Eye on Extremism: September 18

CNN: At Least 48 People Killed In Two Separate Bomb Attacks In Afghanistan

“At least 48 people have been killed in two separate suicide attacks in Afghanistan on Tuesday. In Parwan province, to the north of Kabul, a Taliban suicide bomber targeted an election campaign rally where Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani was set to speak, killing 26 people and wounding 42. Ghani was not hurt in the attack which happened at a checkpoint near the rally venue, according to Wahida Shahkar, a spokesperson for the governor of Parwan. Nasrat Rahimi, spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Interior, said that of the 26 people killed 22 were civilians and four were security staff. Women and children were among the victims, Rahimi confirmed. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in a media message from spokesman Zabiullah Mojahid. In a separate incident hours later, a suicide bomb attack near the US embassy in central Kabul killed 22 people.”

CBS News: American Inside Syrian Prison Says He Was Recruited To ISIS Online

“In northern Syria, prisoners are filled to the point of bursting, with foreign ISIS fighters. They want to return to their home countries, but nobody wants them. CBS News was given rare access to one of these prisons, the first time a television crew has been allowed in. It's home to 5,000 ISIS captives, including ISIS leaders and the men who built their deadly bombs, according to the guards. But it's not where CBS News expected to find a 22-year-old man from Minneapolis. Abdelhamid Al-Madioum agreed to tell his story, but we can't know for sure whether he was speaking freely. He said he was recruited to ISIS through a contact on Twitter and was bombarded with ISIS propaganda videos. Not the ones showing gruesome beheadings, but ones explaining that ISIS was helping Muslims. He said he entered ISIS territory in 2015, hoping to become a doctor.”

The Jerusalem Post: At Least 10 Killed In Airstrikes On Pro-Iranian Militia In Syria

“At least 10 militants were killed in airstrikes on Monday night by unidentified aircraft on pro-Iranian militias in Albukamal in Syria near the Iraqi border, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The raid targeted an ammunition depot and two other sites belonging to the Popular Mobilization Forces or other pro-Iranian factions in the area. Heavy material damage and 10 deaths were reported. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the death toll is expected to rise as some of the injured were in serious condition. The director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights stated that according to the information that they have, the airstrikes were likely carried out by Israel. Later on Tuesday, the Lebanese Al Mayadeen news reported that four airstrikes targeted sites of Iraqi factions near the Iraq-Syria border. No injuries were reported in the strike. Al Hadath reported that the remains of 16 Iraqi militants killed in the attacks in Albukamal arrived in Iraq on Tuesday.”

The New York Times: To Find Clues In Saudi Oil Attacks, U.S. Examines Missile And Drone Parts

“American investigators are examining missile circuit boards recovered after strikes against Saudi oil facilities to determine the trajectory of the attack — and whether it originated from Iran — as the Trump administration debates how, and whether, to retaliate. Analysts are poring over satellite imagery of the damage sites, and assessing radar tracks of at least some of the low-flying cruise missiles that were used. Communication intercepts from before and after the attacks are being reviewed to see if they implicate Iranian officials. Perhaps most important, forensic analysis is underway of missile and drone parts from the attack sites. The Saudis have recovered pristine circuit boards from one of the cruise missiles that fell short of its target, providing forensics specialists the possibility of tracing the missile’s point of origin, according to a senior American official briefed on the intelligence.”

The Chicago Tribune: Facebook Auto-Generating Pages For Islamic State, Al-Qaida

“In the face of criticism that Facebook is not doing enough to combat extremist messaging, the company likes to say that its automated systems remove the vast majority of prohibited content glorifying the Islamic State group and al-Qaida before it's reported. But a whistleblower's complaint shows that Facebook itself has inadvertently provided the two extremist groups with a networking and recruitment tool by producing dozens of pages in their names. The social networking company appears to have made little progress on the issue in the four months since The Associated Press detailed how pages that Facebook auto-generates for businesses are aiding Middle East extremists and white supremacists in the United States. On Wednesday, U.S. senators on the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will be questioning representatives from social media companies, including Monika Bickert, who heads Facebooks efforts to stem extremist messaging.”

Motherboard: Neo-Nazis Are Glorifying Osama Bin Laden

“Joshua Fisher-Birch, a research analyst at the Counter Extremism Project, told VICE that it makes sense that extreme white supremacist groups would parrot ISIS or al Qaeda propaganda because they both endorse the use of extreme violence for ideological ends. "ISIS and al Qaeda have a great deal of content, including visually arresting images and videos, as well as tactical and strategic guidance obtained from years of fighting insurgencies and committing acts of terrorism," said Fisher-Birch. "Violent white supremacist groups have similar issues as their jihadist counterparts, such as recruitment, the maintenance of an online community, the promotion of ideological and tactical education, and ultimately, inspiring action."

United States

The Hill: We Need The Full Picture On Domestic Terrorism

“Imagine that you have been given a jigsaw puzzle to solve without the reference picture on the box and without all the necessary pieces. Clearly this is an absurd—and impossible—task. But when it comes to understanding the full picture of domestic terrorism, Congress and the American people are trapped in this futile exercise. In March, we learned—from unpublished FBI data leaked to the press—that there were more arrests tied to domestic terrorism than to international terrorism in 2017 and 2018. In May, the counterterrorism lead for the FBI testified before my committee that the FBI is currently pursuing around 850 active domestic terrorism investigations across the country. This summer, the FBI director told Congress that the number of arrests linked to domestic terrorism was on par with the number of arrests linked to international terrorism in the last nine months. These are some of the puzzle pieces – but its clear that we do not have enough information for a clear picture of this persistent threat. These revelations are punctuated by the real-life horror of domestic terrorist attacks. El Paso. Gilroy. Poway. Pittsburgh. Charlottesville. Charleston. Oak Creek. So many more. Each expose another piece of the puzzle.”

New York Daily News: Trial Begins For Brooklyn Man Accused Of Giving Cash To ISIS Recruit

“It was a three-minute crime with a 30-year penalty, a prosecutor said Tuesday in the trial of a Brooklyn man accused of financing a terrorist operation. Opening arguments began in the trial of Dilkhayot Kasimov, who is accused of providing $1,600 to a co-conspirator at an airport in 2015. "Late on a night in February, 2015, that man drove to JFK in Queens,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Haggans told jurors in Brooklyn Federal Court. “The defendant was trying to find a man, a man who was trying to board a plane. He found the man. He handed him a stack of cash. That man intended to fly to Syria. He wanted to join ISIS. "It is a crime to give money to a fighter in a terrorist organization,” Haggans said. “And that is why we are here today.” Haggans said the trial will give jurors insight into how ISIS recruited fighters from all over the world, including the U.S. Haggans said co-conspirator Akhror Saidakhmeto and his roommate wanted to join ISIS, and that Kasimov helped them. Kasimo’s lawyer, Abraham Rubert-Schewel, asked jurors to keep an open mind.”

Syria

CBS News: ISIS Suspects In Overcrowded Syrian Prison Tell CBS News They're Americans

“A U.S.-backed Syrian militia running a prison packed with thousands of alleged ISIS fighters is struggling to keep control of the detainees. The prisoners want to return to their home countries, and their jailers warn that if something isn't done to relieve the burden, the accused terrorists could end up back in the fight. The militia let CBS News correspondent Holly Williams and her team inside the high-security prison in northeast Syria — the first time a television camera has been allowed in. They wouldn't even permit video showing the outside of the facility, given the tense security situation in the region. President Trump has called on European countries to bring home their nationals who joined ISIS in Syria, so it was a surprise for Williams to find prisoners who said they were American. Williams said the prison is like the United Nations — she met people from Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany — but everyone there is accused of joining ISIS. They signed up for an Islamic paradise but ended up living packed like sardines in cells, some of them with terrible injuries from the battlefield. "Are you American?" Williams asked one man through a cell door. "Yes," he replied. Lirim Sylejmani told CBS News that he left his home in Chicago to live under ISIS in 2015, and he's unrepentant.”

Al Jazeera: 10 Iran-Backed Fighters Killed In Syria Attack: Report

“A missile attack by an unidentified aircraft hit a position near a Syrian government-held town along the Iraqi border overnight on Tuesday, reportedly killing at least 10 Iran-backed fighters. The attack took place in Al Bukamal, in the eastern Syrian province of Deir Az Zor, security officials said. Reuters news agency reported the raid was carried out by unmanned aerial vehicle. However, according to the report, it caused no casualties. The missile hit a weapons depot belonging to Iraqi factions operating under the banner of the Popular Mobilization Forces, the name given to mainly Shia militias in Iraq that are backed by Iran. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Deir Ezzor 24, an activist collective, said 10 fighters were killed. Iraqi officials confirmed the death toll to the Associated Press news agency. It was the latest in a series of unclaimed attacks inside Iraq and along the border with Syria targeting Iran-backed militias. Last week, unknown warplanes targeted an arms depot and Iranian-backed militia posts in Al Bukamal, killing at least 18 fighters. A Syrian security official said Israeli jets were behind Tuesday's attack, but denied there were casualties. US officials confirmed Israel was behind at least one of the recent attacks inside Iraq.”

Iran

Reuters: Iran Says It Held Talks With Afghanistan's Taliban

“Iran held talks with a delegation from Afghanistan’s Taliban, the Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday, a week after peace talks between the United States and the Islamist insurgents collapsed.  Iran said in December it had been meeting with Taliban representatives with the knowledge of the Afghan government, after reports of U.S.-Taliban talks about a ceasefire and a possible withdrawal of foreign troops.  Last week, the U.S.-Taliban talks collapsed and fighting resurged. The two sides had been seeking to reach an accord on the withdrawal of thousands of American troops from Afghanistan in exchange for Taliban security guarantees. “In the framework of Iran’s comprehensive consultations with all parties in Afghanistan, a Taliban political delegation visited our country recently to discuss the latest developments in Afghanistan with...Iranian officials,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi was quoted as saying by state media.  Mousavi did not give further details.  The U.S.-Taliban negotiations, which did not include the Afghan government, were intended as a prelude to wider peace talks to end more than 40 years of war in Afghanistan.”

The Jerusalem Post: US Embassy Says Pro-Iran Business Event Funds Terrorism In Berlin

“The US embassy in Berlin announced that a slated pro-Iranian regime business conference on Thursday in Berlin will fund terrorism. The event includes members of the German government and Klaus Ernst, a MP from the largely anti-Israel Left Party in the Bundestag."Thursday’s conference by the Maleki Corporate Group to promote trade with the Iranian regime is a dangerous move that will fund terrorism and undermine US sanctions, " the embassy tweeted on Tuesday. Richard Grenell, the US ambassador to Germany, said in a statement that "Iran perpetuates gross human rights abuses against its own citizens, has planned and carried out terror attacks and assassinations on European soil, and is facilitating Assad's war crimes in Syria. Now is not the time to promote business deals that will only send euros to the regime's coffers at the expense of the Iranian people." The European organization, Stop the Bomb, which seeks to end the Iranian regime's illicit nuclear weapons program, is scheduled to protest the business conference. The Maleki Corporate Group GmbH is holding their 8th Banking and Business Forum Iran Europe on September 19 and 20 at the Maritim Hotel in Berlin.”

The New York Times: Hard-Liners In Iran See No Drawback To Bellicose Strategy

“President Trump appeared to be softening toward Iran. He had broken with his administration’s leading advocate of confrontation, signaled a willingness to meet personally with his Iranian counterpart, and reportedly considered relaxing some sanctions. But Iran, American officials say, responded with violence. The officials have accused Iran of orchestrating or even starting a major attack on Saturday against critical Saudi Arabian oil installations, jolting international energy markets and humiliating a key American ally. The slap-the-other-cheek tactic is hardly surprising, Iranian scholars say. Tehran, they said, has concluded that its recent aggressions have effectively strengthened its leverage with the West and in the region. And despite his occasional outburst of threats, Mr. Trump is deeply reluctant to risk an open-ended military confrontation in the Middle East that would endanger world oil supplies in the middle of a re-election campaign. “Iranian hard-liners consider Trump’s inconsistency to be weakness,” said Ali Ansari, a professor of Iranian history at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. For Iranian hard-liners, he said, “their policy of ‘maximum resistance’ is working.”

CNN: Australian Academic Detained In Iran Sentenced To 10 Years In Prison

“An Australian university lecturer detained in Iran has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for spying, a source with knowledge of the matter told CNN Wednesday. Last week, the Australian government confirmed that University of Melbourne lecturer Kylie Moore-Gilbert was one of three Australian nationals currently detained in Iran. Speaking Monday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Sayyed Abas Mousavi said that one Australian "has been sentenced to prison last year for espionage." The following day, however, Iranian judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili appeared to contradict his colleague, saying Moore-Gilbert had been "spying for another country," but said her case still had to go to trial. Responding to Esmaili's comments, the source reiterated to CNN that Moore-Gilbert -- a British-Australian dual citizen -- had already been tried and sentenced to ten years in prison. She has already been held in Iran for almost a year, the source said. A specialist in Middle Eastern politics, Moore-Gilbert had begun a course in the Iranian city of Qom last year, according to Australian state broadcaster ABC.”

Reuters: Iran Tells U.S.: Response To Any Attack 'Won't Be Limited To Its Source'

“Iran’s retaliation to any military attack will not be “limited to its source,” Tehran said in an official note to Washington, Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency reported on Wednesday. “In an official note to the United States via Swiss embassy, Iran has reiterated that it was not behind attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities and it has warned that any move by America against Iran will get immediate reaction,” ISNA reported.”

The Wall Street Journal: Tehran Tries To Show High Costs Of U.S.’s ‘Maximum Pressure’ Campaign

“As the Trump administration has worked to choke off Iran’s oil exports and strangle its economy, Tehran has sought to raise the costs of the U.S.’s “maximum pressure” campaign. Last weekend’s fiery attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry did just that, sending oil prices soaring and reminding America and its allies of the risks to global energy markets of a conflict in the Persian Gulf. Following the attack, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Tuesday held open the door to diplomacy but only if the Trump administration abandons its sanctions. “If the U.S. took back its words and repented, and returned to the nuclear deal, then it too can join the members of the deal and negotiate with Iran,” he said in a televised lecture. “Otherwise, there will be no talks, on any level.” U.S. officials say they have evidence Iran carried out the assault with cruise missiles fired from its own territory. Iran has denied any involvement."

Iraq

Iraqi News: Iraqi Intelligence Arrest Five Islamic State Jihadists In Diyala

“Iraqi military intelligence forces announced on Tuesday that five Islamic State terrorists were arrested in the eastern province of Diyala. “Acting on intelligence information, troops of the Iraqi Military Intelligence Directorate caught five Islamic State terrorists in Mandali district in Diyala,” Alsumaria News quoted the directorate as saying in a press release. “The terrorists were referred to the competent authorities for interrogation,” the statement read. 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.”

Afghanistan

Reuters: Taliban Attacks Kill 48, Afghan Leader Unhurt As Bomber Targets Rally

“Taliban suicide bombers killed 48 people in two separate attacks in Afghanistan on Tuesday, the deadliest taking place near an election rally by President Ashraf Ghani, though he was unhurt.  The attacks happened 11 days before Afghanistan’s presidential election, which Taliban commanders have vowed to violently disrupt, and follow collapsed peace talks between the United States and the insurgent group.  Ghani, who is seeking a second five-year term in voting on Sept. 28, was due to address a rally in Charikar, the capital of central Parwan province, when a suicide bomber attacked the gathering.  The blast killed 26 people and wounded 42, said Nasrat Rahimi, spokesman for the interior ministry. “When the people were entering the police camp, an old man riding a motorcycle arrived on the highway and detonated his explosives, causing casualties,” said Parwan province’s police chief Mohammad Mahfooz Walizada.  In the wake of the attack, bodies littered the dusty ground as smoke rose from the site of the explosion, a giant blue billboard bearing the face of Ghani’s running mate Amrullah Saleh looming over the scene.  With sirens wailing, rescuers rushed to lift the wounded into the backs of pick-up trucks for evacuation.”

Reuters: Afghan President Sees His Chance After Collapse Of U.S.-Taliban Talks

“Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had no more than 20 minutes to study a draft accord between the United States and the Taliban on pulling thousands of U.S. troops out of his country, but upcoming elections could put him back at the heart of talks to end decades of war. What he read in the draft outlining the now collapsed deal left Ghani and his officials - who were shut out of the talks by the Taliban refusal to negotiate with what they considered an illegitimate “puppet” regime - badly shaken and resentful, said a senior Kabul official close to the Afghan leader.  “Doesn’t this look like surrender to the Taliban?” Ghani asked Zalmay Khalilzad, the veteran Afghan-born diplomat who led negotiations for Washington, at a meeting the two held immediately afterwards, according to the source who was present. The Islamist militant group that ruled Afghanistan for five years has killed thousands of Afghan soldiers and civilians since it was toppled by U.S.-led forces in 2001, and the attacks have continued throughout its negotiations with Washington. In response to Ghani’s doubts, the Afghan official said Khalilzad replied: “This is the best deal we will ever have”. The U.S. State Department declined to comment on the meeting. Khalilzad was unavailable for comment.”

BBC News: Afghanistan War: Taliban Tell Trump Their 'Doors Are Open'

“The Taliban have told the BBC that their "doors are open" should US President Donald Trump want to resume peace talks in the future. Chief negotiator Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai insisted negotiation remained "the only way for peace in Afghanistan" during an exclusive interview. Mr Stanikzai's words came a week after Mr Trump declared the talks "dead".  Earlier this month, the two sides had appeared close to a deal to end the 18-year conflict. Mr Trump had even invited senior Taliban leaders and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to meet at Camp David on 8 September. But a Taliban attack in the Afghan capital Kabul on 6 September, which killed a US soldier and 11 others, prompted Mr Trump to pull out, saying the group "probably don't have the power to negotiate" if they were unable to agree to a ceasefire during talks. Late on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement condemning recent Taliban attacks, saying the group "must begin to demonstrate a genuine commitment to peace". Mr Stanikzai dismissed American concerns, telling the BBC the Taliban had done nothing wrong.”

Pakistan

The Guardian: Pakistan PM To Accuse Modi Of Complicity In Kashmir 'Terrorism'

“Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, is to follow a speech by his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, at the United Nations general assembly by accusing him of being complicit in the torture and mass detention of protesters in India-administered Kashmir. Khan will use his address in New York next week to highlight alleged atrocities being carried out by the Indian army in the Jammu and Kashmir state since Modi’s government revoked the region’s autonomy by abrogating article 370 of the constitution. Sardar Masood Khan, Pakistan’s former permanent representative to the United Nations who now acts as president of the Pakistani-administered Azad Kashmir state, said his government believed as many as 10,000 people had been detained by Indian security forces. Those numbers have been rejected by the Indian government. Khan said: “These detainees include children, young men, and people of all ages, and people from all walks of life. They have been tortured. There is a BBC documentary with evidence: people have been beaten up in detention, beaten up with sticks and cables and excessive force has been used against them. And some of the witnesses have said in testimony to the BBC and other news outlets, that they would lose their consciousness and police officers would then use electric shocks to revive them.”

Yemen

Arab News: Over 14,000 Civilians Killed By Houthi Militia In 4 Years

“The Iranian-backed Houthi terrorist militia has killed 14,000 Yemeni civilians, according to Bassem Al-Absi, member of the Yemeni Coalition for Monitoring Human Rights Violations (Rasd coalition). Al-Absi made the remarks in a speech he delivered to the Human Rights Council’s meeting in Geneva, stressing that the humanitarian situation in Yemen was becoming increasingly tense as Houthi militia members continued to take control of the capital, seeking to open new battlefronts throughout Yemen. “During the four years since the coup, the militia has killed more than 14,000 civilians, including children, women and elderly people, by sniping, planting mines, illegal executions and death under torture, and there are more than 3,500 detainees in militia prisons,” he said. Al-Abdi said that the Houthi militia attacked state facilities, destroying infrastructure and private and public properties, blowing up houses and places of worship, and violating childhood through conscription, killing, mutilation and depriving children of education and health, which disrupts the development process and contradicts the Human Rights Council’s objectives of promoting the right to sustainable development.”

Saudi Arabia

Reuters: Saudi Arabia Promises Concrete Proof Iran Behind Oil Attack

“Saudi Arabia promised evidence on Wednesday linking its main regional adversary Iran to an unprecedented attack on its oil industry, which Washington also blames on Tehran in a perilous escalation of Middle East frictions. Iran, however, again denied involvement in the Sept. 14 raids, which hit the world’s biggest crude processing facility and initially knocked out half of Saudi production. “They want to impose maximum ... pressure on Iran through slander,” Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said. “We don’t want conflict in the region ... Who started the conflict?” he added, blaming Washington and its Gulf allies for war in Yemen. Yemen’s Houthi movement, an ally of Iran battling a Western-backed, Saudi-led coalition for more than four years, has claimed responsibility and said it used drones to assault state oil company Aramco’s sites.”

The Wall Street Journal: Saudi Arabia Set To Return To Normal Oil Production Levels By End Of Month

“Saudi Arabia will soon restore most of its oil output and return to normal production levels in weeks, the country’s energy ministry said Tuesday, following the attacks last weekend on the country’s facilities that hobbled the world’s largest oil exporter. The kingdom has restored 50% of production lost in Saturday’s attacks as of Tuesday, newly appointed Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said. He added that the kingdom is using reserves to supply oil to its customers at pre-attack levels and normal production of 9.8 million barrels a day will return by the end of September. Some Saudi officials said a return to normal will take longer. Saudi Arabia hasn’t directly accused Tehran of mounting the attacks, but the country is increasingly confident that Iran directly launched a complex missile and drone attack from its southwestern territory on Saturday that battered the kingdom’s oil industry, said people familiar with the investigation.”

Lebanon

Xinhua: Lebanon Arrests Suspected Terrorist

“Lebanon's general security arrested Wednesday a Syrian national belonging to the Islamic State (IS) who had planned to implement terrorist attacks in Sidon, south of Lebanon, local TV Channel LBCI reported. Investigations showed that the IS member entered Lebanon in 2017 in an illegal way while getting in touch with other IS members in Syria to exchange ideas and spread the group's religious news. The IS member also sent news to his group in Syria about people who distribute food during the Shiite occasion of Ashura with the aim of targeting these people with explosives. The IS member was referred to judicial bodies for further investigations and other legal procedures. Lebanon has been previously attacked by the IS group, who claimed responsibility for an attack on the northern city of Tripoli on June 3, killing two members of the Lebanese security forces and two members from the Lebanese Army.”

Middle East

International Policy Digest: How Qatar Is Using Disinformation Tactics To Attack Its Rivals

“The second half of this decade has been sharply defined by the explosion of “fake news” and misinformation as an overt and viable political weapon. While disinformation campaigns are nothing new—they are, after all, a popular wartime tactic—the easy access offered by the Internet amplifies the impact of such efforts. In the Persian Gulf, disinformation has become a key tool to leverage information by most states, but it has also been turned inward. In recent years, escalating tensions between Qatar and neighboring Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been marked by a spike in the use of disinformation to further each faction’s respective goals. Qatar specifically has been repeatedly outed for its alleged editorial interference in Qatari-owned Al Jazeera. However, as tensions continue to simmer and a resolution seems distant at best, fake news is quickly becoming the status quo for how these countries attempt to nudge the other into some sort of action. The landscape highlights a fascinating case study of how fake news can affect regional political discourse.”

Egypt

Asharq Al-Awsat: Egypt- UK Cooperate On Combating, Financing, Promoting Terrorism

“Egypt has expressed its interest in developing relations in various fields with Britain during the coming period in addition to continued bilateral cooperation in combating, financing and promoting terrorism. Assistant Foreign Minister for European Affairs Ambassador Amr Ramadan said during his meeting with British Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa Affairs Andrew Morrison that he looks forward to bolstering and developing bilateral political dialogue. According to a statement on the Egyptian Foreign Ministry’s official Facebook page, the meeting tackled means of boosting bilateral relations in various fields. Ramadan stressed the importance of building on the positive outcomes of the meeting between Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and the new British Prime Minister on the sidelines of theG7 summit, which was held on August in Biarritz, France. The Egyptian and British governments agree on the need to formulate new frameworks for the future of bilateral relations to achieve the interests of both sides, the statement noted, especially in light of Brexit decision. It said both sides also agreed that there are great opportunities to enhance bilateral cooperation in trade, industry, investment and services sectors.”

Libya

The North Africa Post: Libya: Haftar Hit GNA-Aligned Forces Fighting ISIS In Sirte

“Khalifa Haftar, the Libyan military commander, has pounded positions of ally forces of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in the city of Sirte formerly controlled by the Islamic state group, ISIS. The three air raids were launched Friday, Libyan Express reports, adding that two strikes hit the Sirte Protection Force’s personnel, killing at least two and injuring 18. Meanwhile, a military source from Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) told Sputnik Monday that at least 32 people were killed and over 50 were severely injured in the airstrikes on Sirte. The Sirte Protection Forces, SPF, believe some of the airstrikes were conducted by foreign drones. The SPF condemned the raids noting that they hindered its efforts in fighting ISIS and its sleeper cells as well as Gaddafi loyalists willing to create chaos in the coastal city. The SPF also laid into the alleged involvement of foreign drones in the raids as it called on “all Libyans and international community to condemn the foreign strikes on its forces”, Libya Express notes. Likewise, the High Council of State (HCS) has expressed deep concern over the airstrikes targeting the Libyan Army forces, assigned to protect and secure the city of Sirte.”

Nigeria

Al Jazeera: Ex-Boko Haram Fighters Face Their Hardest Battle: Reintegration

“A ring with a big red glass stone sits on Mohammed Adamu's middle finger. It is all that is left of the small jewellery business that he tried to set up. "It reminds me that I need to push much harder to be able to get out of here," he said. Adamu, 30, is a former Boko Haram fighter who now lives in a refugee camp. He claims he was captured by the group and joined in 2014, along with his wife and four children. "In the beginning, I liked their ideology, everything happening in God's name," he said. "But soon, I realised that it was all about killing people. They just murdered without reason. So, I decided to run away." They lived with Boko Haram, but one year into their "captivity", fighters killed his family members, he said. In 2017, he managed to flee.  But reintegrating back into society has been near impossible. After leaving, ex-fighters must complete a government-led rehabilitation programme, which lasts up to one year.”

Somalia

The Hill: Two Insurgents Killed In US Strike On Al-Shabaab In Somalia

“U.S. Africa Command announced Tuesday that two suspected al-Shabaab militants were killed by a U.S. airstrike in the country's Lower Juba province after attacking a Somali government patrol. The press release Tuesday from the Defense Department reported that no civilian casualties were thought to have occurred. "In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S Africa Command conducted an airstrike on Al-Shabaab insurgents after they attacked a Somali patrol northwest of Kismayo, Lower Juba Province, Somalia on Sept. 17," the statement read. The U.S. for years has been engaged in airstrikes and other missions to support the Somali government against al-Shabaab insurgents aligned with ISIS, and Tuesday's strike indicated that insurgent forces maintain the capacity to strike at Somali targets near the border with Kenya. An airstrike conducted by the U.S. north of Somalia's capital of Mogadishu in March killed dozens of insurgents. At the time, Africa Command's deputy director of intelligence said such operations were crucial to “maintain pressure on al-Shabaab and disrupt its planning cycle and degrade its ability to mass forces and coordinate attacks against the Somali people.”

Xinhuanet: 13 Al-Shabab Militants Killed In Offensive In Southern Somalia

“Security forces in southern Somalia on Tuesday killed 13 al-Shabab fighters during an operation in the Lower Juba region, an official said on Wednesday. Abdi Nur Ibrahim Hussein, Jubbaland security forces spokesman told journalists that the offensive was carried out by the Somali army and Jubbaland state forces in many villages in Jamame town as the forces inflicted severe casualties on the militants and drove them out of the town. "Our forces moved from Bar Sanguni area passing through many villages in Jamame and the fiercest resistance from the militants happened in Koban village, but we finally defeated the extremists killing 13 of them and burnt their vehicles and recovered many weapons and ammunition," Hussein said. "Three of our soldiers sustained injuries during the operation in which we captured many villages in Jamame including Koban," he added. Locals reported witnessing intense clashes in the town.”

Africa

Asharq Al-Awsat: Tunisian Security Forces Arrest 2 Terrorist Suspects

“Tunisia’s counter-terrorism security services arrested two takfiris in the central Siliana region, suspected of belonging to an extremist organization and preparing a terrorist attack. One of the detainees is 17 years old, while the second is 43. They are known to the security services and accused of harboring extremist ideology and supporting terrorist organizations that have been active in the region since 2011. A terrorist attack took place in Rouhia city of Siliana in 2011. A military officer and two terrorists were killed in the attack. Tunisian security sources pointed out that the investigations with the suspects will continue, pending a referral to the counter-terrorism judicial authorities. The probe will investigate their relations with other suspicious terrorist elements and the possible activities with terrorist cells in the region.”

Bloomberg: To Build A New Sudan, Take It Off The U.S. Terror List

“The most useful thing President Donald Trump’s administration can do immediately for Sudan is to take it off the State Department’s list of nations that sponsor terrorism. That designation severely restricts the country’s access to international aid, foreign investment and remittances, all critical to the survival of the new civilian-led government and to hopes for a smooth democratic transition in Khartoum. But the White House should be mindful of the mistakes made by the administrations of Barack Obama and George W. Bush, which were too eager — and too credulous — in de-listing Cuba and North Korea. And it should learn the lesson of the American experience with Myanmar, where economic sanctions were removed too soon. Sudan has been a designated sponsor of terror since 1993, and its new foreign minister, Asmaa Abdalla, has made it her top priority to get her country off the list. She has Egypt’s support, a welcome sign of improved relations between the long-squabbling neighbors. Gulf Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, keen to invest in Sudan, would welcome the removal of any restraints. The most powerful argument for de-listing comes from Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, a former United Nations economist.”

United Kingdom

The Telegraph: Liam Fox: Britain Must Accept That Iran Nuclear Deal Is 'Dead'

“Britain must accept the Iran nuclear deal is “dead” and join America in trying to force Tehran back to the negotiating table, former defence secretary Liam Fox said tonight. Mr Fox, who was in the cabinet until July, will use a speech in Washington to warn that the 2015 agreement was "flawed" from the start and that attempts to keep it alive are "futile". The intervention is effectively a call for Boris Johnson to join Donald Trump in withdrawing from the deal and comes amid escalating tensions in the wake of the attack on two Saudi oil facilities. Iran’s supreme leader on Tuesday ruled out talks with US officials “at any level”, appearing to end hopes of a meeting between Mr Trump and Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s president, at the United Nations in New York next week.”

Southeast Asia

Arab News: Manila Calls For Collective Efforts To Combat Terrorism

“The Philippines on Tuesday called for collective international efforts to combat terrorism in the wake of strikes on Saudi oil facilities. In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Vice President of the Philippines Maria Leonor Robredo said that the attacks were a “wake-up call” to the world and threatened not only her country’s economy but also Filipinos working in the Kingdom. “I know for a fact that Saudi Arabia has been at the forefront of combating terrorist activities. Now that we have heard of the recent attacks last week in the Middle East, it is another wake-up call for all of us that the threat is still there,” she added. Speaking at her office in Manila, Robredo said that such strikes would have a negative impact on the Philippines. “The attacks are not just expected to affect our economy, but also the future of Filipino workers who reside there (Saudi Arabia).” On Tuesday, Reuters reported a drop in oil prices. Oil ended nearly 15 percent higher on Monday, with Brent logging its biggest jump in more than 30 years amid record trading volumes. “My stance is that attacks will continue if we will not step up as a community of nations in really working together, doing collective efforts to combat terrorism,” said Robredo.”

Technology

The Wall Street Journal: Google, Facebook Cozy Up To Publishers As Regulators Circle

“Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc. are making concessions long sought by news publishers whose business has been hurt by the platforms’ dominance, moves that some in the media industry see as an effort to pre-empt potential regulatory backlash. Google last week announced changes to how it ranks stories on its news page to better promote original content, addressing publishers’ long-running complaints that their scoops were often overshadowed by quick rewrites by other outlets. Facebook, meanwhile, is negotiating with media outlets to pay them for the rights to publish their stories in a special news feed on the social media platform, and will rely on humans to determine which stories to feature, The Wall Street Journal reported last month. “The platforms are finally recognizing the massive role they play in our ecosystem and that pretending that they are neutral distribution channels just doesn’t wash with regulators or with the public either,” said Lydia Polgreen, editor in chief of HuffPost.”

The Hill: Why Strong Social Media Campaigns Will Not Stop The Spread Of Terrorism

“United States counterterrorism strategy is based on the belief that terrorism is the result of bad ideas rather than poor circumstances. In emphasizing the importance of ideology, the United States is continuing a long tradition of attempting to shape the cultures and attitudes of other people without addressing their actual problems. As a result, our leaders have been fighting terrorism on the wrong battlefield. Efforts to counter violent extremism through persuasion are nothing new. Since World War II, the United States has invested in a range of traditional media efforts, including magazines and radio news broadcasts, designed to shape foreign attitudes toward the United States and combat the spread of pernicious ideology. The ongoing battle against Salafi jihadism today has been similarly framed as a “contest of ideas.” The traditional media remains a key component of American efforts to counter violent extremist narratives. In West Africa, the United States has supported the production of radio dramas designed to promote peace and tolerance. In Tunisia, USAID has partnered with the local theater associations and filmmakers to organize performances to curb violence. The social media savvy of terrorist groups like the Islamic State has fueled growing concern about the radicalizing effects of the internet.”

The National: Twitter Users Work Out Location Of ISIS Supporters

“On Monday, ISIS’s elusive leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi re-emerged with an audio message directed at supporters of the terrorist group. Followers of Baghdadi, who is said to be badly injured, reacted on social media from across the world as they posted images of support. But at a time when it is nearly impossible not to leave some sort of online footprint, experts in open-source intelligence set about geolocating where the images were taken. Nick Waters, a senior investigator at Bellingcat, was initially able to identify a number of sites in Syria and Turkey. This included the last rebel-held Syrian territory of Idlib, a park in Konya, Turkey and what appeared to be Al Bab, a city in Aleppo Governate. Unsurprisingly, Syria, Iraq and Turkey featured prominently. As the account published its revelations, other Twitter users were inspired to look into more of the posts and pinpoint the locations of those pledging allegiance to the terrorist leader. Tomasz Rolbiecki, another open-source intelligence expert, tracked down a photograph to Homs in Syria, near the Khalid ibn Walid Mosque.”

Gizmodo: With Senate Inquiry Looming, Facebook Scrambles To Look Busy

““There’s been a general feeling from the platform companies of kind of playing rope-a-dope with the Congress,” Senator Ed Markey told a small audience gathered in the Federal Election Commission’s headquarters around 9am this morning. Four hours later, Markey’s well-informed inference was proven true yet again when Facebook trotted out a new blog post titled “Combating Hate and Extremism,” It’s surely no coincidence the image-troubled social giant is scheduled on Wednesday morning—along with representatives from Twitter and Google—to testify at the grimly titled hearing “Mass Violence, Extremism, and Digital Responsibility” before the Senate’s Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee (of which Markey is a member.) Specifically, Facebook is expected to answer for its failure to act during the Christchurch, New Zealand, shooting in March. While the shooter murdered 51 worshippers in cold blood, the footage was streaming live to the platform, then copied and reuploaded millions of times.”