Eye on Extremism: September 25

NBC News: U.S. Exit From Syria Could Bolster ISIS Threat, Strengthen Iran, Bipartisan Report Says

“A bipartisan report Tuesday urged the Trump administration to halt a planned troop drawdown from Syria and to step up diplomatic efforts to counter Iran's influence and stave off a resurgence of the Islamic State militant group. The 12-member Syria Study Group appointed by Congress warned that the Syrian conflict was far from over, that ISIS was still a threat and that without a determined U.S. response — backed up by troops on the ground — ISIS and other terror groups could flourish and Iran and Russia could expand their reach. “The United States cannot avoid or ignore the conflict in Syria,” the report said. “While some argue that it is too late for a reinvigorated U.S. approach to Syria, we conclude that the United States can still influence the outcome of the Syrian war in a manner that protects U.S. interests,” it said. But President Donald Trump has sent mixed messages about the future U.S. military presence in Syria and the report said that the Trump administration's flip-flops had sown doubts among allies about America's reliability. “Sharp shifts and reversals in American policy, and the failure of senior U.S. government officials to prioritize the issue with their counterparts, have undermined American credibility and the effectiveness of U.S. policy,” the report said.”

ABC News: Urgent New Warnings About ISIS Fighter Jailbreaks, As Trump Threatens Europe With Releasing Them

“The threat of ISIS fighters breaking out of the massive prison camps where they're being held in Syria and Iraq is growing, according to a new report and a senior U.S. official. While President Donald Trump has also warned of the urgency, he took the issue a step further in recent days and threatened to free ISIS fighters at Europe's borders if countries don't repatriate them. U.S. ambassador-at-large for counterterrorism Nathan Sales rang those alarm bells Tuesday, but wouldn't say whether the U.S. was actively planning to carry out Trump's threat. "It's impossible to predict what tomorrow is going to look like in Syria, let alone two months or six months from now ... You could envision all sorts of other scenarios playing out," Sales told ABC News in response to questions about Trump's comments. "We don't want to assume that the relative stability that we see today is an enduring feature."

New York Daily News: Brooklyn Man Who Gave Cash To Wannabe ISIS Fighter Found Guilty In Federal Court

“A Brooklyn man who handed a wannabe ISIS fighter a stack of cash to cover his travel and weapon expenses bought himself a prison term Tuesday instead. Dilkhayot Kasimov was convicted in Brooklyn Federal Court Tuesday of trying to support the terror group. Kasimov, 31, drove to JFK Airport in February 2015, and over the course of just three minutes, found the would-be terrorist and handed him $1,600. Security footage showed Kasimov stroll into Terminal 7, leave three minutes later and then come and go a second time. The ISIS hopeful, Akhror Saidakhmetov, then 19, was about to board a flight to Istanbul, then head to Syria, but the feds intercepted him at the airport and arrested him. “As found by the jury today, Kasimov was part of a conspiracy in which he sought to help fund a foreign fighter’s travel and expenses in Syria to wage violent jihad,” United States Attorney Richard Donoghue said. The government learned of the conspiracy when Saidakhmetov’s roommate, Abdurasul Juraboev, detailed on a pro-ISIS Uzbek-language website that he wanted to martyr himself by planting a bomb on Coney Island or shooting President Obama.”

Military Times: Three US Service Members Wounded In Afghanistan Insider Attack

“The Taliban took credit for killing three troops in a green-on-blue attack Kandahar, Afghanistan, on Monday afternoon, but an U.S. Forces-Afghanistan spokesman fired back at the claims on Twitter, clarifying that the only injuries sustained were non-life threatening. A defense official, who was not authorized to speak on the record, confirmed that all three wounded troops were Americans. A member of the Afghan National Civil Order Police fired on a coalition convoy, Col. Sonny Leggett tweeted, without providing details about which coalition country they belonged to. “The attacker was killed by return fire from Resolute Support forces,” he tweeted. The incident is under investigation, he added.”

Stars And Stripes: Egypt Says 6 Muslim Brotherhood Killed In Cairo Shootout

“Egyptian security forces killed six suspected members of the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood in a shootout in Cairo, the Interior Ministry said Tuesday, amid tight security across the capital following rare anti-government protests over the weekend. The six were killed in a firefight when police raided their hideout in the Cairo suburb of Sixth of October, the ministry said in a brief statement. The ministry oversees police forces. The statement said the suspects were planning militant attacks. It did not say when the raids took place, whether police forces were wounded in the clashes with the militants, or otherwise elaborate. Egypt branded the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization in 2013 and arrested thousands of its members after the military's ouster of elected but divisive president, Mohammed Morsi, who hailed from the Muslim Brotherhood, amid mass protests against his brief rule. Tuesday's development came days after rare anti-government demonstrations in several Egyptian cities over the weekend. The protesters called for President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to step down. Hundreds, including political activists and journalists, were arrested, according to rights lawyers.”

ABC News: Mother Of San Diego Navy Veteran Held In Iran Says He Lost Appeal

“The mother of a U.S. Navy veteran from California sentenced to 10 years in prison by the government of Iran said Tuesday he has lost his appeal and she is worried that he is being forgotten by the U.S. government. Michael R. White was convicted of insulting Iran's supreme leader and posting private information online. He was the first American known to be imprisoned in Iran after President Donald Trump took office. Few other details are known about his case. Joanne White, speaking through a family spokesman, said she was disappointed Trump did not mention her son or other Americans held in Iran when he spoke to the United Nations General Assembly. Family spokesman Jonathan Franks said Joanne White has not had any way to communicate with her son and she relies on officials with the Swiss government who meet with him when possible. She wants to ask the Iranian government to let him call her. The White House has not contacted her, he added.”

United States

Fox News: Missouri Man Pleads Guilty To Role In Plotting ISIS Attack

“A Missouri man pleaded guilty on Monday to attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State (ISIS), the Justice Department said Tuesday. Robert Lorenzo Hester Jr., 28, was arrested in February 2017. Prosecutors have said that he reached out to undercover FBI agents who were posing as ISIS operatives to say he was willing to help with an attack. He was told the attack would target “buses, trains and a train station in Kansas City” on Presidents Day, according to the affidavit. Hester expressed interest in helping ISIS from October 2016 to February 2017, authorities say, and his guilty plea is his admission of wanting to provide support to the terror organization. The government said it intends to recommend a 20-year sentence in federal prison under terms of a plea deal, but Hester will receive no less than 15 years. Authorities say Hester told undercover law enforcement officers, whom he thought were ISIS members, that he was ready and willing to participate in a “plot” involving mass casualties. He expressed increased interest in committing violence and supporting the terror group as his contact with the undercover agents continued, the Justice Department said.”

The Washington Post: White Terrorism Is An International Menace. We Need A New Strategy To Fight It.

“White terrorism has gone global. Right-wing extremists in the United States and Europe are increasingly cooperating in a movement that has become a metastasizing international menace.  Even the Trump administration has taken notice, albeit belatedly — after House Democrats and nongovernmental experts issued warnings through hearings and statements that also point to a hamstrung federal response.  The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is blunt — “We are witnessing the internationalization of the white supremacist movement,” the anti-hate organization said in a report released last week. It linked growing racist hate to “surging violence in the United States, Europe and beyond.”  The report was released the same day as a joint hearing on “white nationalist terrorism at home and abroad” by the House Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs subcommittees. “White supremacy is a transnational terrorist threat that has already begun to engulf us all . . . and our government has failed to take sufficient measures to also address this rising threat,” Sharon Nazarian, an ADL senior vice president, told the hearing. “Simply, white nationalism is a threat of growing lethality with similar global ambitions and a murderous strategy to achieve those ends.”

ABC News: Pasco County Veteran Sues Billionaire Qatari Sheik Over Murder-For-Hire Plot

“A Pasco County military veteran is suing a billionaire Middle Eastern sheik in U.S. federal court in Tampa -– accusing him of trying to enlist him to murder two people in California and holding Americans against their will inside his posh, guarded compound in Qatar. The lawsuit reads like the plot of an action-adventure movie, but retired U.S. Marine Matthew Pittard told I-Team Investigator Adam Walser the events were terrifying and all too real. “He’s a danger to the public,” said Pittard of his former employer Sheik Khalid bin Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani. Pittard and another American who worked for the sheik are now suing him for $34 million in a federal employment lawsuit.”

Syria

The Washington Times: ISIS Believed To Be Planning To Free Fighters Held In Detention Camps In Syria, Iraq

“The terror group Islamic State is preparing a campaign to free thousands of detained fighters and conduct raids of detainee camps in Syria and Iraq in the coming month, a new study on the group’s resurgence found. According to recent findings published Monday by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), the terrorist organization is “preparing to free its loyal fighters and followers from prisons and displacement camps across Syria and Iraq.” The report comes as President Trump and his aides have stepped up complaints that countries in Europe and the Middle East are refusing to take back thousands of their fighters swept up in the campaign to defeat the ISIS “caliphate” and now being held in camps in Syria and Iraq. Islamic State’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, announced plans for the campaign in a speech earlier this month. He asked his followers in the speech how they could “accept to live while Muslim women are suffering in the camps of diaspora and the prisons of humiliation under the power of the Crusaders?” according to information published in the assessment. ISIS fighters have been boosting its fundraising activity in the displacement camps across northern Syria and increasing propaganda distribution through pro-ISIS social media accounts since at least mid-July.”

The Washington Post: ‘Forgotten’ War: Syria Conflict A Footnote At UN Meeting

“As dozens of heads of state convene for the annual U.N. General Assembly in New York this week, the lingering conflict in Syria is taking a back seat while tensions in the Persian Gulf and global trade wars take center stage. Now in its ninth year, many Syrians fear the unresolved war has become a footnote in a long list of world crises, with weary leaders resigned to live with President Bashar Assad ruling over a wrecked and divided country for the foreseeable future. On the eve of the global gathering in New York, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced that a long-awaited committee that would draft a new Syrian constitution has been finalized — a step the U.N. hopes will put the war-ravaged country on track for a political solution. But few see any real chance that the committee can make significant progress toward that end.”

Voice Of America: New Report To Congress Warns Against Syria Pullout

“A panel of former national security officials and other experts is calling for the White House and lawmakers to "halt the U.S. military withdrawal" from Syria or face potentially dire consequences. The conclusion, at odds with plans announced late last year by U.S. President Donald Trump, is part of the final consensus report by the Syria Study Group, charged by lawmakers with helping the country craft U.S. strategy going forward. "The Group believes that the United States is still able to exercise influence over the conflict's trajectory, and that it must do so given the threats the conflict poses to American interests," according to the report submitted to Congress Tuesday. "The United States maintains leverage to shape an outcome in Syria that protects core U.S. national security interests."

The Guardian: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Proposes 'Safe Zone' For Refugees In Syria

“An expanded “safe zone” in northern Syria could include as many as 3 million people and stretch for 50 miles as far as Raqqa, the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, proposed at the UN general assembly as he pressed his case to speed up the resettlement of Syrian refugees living in Turkey. His idea, viewed as controversial with Kurds in northern Syria and seen by them as a Turkish landgrab, was his main proposal in a speech projecting Erdoğan as a spokesman for Muslims across the world. He told the UN: “If this safe zone can be declared, we can resettle confidently somewhere between 1 to 2 million refugees. Whether with the US or the coalition forces, Russia and Iran, we can walk shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand so refugees can resettle, saving them from tent camps and container camps.”

Iran

The Washington Free Beacon: Iran Has Spent More Than $16 Billion On Terrorism In Recent Years

“Iran has spent more than $16 billion during the past several years to fund militant terrorists across the Middle East, cash that was repatriated to the Islamic Republic under the terms of the landmark nuclear deal, according to new disclosures from the Trump administration. As Iran's economy teeters on the brink of collapse under the tough sanctions regime imposed by the Trump administration, the Islamic Republic's authoritarian leadership has spent its limited cash reserves to bolster terror groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, as well as militant terrorists in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. The Trump administration is taking a range of steps to thwart what it describes as Iran's expansionist foreign policy that seeks to establish hardline governments across the region. “Our pressure is making the regime's extremist foreign policy and the ideology that drives it more expensive than ever before,” Brian Hook, the administration's special representative for Iran told the Asia Society on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, or UNGA, which is being held this week in New York City. “This was long overdue.”

The Wall Street Journal: Europe Turns To Trump On Iran

“President Trump has squabbled with his European counterparts over Iran since he left the 2015 nuclear deal. But the tactical disagreements have obscured how much Berlin, Paris and London agree with Washington about the Iranian threat. Now Tehran’s attack on the global oil supply finally has moved Europe toward the Trump position. That’s the meaning of a joint statement Monday evening by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and French President Emmanuel Macron blaming Tehran for the Sept. 14 attack on Saudi Arabia. “It is clear to us that Iran bears responsibility for this attack. There is no other plausible explanation,” the statement says, contradicting repeated Iranian denials.”

CNBC: Iran’s Rouhani Calls US The ‘Supporter Of Terrorism’ In The Middle East And Downplays Role In Saudi Oil Attacks

“Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called the United States the “supporter of terrorism” in the Middle East and downplayed Tehran’s role in the recent Saudi oil facility attacks in a Tuesday interview with Fox News. “Today, unfortunately, America is the supporter of terrorism in our region and wherever America has gone, terrorism has expanded in that wake. Wherever we have gone, on the other side, we have defeated terrorism,” Rouhani said. Rouhani gave a hypothetical response when asked about the Sept. 14 strikes on the world’s largest crude-processing plant and oil field. “Let’s assume if it was from Iran, all of the monies received from the United States from these defensive systems, from these weapon systems, from these radar systems installed in Saudi Arabia and the Arabian peninsula, how come, they were not able to prevent that missile from hitting the target?” he asked, adding that the strikes were embarrassing for U.S.-made missile defense systems.”

Reuters: British Tanker Stena Impero Still Held In Iran – Owner

“Iranian authorities have yet to release the British-flagged tanker Stena Impero even though the vessel, seized by Iranian forces in July, has been cleared to leave port, its Swedish owner said on Wednesday. “At this point we are simply waiting for the guards onboard to leave and for the ship to receive clearance to sail,” Stena Bulk Chief Executive Erik Hanell said in a text message. Iranian forces seized the Stena Impero on July 19 for alleged marine violations two weeks after British marines detained an Iranian tanker off Gibraltar. The Iranian vessel was released in August. The actions followed attacks on other merchant vessels in Gulf oil shipping routes which Washington blamed on Tehran. Iran has denied responsibility.”

National Interest: Is The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Iran's Most Dangerous Weapon Of War?

“Key point: The IRGC is a fanatical and elite unit. No other branch of the Iranian military can claim the notoriety that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has earned for itself over the last several decades. Earlier this year, the White House took the unprecedented step of designating the IRGC as an organization that “actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft.” It was an IRGC fast attack craft that almost sparked open military conflict between the U.S. and Iran in June by staging an unprovoked attack against two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. The IRGC continues to comprise a substantial part of the Iranian armed forces, but their influence—both within Iran and across the Middle-East region—extends far beyond raw combat capabilities. To understand the full extent of IRGC’s current role within the Iranian military, we must go back to back to the birth of the Iranian Islamic Republic.”

Iraq

Iraqi News: Two Islamic State Terrorists Killed In Airstrike In Iraq’s Diyala

“Two Islamic State militants were killed Tuesday in an airstrike on terrorist hotbeds in the eastern province of Diyala, a local source said. “The Iraqi Air Force launched an air raid on two terrorist hotbeds of the Islamic State group in Qarah Tapah district, some 110 km northeast of Baqubah, leaving two militants dead,” the spurce told the privately-owned Almaalomah news website. 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.”

Afghanistan

The Independent: Raid On Al-Qaeda Bomb Factory Leaves Dozens Of Wedding-Goers Dead, In Latest Afghan Violence

“US and Afghan Special Forces carried out a raid in Helmand specifically targeting a senior al-Qaeda leader who was hiding in a bomb factory which was producing explosive devices possibly to be used against voters in the impending presidential election, security officials have claimed. While Pakistani-born Asim Umar, the first head of al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) escaped, his liaison man with al-Qaeda, chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, as well as the Taliban explosives chief for the province, his two deputies and two other Taliban leaders were among 22 fighters killed. The chief bomb-maker, according to officials, blew himself up with a suicide vest – causing many of the deaths of his fellow fighters. Umar’s wife was among six Pakistani women and a Bangladeshi national arrested, and a huge cache of weapons was recovered. Tribal leaders, politicians and officials in Helmand, however, disputed this account and accused the US and Afghan forces of killing around 40 civilians, most of them returning from a wedding party on Sunday night, many of them women and children. Hamid Karzai, the former Afghan president, has been among public figures who has condemned the deaths and called for an investigation into what happened.”

Xinhua: Taliban Shadow District Chief Among 9 Killed In Afghanistan Eastern Region

“A total of nine militants including a Taliban shadow district chief have been killed in the eastern region of the war-battered country over the past 24 hours, officials said Tuesday. According to Abdul Sattar Mirzakalwal, the governor for eastern Kunar province, the security forces stormed a Taliban hideout in Dangam district on Monday evening killing five insurgents including the group's shadow district chief for the relatively troubled district. Similarly, the security forces have killed four Taliban fighters in Laghori area of Tanai district in the eastern Khost province, said a statement of National Directorate for Security or the country's counter-intelligence agency. Taliban militants who are active in parts of the eastern region and have intensified activities are yet to make comment.”

Saudi Arabia

The Guardian: US Patience With Iran Not Inexhaustible, Warns Saudi Arabia

“Saudi Arabia has said that US patience with Iran is not inexhaustible and warned that military options are still being considered following the attack on the Aramco oil facilities earlier this month. The Saudi foreign affairs minister, Adel al-Jubeir, also said the UN-commissioned report into the origins of the attack will be available fairly soon, and described the EU’s Monday statement ascribing responsibility to Iran as “very significant”. His remarks suggest Saudi Arabia is still putting private pressure on Donald Trump’s administration not to limit his response to the 14 September attack to further sanctions and the deployment of additional troops to defend the oil facilities. Jubeir said: “We want to mobilise international support, and we want to look at a whole list of options – diplomatic options, economic options and military options – and then make the decision.”

Lebanon

The National: Senior US Official Says Hezbollah Sanctions Could Hit Benefactors

“Senior United States Treasury official Marshall Billingslea has delivered a stern message to Lebanese officials during a two-day visit to Beirut, warning that those who co-operate with Hezbollah will be targeted by sanctions. During a meeting on Monday with Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Mr Billingslea said that US sanctions could extend to any party suspected of providing “material” support to the Iranian-backed group. Hezbollah has been designated a terrorist group by the US since 1997. This US administration ramped up pressure this summer by sanctioning two of the group’s MPs for the first time and a high-ranking security official. President Michel Aoun struck a political alliance with Hezbollah in 2006. The Shiite party is a key political force in Lebanon and maintains a large paramilitary force that has fought both Syrian rebels and Israel. However, the sanctions “will not target groups who are only tied to Hezbollah politically,” Mr Billingslea said, easing concern that the group's political allies, including President Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement and Berri's Amal Movement, could be targeted.”

Xinhua: IS Suspect Arrested In Lebanon

“Lebanon's state security arrested Tuesday a Syrian suspected of belonging to Islamic State (IS) group, the National News Agency reported. The Syrian who was arrested in Nabatieh, south of Lebanon, admitted that he has received religious and military training with the IS group while he was in Syria. The statement added that the arrested Syrian entered Lebanon in an illegal way. Lebanon's general security also arrested earlier this month a Syrian belonging to the IS group who had planned to implement terrorist attacks in Sidon, south of Lebanon. The IS claimed responsibility for an attack on the northern city of Tripoli on June 3, killing two members of the Lebanese security forces and two others from the Lebanese Army.”

Middle East

Gulf News: Qatar Continues To Finance Extremists: Al Jubeir

“Qatar has continued to support terrorist and militant groups despite a pledge to stop doing this, a Saudi minister has said, amid a bitter diplomatic row between the two neighbours. “Qatar continues to finance extremists and terrorists, and interfere in others’ internal affairs,” Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al Jubeir added in New York on the sidelines of the annual General Assembly meetings. In 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt broke off diplomatic, transportation and trade ties with Qatar over its support for terrorism and sheltering wanted militants. Saudi television Al Arabiya also quoted Al Jubeir as saying that Qatar has not observed a 2014 pact it signed in the Saudi capital to mend its ways. “They have not implemented it over five years. And we said this is enough,” the official said.”

Libya

Reuters: U.S. Air Strike Kills 11 In Southern Libya - U.S. Military

“U.S. forces said on Wednesday they had killed 11 suspected militants linked to Islamic State in their second air strike near the southern Libyan town of Murzuq in less than a week. The attack, carried out on Tuesday, followed a Sept. 19 strike that the U.S. said had killed eight suspected militants. “This air strike was conducted to eliminate ISIS terrorists and deny them the ability to conduct attacks on the Libyan people,” Major General William Gayler, director of operations for U.S. Africa Command, said in a statement. Some Islamic State militants retreated south into Libya's desert as the group lost its stronghold in the coastal city of Sirte at the end of 2016. The U.S. has said it will not allow militants to use a conflict between eastern and western-based factions around the capital Tripoli to protect themselves. Eastern-based forces led by Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive to capture Tripoli in April, upending U.N.-led plans to broker a political settlement in Libya.”

Somalia

All Africa: Somalia: 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.” He did not say how many were arrested and how.”

Africa

The North Africa Post: Tunisia: Police Officer Stabbed To Death In Terror Attack

“A police officer was stabbed to death Monday near a court in the city of Bizerte, in Tunis governorate, in what was described as a terror attack. Police commander Faouzi Houimli who headed the security district of the Bizerte Court of Appeal was attacked by a radicalized man who also planned, according to the interior ministry, attacks against the court with improvised explosive devices found in his backpack. The attack occurred in a café near the court. The suspect, who has been arrested and put into custody for interrogation, also injured a soldier near the city’s bus station. Three accomplices aged between 25 and 35 have been also arrested as part of the investigations. Large scale terror attacks in the North African country have significantly subdued since 2015 when ISIS affiliates staged attacks in Tunis and Sousse, killing over 70 people mostly foreign holiday makers. The Monday attack comes as the country heads to the second round of presidential elections. Independent candidate Kaïd Saïed led the first round with close to 19 per cent. He will face on October 6 businessman and Heart of Tunisia’s candidate Nabil Karoui currently in prison on money laundering charges.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: US Says Removing Sudan From Terror List Could Take A Year

“US officials have informed Sudan that removing it from the terror list is complicated because it is tied to Congress and could take nine months to a year, announced Finance Minister Ibrahim el-Badawi. Speaking at a press conference in Khartoum, Badawi said Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who is participating at the UN General Assembly meetings in New York, will ask the World Bank for $2 billion in funding. The Minister noted that Sudan has so far been unable to tap the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank for support because the US still lists the country as a state sponsor of terrorism. He noted that the ministry is in the process of forming a committee to recover the looted funds outside the country, noting that Khartoum received pledges from the United Nations and some organizations to help in this issue. Meanwhile, the Sovereignty Council of Sudan discussed the security situation in the country and solutions to address it, according to the Council’s spokesman Mohamed Alfaki Suleiman. Suleiman told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Council decided to hold its regular meeting next Thursday in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state, to discuss current situations and ensure citizens’ safety.”

Daily Post: Boko Haram: Zamfara Police Ban Meetings, Procession, Party, Others Over Threats By Insurgents

“The Zamfara State police command has suspended all forms of meetings, procession, partying and unlawful gatherings considering the alleged threats by the elements of Boko Haram to unleash terror attacks on seven local government areas of Zamfara State. According to the command’s Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) SP Muhammed Shehu, due to the prevailing security situation, coupled with the threat by Boko Haram and other criminal elements to destabilise the relative peace being enjoyed in the state, the Zamfara State Police Command has warned that all hands must be on deck to normalise the current security concern. “Consequently, all forms of meetings, processions, partying and all forms of gatherings by all manners of people in the state are hereby banned until further notice,” the police spokesman warned. He noted that the Command seeks for continued support and cooperation of all and sundry to prevent the calamity, saying that security is the responsibility of everybody.”

United Kingdom

BBC News: Terror Accused Hisham Muhammad 'Searched Online For Suicide Belt'

“An Islamic State supporter accused of plotting a terrorist attack searched online for “weak points in the human body” and “suicide belt”, a court has heard. Hisham Muhammad allegedly hoarded an arsenal of weapons and a drone for a “lone wolf” attack. The 25-year-old's trial at the Old Bailey heard he also searched online for jihadist literature. He denies engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism. The Bermudan national, from Bury, Greater Manchester, is accused of plotting to attack an Army barracks with a modified drone. Jurors were told he identified a possible target at Castle Armoury, a territorial army base in Bury. Prosecutor Emma Gargitter told the court Mr Muhammad, of Victoria Avenue, Whitefield, made a series of “no comment” responses during police interviews over search terms including “military base near me”, “Glock 19”, “weak points in the human body”, as well as for Islamic State and Al-Shabaab literature and videos. He also made dozens of internet searches between April and May, including for “armed police Manchester”, “suicide belt” and “pressure cooker”, as well as for for machetes, Samurai swords, stainless steel nuts and bolts, potassium nitrate, and aluminium oxide, the court heard.”

France

Xinhua: More French IS Children Repatriated From Syria

“France has brought home two French mothers and their nine children from families that had fought with Islamic State (IS) insurgents in Syria, local media reported on Tuesday. The children, aged between 3 and 13 years, reached French soil early on Tuesday. They were scheduled to receive medical and psychological treatment before being handed over to the judicial authorities to decide whether their grandparents are able to look after them, France Inter radio reported. Arrested at the Turkish border, the two mothers were placed under police custody on suspicion of belonging to the Islamic State (IS). One of them was believed to be the niece of the brothers Fabien and Jean-Michel Clain, France's most wanted jihadists, who narrated an audio recording claiming responsibility for the Nov. 13, 2015 terror attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people in coordinated attacks and explosions. France has already received 12 children, most of them are younger than five years of age, from northeastern Syria, where 130 others are still reportedly held in refugee camps. France had previously expressed preference for their citizens held in Iraq and Syria and who fought with the Islamic State to be prosecuted there on fears of growing militancy at home.”

The Wall Street Journal: Macron Tried To Broker Meeting Between Trump, Iran’s President

“French President Emmanuel Macron mounted an intensive effort Tuesday to broker a meeting between President Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, but the attempt failed when the Iranian side insisted the U.S. first commit to easing sanctions, according to people briefed on the discussions. The meeting would have been the first of a U.S. and Iranian president since the 1979 Islamic revolution. The confidential diplomatic maneuvers, which were strongly supported by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson,  took place amid the rising tensions in the Persian Gulf following the alleged Iranian attack earlier this month on a Saudi oil facility and a war of words between Washington and Tehran. Mr. Trump told the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday that his administration was prepared to increase the sanctions pressure on Tehran until Iran no longer posed a threat to the U.S. and its allies.”

Europe

The Washington Post: Lebanese Tourist In Europe Mistakenly ID’d As ‘Terrorist’

“A Lebanese journalist, his wife and their friends had been touring southern Europe on a cruise ship when on the fourth day, while docked in the Greek island of Mykonos, a receptionist came on deck to tell the 65-year-old man that immigration officers would like to talk to him. Mohammed Saleh went down, thinking it was a matter that would only take a few minutes. He ended up being detained for five days in southern Greece on suspicion of involvement in one of the most notorious hijackings of all time: The 1985 hijacking of TWA flight 847. His wife, Leila, and one of his friends were able to see Saleh several hours after he was detained last Thursday at an immigration office where he was being held and he was given the right to use a mobile telephone. A day later, she was told that he was taken to the Greek island of Syros where a prosecutor would question him, based on a request by German authorities. Saleh’s telephone was then confiscated and the family lost contact with him in Syros. Authorities even prevented a lawyer from reaching him, saying only Lebanese diplomats can do so. The first time the family was able to talk to him again was on Sunday through the telephone of a Lebanese diplomat who flew from Athens to be with Saleh.”

Southeast Asia

The Washington Post: Philippine Military Says Suspected Swedish Militant Arrested

“Philippine military officials say a suspected Swedish militant has been arrested with two local Muslim militant women in the country’s south where they have been linked to bomb attacks. The officials say Hassan Akgun, a Swedish of Turkish descent, was arrested late Monday with Norshiya Camsa and Normhiya Camsa in Bagumbayan town in Sultan Kudarat province and troops seized firearms, explosives and an Islamic State group-style flag from them. Regional military commander Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana says Akgun is a member of an Islamic State group-linked organization in Sweden and has been linked to a bomb attack in August last year in Sultan Kudarat’s capital town of Isulan. Military officials say the women have been linked to a bombing in Isulan earlier this month that wounded eight people.”

Al Jazeera: Singapore Arrests Indonesian Domestic Workers For 'Funding' ISIL

“Singapore has arrested three Indonesian women working as domestic helpers in the city on suspicion they donated funds to support the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) group, authorities said. The government said on Tuesday the arrest of the three women highlighted the continued appeal of ISIL's “violent ideology”. The three women, who had worked in Singapore for between six and 13 years, started supporting the group after viewing online material last year, including videos of bomb attacks and beheadings, the Ministry of Interior said. Anindia Afiyantari, 33, Retno Hernayani, 36, and 31-year-old Turmini got to know each other around the time they were “radicalised”, and developed a network of foreign contacts online who shared their sympathies for ISIL, the ministry added. “The three of them actively galvanised support online for ISIS,” the ministry said in a statement late on Monday. “They also donated funds to overseas-based entities for terrorism-related purposes, such as to support the activities of ISIS and JAD. Turmini believed that her donations would earn her a place in paradise,” the statement added, referring to JAD, the Indonesian armed group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah, which has pledged allegiance to ISIL.”

Xinhua: Philippine Forces Arrest Swedish, Three Filipinos Accused Of Bomb Attack

“The Philippine security forces have arrested a Swedish national and three Filipinos who allegedly carried out the Sept. 7 bombing of a public market in Sultan Kudarat province in the southern Philippines that wounded eight people. Major Arvin Encinas, spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said on Tuesday that Swedish citizen Hassan Akgun and three Filipinos were arrested on Monday afternoon in Bagumbayan village in Isulan town. “The (suspects) and seized items were brought to Sultan Kudarat provincial police office for documentation and filing of appropriate charges,” Encinas said. According to Encinas, the arresting team also seized an M16 assault rifle, a .45 caliber pistol, a shotgun, an improvised explosive device, assorted ammunition, 13 cell phones and bomb-making materials. An ISIS flag was also seized from the suspects, Encinas added. On Sept. 7, eight people were injured after an improvised bomb strapped to a motorcycle exploded in front of a public market in Isulan, the provincial capital of Sultan Kudarat province. Last year, two successive bombings rocked Isulan that claimed the lives of five people and injured 45 others.”

Technology

The Atlantic: I Watched ISIS Videos, And Felt My Soul Diminished

“Nothing has done more to convince me of the existence of the soul than watching several hundred of them being snuffed out over the past five years, in Islamic State videos screened during the course of my reporting. One need not be spiritual or religious to identify the instant when a human body, suffering from a mortal wound, stops being human and becomes a sack of meat, offal, and bone. I experienced something similar when I worked briefly as a butcher, slaughtering cows and pigs. Suddenly, subtly, an animal (from the Latin anima, or “soul”) becomes food. Every slaughterer is familiar with that instant. In the case of slaughtered humans, the instant is all too perceptible. Something changes. Something leaves the scene. That something is an essence that resided in the corpse now being desecrated before you, as you watch along at home or the office. And exiting the scene along with it, I found, is a bit of you, the viewer, who has just witnessed the departure of a soul, and felt a little of your own soul slip away in the process. Last week, NPR’s Hannah Allam broached the topic of the mental well-being of terrorism researchers—journalists, academics, policy makers, and other analysts whose work requires them to watch ISIS videos.”

The Wall Street Journal: China Taps Its Private Sector To Boost Its Military, Raising Alarms

“Beijing is increasingly tapping private Chinese firms to acquire foreign technology for its military, according to officials and a new report, in a strategy that is prompting calls by leaders in Washington to retool U.S. national security policy. China’s President Xi Jinping is pressing these companies to bid for defense contracts as part of a “military-civil fusion” drive to upgrade an arms industry long dominated by a handful of inefficient state-run contractors and research institutes. The initiative, highlighted in a new report by nonprofit C4ADS, is alarming U.S. officials, who fear it is a central plank in Beijing’s attempt to build a world-class military, capable of challenging the U.S. in Asia and beyond. C4ADS does data-driven analysis on security issues, and is known for its work detailing how North Korea evades sanctions.”

Reuters: Facebook Will Not Label Or Remove Politicians' Rule-Breaking Posts

“Facebook on Tuesday said it would not take down politicians’ posts that violate its community standards and will not label them as rival Twitter has promised, saying it should not be the arbiter of acceptable speech in the political arena. Social media platforms are under pressure to block election interference and be more transparent about policies on political content, after what U.S. authorities called an extensive cyber-influence campaign by Russia aimed at helping elect President Donald Trump in 2016. Moscow has denied the claims. Facebook will take down posts if a politician’s content has the potential to incite violence or pose a safety risk that outweighs the public interest value. And political advertisements must still meet Facebook’s rules. The kinds of posts from politicians that could be kept up might include cruel or insensitive comments or graphic content.”