Eye on Extremism: September 3

BBC: Syria War: US Missile Strike On 'Al-Qaeda Leaders' In Idlib

“The US says it has carried out an attack on leaders of a group it calls al-Qaeda in Syria, in the country's rebel-held Idlib province. US Central Command said the operation had targeted those "responsible for attacks threatening US citizens, our partners and innocent civilians". No details were given but other reports say some 40 people died in a missile strike on a jihadist training camp. It was hit just after Syrian government forces began a truce in Idlib. Initial reports indicated that calm had settled on the front lines after the Russian-backed unilateral ceasefire, which started at 06:00 (03:00 GMT). Turkish threat: In a separate development, Turkey warned it would launch an operation to set up a "safe zone" in north-eastern Syria if talks with the US on the issue failed.”

Associated Press: Cease-Fire Brings Temporary Calm To Syria’s Idlib

“Government airstrikes and artillery attacks ceased Saturday following a unilateral cease-fire in the northwestern province of Idlib, a Syrian war monitor said. The U.S. military, meanwhile, said it struck an al-Qaida leadership facility north of Idlib, marking the first American strike inside the war-torn country since July. The U.S. Central Command said the operation targeted leaders of the organization for “attacks responsible for threatening U.S. citizens, our partners, and innocent civilians.” “The removal of this facility will further degrade their ability to conduct future attacks and destabilize the region,” said Lt. Col. Earl Brown, CENTCOM Chief of Media Operations. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights had earlier reported a missile attack on a meeting of militants in Idlib province that it said killed at least 40 militants. The strike came on the first day of a unilateral cease-fire in Idlib by the Syrian government. The military said it agreed to a cease-fire while reserving the right to respond to any violation. The Observatory said it registered no airstrikes since government forces put into effect the cease-fire after midnight Saturday. Idlib province is dominated by al-Qaida-linked militant factions.”

The New York Times: Guns, Filth And ISIS: Syrian Camp Is ‘Disaster In The Making’

“In the desert camp in northeastern Syria where tens of thousands of Islamic State fighters’ wives and children have been trapped for months in miserable conditions with no prospects of leaving, ISIS sympathizers regularly torch the tents of women deemed infidels. Fights between camp residents have brought smuggled guns into the open, and some women have attacked or threatened others with knives and hammers. Twice, in June and July, women stabbed the Kurdish guards who were escorting them, sending the camp into lockdown. Virtually all women wear the niqab, the full-length black veil demanded by ISIS’s rigid interpretation of Islam — some because they still adhere to the group’s ideology, others because they fear running afoul of the true believers. The Kurdish-run Al Hol camp is struggling to secure and serve nearly 70,000 displaced people, mainly women and children who fled there during the last battle to oust the Islamic State from eastern Syria. Filled with women stripped of hope and children who regularly die before receiving medical care, it has become what aid workers, researchers and American military officials warn is a disaster in the making.”

CBS: Mother Of U.S. Navy Vet Held In Iran Worried He'll Die After Prison Cancer Surgery

“A U.S. Navy veteran held jailed in Iran has undergone surgery in prison to remove a melanoma from his back. Michael White's mother told CBS News this week that her son's recurring health problems are deteriorating, and she's "really worried he'll die over there." Joanne White said she received an email last week from the U.S. State Department relaying information on her son from Swiss diplomats, who were permitted to visit him on August 28 for the first time in more than three months. The Swiss government has represented U.S. interests in Iran since Washington and Tehran severed formal diplomatic ties decades ago. "I'm really worried that... If they don't release him on appeal, he will die over there," Joanne White told CBS News. The Swiss told the U.S. government, according to the email received by White's mother, that the California man "continues to have medical issues" and that prison doctors removed a melanoma from his back in early August. "He also complained of dental issues related to previous chemotherapy treatments," the email said.”

The New York Times: Hezbollah Hits Back At Israeli Army But Without Casualties

“The Lebanese militia Hezbollah fired missiles at an Israeli military border post on Sunday in what it called payback for an Israeli airstrike a week earlier that killed two Lebanese operatives in Syria and a drone strike that damaged Hezbollah infrastructure in the Beirut suburbs. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel experienced no casualties — “not an injury, not even a scratch.” And while Israel returned fire with attack helicopters and about 100 artillery shells, both sides appeared eager to let the hostilities subside just as quickly as they had begun. Sunday’s abbreviated fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, the Iran-backed military force that dominates politics in Lebanon, comes as Israel is pushing back more assertively, and often openly, against what it sees as Iranian aggression throughout the Middle East. Neither Israel nor Hezbollah has shown much appetite for sustained conflict, but each skirmish contains the potential for escalation. Israel said a squad of Hezbollah fighters fired two or three anti-tank missiles after 4 p.m. at a military post located just outside the small Upper Galilee town of Avivim, which sits up against the United Nations-demarcated Blue Line opposite the Lebanese village of Marun al Ras.”

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Tells Afghanistan It Will Withdraw Some Troops Within 135 Days Of Pact

“With an accord on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in sight, the chief U.S. diplomat overseeing talks with the Taliban shared details of the proposed accord with a crucial, but largely sidelined, stakeholder: the Afghan government. During a Monday meeting at the presidential palace, Afghan officials said Zalmay Khalilzad showed President Ashraf Ghani a draft of the pact hammered out with the insurgents, who have refused to hold direct talks with a government they regard as an American puppet. Mr. Khalilzad said for the first time on Monday that the U.S. will start to withdraw 5,000 troops from five military bases in Afghanistan within 135 days after the deal goes into effect, provided other conditions were met. He provided no further details.”

United States

The New York Times: Terror On Both Sides Of The Rio Grande

“As schools resumed classes last week, teachers, students and parents arrived at Rafael Veloz Elementary in Ciudad Juárez wearing white, holding hands and weeping. The school’s head teacher, Elsa Mendoza Márquez, had been killed on Aug. 3 in the mass shooting in El Paso. The parents had to explain to their young children why she was missing. The assistant head told them that Ms. Mendoza would always be in their hearts. Ms. Mendoza, 57, was one of eight Mexican citizens among the 22 people who died in the attack, in which a man named Patrick Crusius is accused of shooting shoppers in a Walmart with an AK-style rifle. Most of the other victims were Americans of Mexican descent, while one was a German. Ms. Mendoza had crossed the border to see family in El Paso, according to reports, and popped into the store while her husband and son waited in the car. The El Paso shooting was at the top of the agenda of the first meeting between President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and the new American ambassador, Christopher Landau, on Monday. (The last ambassador, Roberta Jacobson, resigned in May 2018, and has since been a vocal critic of President Trump.) Mexico’s position is that justice for the El Paso victims must include a condemnation of the hate that the authorities say drove Mr. Crusius to mass murder.”

FOX 8: FBI: Teen Charged With Attempting To Provide Material Support To ISIS

“A 19-year-old has been charged in federal court after he was arrested in Queens during an FBI national security investigation, officials and law enforcement sources said. Awais Chudhary, a naturalized American citizen born in Pakistan, is charged with attempting to provide material support to ISIS, a designated foreign terrorist organization. Chudary was arrested Thursday and made his first appearance in court Friday before being held without bail. “As alleged, Awais Chudhary planned to kill innocent civilians on behalf of ISIS and record the bloodshed in the hope of inspiring others to commit attacks,” United States Attorney Richard P. Donoghue said. “This office, together with the FBI, the NYPD and all members of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force will continue working tirelessly to identify ISIS sympathizers like the defendant and prevent them from carrying out their murderous intentions.” The teen was texting with an undercover agent he thought was an ISIS sympathizer, saying he wanted to carry out an ISIS-style attack, sources said. Law enforcement carried out a search warrant at the teen’s East Elmhurst residence Thursday night. About a dozen FBI agents could be seen going in and out. The complaint against Chudhary said he wanted to record his attack to inspire others to commit similar acts of violence.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: US Treasury Sanctions 4 People For Funding Hamas

“The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has blacklisted four people for their affiliation with Iran. They facilitated the transfer of millions of dollars between Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and Hamas’s operational arm, the Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, to carry out terrorist attacks originating from the Gaza Strip, it said. “OFAC designated Muhammad Sarur, Kamal Abdelrahman Aref Awad, Fawaz Mahmud Ali Nasser, and Muhammad Kamal al-Ayy for providing financial, material, technological support, financial or other services to, or in support of, Hamas,” the Treasury announced. It pointed out that the financial facilitators are based in Lebanon and Gaza and are critical intermediaries between the Iranian regime and the Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades and end users in the West Bank. In partnership with the Sultanate of Oman, the Treasury sanctioned the four individuals under the virtue of a US executive order, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism. Sarur, a Beirut, Lebanon-based Hamas and Hezbollah-linked financial operative, is in charge of transferring tens of millions of dollars per year from the IRGC-Quds Force (QF) to the Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, it said.”

The Hill: Let's Tackle Mass Shootings Like We Do Terrorism

“Mass shootings are a uniquely American tragedy. I have worked in the extremism and counterterrorism space for a long time, as a federal contractor for the Department of Homeland Security and as a national security expert for several think tanks around the world. I have sat in prison cells and interviewed convicted terrorists. I have sought to understand the nuances of violent hate whether it manifests in an ISIS-inspired bombing in Sri Lanka or a white supremacy-driven shooting in El Paso. What I have seen is a common narrative: hatred, the notion of superiority and cleansing, and mobilization to violence in the name of an ideology. But in the United States, we’ve chosen to fight back a lot harder against the kinds of violent extremism perpetrated by foreigners or those with a certain color of skin. We created a vast toolkit to counter al Qaeda and ISIS, but we do nothing to prevent these homegrown extremists who happen to be white from accessing weapons of mass destruction in our country. Though the radicalization process might be the same across the extremism spectrum, the numbers do not lie. The Center on Extremism released statistics showing that 73 percent of extremist-related murders in the U.S. over the last 10 years (through 2018) were committed by right-wing domestic extremists.”

CNN: US And Taliban Reach Agreement 'In Principle' On Afghanistan, Envoy Says

“President Donald Trump's special envoy for Afghanistan said Monday that the US and the Taliban have reached an agreement "in principle," pending final approval by the President. Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad told Afghanistan's TOLOnews that a draft agreement will see the US pull troops from five bases across Afghanistan within 135 days as long as the Taliban meets conditions set in the agreement. If the deal proceeds, the withdrawals could mark the beginning of the end of America's longest running war, a nearly 18-year conflict triggered by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that has cost billions in taxpayer dollars and cost more than 2,300 American lives. The agreement could lead to the gradual draw down of all of the almost 14,000 US troops in the country, fulfilling a longstanding goal and campaign pledge of the President's, just as the most intense period of the 2020 election campaign gets underway.”

Syria

Al Jazeera: Syria's War: US 'Targets Al-Qaeda Leaders' In Rebel-Held Idlib

“The United States military has said it hit an al-Qaeda-linked training camp in northwest Syria's rebel-held Idlib province. The US Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement on Saturday its attack close to Idlib city targeted leaders that were “responsible for attacks threatening US citizens, partners, and innocent civilians.” “The removal of the facility will further degrade [al-Qaeda's] ability to conduct future attacks and destabilize the region,” the statement added, without mentioning what kind of weaponry was used. A war monitor said “at least 40” fighters were killed in what it called a missile attack. CENTCOM declined to say what kind of weaponry was used in the attack in Idlib, the last remaining bastion for anti-government rebels in Syria that has been the target of a Russia-backed government offensive since April. The air attack “targeted a meeting held by the leaders of Hurras al-Deen, Ansar al-Tawhid and other allied groups inside a training camp,” the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Saturday. Al Jazeera's Bernard Smith, reporting from Hatay, near the Syria-Turkey border, quoted sources on the ground as saying that the area targeted was “a training centre connected with al-Qaeda.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Commander Of ISIS Foreigners Captured

“Kurdish forces in northern Syria have arrested a Portuguese extremist from London involved in kidnappings and executions of Western hostages held by ISIS after years on the run. Nero Saraiva, 33, is believed to be one of the most important foreign ISIS recruits, who succeeded in promoting the terrorist organization until he became commander of the “foreign fighters unit.” Saraiva was arrested by the Kurdish forces, putting an end to his seven-year journey which started in Walthamstow northeast of London, and ended in ISIS territory, where he married five women, and fathered 10 children. Saraiva, who is a Portuguese national, was arrested after he moved to Baghouz, north Syria, reported the Portuguese magazine Sabado last week. He suffers from partial paralysis after being severely injured during the fall of Baghouz. He was questioned in July by western intelligence agents who believe that information he provides on the terrorist group’s UK network, namely the so-called “ISIS Beatles”, could prove invaluable to British security services. He was one of the first fighters to arrive in Syria, and is potentially considered a goldmine of information, the Sunday Times quoted an official as saying.”

The National: ISIS Fighter Captured In Syria Could Hold Key To Finding Kidnapped Journalist John Cantlie

“A senior ISIS fighter was interrogated by western intelligence agents in July after being captured by Kurdish forces near the area where the terrorist group lost the last of its Syrian territory. Officials believe Nero Saraiva, a Portuguese man who lived in London for 10 years before joining the terrorist group, could have information about the inner workings of the organisation, including the whereabouts of journalist John Cantlie. The British writer and photographer was kidnapped in Syria with American James Foley in November 2012 and remains a hostage. Foley was killed by ISIS in 2014 and his murder broadcast online. “He [Saraiva] was one of the first fighters to arrive in Syria and lasted the duration,” an official told The Times. “He’s potentially a goldmine of information.” Saraiva, 33, left his home in Walthamstow, north-east London in 2012, following in the footsteps of those he had helped to join the terrorist group. He left behind his wife and child and is rumoured to have taken five more wives and fathered up to 10 children. Security services believe Saraiva may have been close to a small band of British ISIS members nicknamed The Beatles, serving as right-hand man to ISIS executioner, Mohammed Emwazi.”

Kurdistan24: US-Backed Forces In Syria Capture Top ISIS Financial Officer

“The People’s Protection Units (YPG) Counter-Terrorist Forces on Sunday captured a so-called Islamic State financial officer during an operation in Syria. The operation took place in the ash-Shahil area in Syria’s Deir al-Zor region after a long period of observation and surveillance, a statement from the YPG informed. The offensive was carried out with support from the US-led coalition, it added, naming the captured as Mohammed Remedan Eyd al-Talah, the chief financial officer of the terror group. “A number of weapons, armament, and organizational documents, as well as stacks of money, was seized during the operation.” The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), of which the YPG make a majority, recently carried out several operations in the Deir al-Zor region, including near Baghouz on the Syrian-Iraqi border. Elsewhere, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) and the news website Deirezzor24 reported that the SDF also arrested the uncle of the former Governor of Wilayat al-Khayr, Mikhlif al-Rafdan, and his son Yasser al-Rafdan in Al-Kasra town in the western countryside of Deir al-Zor on Saturday.”

The Telegraph: ISIL Executioner Who Conned Thousands Of Pounds In UK Housing Benefits Is Captured

“The Isil terrorists who conned the British government out of £10,000 in benefits to fund terror attacks in Paris and Brussels has been captured in Syria. Anouar Haddouchi, dubbed the “executioner of Raqqa” after beheading more than 100 people in the city, was arrested with his wife Julie Maes, 32, by Kudish troops, it was reported yesterday. The couple was understood to have been seized after a battle for one of the last remaining Islamic State strongholds in Baghouz, eastern Syria. Haddouchi is being held in a prison run by the Syrian Democratic Forces. Haddouchi, 35, was born in Belgium but moved to Birmingham in the West Midlands in 2009 where he and his wife, who is also Belgian, claimed thousands of pounds in housing benefits despite having moved to Syria to fight for Islamic State.”

Iran

The Wall Street Journal: Iran Curbs U.N. Probe Into Tehran Nuclear Equipment Site

“Iran is stifling a United Nations probe of its alleged storage of nuclear equipment and radioactive material in Tehran, diplomats say, leading to fresh concerns about Iran’s activities at a critical moment for the fate of the 2015 nuclear deal. The diplomats said Iran has refused to provide answers to important questions raised by the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency over allegations, first made public by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a year ago, that Iran had established a now-dismantled site in Tehran to store equipment and material used during past nuclear weapons work. It is the first time Iran seems to have refused to cooperate with the IAEA’s monitoring of its activities since the multination accord was implemented in January 2016. It comes as European powers, led by France, try to prevent the deal’s collapse after the U.S. withdrew from the agreement in May 2018 and then reimposed tight sanctions on Iran, in violation of the deal. Until recently, the IAEA repeatedly said Iran was meeting all its commitments and cooperating with inspections.”

The New York Times: U.S. Imposes Sanctions On Wandering Iranian Oil Tanker

“The Treasury Department on Friday imposed sanctions on an Iranian oil tanker at the center of a power struggle between the United States and Iran, a move that threatened to further escalate tensions between the two countries. The tanker — once known as the Grace 1, and renamed the Adrian Darya-1 — had been detained in Gibraltar for weeks on suspicion of violating European Union sanctions by trying to transport oil to Syria. It was released two weeks ago, despite a last-ditch effort by American officials to have the tanker turned over to them. The tanker is believed to be transporting more than two million barrels of Iranian crude oil, testing American sanctions intended to limit the country’s ability to sell oil. The ship’s reported destination changed repeatedly throughout Friday. First, it was said to be bound for Turkey, then for Lebanon, only for Lebanese officials to say they did not believe it was coming there.”

Associated Press: New US-Led Patrols In Persian Gulf Raise Stakes With Iran

“As the U.S. tries a new way to protect shipping across the Persian Gulf amid tensions with Iran, it finds itself sailing into uncertain waters. For decades, the U.S. has considered the waters of the Persian Gulf as critical to its national security. Through the gulf's narrow mouth, the Strait of Hormuz, 20% of all crude oil sold passes onto the world market. Any disruption there likely will see energy prices spike.  The U.S. has been willing to use its firepower to ensure that doesn't happen. It escorted ships here in the so-called 1980s "Tanker War. " America fought its last major naval battle in these waters in 1988 against Iran. Now, the U.S. Navy is trying to put together a new coalition of nations to counter what it sees as a renewed maritime threat from Iran. But Tehran finds itself backed into a corner and ready for a possible conflict it had 30 years for which to prepare. It stands poised this week to further break the terms of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, over a year after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord and imposed crippling sanctions on the country.”

Iraq

Iraqi News: Iraqi Military Arrests Two Islamic State Terrorists In Mosul

“Iraqi military intelligence forces arrested on Sunday two Islamic State terrorists at a security checkpoint in Mosul city. The pair had fled Mosul city to Erbil province in Iraqi Kurdistan region following the crushing defeat of the Islamic State terrorist group in Iraq in 2017, Iraqi website Alghad Press quoted the Military Intelligence Directorate as saying in a press statement. The two terrorists are wanted by the Iraqi judiciary for their involvement in several attacks against security forces in Mosul city, 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.”

Iraqi News: Sadrist Militias Kill Eight Islamic State Militants In Central Iraq

“Eight Islamic State terrorists were killed Monday in violent confrontations with militias affiliated to Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in central Iraq, a security source said. “A force of the 313th brigade of Saraya al-Salam (Peace Brigades) clashed with a number of Islamic State militants in Samaraa city, north of the capital Baghdad, leaving eight terrorists killed,” the source told Iraqi news website Alghad Press. “The clashes also left two members of Saraya al-Salam dead and two others wounded,” the source added.  In December 2017, Sadr ordered his fighters to hand state-issued weapons back to the government following the country’s defeat of the Islamic State group. Sadr’s Saraya al-Salam fighters took up arms against the extremist group in 2014 after the fall of Mosul and are officially part of the government-sanctioned Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), also known as al-Hashd al-Shaabi. Sadr called on his fighters to also hand over parts of the territory they control to Iraq’s security forces, however, he stressed that his fighters would remain present as protectors of a holy Shiite shrine in Samarra, north of Baghdad.”

The Arab Weekly: ISIS Never Disappeared From Iraq

“Is there something more revealing of the nature of the Iraqi regime than the Islamic State? Everybody is saying the Islamic State (ISIS) is “making a comeback.” ISIS had never left in the first place and it was not defeated. The mechanisms responsible for producing it have continued to spin without interruption. Despite the collapse of ISIS’s self-proclaimed caliphate, no one dared say that a definitive victory was achieved over this organisation. There was no official announcement to that effect and the field commanders could still smell the presence of the enemy even though they did not see it or dared track it. Wherever ISIS went, there was devastation. That’s hardly surprising and would not have changed anything coming from an organisation whose strategy is based on destruction. Similarly, as long as there existed militias created and supported by Iran for the purpose of sustaining corruption and desolation, it was only natural that there would be militias that do not find it difficult or fearful to produce devastation everywhere. The ISIS “production machine” has never ceased operating. All that the war on ISIS did was to destroy some of the “goods” that came out of the production line. ISIS was the child of the reality created by Tehran in alliance with the United States when Iraq was invaded.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: ISIS Resorts To ‘Booby-Trapped Cows’ In Iraq

“Iraq’s security situation has been relatively stable despite ongoing plots by ISIS terrorist organization to create chaos, most recently by booby trapping animals, especially cows. At the height of its power, ISIS had suicide bombers and a membership from different generations. But it is no longer capable of making new recruitments after its defeat in Iraq in late 2017. Despite its territorial losses, the terrorist organization remains barricaded in various mountainous and desert areas of western governorates, namely Diyala, Kirkuk, al-Anbar, Saladin, and Nineveh. However, no one expected that ISIS would resort to animals to carry out attacks. In 2005, 2006, and 2007, al-Qaeda used animals in its operations before it was defeated by the Awakening Council, the tribal organization established by the US in al-Anbar. In Diyala province, 65 km northeast of Baghdad, residents of al-Islah village of Jalawla district were recently targeted by two booby-trapped cows, which injured one citizen. Security forces in the governorate launched an operation on the outskirts of the village to pursue ISIS remnants. Director of the Center of the Republic for Strategic Studies Moataz Mohiuddin told Asharq Al-Awsat that security forces had in the past been targeted by booby-trapped animals and dead individuals across Iraq.”

Turkey

Voice Of America: Terror Charges Dropped Against Pro-Kurdish Leader

“A court in Turkey has dropped terror charges against a prominent pro-Kurdish politician who has been jailed for more than two years, but authorities are still pursuing a separate case against him, which could keep him imprisoned. Selahattin Demirtas, a former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), was accused of leading a terrorist organization, carrying out terrorist propaganda, and other terror-related crimes for which he was faced with up to 142 years in prison. According to Anadolu Agency, a state-run news agency, Demirtas was accused of being a leader of Turkey's Kurdistan Workers' Party, known as PKK, which is designated by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU as a terrorist organization. He was also accused of having links to the violence that erupted in 2014 after protesters took to the streets to criticize the government's policies in neighboring Syria. At least 30 people were reportedly killed. Monday's court ruling cleared Demirtas of the terror charges from the main case against him. However, he could still serve time in prison for another case in which he has been charged with supporting a terrorist organization during a speech he gave in 2013.”

Afghanistan

The New York Times: Afghan City Survives Third Taliban Assault, But Loses A Top Defender

“The first two times the Taliban overran the city of Kunduz, Col. Sayed Sarwar Hussaini survived the carnage, just as he had many attacks and suicide bombings before. As the spokesman for the local police, his job was essential: The long Afghan war is increasingly fought as much on social media pages and television screens as it is on the battlefield. Colonel Hussaini, 36, would spar with the Taliban, telling a radio station that all was fine, promising a television channel that Afghan forces had repelled an assault. On Saturday, the Taliban came for the northern city for the third time in four years, launching a pre-dawn offensive even as they continued peace talks with American diplomats. Their advances were largely stemmed by the end of the day, as Afghan commandos flooded Kunduz and airstrikes hit Taliban positions. But as night fell over the battered city, Colonel Hussaini was not so lucky. He was among the roughly 30 dead on the government side, most of them security forces. At least 36 Taliban fighters were also killed, Afghan officials said. Colonel Hussaini’s death was emblematic of both the sacrifices made by an Afghan force that has lost 50,000 people in the past five years alone and of the political calculation with which the Taliban have waged their violence.”

Reuters: U.S., Taliban Near Afghanistan Deal, Fighting Intensifies In North

“U.S. and Taliban negotiators are close to a deal that would open the way for peace in Afghanistan, a top U.S. official said on Sunday, as the insurgents followed their weekend assault on the strategic center of Kunduz by attacking a second northern city.  Zalmay Khalilzad, the Afghan-born U.S. diplomat overseeing negotiations for Washington, said he would travel to the Afghan capital of Kabul on Sunday evening for consultations after wrapping up the ninth round of talks with Taliban officials in Qatar. ”We are at the threshold of an agreement that will reduce violence and open the door for Afghans to sit together to negotiate an honorable and sustainable peace and a unified, sovereign Afghanistan that does not threaten the United States, its allies, or any other country,” he said in a Twitter post. The comment came as Taliban fighters attacked Pul-e Khumri, in the northern province of Baghlan, just a day after a major show of strength by hundreds of fighters who overran parts of Kunduz, a strategic city the insurgents have twice come close to taking in recent years. The interior ministry said in a statement on Sunday that 20 Afghan security force members and five civilians were killed, and at least 85 civilians were injured in Kunduz city during clashes with the Taliban fighters.”

The New York Times: After Bombing, Afghans Demand That Foreigners Leave Their Neighborhood

“Hundreds of residents of a Kabul neighborhood where a bombing killed dozens of people staged a raucous protest on Tuesday, demanding that the apparent target of the attack — a compound for foreign workers and international organizations — be shut down. Smoke was rising from fires set by protesters near the fortified compound, called Green Village, where officials say a suicide bomber detonated a vehicle full of explosives on Monday night. The blast in turn blew up a gasoline station and a fuel tanker, and nearby homes were engulfed. Officials said on Tuesday that at least 30 people had been killed and about 100 injured. The Green Village compound has drawn suicide bombers to the neighborhood before, and furious residents demanded on Tuesday that the foreigners leave. Gunfire could be heard as the police battled demonstrators. Some protesters tried to throw rocks into the compound, and others attempted to scale its walls, an Afghan journalist at the scene said. “I can’t hide the fact that people are angry and it will take a little bit of time until they calm down and we take control of the situation,” said Firdous Faramarz, a spokesman for the police in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital.”

MEMRI: The US-Taliban Negotiations: A Deadly Qatari Trap

“What is happening in Afghanistan is already beyond grief. The United States is negotiating with the Taliban, without the Taliban first agreeing to a cease-fire as a precondition for talks, and although President Trump has emphatically announced his determination to withdraw from the country, American soldiers are still being killed (in the last ten days, three American servicemen died) leaving their families in mourning.[1] How did the Americans land in a situation where their troops are constantly hounded by the Taliban, instead of simply being allowed to peacefully return home? One can understand President Trump's wish to leave Afghanistan. Whether the US can sustain its strategic and economic leadership in the context of an isolationist policy, is a legitimate debate. But this is the president's and Congress's purview. However, even if one opts for isolationism, there are ways to leave without losing people, respect, allies and more. But the way Mr. Trump is doing this is the worst possible way: instead of leaving unilaterally, while reinforcing the democratically elected government in Kabul without boots on the ground, he is empowering his Taliban enemy by protracted negotiations, where America makes successive concessions and ultimately throws its Afghan allies under the bus.[2] Afghan officials are the first to sense that the sellout of the Kabul government is impending, and are scurrying to defect to the Taliban, (in July alone there were 800 defections).”

Pakistan

Reuters: Kashmiri Militant Calls For Pakistan Military Intervention In Disputed Region

“A Kashmiri militant commander said on Sunday that Pakistan should send troops to protect the people of India-controlled Kashmir if the United Nations does not send peacekeepers, after New Delhi revoked its autonomy last month. “It’s binding upon the armed forces of Pakistan, the first Islamic nuclear power, to enter India-occupied Kashmir to militarily help the people of the territory,” Syed Salahuddin, who heads an alliance of over a dozen groups fighting Indian rule in Kashmir, said. His comments underline growing domestic pressure on Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Kahn to take robust action after India stripped Kashmir of its special status on Aug. 5. Khan has so far focused on a global diplomatic campaign condemning India’s actions. ”In these testing times... mere diplomatic and political support is not going to work,” Salahuddin told a gathering of hundreds in Muzaffarabad, the capital of the Pakistani zone of Kashmir. On stripping Indian-controlled Kashmir of its special status, New Delhi blocked the region’s right to frame its own laws and allowed non-residents to buy property there. The government said the reform would facilitate Kashmir’s development, to the benefit of all.”

Yemen

The National: Resurgence Of Terror Groups In Yemen Is A Cause Of Concern For Arab Coalition Forces

“At a time when the main thrust of diplomatic activity in Yemen is focused on ending the country’s bitter civil war, the recent spate of attacks against the Yemeni security forces demonstrates the continued threat posed by terror groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS. In the latest attack, three members of Yemen’s security forces were killed in the southern port city of Aden on Friday following a suicide bombing. And in a separate attack, a senior security official survived a roadside bomb attack against his convoy in central Aden. Five of his guards were injured in the incident. Initially Yemeni officials blamed the attacks on Al Qaeda, which has been responsible for an upsurge in terrorist activity in southern Yemen in recent months. But this claim was undermined when ISIS, which regards itself as a more extreme Islamist terror group than Al Qaeda, claimed responsibility.The fact that both of these terrorist organisations now appear to be operating freely in areas of southern Yemen that are supposed to be under the control of government forces is a deeply worrying development, one that does not bode well for international diplomatic efforts to resolve the country’s long-running war.”

The National: Aden's Terror Groups Must Be Dismantled

“At the mouth of Bab El Mandeb Strait, the southern port city of Aden is both strategically and politically important. It has served as the seat of Yemen’s government since it was liberated from Houthi rebels in 2015 and sits adjacent to some of the world’s most vital shipping lanes. Aden had also been cleared of militant groups seeking to over run the city. In the past few weeks, Aden has witnessed in-fighting between forces loyal to the government and the Southern Transitional Council, backed by the Arab coalition. Once united in the battle against the Houthis, the split between factions is threatening to tip the city into chaos and open up a power vacuum. On Friday, the worst fears of those seeking to end the war in Yemen were realised when a suicide bomber killed three members of Yemen’s security forces, in an attack claimed by ISIS. In a separate attack, thought to have been mounted by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the military chief of the Security Belt forces, narrowly escaped a roadside bomb that injured five of his guards. The attacks came shortly after the Arab coalition launched a series of airstrikes targeting terrorist groups in Yemen.”

Xinhuanet: Yemen's Houthis Say Launch Multiple Ballistic Missiles At Saudi Najran Airport

“Yemen's Houthi rebels said they had fired multiple ballistic missiles toward Saudi Arabia's Najran airport in the southwest of the kingdom on Tuesday morning, Houthi-run al-Masirah TV reported. "The missiles hit the military targets in the airport and caused suspension of the air traffic," the television said, citing a statement by Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea. "The attack came in response to Saudi-led aggression coalition's recent airstrikes against Yemen and the continuing oppressive all-out blockade against the Yemeni people," Sarea said, adding that his group "took all necessary measures in the attack to protect civilians." The Houthi attack came three days after a deadly Saudi-led airstrike on a prison in Houthi-held province of Dhamar which the International Committee of the Red Cross said killed at least 130 prisoners of war and injured 40 others.”

Al Monitor: Houthis Tout Missiles That Down Advanced US Drones

“Yemen's Houthi rebels appear to be growing stronger by the day, shifting from conventional weaponry and guerrilla warfare to upgraded weapons and organized tactics. Whether these weapons were created locally, as the Houthis claim, or smuggled from Iran or even purchased on the sprawling black market in the Red Sea region, the Houthis have used them effectively. As groups that were recently allied against the Houthis are now fighting each other for control of Yemen's temporary capital of Aden in the southwest, the Houthis claim to have used surface-to-air missiles to shoot down US drones in other areas. “An MQ-9 Reaper was shot down [Aug. 20] in Dhamar province … by a locally developed missile that hit its target with high precision," Houthi spokesman Brig.-Gen. Yahya Sarih announced Aug. 21. US Central Command responded quickly, stating, “We are investigating reports of an attack by Iranian-backed Houthis forces on a US [drone] in authorized airspace over Yemen,” and that Iran's support of the Houthis “poses a serious threat to stability in the region and our partners.”

Lebanon

Reuters: Hezbollah: Flare-Up With Israel Over But A 'New Phase' Has Started

“Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader said on Monday that while a flare-up with Israel at the border was over, the episode had launched a “new phase” in which the Iran-backed group no longer has red lines. In a televised speech, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said the new focus would be on targeting Israeli drones that enter Lebanon’s airspace, and this would be handled by fighters in the field. Hezbollah and the Israeli army exchanged cross-border fire on Sunday after a drone attack last week in a Hezbollah-controlled Beirut suburb. Hezbollah blamed that incident on Israel, raising fears of a wider regional conflict. In his speech, Nasrallah said Sunday’s missiles sent Israel “a clear message that if you attack, then all your border, your forces and your settlements at the border and (deep inside)” will be at risk.”

The Jerusalem Post: How Does Hezbollah Systematically Infiltrate Lebanon?

“Hezbollah, as an arm of Iran, uses women’s groups, sports, education, health programs and a cult surrounding Iran’s supreme leader to infiltrate and maintain a hold on the Lebanese state, according to a series of reports by an intelligence center. The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center issued a report at the end of last week discussing the latest strategies of Hezbollah in constructing a “mini-state” among the Shi’ite community in Lebanon. With massive financial and strategic support from Iran, Hezbollah continues to enlarge an entire virtually autonomous civilian system that “operates alongside its military infrastructure.” According to the Meir Amit center, the social institutions that were established by Hezbollah “provide Shi’ite residents with a wide variety of services of the sort which is usually provided by the state, while taking advantage of the weakness of the Lebanese central government and the long-time neglect of the Shi’ite community.”

Middle East

The Jerusalem Post: Hamas And ISIS Hate Israel — And Each Other

“Explosions earlier this week at two Hamas police checkpoints in Gaza City left three policemen dead. But it wasn’t Israel that planted the explosives, as many might have suspected. Hamas says it was Islamic State suicide bombers. A day after the deadly attacks, Hamas began mass arrests of supporters of Islamic State and other Salafist organizations in the Gaza Strip. It’s not the first time that Hamas and members of the Islamic State, or ISIS, have clashed in recent years. Israel and the United States consider both Hamas and ISIS to be terrorist organizations. As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared at the United Nations in 2014, “Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas.” So why do the two Islamist groups consider each other enemies? Here’s a primer: The short answer is that Hamas, which is considered a part of the Muslim Brotherhood, is a national liberation movement, albeit with an Islamist bent, intent on forming an Islamic state in the area that is now Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. ISIS, which stands for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, belongs to the Salafist branch within Islam that wants to re-create the Islamic caliphate and impose Sharia law throughout the region. ISIS views Hamas and its supporters as “apostates.”

Libya

The Washington Post: Libya Closes Tripoli’s Only Functional Airport After Attack

“Libya’s airport authorities say they have closed the only functional airport in the capital, Tripoli, a day after it was hit by shelling amid clashes between rival armed groups fighting for control of the city. Nasr al-Din Shaab el-Ain, the head of Tripoli’s civil aviation authority, said Monday that all flights at Mitiga airport have been suspended “until further notice.” The U.N. mission in Libya said four projectiles struck the civilian parts of the airport Sunday, with one hitting an airplane carrying pilgrims coming back from Saudi Arabia. The Tripoli-based Health Ministry said at least four people were wounded. The U.N-supported government blamed the attack on the self-styled Libyan National Army, which launched an offensive to take Tripoli in April. The LNA has denied the accusation.”

Nigeria

Al Jazeera: UN Calls For Urgent Action To End Violence In Nigeria

“The United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings condemned rising violence across Nigeria and a “lack of accountability” for perpetrators. Agnes Callamard, speaking at a news conference on Monday in Nigeria's capital, said the country needed urgent action to end the “pressure cooker” of violence that has claimed thousands of lives. Nigeria is currently facing multiple conflicts, from attacks by the armed group Boko Haram to fighting between nomadic herders and farmers. “The overall situation that I encountered in Nigeria gives rise to extreme concern ... The warning signs are flashing bright red: increased numbers of attacks and killings over the last five years with a few notable exceptions,” Callamard said at a news conference. “If ignored its ripple effect will spread throughout the sub-region given the country's important role in the continent.”   She condemned police and military “brutality” across the country, and a “generalised system of impunity”. ”The time is now to prioritise the rule of law and to make it part and parcel of the Nigerian system,” especially for those living in extreme poverty, she said.Cheta Nwanze, an analyst at SBM Intelligence, told Al Jazeera: “In almost two decades of Boko Haram's existence, I can't recall any of the financial backers who has ever been brought to trial ... We've not had a single high-level conviction of a Boko Haram member.”

Sahara Reporters: Army Kills Two Suspected Boko Haram Terrorists, Recovers Weapons In Borno

“The Nigerian Army said it has killed two suspected Boko Haram terrorists in Borno State, who were trying to plant improvised explosive devices on a troop supply road. The army in a statement posted on its Twitter handle on Saturday said, “Troops of 26 Task Force Brigade under the auspices of Operation HALAKA DODO, Theatre Command Operation Lafiya Dole, successfully thwarted terrorists’ efforts to plant improvised explosive device for commuters and troops' main supply route. “The troops laid an effective night ambush for terrorists in the midst of heavy downpour, encountered the terrorists IED party at Wala crossing point attempting to emplace the lethal device. “Troops responded swiftly in a fire fight with two terrorists killed while others scampered for their lives with likely gunshot wounds.”

AllAfrica: Nigeria: Residents Flee As Boko Haram Attacks Chibok Again

“Residents of Yimirmigza village in Kautikari ward, Chibok local government area of Borno, took to their heels after suspected Boko Haram insurgents laid siege on their village. A Chibok resident told TheCable on Saturday that they started hearing strange gunshots around 6pm. The villager said they fled when they noticed that the gunshots were not the routine military gunshots. “They came in this evening and started shooting sporadically. Most of the villagers have run into the bush,” the source said. “We don't know if there are casualty yet because right now the insurgents are still in charge of the village.” TheCable also gathered that security operatives from the 117 Task Force Battalion of the Nigerian army have been mobilised to stop the insurgents. Yimirmigza village is 19 kilometres away from Chibok town which is the local government headquarters. As at the time of filing this report, efforts to reach Sagir Musa, acting director of the army's public relations, was abortive. Chibok lies close to Boko Haram's Sambisa forest enclave from where the jihadists launch attacks on nearby villages. Boko Haram's nine-year conflict has killed an estimated 35,000 people and displaced two million, creating a humanitarian crisis and spilling into Nigeria's northern neighbours.”

AllAfrica: Nigeria: Leah Sharibu Alive, Govt Negotiating With Boko Haram To Free Her – Presidency

“The Buhari administration is committed to freeing Leah Sharibu and is in negotiation with the kidnappers to do so, a presidential aide said on Saturday. Garba Shehu said the Buhari administration will not give up on the safe return of Miss Sharibu. Miss Sharibu is one of the 110 students of Government Girls Science and Technical Secondary School, Dapchi, who were kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists in February 2018. About four of the girls died during the kidnap while the terrorists released the other 105. They, however, held on to Miss Sharibu, reportedly for holding on to her Christian faith. However, several rights activists and groups have demanded that the federal government should secure the release of the teenager. In a statement issued on Saturday, Mr Shehu addressed a group of journalists saying; "Instead of giving up, the government is carrying forward processes that should hopefully yield her release by her captors.”

Somalia

Xinhua: Somalia Says Kills 9 Al-Shabab Militants

“The Somali military on Monday confirmed the killing of nine al-Shabab militants in an offensive on Sunday in southern Somalia. Ali Abdullahi Araye, commander of Unit 35, section 7 of Somali forces, said the offensive was launched after residents of Kaxarey, Busley and Baldof villages informed the army that the militants had sneaked in and ordered locals to pay taxes. “Our forces fought off the militants and we defeated them, killing nine of them, and the rest ran away,” Araye said, noting that the forces also burnt vehicles and motorbikes that the militants used to carry explosives. Residents reported witnessing fierce confrontations. “Every year like this month, al-Shabab forcibly collects Zakawat (tax) among the residents,” Yahye Alas, a resident, told Xinhua by phone. “But today they were attacked by government forces.” “There was intense fight, but the militants finally withdrew from the villages,” he said. The latest military offensive came barely two days after six militants were killed and nine others injured in a joint offensive conducted by Somali army and Jubaland state forces in Lower Juba region.”

The Washington Post: ‘If I Don’t Pay, They Kill Me’: Al-Shabab Tightens Grip On Somalia With Growing Tax Racket

“The calls from an unknown number had been coming for weeks, but Osman, a household-goods trader in the Somali capital’s largest market, disregarded them — until he got the text message. “Will you pick up our call? Yes or no. This is the mujahideen,” it said. The mujahideen, the Islamist militants, al-Shabab. He knew right away what they wanted: to capture him in a protection money racket that the extremist group has been expanding across Somalia for years.  “My heart could barely pump blood in that moment,” said Osman, 45, a father of seven, who spoke on the condition that only his first name be used out of fear for his life. “If I don’t pay, they kill me.” When Osman replied “yes,” he found that al-Shabab knew the size of his business and even how many containers of goods he imported through the city’s seaport. Don’t lie to us, they told him, we have the manifests from the ships to cross-check.”

Africa

Reuters: Tunisian Policeman And Three Islamist Militants Killed In Clashes

“A Tunisian policeman and three Islamist militants were killed on Monday in a security operation in a remote area near the Algerian border, police said.  Tunisia is one of the Arab world’s most secular nations, and became a target for militants after being hailed as a beacon of democratic change with an uprising against autocrat Zine Abidine Ben Ali in 2011. A presidential election is to be held on Sept. 15.  “Our forces killed three terrorists after a clash that came after a 10-day follow-up as part of the pursuit of terrorist elements,” Police Colonel Houssem Jbebli said.  The dead policeman was the head of a station in the town of Haidra, he added.  Prime Minister Youssef Chahed told Reuters last week that Tunisia was still under threat from militant groups including Islamic State. Tunisia suffered three major attacks in 2015: one at a museum in Tunis, one on a tourist beach in Sousse and one on presidential guards in the capital. All three were claimed by Islamic State.  Tourism has been recovering gradually from the effect of the attacks.”

North Korea

The New York Times: North Korea Missile Tests, ‘Very Standard’ To Trump, Show Signs Of Advancing Arsenal

“As North Korea fired off a series of missiles in recent months — at least 18 since May — President Trump has repeatedly dismissed their importance as short-range and “very standard” tests. And although he has conceded “there may be a United Nations violation,” the president says any concerns are overblown. Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, Mr. Trump explained recently, just “likes testing missiles.” Now, American intelligence officials and outside experts have come to a far different conclusion: that the launchings downplayed by Mr. Trump, including two late last month, have allowed Mr. Kim to test missiles with greater range and maneuverability that could overwhelm American defenses in the region. Japan’s defense minister, Takeshi Iwaya, told reporters in Tokyo last week that the irregular trajectories of the most recent tests were more evidence of a program designed to defeat the defenses Japan has deployed, with American technology, at sea and on shore.”

United Kingdom

BBC News: Middlesbrough Terror Suspect Arrested In London

“A man has been arrested on suspicion of a terror offence with addresses in London and Teesside searched. The 21-year-old, from the Middlesbrough area, was arrested in north London on Saturday. Counter Terrorism Policing North East (CTPNE) said he was believed to have been involved in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. An address in the capital and three on Teesside were targeted by officers. Bomb disposal experts attended one of the properties, in Teesville, Middlesbrough, to provide advice “following the discovery of potentially suspicious items”. CTPNE said the arrest was “intelligence-led and pre-planned” and the man was in custody.  Cleveland Police and Counter Terrorism Command are assisting with the investigation.”

Express: British Warship Fights Off 115 ‘Intimidating’ Confrontations From Iranian Attack Craft

“Commander Will King said the HMS Montrose had been involved in 115 separate confrontations with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in the Gulf since the start of July. He said the Iranian military used fast attack craft and drones to “intimidate” his ship as Tehran carried out a “continuous intent to disrupt or interfere with UK interests in the area”. HMS Montrose, a Type 23 frigate, was sent to patrol the strategic waters after the UK-flagged Stena Impero was seized by the Iranians six weeks ago. The IRGC responded by beefing up its coastal defence systems and aiming cruise missiles in the direction of HMS Montrose. It has also emerged that the elite force was given clearance to use live rounds against the British warship during the Stena Impero episode.”

France

CNN: One Person Was Killed, 8 Others Wounded In Knife Attack Outside Lyon, France

“One person was killed and eight others wounded during a knife attack at a subway stop near Lyon, France, according to authorities and media reports. Three of the eight victims were seriously wounded, CNN affiliate BFM TV reported. The station had earlier reported nine wounded but later revised the number to eight, citing police sources.  The single fatality was a 19-year-old man, Villeurbanne Mayor Jean-Paul Bret told reporters.  A suspect has been taken into custody, according to Lyon Mayor Gerard Collomb. The motive for the attack is unknown. “I am extremely shocked by the attack that just took place in the Lyon area, during which one person died and several others wounded, some seriously,” the mayor tweeted.  The suspected attacker is a 33-year-old asylum seeker, BFM reported. The attack is not a terror investigation at the moment, a police trade union official told CNN. Bret said police were seeking information about the suspect from authorities in Paris. Terrorism had “neither been dismissed nor confirmed,” he said.  French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, via Twitter, expressed his condolences to “friends and family of the young man killed.” He said he was following the situation.”

The New York Times: France Dangles $15 Billion Bailout For Iran In Effort To Save Nuclear Deal

“A senior Iranian delegation arrived in Paris on Monday to work out the details of a financial bailout package that France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, intends to use to compensate Iran for oil sales lost to American sanctions. In return for the money, Iran would agree to return to compliance with a 2015 nuclear accord. Iranian press reports and a senior American official say that the core of the package is a $15 billion letter of credit that would allow Iran to receive hard currency, at a time when most of the cash it makes from selling oil is frozen in banks around the world. That would account for about half the revenue Iran normally would expect to earn from oil exports in a year. Mr. Macron’s government has declined to provide any details of its negotiations with the Iranians, though it was the subject of discussion between the French president and President Trump at the Group of 7 summit last weekend.”

Europe

Reuters: Hungary Charges Syrian Man With Terrorism, Crime Against Humanity

“Hungarian prosecutors said on Tuesday they had charged a 27-year-old Syrian man with terrorism and crime against humanity committed as a member of Islamic State in 2015. The man, identified only as F. Hassan, was charged with executing several people in 2015 in the Homs region of Syria who refused to join Islamic State, the prosecutors said. The prosecutors are seeking a life sentence. His lawyer was not immediately reachable by phone.”

Reuters: Syrian War Crimes Suspect Appears In Dutch Court

“Lawyers for a Syrian accused of war crimes in the Netherlands for allegedly participating in an execution during the country’s civil war denied on Monday that their client was a member of the radical Nusra Front. Ahmad al Khedr, also known as Abu Khuder, faces charges of murder and membership of a terrorist group under Dutch universal jurisdiction laws. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if found guilty. This is the first time a Syrian national has been charged with war crimes under Dutch jurisdiction laws. The case against Al Khedr marks only the second time a Dutch court has looked at crimes committed during the war in Syria, the earlier case targeting Dutch Islamists who fought in the conflict. At a pretrial hearing in a high-security courthouse near Schiphol airport, the 47-year-old Al Khedr was clean shaven and wore a light blue shirt.”

Southeast Asia

The Washington Post: IS Claims Attack In Bangladesh That Injured 2 Police

“Two Bangladeshi policemen in the capital were injured in a crude bomb attack that has been claimed by the Islamic State group. Dhaka Metropolitan Police chief Asaduzzaman Mia said the attack happened late Saturday night when a car carrying a Cabinet minister was passing through Dhaka’s busy Dhanmondi area. A policeman from his security team and a traffic officer were both injured in the explosion. Local Government and Rural Development Minister Tazul Islam escaped unhurt. The Islamic State group said in a statement posted late Saturday on an IS-affiliate website that two traffic police officers were severely wounded when a “security detachment from the soldiers of the Caliphate” detonated an explosive device in a Dhaka street targeting the two officers. The policemen were being treated in a hospital and their injuries were not life threatening. The IS has claimed similar attacks on police in the past. Authorities do not publicly reveal the results of their investigations. Bangladesh has a history of attacks by radical groups.”

Al Jazeera: Missing Maldives Journalist Killed By Al-Qaeda Affiliate

“A journalist who went missing in the Maldives five years ago was killed by a local affiliate of al-Qaeda, an investigator has said, publicly acknowledging for the first time the hardline group's existence and efforts to silence liberal voices in the Indian Ocean island nation. Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla, whose disappearance in 2014 shook the Maldives, was forced into a car at knifepoint outside his home on the island of Hulhumale and taken to a boat out at sea where he was killed, said Husnu Suood, the head of a presidential commission set up to investigate the case. Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Suood said the commission's nine-month investigation found that then-President Abdulla Yameen tried to “divert the focus” of the police investigation, while his former deputy tried to obstruct justice in the case.  The findings addressed long-unanswered questions over the journalist's fate and prompted an outpouring of grief. In a statement, Rilwan's family said it heard the commission's conclusion with “deep sorrow” and called for protection for witnesses in the case. Officials in the Maldives, a popular Indian Ocean holiday destination, have previously denied the existence of hardline Islamic groups in the Sunni Muslim state, despite a spate of attacks against people advocating the practise of moderate Islam and freedom of belief.”

Technology

The Wall Street Journal: No Relief For Big Tech Under New EU Leadership

“The leadership of the European Union is changing over the next few months, but the organization’s scrutiny of U.S. tech companies likely isn’t. The incoming head of the EU executive arm is promising new laws on artificial intelligence and the use of big data within 100 days of taking office on Nov. 1, as the bloc’s antitrust enforcer gathers evidence in its probes into the practices of companies including Facebook Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. The EU investigations, started by departing EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager, examine how Facebook and Amazon use data gathered on their platforms, and could eventually lead to multimillion-dollar fines. Both companies deny wrongdoing. In recent years, Alphabet Inc. ’s Google has been fined a total of $9.4 billion in three separate EU probes. A fourth, relating to Google’s job-search service, is currently at a preliminary stage.”

NBC News: Why Republicans (And Even A Couple Of Democrats) Want To Throw Out Tech's Favorite Law

“When Twitter locked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's campaign account in early August, demanding that he remove a video of profane protesters threatening violence outside his home, an arcane war erupted. The company said they took the action because the video violated their community rules, while Republicans launched a reinvigorated assault on what they claim is ongoing bias by Big Tech against conservatives. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., went on Fox News to call the locked account "all too typical of Twitter and big tech," before turning his attention what he sees as the real problem: the tiny-but-powerful piece of law that allows platforms to make their own community rules in the first place. Hawley is one of a growing number of GOP lawmakers waging a war on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which shields companies from the enormous risk of hosting third-party content while allowing them to moderate content according to their own sets of standards. It has paved the way for the internet to be a bastion of free speech and information, while still ostensibly offering guard rails against hate speech, harassment or other material that tech companies don't want on their websites and apps.”