Eye on Extremism: September 30

The New York Times: U.S. Officials Warn Of Rising Threat From Qaeda Branch In Northwest Syria

“American counterterrorism officials are voicing increased alarm about a Qaeda affiliate in Syria that they say is plotting attacks against the West by exploiting the chaotic security situation in the country’s northwest and the protection inadvertently afforded by Russian air defenses shielding Syrian government forces allied with Moscow. The rise of this latest Qaeda branch in Syria, as well as the operations of other Qaeda affiliates in West Africa, Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan, underscore the terrorist group’s enduring threat despite the death of Osama bin Laden and being largely eclipsed in recent years by the Islamic State, or ISIS, as the terrorist group of choice of global jihadis. The new Qaeda branch, called Hurras al-Din, emerged in early 2018 after several factions broke away from a larger affiliate in Syria. It is the successor to the Khorasan Group, a small but dangerous organization of hardened senior Qaeda operatives that Ayman al-Zawahri, Al Qaeda’s leader, sent to Syria to plot attacks against the West. The Khorasan Group was effectively wiped out by a series of American airstrikes a few years ago. But with as many as 2,000 fighters, including seasoned leaders from Jordan and Egypt, the successor Hurras al-Din group is much larger and is operating in areas where Russian air defenses largely shield them from American airstrikes and the persistent stare of American surveillance planes.”

ABC News: Extremists Attack US Military Base In Somalia

“A Somali official says a suicide car bomber detonated a vehicle packed with explosives at the gate of a military airstrip which is a base for U.S. and Somali forces. Yusuf Abdourahman, a security official with the Lower Shabelle regional administration, told The Associated Press that a burst of gunfire could be heard across the base after bombing, suggesting an ongoing attack on the base. Somalia's Islamic extremist rebels, al-Shabab, have claimed the responsibility for the attack. The U.S. military uses Belidogle airstrip in the Lower Shabelle region as a base where it launches drones that attack al-Shabab and trains Somali troops. There are reports of a second attack on European Union peacekeepers in Mogadishu.”

CBS News: Illinois Man Indicted On State Terrorism Charge After Driving Van Into Suburban Chicago Mall

“A man accused of driving an SUV through a suburban Chicago shopping mall is facing a state terrorism charge, authorities announced Sunday. Police in Schaumburg announced early Sunday that the Cook County state's attorney had authorized the charge against Javier Garcia, 22, of Palatine, Illinois. Garcia also was charged with felony criminal damage to property. Garcia was scheduled to appear in bond court Sunday. Under Illinois law, the Class X felony of terrorism can apply if the suspect is believed to have caused more than $100,000 in damage to any building containing five or more businesses, according to a statement issued by Schaumburg Police Sergeant Karen McCarthy. Class X felonies can carry sentences of up to 30 years in prison.”

The Washington Post: Amid Tension With Iran, U.S. Air Force Shifts Middle East Command Center From Qatar To South Carolina

“For 13 years, the United States has used a single building in this tiny Persian Gulf state to command fighter jets, bombers, drones and other Air Force assets in a region that stretches from Northeast Africa through the Middle East to South Asia. And yet on Saturday, as 300 planes were in the air in key areas such as Syria, Afghanistan and the gulf, hundreds of seats at the Combined Air and Space Operations Center at al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar sat empty. Instead, the air power of the United States and its allies was being controlled by teams at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina — more than 7,000 miles away. Though the move was only temporary — al-Udeid took back control on Sunday after 24 hours — it was a significant tactical shift.”

Fox News: Third Libya Airstrike In Eight Days Kills 17 ISIS Terrorists, US Military Says

“The U.S. military said Friday it had killed 17 Islamic State (ISIS) fighters in an airstrike Thursday outside Murzuq in southwest Libya. The airstrike was the third announced by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) in eight days. Prior to last week, the U.S. military had not hit any targets in Libya since Nov. 29, 2018. “This ongoing campaign against ISIS-Libya demonstrates that U.S. Africa Command persistently targets terrorist networks that seek to harm innocent Libyans,” said Navy Rear Adm. Heidi Berg, AFRICOM director of intelligence. “We continue to pursue ISIS-Libya and other terrorists in the region, denying them safe haven to coordinate and plan operations in Libya.”

The Wall Street Journal: Afghan Turnout For Presidential Vote Appears Light Amid Taliban Threats

“Afghans trickled to polling stations to vote for a new president on Saturday, their numbers depleted by fears of attacks by Taliban insurgents and concerns that fraud and other voting irregularities would render any vote meaningless. As reports of mostly idle polling stations began accumulating Saturday, Hawa Alim Nuristani, head of the government-appointed Independent Election Commission, went before reporters to declare the turnout satisfactory but provided no details. Ms. Nuristani later ordered the polls to stay open for an additional two hours to allow people to cast their votes in an election that has shaped up as a contest between the president, Ashraf Ghani, and Abdullah Abdullah, his partner in the current national unity government. Still, by the time polls closed at 5 p.m. local time, it appeared that the vast majority of the country’s 9.7 million registered voters had decided to stay home. Privately, Ghani campaign officials spoke of a voter turnout as low as 1 million. Mr. Ghani later went on national television to praise the outcome of the election, saying that because of those who participated, “our emerging democracy has been more institutionalized.”

United States

The New York Times: Man Is Charged With Terrorism After Driving S.U.V. Through Illinois Mall

“A 22-year-old man who drove his black sport utility vehicle into a mall in a Chicago suburb on Sept. 20 was charged with terrorism, the police said on Sunday. The man, Javier Garcia, of Palatine, Ill., was also charged with criminal damage to property. He was denied bail on Sunday after a court appearance. No one sustained life-threatening injuries from the episode, though three people were taken to the hospital and four were treated at the scene, the police said. Prosecutors said that Mr. Garcia walked into a Sears store at the Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, Ill., which is about 30 miles northwest of Chicago, at about 2:20 p.m. He did not touch or buy anything before exiting the store, prosecutors said. Four minutes later, he crashed his black sport utility vehicle through the store’s glass and steel entrance. The shattering glass sounded like multiple gunshots and caused shoppers to first think there was an active shooter, a statement from the Cook County State’s Attorney Office said. More than 100 emergency calls were received by 911 dispatchers. Surveillance cameras captured the chaos as people ran and jumped to evade the vehicle, prosecutors said.”

CNN: A Man Accused Of Threatening To Attack A Jewish Community Center Faces Federal Charges

“A man arrested last month for allegedly threatening to attack an Ohio Jewish community center has been indicted on federal charges, the US Attorney's Office of the Northern District of Ohio said Friday in a news release. James P. Reardon, 20, was charged with one count of transmitting an interstate communication threat and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, the news release said. The New Middletown, Ohio, man was arrested when an Instagram account that allegedly belonged to Reardon featured a video that showed a man holding an assault rifle as audio played of gunshots, sirens and people screaming, the news release said, citing the criminal complaint. The post tagged the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown, the news release said. The post was accompanied by a caption that read, “Police identified the Youngstown Jewish Family Community shooter as local white nationalist Seamus O'Rearedon” -- a Gaelic version of Reardon's name. “This defendant used a firearm to threaten people who simply want to worship as they choose, as guaranteed by our Constitution,” US Attorney Justin Herdman said in a statement. “Law enforcement will not stand by and allow someone to intimidate others with threats of violence.”

Foreign Policy: What Terror Experts Can Learn From Public Health Experts

“In the early 2000s, two events sowed fear in the United States and around the world: the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and the SARS outbreak of 2002 and 2003. In the years that followed, the professional communities responsible for responding to these threats, and informing the public about them, have followed two very different paths. In the fight against deadly diseases, public health experts have sought to balance the need for preparedness with their duty to avoid hyperbole, which can lead to panic. National security experts should adopt this same ethos. SARS started in China and spread around the world, leaving hundreds of people dead. The global public health community mobilized immediately to contain the epidemic—and to manage perceptions of it. “SARS is a serious problem that needs to be dealt with seriously. Yet our actions must be based on facts and experience, not on fears,” Richard Schabas, the chief of staff at York Central Hospital in Richmond Hill, Canada, wrote in an article for the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2003. “The response should not be worse than the disease.” “We will continue to see new SARS cases, usually at relatively low levels but with occasional flare-ups,” he continued.”

CNN: Police Feared Odessa Shooter Was Planning Attack - 8 Years Ago

“A mother in distress called police. Her son had refused to take his mental-health medication. He was delusional about a government conspiracy against him and had threatened to end his own in life in a shootout with police. When Amarillo, Texas, police officers arrived at her home the night of February 7, 2011, they found what they interpreted as preparations for an attack -- a machete hidden in her son's bed and an underground shelter he had dug in the backyard. In a recording the mother shared with police, her son declared, “911 will bow down before me.” The officers were so troubled by what they encountered that they recorded floor plans of the property and shared the information with the city's SWAT team, according to incident reports. The woman's then-28-year-old son, they concluded, was volatile and might hurt somebody someday. Those concerns were tragically realized when the woman's son—Seth Ator—engaged police in a wild shootout not unlike what officers feared might happen eight years earlier. Ator killed seven and wounded 25 in last month's shooting rampage in West Texas. He was also killed in the shootout.”

Foreign Policy: White Supremacy Has Triggered A Terrorism Panic

“Our collective response to terrorism seems to swing on a pendulum between rank complacency and terrified myth-making. In January 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama dismissed the Islamic State as al Qaeda’s “JV team.” But by September of that year, after the group had captured Mosul in Iraq and launched a genocidal campaign of slaughter against the Yazidis, he started bombing it. Within the year, the Western news media was awash with alarmist stories about how the Islamic State spectacle would soon be playing in a town near you. It wasn’t just that some balaclava-clad ninja-jihadi might kill you; it was that he’d gaslight your teenage daughter into ditching her studies and becoming a jihadi baby-making machine. Whole reports and toolkits were published to help teachers spot signs of extremism.”

Syria

AFP: In Syria’s Aleppo, Reconstruction Makes Slow Start

“Among the destroyed buildings of Syria’s Aleppo, a battered sign between two army checkpoints welcomes visitors to an area earmarked to become a beacon of post-war reconstruction. Once the country’s powerhouse, Aleppo was devastated by Syria’s ongoing civil war before Russia-backed government forces expelled the last rebels in late 2016 after a devastating siege. As some of the city is slowly rebuilt, the Russian army this week showed reporters around, as Moscow seeks to highlight its role in reconstruction of the war-torn country. Several factories have reopened in the almost three years since the fighting ended in Aleppo, large parts of which were flattened.”

The New York Times: Syria Demands Immediate Withdrawal Of U.S. And Turkish Forces, Again

“Syria’s international minister demanded on Saturday that American and Turkish forces evacuate the war-ravaged nation instantly or face “any and all countermeasures authorized under international law.” Syrian officers have made related threats up to now to push unauthorized forces from the nation however have by no means taken critical steps to take action. Syrian troops, which have been floor down by years of warfare and defections, are in no form to combat the USA, and it seems that the nation has calculated that any assaults on American forces would deliver a couple of formidable response. In a speech earlier than the United Nations Basic Meeting, the international minister, Walid al-Moallem, stated the USA and Turkey “maintain an illegal military presence in northern Syria.” “Any foreign forces operating in our territories without our authorization,” he added, “are occupying forces and should withdraw immediately.” Mr. al-Moallem’s demand comes after the USA and Turkey reached an settlement in August to collectively patrol a strip of land in the country’s northeast that borders Turkey. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan introduced that he intends to make use of the strip, referred to as a “safe zone,” to repatriate at least one million Syrian refugees.”

The Jerusalem Post: After The Fall Of The Isis Caliphate

“Since the beginning of Syrian civil war Russia has been an important player in Syria. The country has been a big supporter of the Bashar Assad regime and has played a major role in changing the course of the conflict as well as contributing to the territorial defeat of ISIS in Syria. However, according to different sources, the number of Russians who joined ISIS is estimated to be around 5,000, making Russia the biggest source of foreign fighters of the so-called “Islamic State” (a number that was officially acknowledged by the Russian government). The defeats of ISIS in Rawa, Iraq, in November 2017 and in Baghouz in March 2019 led to its total territorial eradication from the Levant. It also raised a question of what happened to those who were and are part of that once powerful and influential terrorist organization. In general, since the territorial defeat of ISIS in the Levant, Russians who travelled to Syrian and Iraq with the aim of joining ISIS can be divided into three categories. The first and probably largest were those who completely accepted its ideology and were loyal to ISIS until the end. Second were those who followed their family members or were born during the conflict (wives and children of ISIS fighters).”

Jerusalem Post: Once A US Ally Against ISIS, Big Power Politics Now Poised To Betray Them

“When US forces first noticed the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the fall of 2014 and spring of 2015 they were barely hanging on. They had been placed under siege in Kobani in northern Syria. US airstrikes helped break the siege and soon the YPG were re-capturing territory from ISIS. For all the other groups in Syria that had talked about fighting ISIS and even received US support to “fight ISIS,” this one was actually taking back territory. Today the US is facing a literal “road to Damascus” moment in Syria as it seeks to find a way to walk away. This will be seen as a betrayal despite the sacrifices made, Washington’s task now is to make it seem like isn’t a betrayal.”

Iran

Radio Farda: Whistleblowers Arrested In Iran, Accused Of Terrorist Intentions

“Security forces have arrested nine people connected to a whistleblower page on social media platform Telegram, the chief of Police in the province of Kurdistan, western Iran, says. Fifteen natural and ten legal persons have sued the managers of the page, named “A'MAK”, (Persian acronym for “disclosure of the performance of Kurdestan's managers”), the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps General Ali Azadi announced, adding, “The judicial department in Kurdistan has charged the detainees with disappointing people, disrupting the public peace, libelous publications, action against national security, and having links with Iranian dissident groups outside the country.” Gen. Azadi has also claimed that the Telegram channel administrators had terrorist intentions since they published the names of the “people related to the Islamic Republic regime.” Although there are Kurdish group actively opposed to the Islamic Republic, it is not clear if the detainees are in any way connected with insurgents. All admins and contributors to the page are inside Iran and currently detained, Gen. Azadi declared, adding that they have not yet been indicted. Meanwhile, he admitted that he had no information about their condition behind bars.”

The New Yorker: Trump’s Close-Call Diplomacy With Iran’s President

“On the evening of Tuesday, September 24th, the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, went to see his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, at the Millennium Hilton Hotel, across the street from the U.N. headquarters, in New York. The hotel is one of only three places that the Iranian leader could go in the city, because of U.S. sanctions. Macron intended to set up a three-way telephone conversation with Rouhani and President Trump. A team of technicians arrived to set up a secure line, in a meeting room on Rouhani’s floor, for the call at 9:30 p.m. The telephone conversation was supposed to cap twenty-four hours of frenetic diplomacy—including personal appeals to Rouhani by the British, Japanese, and Pakistani Prime Ministers and the German Chancellor—after months of quiet French diplomacy.”

Iraq

Asharq Al-Awsat: Iraq: Disputes Topple Prominent Leader In The Fight Against ISIS

“The decision of Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to move Lieutenant General Abdulwahab al-Saadi, commander of the Iraqi CTS (Counter-Terrorism Service), to the Ministry of Defense has sparked various reactions. While some saw it as a normal procedure that falls under a military context, other politicians and experts said that it came in the wake of deep disputes inside the CTS – led by General Talib Shaghati al-Kinani. A security source announced Friday that Abdul Mahdi referred Saadi to the ministry of defense. Saadi is a prominent leader who participated in the latest liberation operation in some provinces, also he was in charge of several important posts in the Iraqi Special Operations Forces and the CTS. He had a major role in the operations against ISIS since the Battle of Ramadi – Anbar province in 2014 until liberating Mosul in 2017. He is seen as the most popular leader who fought against ISIS in Iraq. Further, his name surfaced as a prime minister candidate last year. In a press statement on Friday, Saadi described this decision as an embarrassment for him as an officer and a fighter. Yet, he said he had no clue why it had been taken. Saadi inquired about the motive behind this decision through a phone call with the Iraqi PM – who in his turn praised his skills.”

Independent: ‘People Are Dying’: The Shia City Where ISIS Are Trying To Make Their Presence Known

“At about midnight on 20 September, a young man got off a white minibus at the entrance to the Shia shrine city and pilgrimage centre of Karbala, southwest of Baghdad. A few minutes later, he pressed a remote control, detonating the explosives he had left in a bag under his seat on the bus. The bomb killed 12 people and injured a further five: footage shows the bus engulfed in flames and a voice screaming that “people are dying.” Iraqi security sources say that the alleged bomber was swiftly identified from CCTV pictures and was arrested with two other men, whose families hail from the Sunni town of Jurf al-Sakhar. Isis claimed responsibility for the attack.”

Xinhua: 8 IS Militants Killed In U.S.-Led Coalition Airstrikes In Iraq

“Eight Islamic State (IS) militants were killed on Saturday in airstrikes conducted by the U.S.-led coalition aircraft in the central Iraqi province of Salahudin, the Iraqi military said. Acting on intelligence tip-off, a joint force from Salahudin's Operations Command, backed by Iraqi and U.S.-led coalition aircraft, conducted an operation to hunt down IS militants in a desert area in west of the provincial capital Tikrit, said a statement by the media office of the Joint Operations Command (JOC). During the operation, the coalition aircraft pounded IS positions and killed eight IS militants, while the troops destroyed four of their hideouts, of which one was booby-trapped, the statement said, adding that the militants were using the hideouts as warehouses for their various supplies. According to the statement, the operation also resulted in the destruction of an IS shelter, three of their pick-up vehicles and a truck. The security situation in Iraq was dramatically improved after Iraqi security forces fully defeated the extremist IS militants across the country late in 2017. IS remnants, however, have since melted in urban areas or resorted to deserts and rugged areas as safe havens, carrying out frequent hit-and-run attacks against security forces and civilians.”

Afghanistan

Reuters: The Taliban Cut Off His Finger For Voting, He Defied Them Again

“The Taliban cut off Safiullah Safi’s right forefinger for voting in 2014. That did not stop the businessman from doing it again. Safi's act of defiance in Afghanistan's 2019 presidential elections on Saturday sparked admiration after a photo of the 38-year old was posted on Twitter showing his missing right forefinger and the left one stained with indelible ink, indicating he had voted. (here) Braving the threat of militant attacks and delays at polling booths, Afghans cast their ballots in a major test of the Western-backed government’s ability to protect democracy. The Taliban regime was overthrown by U.S.-led forces in 2001. But the Islamic insurgency is now at its most powerful since its defeat, violently disrupting the nascent democracy’s elections and carrying out gruesome, often deadly retribution on those who take part. During the 2014 presidential vote, Taliban fighters cut off the fingers of at least six voters. “I know it was a painful experience, but it was only a finger,” Safi said by telephone. “When it comes to the future of my children and country I will not sit back even if they cut off my whole hand.” Safi described how in 2014 he had cast his vote and a day later traveled from the capital Kabul, where he lives, to the eastern city of Khost, his finger marked by the ink from voting.”

Pakistan

Radio Free Europe: Nine Killed In Bombing, Bus Attack In Pakistan

“At least three people were killed, including an opposition politician, and seven others injured in a bomb blast on September 28 in Pakistan’s southwestern town of Chaman in the province of Balochistan. Police officials said the bomb was planted in a motorcycle parked outside the office of a religious party in Chaman, which is located near Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan. Officials said the bomb detonated remotely when Maulana Mohammad Hanif, the leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, a right-wing religious party, was exiting the building, killing Hanif and two other men. “Maulana Muhammad Hanif was the target of the bomb blast,” senior police officer Muhammad Iqbal said. Hanif, whose party opposes Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government, was planning an anti-government march on the country's capital, Islamabad, next month. No group has claimed responsibility for the blast, which damaged nearby buildings and shops. Attacks are common in Balochistan where separatists have for decades fought a low-level insurgency against the government. In a separate incident on September 28, six people were killed and four others injured when gunmen opened fire on a bus in Pakistan’s northwestern Hangu district.”

Gulf Times: Security Forces Kill 6 Militants In Kashmir

“Security forces killed six militants in Jammu and Kashmir yesterday, police said, as the region simmers under a lockdown imposed by New Delhi after it revoked its constitutional autonomy in August. Three militants were killed in the Batote market area of Jammu where, according to officials, they had taken a local civilian hostage inside his house. The hostage was rescued unharmed, a spokesman for the Central Reserve Police Force told journalists. Three others were killed in an encounter in Kangan in the north of the region, Dilbagh Singh, director general of Jammu and Kashmir police said. Singh also said militants had thrown a grenade in the Safakadal area of Srinagar city but that no one was injured in the incident. Security forces had tightened restrictions in Kashmir and the Hindu-majority Jammu region on Friday, fearing protests ahead of speeches at the UN by the leaders of India and Pakistan. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan warned the body that his country’s dispute with India over Kashmir could escalate into an all-out nuclear war that would have consequences for the world. Following his speech, authorities tightened restrictions on people’s movements yesterday to prevent possible protests.”

Yemen

Al Jazeera: Yemen's Houthi Rebels Release Saudi Attack Video

“Yemen's Houthi rebels on Sunday broadcast footage they said was of a major attack into Saudi Arabia that killed or wounded 500 soldiers with thousands of others surrendering. Yahya Saree, a Houthi military spokesman, described an ambush on the Saudi forces that then developed into an “all-out” cross-border offensive that trapped the troops inside Saudi Arabia. “More than 200 were killed in dozens of [missile and drone] strikes while trying to escape or surrender,” Saree said. The fighting took place in the southern region of Najran with video images aired showing armoured vehicles hit by blasts and surrendering soldiers. Saudi Arabia has not yet responded to the Houthi claim. Al Jazeera was not independently able to verify the footage or claims broadcast on Houthi-run Almasirah TV. Saree said the offensive 72 hours earlier had defeated three “enemy military brigades”, leading to the capture of “thousands” of troops, including Saudi army officers and soldiers, and hundreds of armoured vehicles. He said the prisoners “will be treated according to the ethics and the customs on the basis of a deal to exchange the POWs with the aggressors.”

The Guardian: Houthis Claim To Have Killed 500 Saudi Soldiers In Major Attack

“Houthi rebels in Yemen say they have killed 500 Saudi soldiers, captured a further 2,000 and seized a convoy of Saudi military vehicles. The extraordinary claims at a press conference on Sunday, involving still photographs and inconclusive videos of captured soldiers, many not in uniform, could not be corroborated, and there was no independent confirmation from Saudi Arabia. The Houthis, showing pictures of upturned Saudi vehicles and immobilised convoys, claimed the attacks had occurred over the past three days in the southern Najran region of Saudi Arabia, which borders Yemen, and would continue with greater intensity. “Operation Victory from God is the largest military one since the brutal aggression began. The enemy suffered heavy losses … and wide swathes of territory were liberated in only a few days,” said the Houthi spokesman, Mohammed Abdul Salam. He also claimed hundreds of Saudi soldiers lay dead or injured on the battlefield, and Riyadh had little option but to consider how to withdraw. He said the Houthis would end their attacks if the Saudis took reciprocal measures.”

Lebanon

The National: Hezbollah Dominance Starts To Drag On Lebanon

“Relying on the legacy of his supremely connected late father, Prime Minister Saad Hariri used to repeatedly conjure solutions for Lebanon to survive economic trouble. Having in the past secured Arab Gulf rescue packages and employed seasoned players to manage monetary policy, Mr Hariri seems to be running out options, largely because of a power-sharing deal he struck with Hezbollah this year. The deal sidelined Mr Hariri from foreign policy, handing the domain firmly to Hezbollah and its allies in government and the presidency. Since 2011, Hezbollah has launched fervent rhetoric against Arab Gulf states and acted as a cross-border Shiite militia, drawing intensified US sanctions. The Arab carte blanche, extended to Lebanon so many times in the past, has vanished. As Mr Hariri prepares to visit Dubai for a Lebanese-UAE investment conference on October 7, pressure on the Lebanese pound, or lira, has mounted. Economic growth has been negligible for years, the real estate market collapsed and the public debt, at one and half times the gross domestic product, one of the highest ratios in the world, shows no signs of falling under control.”

The Times Of Israel: Nasrallah: Hezbollah Will ‘Enter Occupied Palestine’ With Improved Intelligence

“Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Saturday issued further threats against Israel, saying the Lebanese terror organization’s “unprecedented levels of intelligence” would soon lead to its fighters “entering occupied Palestine.” In an interview series published this week on the website of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Nasrallah boasted of the terror group’s intelligence capabilities. “We have extensive, unprecedented information on all the events that happen to the enemy, both by public and secret means,” Nasrallah said. “We have very good information.” “In various ways, Hezbollah obtains the necessary information for any future war or military action on the part of the Israeli enemy,” he said. “The enemy is on the defensive — we have always been on the defensive, now we are in attack mode,” said the leader of the Tehran-backed terror group, according to Channel 12 news. “We are threatening them, and we will enter occupied Palestine,” Nasrallah said. The website also released a “never before seen” photo of Nasrallah alongside Khamenei, and Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards Quds Force. The three men are shown in front of what appears to be a door covered by a curtain and surrounded by shelves stacked with books — decor associated with Khamenei’s Tehran office.”

Middle East

The Washington Post: Israel Says 3 Suspects In Deadly West Bank Blast Arrested

“Israeli officials say they have caught the Palestinian militants responsible for a bombing in the West Bank that killed a teenage girl last month. The Shin Bet internal security agency said Saturday the suspects were three members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and lived in the area of Ramallah. The Aug. 23 attack killed 17-year-old Rina Shnerb and wounded her father and a brother at a water spring near Dolev, a settlement northwest of Jerusalem. Israeli security agencies were perplexed by the case since it involved a hidden explosive device, a tactic rarely used by Palestinian militants in the West Bank. Shin Bet says the suspects were arrested recently in a joint operation with the police and the army and that they were planning other attacks. It said an additional bomb had been uncovered.”

Egypt

Voice Of America: Egyptian Security Forces Killed In Northern Sinai Terror Attack

“More than half a dozen people were reportedly killed Friday during a terrorist attack on an Egyptian military checkpoint near the northern Sinai town of Bir al-Abed. The Islamic State group reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack. Amateur video showed ambulances -- sirens blaring -- rushing to the checkpoint which faces an apple orchard outside Bir al-Abed. It was not the first time that the area has come under attack by terrorists. The Egyptian military issued a statement in response saying that it has exacted a heavy toll on terrorists in the northern Sinai in recent weeks, killing 118 of them, destroying their armored vehicles, motorcycles, and hideouts, but that it has also lost a number of its own men. An Egyptian military spokesman said that nine soldiers and one officer were killed or wounded during fighting while conducting searches. VOA could not independently confirm how many were killed. Social media websites showed pictures of at least five Egyptian soldiers who were reportedly killed in Friday's attack. Reuters news agency reported that Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack on the Egyptian military checkpoint. It was not clear from which country the terrorist group issued its declaration.”

The Defense Post: ISIS Claims Attack On Egyptian Security Checkpoint In Sinai As Cairo Braces For Protests

“Islamic State fighters attacked an Egyptian security checkpoint in the Sinai peninsula on Friday, September 27, as security forces deployed in downtown Cairo to block planned protests against President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Islamic State said in statement on Friday, September 27 that fighters from its Sinai Province affiliate attacked the checkpoint near Tafaha, south of Bir al-Abed. ISIS’s Amaq propaganda agency claimed the fighters “wiped out” 15 Egyptian Army soldiers at the checkpoint with “shells and rockets.” However, independent news website Mada Masr cited a security source and a medical source as saying seven soldiers and one officer were killed, with five others wounded. The sources told Mada Masr that a civilian was also killed, and five others, including a toddler, were wounded. Egyptian security forces deployed heavily throughout Cairo earlier on Friday in preparations to stifle planned protests against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who faces widespread discontent over a stagnant economy and a massive crackdown on dissent. Rare protests broke out last week in multiple Egyptian cities in response to calls by a dissident living in Spain who has posted a series of YouTube videos detailing vast alleged corruption schemes within Sisi’s inner circle.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Egypt Court Asks Mufti To Weigh In On Terror Sentences

“An Egyptian court has referred the case of seven defendants facing terrorism charges to the country's top religious authority, the Grand Mufti, for a non-binding opinion on whether they can be executed as the prosecution seeks. The Cairo Criminal Court says Saturday the defendants are members of a local affiliate of the ISIS group operating in northern Sinai. The men are part of 32 defendants accused of killing eight police, including an officer, when they ambushed a microbus in Cairo's southern suburb of Helwan in May 2016. The verdict is set for November 12, and the presiding judge may rule independently of the Mufti. Egypt has battled extremists for years in the Sinai Peninsula that has occasionally spilled over to the mainland.”

Nigeria

Premium Times Nigeria: Nigerian Army Arrests Man Accused Of Supplying Materials To Boko Haram

“The Nigerian Army on Sunday arrested a suspected Boko Haram insurgents’ logistics supplier and seized a car stacked with motorcycle used tyres in Borno. A.K. Ibrahim, the Acting General Officer Commanding (GOC) 7 Division, made the disclosure while parading the suspect at the Gubio Super Camp in Maiduguri. Mr Ibrahim disclosed that the suspect, Samuel Chukwudon, was arrested on September 27, by a joint team of troops of Operation Lafiya Dole (OPLD) and personnel of the Nigeria Custom Service (NCS), while travelling along Baga-Monguno Road. He said that the troops seized items which included a car, 136 used motorcycle tyres, 200 new tubes and a number of rubber gum. “The arrest is based on the subsisting ban on motorcycles in the theater of operation due to the security challenges. “We know that the insurgents use motorcycles in their operations; nobody is allowed to ride a motorcycle, the suspect is arrested with the banned items heading toward Lake Chad basin. “Boko Haram insurgents are around the area and we felt that something was fishy. He made several attempts to bribe our men at the time of the arrest and during interrogation,” Ibrahim said.”

AFP: Jihadists Kill 9 In Nigeria Attacks

“Nine people, including a soldier and a policeman, were killed in two separate attacks by jihadists in restive northeast Nigeria, officials and vigilantes said Saturday. Fighters from the IS-aligned Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) group attacked Nigerian and Chadian troops in the town of Gajiram late Friday, prompting a fierce battle in which eight people were killed. “We lost eight people in the attack including a policeman, a local hunter and six residents,” local district official Shettima Maina told AFP.”

The Guardian: Nigeria Warned It Risks Humanitarian Disaster By Expelling Charities

Nigeria has been warned it risks a humanitarian disaster if the government goes ahead with its threat to throw aid agencies out of the north-east of the country, claiming they are in league with extremist Islamic groups. A spate of aid offices have been forcibly shut after unproven claims they have been acting as conduits for cash that has ended up with Boko Haram, or Islamic State West Africa Province (Iswap). The Nigerian army is stepping up its 10-year effort to drive out extremists and claims that despite several warnings, agencies continue to provide aid to terrorist groups.

Somalia

CBS News: Al-Shabab Militants Claim Attack On Somalia Base Used By U.S. Forces

“A Somali official confirmed reports of an attack on a U.S. base in the country on Monday. Yusuf Abdourahman, a security official with the Lower Shabelle regional administration, told The Associated Press that a suicide car bomber detonated a vehicle packed with explosives at the gate of a military airstrip that serves as a base for U.S. and Somali forces.”

The New York Times: Car Bombers in Somalia Hit U.S. and European Military Bases

“Car bombers attacked United States and European military targets in Somalia on Monday morning, officials said, and the Islamist extremist group known as the Shabab claimed responsibility for at least one of the assaults. The first attack was on the Bale Dogle airstrip in the Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia. The United States military uses the base to launch aerial attacks on Shabab targets and to train Somali troops. A suicide car bomber detonated a vehicle packed with explosives at the gate of the airstrip, according to Lt. Comdr. Desiree Frame, a spokeswoman for the United States Africa Command, and Yusuf Abdourahman, a security official with the Lower Shabelle regional administration. Bursts of gunfire could be heard across the base after the bombing, suggesting an ongoing attack on the base.”

Africa

Xinhua: AU Welcomes Recent Counter-Terrorism Efforts In Lake Chad Basin Region

“The African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council has commended the recent peace and security initiatives undertaken by countries in the Lake Chad Basin region in the fight against terrorism. The Council, in a statement issued late Saturday, said it “welcomes the initiatives taken by the Lake Chad Basin Region, with the support of the AU Commission, through their Regional Strategy for the Stabilization, Recovery and Resilience of the Boko Haram- affected Areas, as well as the comprehensive approach adopted by the G5-Sahel and the recent decision by the Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on the fight against terrorism.” The AU Peace and Security Council, in particular, commended the recent decision that was adopted on September 14 by the Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the ECOWAS on the fight against terrorism, in which ECOWAS leaders had decided to mobilize 1 billion U.S. dollars for a comprehensive and holistic action plan to fight against terrorism in the region. The Lake Chad Basin region, comprising Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger, has been wracked by attacks from terror group Boko Haram, as the region remained a hotbed of terrorist attacks from the group.”

United Kingdom

Sky News: SAS Could Be Sent To Bring Children Of Islamic State Fighters Back To Britain

“Plans to send members of the SAS into Syria to bring back the British children of Islamic State fighters are being considered by the government. There are estimated to be around 30 minors with claims to UK citizenship living in camps after being born to British parents who joined IS. The controversial plans are being discussed by the National Security Council (NSC) but members are currently split on launching operations. A final decision is expected early next month and, if agreed, only those aged 16 and under would be extracted. A government spokesperson said: “The safety and security of our country and our communities remains the government's number one priority.” It is believed the repatriation plans are being led by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and International Development Secretary Alok Sharma. Chancellor Sajid Javid, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace are understood to be against the move. While he was home secretary, Mr Javid introduced a law that will see any British citizen who goes to live in a terror hotspot facing up to 10 years in prison. It is now a specific criminal offence to enter or remain in a “designated area” overseas, under the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019.”

Germany 

France 24: Far-Right 'Terror' Group In Dock In Germany Over Attack Plot

“The trial of a neo-Nazi “terrorist” cell accused of plotting violent political upheaval in Germany opens Monday amid reports the country's far-right scene is growing more armed and radical. Eight members of the so-called Revolution Chemnitz group aged between 21 and 32 will answer to charges of “forming a right-wing terrorist organization”, according to federal prosecutors. Almost a year to the day after most of the suspects' arrest in coordinated raids, the proceedings will take place under tight security in Dresden, the capital of Saxony state, a stronghold of the extreme right. Resentment runs deep in the region over Merkel's liberal refugee policy that led to the arrival of more than a million asylum seekers to Germany since 2015. The anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim Alternative for Germany (AfD) party scored 27.5 percent in a state election earlier this month, just shy of the 32 percent garnered by Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives. The suspects are accused of “coming together to achieve their political goals -- to shake the foundations of the state -- with serious violent acts”, a spokeswoman for the superior regional court said. They allegedly sought to carry out “violent attacks and armed assaults” against immigrants, political “opponents”, reporters and members of the economic establishment.”

Europe

The Washington Post: Bosnia Police Arrest 2 For Attack On Radio Station Over News

“Two people have been arrested after a group of soccer fans broke into a radio station’s offices in Sarajevo and forced its staff to withdraw a news item, Bosnian police said Saturday. The two face charges of threatening the safety and limiting the freedom of Radio Sarajevo’s online journalists and editors during the incident late Friday. The station said hooligans broke into its offices while angry over the news that a fan of soccer club Sarajevo received five years in prison in Belarus for cocaine possession. They threatened the staff and their families. The station described the incident as “an actual hostage situation.” Faced with death threats, the editor was forced to remove the news item, its statement added. The incident has sparked widespread condemnation in Sarajevo, the capital of the Balkan country which is still struggling to overcome the consequences of a devastating war in the 1990s. The U.S. Embassy said on Twitter that “this outrageous attack ... is unacceptable.” The embassy added that “when journalists are silenced, society suffers.” Denis Zvizdic, the chairman of Bosnia’s Council of Ministers — the de facto government — said “such acts are a threat to democracy and present an unacceptable attack on free journalism.”

The Telegraph: Catalonia Braced For Fresh Unrest After Terrorism Raids On Separatists 

“Catalonia is braced for a tumultuous few weeks as protesters vow to reignite mass civil disobedience in revenge for the anticipated convictions of 12 independence leaders. This week's terrorism raids on separatist activists have only galvanised anger, with what some saw as a Spanish warning shot ahead of the second anniversary of the bloody independence referendum appearing to have backfired. With lengthy prison sentences expected in the leaders' mass trial, the independence movement has promised “massive civil disobedience to force Spain solve the conflict democratically”. The possibilities include a mass strike that could shut down key cities like Barcelona or another illegal referendum.”

Technology

The New York Times: Ahead Of 2020, Facebook Falls Short On Plan To Share Data On Disinformation

“In April 2018, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, told Congress about an ambitious plan to share huge amounts of posts, links and other user data with researchers around the world so that they could study and flag disinformation on the site. “Our goal is to focus on both providing ideas for preventing interference in 2018 and beyond, and also for holding us accountable,” Mr. Zuckerberg told lawmakers questioning him about Russian interference on the site in the 2016 presidential election. He said he hoped “the first results” would come by the end of that year.”

The New York Times: The Internet Is Overrun With Images Of Child Sexual Abuse. What Went Wrong?

“The images are horrific. Children, some just 3 or 4 years old, being sexually abused and in some cases tortured. Pictures of child sexual abuse have long been produced and shared to satisfy twisted adult obsessions. But it has never been like this: Technology companies reported a record 45 million online photos and videos of the abuse last year. More than a decade ago, when the reported number was less than a million, the proliferation of the explicit imagery had already reached a crisis point. Tech companies, law enforcement agencies and legislators in Washington responded, committing to new measures meant to rein in the scourge. Landmark legislation passed in 2008."