qaida In Afghanistan

“The Taliban promised Washington during months of negotiations that the United States would never again be attacked from Afghan soil. Such a pledge would have included al-Qaida, which planned the 9/11 attacks from inside Afghanistan. Yet jihad, or holy war, and a shared history continue to bind the two militant groups, and there’s no evidence of a break in relations between the long-time allies. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said the Taliban agreed to cut ties with al-Qaida as part of peace negotiations, which President Donald Trump abruptly called off last week. The al-Qaida leadership still vows allegiance to Taliban chief Maulvi Hibatullah Akhunzada, and al-Qaida has been growing stronger in recent years, according to analysts and experts. The group has overcome setbacks from the establishment of a rival Islamic State affiliate in eastern Afghanistan and from U.S. drone strikes that had reduced its numbers. The militants even established a subsidiary in the region called al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent, with ties to jihadi groups as far away as Myanmar. “Since 2017, the group has recovered meaningfully,” said Asfandyar Mir, a fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University.”

Long War Journal: Taliban Supplies Al Qaeda With Explosives For Attacks In Major Afghan Cities

“The Taliban continues to work closely with al Qaeda’s branch in South Asia. Afghan Commandos and a unit from the National Directorate of Security raided a Taliban warehouse that was used to store explosives that would be used by Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) to conduct attacks in the Afghan capital and other “major cities.”  The news comes only one week after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that al Qaeda is “a shadow of its former self in Afghanistan” and the Taliban “would break from al Qaeda publicly and permanently” to sign a so-called peace deal, which was canceled by President Trump. “Commandos and NDS special Unit 703 with support from the Air Force” attacked a Taliban “stronghold and warehouse of explosive materials” in Ghazni’s Muqur district, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) reported on Sept. 14. Muqur is a contested district, and Ghazni is a known haven for al Qaeda. Afghan forces attacked two bases, killed 26 “terrorists,” and destroyed 120 barrels of explosives and “2000 kilograms of primary explosive substances.” The explosive materials “were transported to Ghazni from the neighboring country.” Although not named, that country is certainly Pakistan, which borders Ghazni province.”

NPR: Taliban Lift Ban On Red Cross, Pledge To Protect Aid Workers In Afghanistan

“The Taliban are rescinding a 5-month-old ban that prevented staff with the International Committee of the Red Cross from working in Afghanistan, saying they also will renew security guarantees for the aid workers. The new arrangement was worked out during talks in Doha, the capital of Qatar, according to representatives from both the Taliban and the Red Cross. “In a message sent via social media, a Taliban spokesman said they had all instructed all their fighters to 'pave the way' for the International Committee of the Red Cross to resume work,” NPR's Diaa Hadid reports from Islamabad. “The organization is one of the largest working in Afghanistan today — they've faced deadly attacks in the past — including in 2017, when eight Red Cross workers were killed,” Hadid says. In April, the Taliban issued threats to both the Red Cross and the World Health Organization, saying their staffs would be targeted if they kept working in Afghanistan. Those threats came during vaccination campaigns. Schaerer Juan-Pedro, who leads the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation in Afghanistan, says the two sides reestablished a “common understanding” about the Red Cross' work in Afghanistan.”


The New York Times: The Secret Of Yemen’s War? We Can End It

“Yemen’s war has to end. And the secret is that the way it ends is no secret at all. On Sept. 14, a drone attack on Aramco facilities in Saudi Arabia destroyed approximately half of Saudi crude oil production. The Houthi militia in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack; Saudi Arabia and the United States, however, are pointing fingers at Iran. This situation threatens to turn regional tensions into a shooting war, as well as destabilizing the global economy. And for Yemen, the risk of being drawn into a war between states, and not merely between proxies, is now very real. If more evidence was needed for the urgency of a political solution in Yemen, then these attacks provide it. Most wars appear to have no solution. They are occasioned by rival states, fueled by rival ideologies and impermeable to the cries of the victims. Yemen is in some ways no different. Every single family in the country has lost a generation of education among its children; every single family has seen a relative or a friend killed. Few see the sense in a war among their leaders that costs each and every one of them so dearly. This is a conflict the international community can resolve. And because we can, we must. The details of this settlement are in plain sight. Seven elements will necessarily underpin any agreement to end the war.”

The National: Top Houthi Rebel Commander Killed In Southern Yemen

“A high-ranking Houthi commander and several other rebel fighters were killed in Yemen’s southern Dhalea province during two days of clashes. Capt Majed Al Shouaibi, a spokesman for the pro-government forces, said the rebel commander was killed on Saturday. “Maj Gen Adel Mokbel Abu Esba, commander of the 135th brigade of the Houthi militia, was killed in clashes with our forces in Al Reibi on the Hajer front with a number of his fighters,” Capt Al Shouaibi told The National. The rebels reported the commander’s death on affiliated news websites and broadcast his funeral on their Al Masirah TV channel. A coalition of militias known as the Southern Joint Forces repelled a Houthi attempt to seize Dhalea earlier this year and have pushed the rebels back to the northern edges of the province. Fighting has flared up in northern Dhalea over the past week, Capt Al Shouaibi said.”


The National: Special Tribunal For Lebanon Issues New Charges Against Hezbollah Suspect

“The Special Tribunal for Lebanon unveiled charges on Monday that widen the investigation into assassination attempts and killings believed to be linked to the 2005 murder of prime minister Rafiq Hariri. The charges come six years after the last indictment was issued and as the court process into Mr Hariri's murder enters the final stages. Pre-trial judge Daniel Fransen lifted the confidentiality of his decision confirming the new charges against Salim Ayyash. They relate to the assassination of former Lebanese Communist Party secretary general George Hawi in a car bombing in June 2005. They also concern the attempted murders of Lebanese politicians Elias Al Murr in July 2005 and Marwan Hamadeh in October 2004. Mr Ayyash is one five members of the Lebanese group Hezbollah who have been charged over Hariri's killing, all of whom are being tried in their absence. The new charges against him include assassination attempts on 19 people. There were a string of car bombings in Lebanon against anti-Syrian journalists and politicians about the time of Hariri’s death, which led to the withdrawal of Syrian troops after 29 years of occupation.”

The Washington Free Beacon: Hezbollah, Operating Under Constraints, Hopes To Avoid War

“Two weeks ago, a third Lebanon war was narrowly averted. Hezbollah fired several anti-tank missiles at an IDF ambulance and missed. Both Hezbollah and Israel breathed a sigh of relief. The reasons for Israel's reluctance for an all-out war have been widely discussed (Hezbollah's missile arsenal, international opprobrium, the election cycle). Less understood are Hezbollah's reservations. But the terror group, too, operates under constraints. It's caught between Iran and Lebanon. Hezbollah is a contractor. Its real headquarters isn't Beirut but Tehran, to which it owes its very existence (Iran pulled together various Lebanese Shiite groups to form Hezbollah in the 1980s). Former U.S. ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman calls Hezbollah “the most successful, and the most deadly, export of the 1979 Iranian revolution.” While Hezbollah may be at its militarily strongest ever, with a missile arsenal estimated at 130,000 and troops battle-tested in Syria, it's still no match for the Israel Defense Forces. And while Iran must be grating its teeth as it watches Israel knock out its proxy's assets one after another, it's not about to throw its most valuable chess piece into a game it can't win. Also, Hezbollah has money issues. That's because its patron has money issues.”

The Wall Street Journal: Islamic State Releases Purported Audio Message From Leader Baghdadi

“Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi ordered his followers to redouble their efforts to further the extremist group’s cause, in an audio message apparently aimed at raising morale after it lost control over its self-proclaimed caliphate in parts of Syria and Iraq earlier this year. The purported Baghdadi message follows Islamic State’s April release of what was the first known video footage of him in nearly five years. Severely weakened by the five-year military campaign that forced it underground in March, the extremist group remains a potent threat after reverting to insurgency while seeking to inspire attacks globally. “O soldiers of Allah everywhere, know that what is coming is good…so the efforts must be redoubled and one’s best must be given in all aspects, whether in preaching or media or military or security,” Baghdadi said in a 30-minute recording, according to monitoring group SITE Intelligence.”


Reuters: East Libyan Forces Carry Out Air Strike On Central City, Widening Front

“Eastern Libyan forces on Monday mounted an air strike on the central city of Sirte held by the internationally recognised government, an official and residents said, widening a conflict engulfing the capital Tripoli. Khalifa Haftar’s eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) force has been trying since April to take Tripoli, which is held by the internationally recognised government, with a ground campaign supported by air strikes.  The campaign has displaced more than 120,000 people in Tripoli alone, killed hundreds of civilians, and risks disrupting oil supplies from the country in chaos since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. There have been LNA-claimed strikes in recent days on Sirte, some 450km (280 miles) by road east of Tripoli, but mainly on the outskirts, residents said. Haftar, who is allied to an eastern parallel administration, might be trying to shift the frontline from Sirte away from Tripoli where he has been unable to breach the city’s defences and even lost his main forward base in Gharyan, said Emad Badi, a Libya researcher. Such a move would also pre-empt attacks on the main LNA supply base in Jufra, a central oasis, which the Tripoli forces have attacked by air, said Badi, a non-resident scholar at the Middle East Institute.”


The Defense Post: Boko Haram Suicide Bomb And Gun Attack At Maiduguri University Military Camp

“Boko Haram fighters staged gun and suicide bomb attacks on a military camp outside a university in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state, the emergency services said on Monday. The insurgents attacked the camp’s outlying the perimeter wall of the University of Maiduguri at around 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 15, forcing troops to withdraw before a bomber detonated his explosives. Maiduguri is the birthplace of the Boko Haram movement and has been repeatedly attacked by the group. Known as UniMaid, the university campus is on the outskirts of the city, on the road southeast to Bama. “We evacuated the remains of a suicide bomber who blew himself up inside the lodging used by soldiers guarding the rear parameter of the university,” said Bello Dambatta, the Head of the Rapid Response Team of the Borno State Emergency Management Agency. “Luckily no soldier was hurt in the attack as there were no troops inside the building at the time,” Danbatta told AFP. The fighters had waded through deep trenches dug around the university fence to stave off Boko Haram incursions. “Everybody ran out of the hostels, thinking the university was under attack because the sounds and explosion were very close,” said student Rebecca Simon.”


Asharq Al-Awsat: Tunisia Kills ‘Terrorist’ Who Pledged Allegiance To Al-Qaeda

“Tunisian security services specialized in the fight against terrorism have killed a militant belonging to the terrorist “Uqba ibn Nafi battalion,” which pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Security sources said that the defendant, 30, resided in Monastir (central eastern Tunisia). He was accused of glorifying terrorism, adopting the takfiri ideology, and inciting people to join terrorist organizations. Preliminary security investigations revealed that he had downloaded data and information about the Uqba ibn Nafi battalion on his own account and was communicating with extremist elements who have joined terrorist organizations abroad. The defendant asserted that he has adopted the extremist ideology within the branch of the Africa Foundation, an affiliate of the Uqba ibn Nafi battalion in Monastir. It is noteworthy that the battalion has been established in Tunisia since 2012, and is affiliated with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Most of its elements have carried out operations within Ansar al-Sharia organization, which has been classified as a terrorist organization by the Tunisian authorities and the USA.”

Xinhua: Morocco, Senegal Renew Support To Defeat Regional Terrorism

“Morocco and Senegal renewed, on Monday in Rabat, their support to regional and international initiatives to put an end to terrorism and extremism in the Sahel-Saharan zone. The two countries also agreed to intensify their cooperation in counter-terrorism field through the exchange of experience and information, said a joint statement published after talks with Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita, and his Senegalese counterpart Amadou Ba. Bourita and Ba praised the exceptional quality and density of the long-standing relations between the two countries, added the statement. They expressed “deep satisfaction” to the progress made in bilateral cooperation, meanly in health, agriculture, transport, fisheries and diplomacy, said the statement. The two ministers agreed to encourage mutual investment and take the necessary measures to create new investment opportunities for the business communities of both countries. They underlined the enormous economic and trade opportunities offered by both countries, said the statement.”


Asharq Al-Awsat: France To Press To Drop Sudan From US Terror List

“French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Monday that Paris will exert efforts to drop Sudan from the US blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism and to support efforts to reintegrate the country into the international community. Le Drian was in Khartoum for a one-day visit, the first such trip to Sudan by France's top diplomat in more than a decade. His visit comes as the northeast African country transitions to civilian rule after decades of authoritarianism. “We will use our influence to ensure that Sudan is removed from this list,” Le Drian said at a joint press conference with his Sudanese counterpart Asma Mohamed Abdalla after the two held talks. “It is the way to ensure that we can consider a new relationship (for Sudan) with financial institutions, everything is obviously linked,” he said, asked by AFP if France would back efforts to remove Sudan from Washington's blacklist. Decades of US blacklisting along with a trade embargo imposed on Sudan in 1997 has kept overseas investors away from the country, in turn isolating it from the global economy. Sudan's worsening economic situation was the key trigger for nationwide protests that finally led to the ouster of longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir in April.”


Deutsche Welle: Germany To Extend Anti-IS Mission: Reports

“The German government has reached a compromise to extend the Bundeswehr's anti-”Islamic State” mission in Syria and Iraq, according to media reports. The Christian Democrats (CDU) and Social Democrats (SPD) have been in a tussle over extending the mission's mandate, with the SPD demanding the Bundeswehr end its role. Germany has four Tornado reconnaissance jets, an AWAC aircraft and an in-flight refueling tanker based in Jordan carrying out missions as part of a US-led international coalition against IS. The Bundeswehr also has a military training mission in Iraq. Frustrated soldiers and a defense system struggling to repair its way into a fully functioning military. And a new defense minister who will have to regain confidence from army representatives. According to a text of the CDU-SPD agreement seen by several German media outlets, the Tornados and refueling tanker will be given a mandate to continue operations until March 31, 2020. The mandate was set to expire at the end of October and would normally have been extended by a year. The Iraqi military training mission and AWAC flights will be extended “no later than October 31, 2020,” according to the compromise.”

Fair Observer: How Crime Helps Finance Radical-Right Terrorism

“Little research has been done on the financing of radical-right terrorist groups, especially when it comes to Germany. However, the finding within terrorism research that “money is the lifeblood of any organization, including the ones waging clandestine wars,” as Dipak K. Gupta puts it, also applies to terrorism on the far right. Indeed, several financial sources for (West) German right-wing terrorism since the 1970s can be found: In some cases, sympathizers or activists themselves brought in their own private, personal assets, such as an inheritance or savings. Existing evidence indicates that the vast majority of right-wing terrorist groups financed their activities and underground life through crime, particularly bank robberies and theft — sometimes attaining considerable amounts of money. The Hepp/Kexel Group, led by the neo-Nazis Odfried Hepp and Walther Kexel, active in the early 1980s, serves as an example. This was a well co-ordinated terrorist group with a pronounced political profile that systematically committed bank robberies to finance its activities. The main enemy was “US imperialism,” particularly the US troops deployed in West Germany. The Hepp/Kexel was well equipped for the underground fight.”


Voice Of America: India’s Top Court Asks Government To Return Normal Life To Kashmir

“Six weeks after the Indian government imposed a partial clampdown in Kashmir, the Supreme Court directed authorities to “make the very best endeavor” to return normal life to the disputed Himalayan region. Judges also asked the Indian government to ensure smooth functioning of schools, hospitals and public transport. The Supreme Court did not order the government to take specific actions to address the crisis. India imposed a security lockdown and communication restrictions in the restive region on August 5, after scrapping its partial autonomy and bringing it directly under New Delhi’s control. Since then some curbs have been eased and most landlines have been restored. But the Kashmir valley continues to be largely shuttered, and mobile and internet services are still blocked. Although schools have opened, most students are not attending classes. An estimated 1,000 people including regional political leaders are in detention. The court’s ruling came in response to petitioners who have challenged the restrictions in the state calling them “draconian.”

Southeast Asia

Foreign Affairs: The Islamic State Meets Southeast Asia

“On March 23, 2019, U.S.-backed Kurdish and Arab militias captured the last territorial redoubt of the Islamic State (or ISIS) in Iraq and Syria. After a bloody, four-year campaign, a caliphate approximately the size of the United Kingdom had been reduced to a 1.5-square-kilometer village in eastern Syria—then wiped from the map entirely. Six months later, ISIS is still reeling from the shock. ISIS militants initially sheltered underground in enclaves throughout the Levant. They began a sustained campaign of assassinations and ambushes against political power brokers and security forces, particularly in Iraq. At the same time, the organization’s affiliate and franchise groups grew in importance and their territorial reach extended east. Southeast Asia, in particular, has assumed a greater role in the terrorist group’s global strategy, despite having been overshadowed by higher-profile wilayats, or provinces, of the self-proclaimed caliphate in the past. The number of ISIS fighters, suicide bombers, organized training programs, and propaganda videos originating from the region has grown steadily in recent years. Without a claim to physical territory anymore, the group’s information operations have become even more critical to its success. The nature and spread of ISIS as an organization have changed as a result.”

Yahoo News: Singaporean Man Who Supports ISIS Charged With Terrorist Financing, Detained Under ISA

“A Singaporean man who allegedly sent money to two individuals to finance terrorist acts was charged in the State Courts on Monday (16 September). Ahmed Hussein Abdul Kadir Sheik Uduman, 34, who has been detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) since August last year, was radicalised and wanted to undertake armed violence in support of the terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a statement. Hussein is accused of two offences under the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act. He allegedly transferred S$1,059 on 26 July, 2016 to a person known as Patrick Gray though Western Union Global Network, believing that the money would benefit a person who was facilitating terrorist acts. The person is named as Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal in court documents. He was also charged with sending US$62 (S$85.14) via PayPal to a person known as Nzingha Kokayi, believing that the monies would benefit Sheikh Abdullah. If convicted, Hussein’s Order of Detention will be cancelled, and he will serve the jail term imposed by the court, MHA said. “To prevent him spreading his radical ideas to other inmates, he will be held separately, and will continue to undergo rehabilitation whilst serving his prison sentence.”