Eye on Extremism: September 24

The New York Post: ‘Radical’ US Army Private Wanted To Attack News Networks, Join Terror Groups: FBI

“A US Army private sought to join radical paramilitary groups, distributed instructions on how to build bombs and discussed targeting CNN, the feds charged Monday. He also talked about targeting Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke, according to a complaint filed in Kansas federal court. Jarrett William Smith, 24, told the FBI after his arrest that he wanted to cause “chaos,” the complaint says. The FBI began monitoring Smith in March, after a series of Facebook chatroom exchanges on bombmaking and fighting overseas with radical groups caught the agency’s attention, according to the complaint. Smith, who had been stationed at Fort Riley, Kan., chatted about joining paramilitary armies in the Ukraine, and at one point connected with an alleged former member of one of the groups, the FBI claims. “No former military experience, but if I cannot find a slot in Ukraine by October, I’ll be going into the Army,” Smith allegedly told the man, identified as Carl Lang, in a 2016 exchange. “To fight is what I want to do,” Smith wrote. “I’m willing to listen, learn and train. But to work on firearms is fine by me too.”

Fox News: US, Afghan Forces Kill Over 20 Al Qaeda Fighters In Southern Afghanistan Raid, Officials Say

“U.S. special operations forces, including an American gunship, backed Afghan commandos in a predawn raid on a building filled with dozens of Al Qaeda fighters in southern Afghanistan, killing over 20 of the militants, officials said Monday. Afghan security officials tweeted that a "target" of the operation was Asim Umar, the leader of Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), who was "in the compound." They did not elaborate on Umar's status but said his courier, who was tasked with delivering messages to Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, was killed, along with multiple Taliban leaders and deputies. A U.S. Air Force AC-130 gunship leveled the building in the volatile Helmand Province after a suicide bomber detonated his vest during the joint operation, according to a U.S. official. Helmand police chief Col. Ehsamudin Helmandi said Afghan special forces killed 22 Taliban militants in addition to the Al Qaeda fighters. At least 14 other militants were wounded and some were taken prisoner as a result of the operations.”

The Wall Street Journal: European Leaders Join U.S. In Blaming Iran For Saudi Oil Attacks, Urge New Deal

“The leaders of Britain, France and Germany joined the U.S. in blaming Iran for this month’s attacks on Saudi Arabia and said the time had come for Tehran to start talks on a new, long-term agreement dealing with its nuclear, regional and missile activities. In a joint statement on Monday, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, along with President Emmanuel Macron of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, said they continue to support the 2015 nuclear deal but said the time has come for Iran to start talks on a longer-term, more comprehensive agreement, as Washington has urged. While the statement marks a significant shift on Iran by Europe’s powers, those nations are still far from endorsing all of Washington's demands for a new agreement. The statement also didn’t suggest that Europe is prepared to follow Washington in tightening economic pressure on Iran.”

The New York Times: Coalition Forces In Iraq Say Attacks 'Will Not Be Tolerated'

“U.S.-led coalition forces in Baghdad say that attacks on coalition personnel and facilities "will not be tolerated," adding that coalition forces retain the right to self-defense. A statement Tuesday said that no coalition or U.S.-occupied facility was struck in Monday night's attack in which two rockets were fired into the heavily fortified Green Zone, landing around one kilometer (a half-mile) from the U.S. Embassy compound. The coalition statement said it takes "this incident seriously as do our Iraqi security forces partners." No side has claimed responsibility for the attack. Similar attacks in the past have sometimes been blamed by Iraqi forces on Iranian-backed militias in Baghdad.”

VOA: US Official Meets In Lebanon Over Anti-Hezbollah Sanctions

“A senior United States Treasury official was visiting Beirut on Monday, where he's explaining the motives behind recent U.S. sanctions targeting Lebanon's Iranian-backed Hezbollah group, Lebanon's central bank governor said. Treasury Department Assistant Secretary Marshall Billingslea met with the prime minister and the speaker of parliament, as well as officials from the Association of Banks in Lebanon and the central bank governor. Hezbollah holds three cabinet seats, and along with its allies has more power than ever in the parliament and government. It is also among the most effective armed groups in the region, extending Iran's influence to Israel's doorstep. Domestically, the group's power exceeds that of the Lebanese armed forces. Lebanon's Central Bank chief Riad Salameh played down reports in local media that the U.S. will impose further sanctions on the country's dollar-strapped banking system. He said Billingslea "is not coming here to squeeze Lebanon.''

VICE: Facebook Wants You To Know It’s Doing Something About Domestic Terrorism, Sort Of

“Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg came to the U.N. Monday to tout what her company has done to curb terrorism since the Christchurch, New Zealand attacks in March. She made sure to tamp down expectations in the next breath.  “We’ve invested hugely in people, hugely in AI, but we know that whatever we’ve done today will never be enough,” she told reporters Monday evening.  In response to global outcry over the Christchurch attacks, where a far-right extremist used Facebook Live to broadcast his murder of 51 people at two mosques, the social media giant says it’s sharpened its policies and automated detection tools to zero in on white supremacist terrorism. On Monday, Facebook and other tech companies announced the creation of an independent, industry-backed organization to study and fight online extremism.  Microsoft, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter previously formed the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism in 2017 to share data on propaganda and best practices for finding it. With Facebook chairing the group this year, Sandberg told leaders at the U.N. General Assembly Monday that it will soon break off as a standalone group, with a dedicated staff, funded by tech firms.”

United States

U.S. News & World Report: Missouri Man Pleads Guilty In Terrorist Attack Plot

“A 28-year-old Missouri man charged with plotting a terrorist attack on buses, trains and a train station in Kansas City has pleaded guilty to one count. KRCG reports Robert Lorenzo Hester, of Columbia, entered his plea Monday to providing material support or resources to terrorists. Federal prosecutors charged Hester in February 2017 after a monthslong FBI investigation. An affidavit released at the time said undercover agents posing as Islamic State sympathizers met with Hester several times. At their request, he provided materials such as nails and duct tape that he believed would be used to create bombs. An FBI employee told Hester the attacks were planned for Presidents Day in Kansas City. Hester received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army in mid-2013 after serving for less than a year.”

The Hill: Combating Domestic Terrorism Needs More Than A New Statute

“Two terrorist attacks shock the nation. The American people demand Congress do something. After much debate, Congress overwhelmingly passes a sweeping new law to fight terrorism. But the executive branch doesn’t adapt to meet the challenge and we all eventually learn that a new law wasn’t nearly enough. This was our legislative response to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing: the 1996 passage of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. Five years later, however, federal law enforcement was still structurally incapable of preventing al Qaeda from launching the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Now, in the wake of terrorist attacks in Dayton and El Paso and the growth of violent white supremacism, Congress is again considering whether new laws are needed, and specifically whether domestic terrorism should be explicitly made a federal crime. This relatively modest step is long overdue, since federal law currently treats “domestic terrorism” as a definition, not a crime. But if the debate ends with this one change, we risk repeating our mistake. Instead, Congress should give equal attention to how domestic counterterrorism efforts are resourced and organized to stop what FBI Director Christopher Wray says is a significant and pervasive threat to the American people.”

ABC News: FBI Arrests Army Soldier Who Allegedly Discussed Plans To Bomb Major American News Network

“The FBI has arrested a U.S. soldier who allegedly discussed plans to bomb a major American news network, planned to travel to Ukraine to fight with violent far-right group Azov Battalion and allegedly distributed information online on how to build bombs. He also allegedly suggested targeting Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke. According to charging documents in the case, Jarrett William Smith, who transferred to Fort Riley, Kansas, in July, joined the U.S. military only after first expressing his desire to fight in Ukraine. On Aug. 19, 2019, Smith allegedly spoke with an FBI informant in an online chat group and discussed a plan for an attack inside the U.S., his search for more "radicals" like himself and the possibility of killing members of the group Antifa. In suggesting that the headquarters of the major news network could be a target, Smith allegedly said: "A large vehicle bomb. Fill a vehicle full of [explosives] then fill a ping pong ball with [commonly available chemical] via drilling then injection. Put the ball in the tank of the vehicle and leave. 30 minutes later, BOOM."

The Jerusalem Post: As UN GA Kicks Off, AJC Launches 'EU Recognize Hezbollah As Terror Org'

“As world leaders gather in New York this week to participate in the UN General Assembly, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) is launching a TV ad campaign on major US cable networks, calling on the European Union to recognize Hezbollah as a terror organization. In addition, AJC bought a full-page ad in Tuesday's New York Times, which criticizes the EU's distinction between the terror group's military branch and the other parts of the organization. "Hezbollah is a global terrorist organization, armed and supported by Iran," the ad reads. "Its deadly reach extends to Europe, North and South America, Africa and Asia, and across the Middle East. Yet, defying all logic, the European Union insists there are actually two Hezbollahs—one "political," and the other "military," banning only the latter in 2013. This is self-delusion at its worst and most dangerous, allowing Hezbollah to operate its "political" wing in Europe by recruiting members and raising funds. As Hezbollah leaders themselves declare repeatedly, it is one indivisible organization."

The New York Times: Rethinking Counterterrorism

“Kevin McAleenan, the acting secretary of homeland security, has a cold. “I won’t shake your hand,” he said, palms upward. He is in the prevention business. Mr. McAleenan wears two black bands on his right wrist. The first commemorates the lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001, the second the victims of the mass shooting in an El Paso Walmart this summer. We met inside One World Trade Center earlier this month, on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, to talk about a broadening of the Department of Homeland Security’s mission, to include preventing domestic terrorism — in addition to thwarting international terrorists — and what Mr. McAleenan calls “targeted violence,” meaning attacks against places like schools, movie theaters and houses of worship. “There’s a moral clarity that comes with articulating what the mission is,” he told me. That’s important, particularly at a time when the public’s image of the department is wrapped up in the conduct of the Trump administration’s harsh immigration crackdown.”


NPR: Survivor Of Torture In Syria's Prisons Is Telling His Story

“A Syrian survivor of the country's prisons has found a home in Sweden, where he's gathering evidence that could be used to bring his torturers to justice.”


The Hill: Trump Is Right To Counter Iran's Terror — Combat Vets Have Seen Its Effects

“From Lebanon to Iraq, and from Argentina to the high seas, the mullahs of Iran long have spread and sponsored terror in an attempt to exert their will on the rest of the world. They’re at it again in Saudi Arabia, propping up Houthi Shiite rebels and reportedly sponsoring attacks on that nation’s oil infrastructure. As Iran’s leaders feel the squeeze of the Trump administration’s decision to reinforce economic sanctions, they predictably are acting out to try to extort a better outcome for themselves. Along with other veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I’ve seen firsthand the effects of Iran’s state-sponsored terror. In 2008 and 2009, I led a counter-improvised explosive device (IED) team in Afghanistan and we found an explosively formed penetrator (EFP), a type of IED that was most certainly of Iranian origin. During the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the U.S. Department of Defense estimates that at least 608 (and likely more) Americans were  killed by Iranian EFPs and other Iranian methods. The EFP is one of the few devices that has the capacity to consistently pierce the armor of American mine-resistant vehicles and to kill those inside; hence, the reason that Iran seeded the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan with these devices.”

The New York Times: Trump Out To Square America First With United Front On Iran

“President Donald Trump goes before the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday to try to square his "America First" approach to foreign policy with his administration's hope for a multinational response to Iran's escalating aggression. While Trump wants allies to join the U.S. in further isolating Iran, he also seems to be holding to his go-it-alone strategy of using economic sanctions to pressure Tehran to give up its nuclear program and stop attacks that are rattling the Middle East. On Monday, the Republican president praised British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's call for a new deal to replace the 2015 Iran nuclear pact from which Trump walked away last year. The president also said he appreciated the efforts of French President Emmanuel Macron, who has been trying to get Trump back in the deal and has suggested the American president meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani while both are in New York this week.”

Bloomberg: Iran, Bank Melli Will Face Suit Over Terrorist Attacks In Iraq

“Iran and Bank Melli must face a suit brought under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act by victims of terrorism, a federal district court in Washington said Sept. 23. The plaintiffs showed that the bank is an agency or instrumentality of Iran and that it was properly served according to the FSIA, Judge Randolph D. Moss of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said. The plaintiffs were either injured or represent those killed in 43 separate terrorist attacks in Iraq between 2007 and 2009.”

Foreign Policy: Iran Is Already Losing

“Earlier this month, the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure was attacked, forcing the world’s top oil exporter to shut down half of its production—marking the single largest disruption in history. Although Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility for the sophisticated strike combining Iranian-made cruise missiles and drones, such an attack could only be conducted under the auspices of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and likely came from either Iran itself or neighboring Iraq. The strike’s unprecedented scale marks a new level of escalation that seems to challenge the United States to hit back or risk losing its status as the region’s security provider. The IRGC’s strategy, as I explained in a previous Foreign Policy article in June, is precisely to trap Washington into this binary choice: “If the United States does not acknowledge Iran’s role as one of the guarantors of maritime security through offering incentives [to negotiate], the strikes will continue. And if they do, the United States will be put in a position of proving that the IRGC’s bite doesn’t match its bark by dismantling a significant portion of the corps’ anti-access, area denial capabilities, such as the cruise missile batteries that line Iran’s Persian Gulf coast, through the use of military force.”

BBC: Johnson To Urge Iran To Release Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

“Boris Johnson is to call for the release of jailed British-Iranian national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe when he meets Iran's president later. The prime minister will meet Hassan Rouhani at a UN summit in New York, hours after blaming Iran for attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities. It comes amid calls for him to take a tougher line with Tehran over its detention of dual nationals. Mrs Zhagari-Ratcliffe has been detained in Iran since April 2016. The 40-year-old was jailed for five years in 2016 after being convicted of spying, which she denies. On his flight to New York on Sunday, Mr Johnson told reporters: "I will not only be discussing Iran's actions in the region, but also the need to release not just Nazanin but others who in our view are being illegally and unfairly held in Tehran."


Iraqi News: Iraqi Court Sentences 6 IS Militants To Death Over 2013 Car Bomb Attack

“An Iraqi court has sentenced six Islamic State terrorists to death by hanging for their involvement in a deadly car bomb attack near the country’s Justice Ministry in 2013, leaving scores of people dead and wounded. According to a statement by the Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council on Monday, the convicts confessed to carrying out the massacre, using three booby-trapped vehicles. The verdict was issued by the Karkh criminal court in Baghdad, added the statement. In March 2013, two car bombs exploded in the Alawi district, one of them near the Justice Ministry building, before a suicide car bomber blew himself up near an Interior Ministry office. A suicide bomber then walked into the Justice Ministry and militants attacked the building, clashing with Iraqi security forces, who eventually regained control. Among the dead were at least 7 policemen and 15 civilians, police and medics said. Three militants were also killed. At least 50 people were wounded.”

Iraqi News: Five IS Terrorists Arrested For Fight Against Security Forces In Mosul

“Five Islamic State terrorists were arrested Monday for their involvement in the fight against security forces in Mosul city, the Interior Ministry spokesman said. The militants were arrested in al Obour district in the western side of Mosul by a joint force of Nineveh police and counter-terrorism squad, the spokesman said. Three of them were members of the Islamic State’s Jund (soldiers) Diwan, who took part in the fighting against security force during the liberation of Mosul from terrorism, the spokesman added. 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.”

Xinhua: 2 Security Members Killed, IS Hideouts Destroyed In Iraq

“A total of two Iraqi security members were killed on Monday in separate incidents in Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, while Iraqi forces destroyed hideouts and vehicles of Islamic State (IS) militants in the western province of Anbar. In Diyala, an explosive expert from the Iraqi police was killed while he was trying to defuse a roadside bomb in an area located near al-Abbara area in northeast of the provincial capital Baquba, some 65 km northeast of Baghdad, Alaa al-Tamimi from the provincial police command told Xinhua. Another roadside bomb explosion killed a paramilitary Hashd Shaabi member in the village of al-Aseywid, about 45 km northeast of Baquba, al-Tamimi said, adding that the bomb was apparently planted by the extremist IS militants. The security forces, acting on intelligence tip-off, also launched search operations in different areas across Diyala and destroyed an IS hideout as well as seized two caches of weapons and ammunition, in addition to destroying an IS medical center containing various medical supplies, al-Tamimi said.”


The New York Post: Turkey Is Now A Haven For Terrorists And An Enabler Of Terrorism

“On Monday, four children of an American and his Israeli wife killed by the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas in 2015 filed suit against Turkey’s Kuveyt Turk Bank in a New York court. They charge that the bank helps Hamas finance its terrorist attacks, allegations the firm is almost certain to deny. The lawsuit against this Shariah-compliant bank, which counts the Turkish government as a shareholder, comes two weeks after the US Treasury sanctioned 11 Turkey-linked entities and individuals for supporting Hamas and other jihadist outfits. The evidence keeps mounting: Turkey has become a haven for regional baddies. Under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has become a permissive jurisdiction for rogue regimes and their illicit bankers. Between 2012 and 2015, Tehran relied on Turkish banks and a dual Iranian-Turkish gold trader to circumvent US sanctions at the height of Washington’s efforts to thwart the Islamic Republic’s nuclear ambitions. It was the biggest sanctions-evasions scheme in recent history. Similarly, Venezula’s Maduro regime has been using Turkish-based companies in a money-laundering network involving the sale of Venezuelan gold. The US government sanctioned that network in July.”


The Washington Post: U.S., Afghan Forces Carry Out Deadly Raid On Al-Qaeda In Southern Afghanistan

“U.S. and Afghan troops carried out a deadly raid Monday against al-Qaeda in southern Afghanistan, detaining a number of suspected fighters and destroying an apparent weapons cache, according to American and Afghan officials. Following the operation, conflicting allegations began to emerge of dozens of civilian casualties resulting from a U.S. airstrike. The command overseeing all U.S. forces in Afghanistan confirmed a “precision strike” in the area, and a U.S. defense official in Kabul said the operation may have resulted in civilian casualties. Launched late Sunday, the operation was aimed at al-Qaeda targets in the Musa Qala district in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province. A fierce firefight broke out as U.S. and Afghan ground forces surrounded a compound, according to the U.S. official in Kabul, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release operational details for attribution. The exchange of fire dragged into the early hours of Monday, and when the ground troops were unable to move into the compound, a U.S. airstrike was called in. The U.S. official said it was possible that civilians were inside the compound at the time of the strike.”

The Washington Post: Taliban Threats, Poll Closures Raise Fears For Credibility Of Afghan Elections

“With the tense Afghan presidential election only days away amid threats of Taliban violence, a wave of criticism has erupted over government efforts to protect voters from harm, with complaints that some polling centers are being left open in dangerous areas and that others are being closed for political reasons or will be vulnerable to fraud. The independent election commission announced last month that about 2,000 of 7,366 potential polling centers nationwide — most of them schools — would be closed because security forces could not guarantee their safety. Last week, officials announced that 431 more centers would be closed for the same reason. Government opponents, however, charge that some of the new closures — which will bring the number of shuttered centers to about 31 percent of the total — are the result of political manipulation to favor President Ashraf Ghani, who is running for reelection, rather than bona fide security concerns. The Sept. 28 poll, which comes just weeks after the collapse of U.S.-Taliban peace talks, will essentially be a rematch between Ghani and his major challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, who is now the government’s chief executive, although 15 other candidates are officially running. Supporters of Abdullah and others charge that some centers are belatedly being closed to benefit Ghani.”

Al Jazeera: Dozens Of Civilians Killed In Afghan Forces' Anti-Taliban Attack

“At least 40 civilians at a wedding party have been killed during a raid conducted by Afghan special forces on a Taliban hideout, officials said. Abdul Majed Akhand, deputy provincial councilman, said the majority of the dead were women and children attending the wedding ceremony in Musa Qala district on Sunday night. “Some 40 people were killed and 18 others were wounded and were brought to the hospital,” he told AFP news agency. “All the victims were civlians”. On Monday, Omar Zwak, the provincial governor's spokesman, told Al Jazeera that at least 14 fighters, including six foreigners, were also killed, adding that authorities were investigating reports on civilian casualties. “We know there have been civilian deaths in this raid but we don't have a number yet,” he said. “However, we are investigating to find out more.” Zwak added the civilians killed were part of the wedding procession that came under fire during the operation targeting a house used by the Taliban. “We have conflicting reports of just how many civilians were involved, but what does seem to be certain is that a number of women and children were among the casualties,” said Al Jazeera's Rob McBride, reporting from Kabul.”

Xinhua: 9 Militants Killed In Southern Afghanistan's Airstrikes

“Nine Taliban militants were killed in airstrikes in Afghanistan's southern Zabul province Monday, a local source said Tuesday. “Nine Taliban militants were killed after NATO-led coalition forces' war planes struck their positions in Omkai, a locality on the outskirts of provincial capital Qalat city and Seyourri village of Shinkay district on Monday,” Essa Mohammad from Afghan army Corps 205 Attal told Xinhua. The strikes were conducted afte specific intelligence reports were received and no civilian was hurt in the strikes, the source added. Afghan security forces have beefed up operations against Taliban militants recently as the country is preparing to hold the presidential election on Sept. 28. The militants responded by armed attacks and bombings. On Thursday, about 40 civilians were killed and over 180 others wounded in a Taliban truck bombing in Qalat city. The militant group has not made comments on the report so far.”


Arab News: World Can No Longer Turn Blind Eye To Houthi War Crimes

“Since the war in Yemen started more than four years ago, the world has been focusing on the human suffering caused by the coalition air strikes, which have been carried out mainly by Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Although the tragic human suffering unintentionally caused by the airstrikes deserves to be given maximum attention, it is difficult to understand how such little attention has been given to the Houthis’ enormous crimes. For more than four years, Houthi insurgents in Yemen, who are funded, trained, armed and controlled by Iran, have been committing atrocities and war crimes. In its 2018 report on Yemen, Human Rights Watch stated that “Houthi forces have repeatedly fired artillery indiscriminately into Yemeni cities and launched indiscriminate ballistic missiles into Saudi Arabia. Some of these attacks may amount to war crimes.” Similarly, Amnesty International announced this year that “Houthi forces, which controlled large parts of the country, indiscriminately shelled residential neighborhoods and launched missiles indiscriminately into Saudi Arabia.”

Saudi Arabia

The Jordan Times: World Cannot Stand By As Terrorists Twist Positive Power Of Tech — King

“His Majesty King Abdullah on Monday urged vigilance in countering the global threat of terrorism and extremism in all their forms, noting the “tremendous complexity of the challenge”. “There is no single enemy, no single target, and no single technology fix,” King Abdullah said in remarks at the opening session of the Leaders Dialogue: Strategic Responses to Terrorist and Violent Extremist Narratives, organised by Jordan in cooperation with the UN, France, and New Zealand, according to a Royal Court statement. “Our solutions must protect core values, like freedom of innovation and expression,” His Majesty added at the meeting, attended by Their Royal Highness Crown Prince Hussein and Prince Ghazi, His Majesty’s chief adviser for religious and cultural affairs and personal envoy, in New York. Participants included the presidents of France, Senegal, Chile, Costa Rica, Kenya, Slovenia and the Maldives; the German chancellor; the vice president of Indonesia; the prime ministers of New Zealand, the UK, Australia, India, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Belgium, Iceland, Malta, and Romania; and the foreign ministers of Argentina, Bulgaria, and Colombia; as well as the chef de Cabinet of the Executive Office of the UN Secretary General, the secretary general of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the UNESCO director general.”


The Times Of Israel: US Official Meets With Lebanese PM Over Anti-Hezbollah Sanctions

“A senior United States Treasury official visited Beirut on Monday to sell Lebanon on recent US sanctions targeting Iranian-backed Hezbollah group, Lebanon’s central bank governor said. Treasury Department Assistant Secretary Marshall Billingslea met with the prime minister and the speaker of parliament, as well as officials from the Association of Banks in Lebanon and the central bank governor. Central Bank chief Riad Salameh played down reports in local media that the US would impose further sanctions on Lebanon’s dollar-strapped banking system saying that Billingslea “is not coming here to squeeze Lebanon.” A statement from the US embassy in Lebanon said Billingslea would encourage the Lebanese government to distance itself from Hezbollah and “other malign actors attempting to destabilize Lebanon and its institutions.” Hezbollah, considered a terrorist organization by Israel and the United States, is also a major political actor in Lebanon and a key government backer in war-torn Syria. Hezbollah holds three cabinet seats, and along with its allies has more power than ever in the parliament and government. It is also among the most effective armed groups in the region, extending Iran’s influence to Israel’s doorstep.”


The Punch Nigeria: Army Nabs 5 Key Boko Haram Fighters

“The Nigerian Army says the Operation Positive Identification (OPPI) in the North East has started yielding positive results with the arrest of five key terrorists suppliers and fighters. The Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, Operation Lafiya Dole, Col. Ado Isa, disclosed this on Monday. Isa said that the troops of OPLD had intensified the search for and arresting of all suspected criminal elements that were currently roaming parts of the North East. He said that the Theatre Command had enjoined members of the public to always carry valid means of identification such as National Identification Card when moving or passing through Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States. Isa said the operation was based on credible information that some of the fleeing criminals were hibernating in some towns and villages of Borno and Yobe States in particular and North East in general. “Troops are directed to strictly check legitimate means of identification such as National Identification Card, Voters Registration Card, Drivers’ License and Passports or other valid official identification before allowing such persons passage. “Consequently, the operation is seriously ongoing across the region and five key terrorists’ logistics suppliers and fighters have so far been apprehended.”


Africanews: Ethiopian Authorities Say Al-Shabaab, Islamic State Planning Attacks On Hotels

“Ethiopian officials have confirmed that Islamist militant members of the Somali group al Shabaab and Islamic State were planning to carry out attacks in the country on various targets including hotels. The National Intelligence Security Services (NISS) issued a statement on Saturday saying it had arrested an unspecified number of militants, some of whom were carrying out intelligence work including photographing potential targets. “The group was … preparing to attack hotels, religious festivities gathering places and public areas in Addis Ababa,” NISS said in the statement read out on state-affiliated broadcaster Fana. Ethiopian intelligence coordinated with neighbouring Djibouti to detain the suspects including their leader, Muhammed Abdulahi, NISS said. Those detained, NISS said, were arrested in the capital Addis Ababa, Oromia and Ethiopia’s Somali region. An Ethiopian army official says members of the Islamic State extremist group have been detained in the East African country. Berhanu Jula, deputy chief of Ethiopia’s military, told the state-owned Ethiopian News Agency on Wednesday that there is evidence the extremist group “has recruited, trained and armed some Ethiopians.”


Asharq Al-Awsat: ISIS Women On Trial For Attempted Attack Near Notre Dame

“Two French women who pledged allegiance to the ISIS group went on trial Monday for trying to blow up a car near Notre Dame Cathedral in 2016, in a case that authorities hope sheds light on the wave of extremism that has hit France, reported The Associated Press. The trial is also highlighting the role of women in recruiting and violence by ISIS extremists. The Notre Dame terrorist plot fell apart after the gas canisters doused with fuel failed to explode, and no one was hurt. But the women had been recruited by one of France's most notorious extremists, and prosecutors say the attempted explosion — in September 2016, long before the fire that ravaged the medieval cathedral this year — could have killed dozens of people in one of the French capital's most-beloved, tourist-friendly neighborhoods. The two main suspects, who face life in prison if convicted, were subdued as the trial opened in a special Paris terrorism court. Six other people are also on trial for related charges. Lawyer Thibault de Montbrial, representing French police and a terrorism victims association, described Monday's action in court as the first significant trial related to the 2015-2016 attacks in France, which deeply shook the country and hardened its security posture.”


The Guardian: Spanish Police Arrest Catalan Separatists On Suspicion Of Terrorism

“Nine Catalan independence activists have been arrested in Barcelona and face charges of “rebellion, terrorism and possession of explosives”, authorities have said. Police said they confiscated material they alleged could be used in bomb making during raids early on Monday morning. The raids were aimed at aborting actions that “could have caused irreparable damages”, prosecutors said. According to the police, those detained are associated with the Committees for the Defence of the Republic (CDR), a network of radical groups that advocates direct action to secure Catalan independence from Spain. The arrests, made in a variety of locations in the Barcelona area, were carried out by the civil guard under instruction from an audiencia nacional (national court) judge, who deals with serious offences such as terrorism, drug smuggling and organised crime. The nine arrested people are said to be members of the CDR’s so-called tactical response team. The team has previously blocked major roads and railway lines but its principal tactic to date has been passive resistance rather than outright confrontation.”

Southeast Asia

South China Morning Post: Singapore Detains Three Indonesian Domestic Workers Over ISIS-Related Terrorism Financing

“Singapore’s authorities have for the first time detained three domestic workers on suspicions of financing terror activities, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a Monday statement. The three Indonesian women – Anindia Afiyantari, 33; Retno Hernayani, 36; and Turmini, 31 – had worked in the city state for between six and 13 years.They had become radicalised in 2018 after viewing materials about Islamic State on the internet, as well as online sermons by Indonesian radical preachers. A fourth Indonesian domestic worker – not radicalised, but “aware of others’ radicalisation” – was arrested, investigated and then repatriated to Indonesia, the MHA said. The ministry said it had deported 16 other radicalised foreign domestic workers since 2015 but had not issued detainment orders in those cases. Investigations into the trio’s terrorism-financing activities are being carried out by the MHA, which said while none of the 19 foreign domestic workers had planned to carry out any acts of violence, “their radicalisation and association with terrorists overseas had rendered them a security threat to Singapore.” “The government takes a serious view of any form of support for terrorism in Singapore – whether by Singaporeans or foreigners,” it said.”

ABC News: Indonesian Police Arrest 9 Accused Of Planning Attack

“Indonesia's counterterrorism squad on Monday arrested nine suspected militants accused of plotting a suicide bomb attack on police using high-explosive materials, police said. Six people were arrested in Jakarta's satellite city of Bekasi, two others in northern Jakarta and another in western Jakarta, said National Police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo. He said the group of nine, aged between 18 and 28 and led by a militant cell leader, Abu Zee Ghurobah, are believed to be linked to Jemaah Anshorut Daulah, a local militant network affiliated with the Islamic State group. “They have been preparing themselves to attack police with military-style training in several places,” Prasetyo said. He said authorities defused a powerful bomb from one of the suspects, Muhammad Arshad, when they raided his house in northern Jakarta. Separately, the North Jakarta police chief, Budhi Herdi Susianto, said they also found a goodbye letter written by Arshad, who allegedly planned an imminent suicide attack using the explosive at a police station. Susianto said police seized a rifle, a gun, two knives, military-style uniforms, jihadi books and bomb devices from the suspects.”


Reuters: Tech Companies Back Independent Watchdog To Tackle Online Extremism

“A global working group set up by Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Microsoft to remove extremist content will become an independent watchdog working “to respond quicker and work more collaboratively to prevent” attacks like Christchurch, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.  Ardern has pushed for stronger action since New Zealand’s worst peacetime mass shooting in March, when a gunman attacked Muslims attending Friday prayers in Christchurch. He killed 51 people and broadcast the attack live on Facebook. “In the same way that we respond to natural emergencies like fires and floods, we need to be prepared and ready to respond to a crisis like the one we experienced,” Ardern told reporters on the sidelines of the annual United Nations gathering of world leaders.  The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism was created in 2017 under pressure from U.S. and European governments after a spate of deadly attacks. It will now become an independent organization led by an executive director, funded by Facebook Inc, Google’s YouTube, Twitter Inc and Microsoft Corp.”

The New York Times: Europe’s Top Court Limits ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ Privacy Rule

“Europe’s highest court limited the reach of the landmark online privacy law known as “right to be forgotten” on Tuesday, restricting people’s ability to control what information is available about them on the internet. In a decision with broad implications for the regulation of the internet, the European Court of Justice ruled that the privacy rule cannot be applied outside the European Union. French authorities had sought to force Google and other search engines to remove links to users globally. The decision more carefully defines the scope of the right to be forgotten, which is a centerpiece of the European Union’s internet privacy laws. The standard, which was established in 2014, can be used to force Google and other search engines to delete links to websites, news articles and databases that include personal information considered old, no longer relevant or not in the public interest.”

BuzzFeed News: Burt's Bush And XXXTentacion's Death: Why Facebook Moderators Fail

“When actor Burt Reynolds died last September, fans across Instagram and Facebook paid tribute to him by posting his 1972 Cosmopolitan magazine centerfold. In the photo, a nude Reynolds reclines on a bearskin rug, his left arm strategically covering his crotch. While an iconic celebrity photo, the image violated Facebook's moderation rules. For one, it featured visible pubic hair (a no-no), and while Reynolds' penis was obscured by his arm, Facebook only allows nonhuman objects covering genitals. So Facebook's third-party moderators followed the rules: Burt’s bush had to go. Fans noticed their tributes being deleted, and they complained on Twitter, which led to media outlets reporting on the debacle. By the next day, Facebook had told the media that the photo was incorrectly removed by automatic nudity detection and that the photos would be restored.”