Eye on Extremism: September 4

Haaretz: Israel Uncovers Hezbollah Precision Missile Site In Lebanon

“The Israeli army announced Tuesday that it identified a Hezbollah precision missile development and enhancement site, which is operated in partnership with Iran. The Shi'ite group has begun evacuating the site over the past several days out of fear of strikes in the area, the Israeli army stated. According to the Israel Defense Forces, the Hezbollah project was intended to improve the organization's crude missiles, so that they could reach a range of over 100 kilometers (62 miles), and their strike radius will be up to ten meters from the intended target. The compound, the IDF says, is located near Nabi Chit in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. It is an area that has recently been serving as an assembly line for precision weapons, and transfers of equipment needed for the project have been observed there. The equipment, the army claims, was cleared out in past days to civilian areas throughout Lebanon, including in Beirut.”

The New York Daily News: Terrorist Turncoat Became An ISIS Sniper: Indictment

“An alleged terrorist turncoat was indicted Tuesday on charges that he betrayed his American citizenship to provide material support to the ruthless ISIS network. A five-count indictment was filed in Brooklyn Federal Court said Ruslan Maratovich Asainov, a naturalized American citizen who was living in Brooklyn, was giving weapons training to terrorists overseas, and had become an ISIS sniper bent on dying on the battlefield. Officials said Asainov, 43, was born in Kazakhstan, and lived in Brooklyn between 1998 and 2013. Prosecutors said Asainov joined ISIS in 2013 after using a one-way ticket to travel to Turkey, a common way station for entry into Syria. In March 2015, Asainov asked a confidential informant to send him approximately $2,800 so he could purchase a scope for his rifle, according to the indictment. Asainov subsequently sent the informant two pictures of himself holding an assault rifle fitted with a scope. Asainov messaged one individual, exclaiming in reference to ISIS, “we are the worst terrorist organization in the world that has ever existed,” and added that he wished to die on the battlefield. Asainov was detained in Syria and later brought him back to Brooklyn. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.”

TIME: The Taliban Has Defended A Kabul Suicide Bombing That Killed At Least 16 People

“The Taliban on Tuesday defended their suicide bombing against an international compound in the Afghan capital that killed at least 16 people and wounded 119, almost all local civilians, just hours after a U.S. envoy said he and the militant group had reached a deal “in principle” to end America’s longest war. Angry Kabul residents whose homes were shredded in the explosion climbed over the buckled blast wall and set part of the compound, a frequent Taliban target, on fire. Thick smoke rose from the Green Village, home to several foreign organizations and guesthouses, whose location has become a peril to nearby local residents as well. Romanian President Klaus Iohannis condemned the attack, “which, unfortunately, ended the life of a Romanian citizen and seriously wounded another one. I reiterate our profound commitment to combating terrorism at the international level.” “People were screaming and saying, ‘My children are trapped in the rubble,'“ one witness, Faiz Ahmad, said. A large crater was left in the street from a tractor packed with explosives. Five attackers were killed in the Monday night attack and some 400 foreigners rescued, Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said.”

ABC News: UN Rights Chief: 1,000 Civilians Dead In Syria Over 4 Months

“The U.N. human rights chief says her office has tallied more than 1,000 civilian deaths in Syria over the last four months, the majority of them due to airstrikes and ground attacks by President Bashar Assad's forces and their allies. Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, says 1,089 civilians were killed in the war-battered country between April 29 and August 29, including 304 children. She said nearly all — 1,031 — were reportedly attributable to government forces and their allies in Idlib and Hama provinces. Another 58 were caused by "non-state actors." Bachelet was speaking to reporters in Geneva on Wednesday to go over her first year in office. Idlib province, near Syria's border with Turkey, is the final stronghold of the rebels in Syria.”

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Sanctions Iran’s Space Agency After Failed Launch

“The State Department imposed sanctions against Iran’s space program on Tuesday following a failed attempt to launch a rocket last week, which the U.S. suspects was an effort to advance its ballistic missile program. The failed launch drew tweets from President Trump, who posted a photo of the failure and said the U.S. didn’t have any role in the incident. In a statement, the State Department said the new sanctions are the first to target Iran’s civilian space agency. It said the technologies used to launch rockets are virtually identical to those used to test intercontinental ballistic missiles. Iran said its space efforts are peaceful. “This is simply another in a long line of illegal U.S. economic terrorism imposed on Iran in defiance of UNSC Resolution 2231, and which will have no effect on our development of peaceful space and satellite technologies,” said Alireza Miryousefi, spokesman for Iran’s mission to the United Nations.”

CNBC: Senator Says Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Should Face ‘Possibility Of A Prison Term’

“U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), in an interview with Willamette Week, suggested that Mark Zuckerberg should face a prison term for lying to American citizens about Facebook’s privacy lapses. “Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly lied to the American people about privacy,” Senator Wyden said in the interview. “I think he ought to be held personally accountable, which is everything from financial fines to — and let me underline this — the possibility of a prison term. Because he hurt a lot of people. And, by the way, there is a precedent for this: In financial services, if the CEO and the executives lie about the financials, they can be held personally accountable.” An editor’s note from Willamette Week cited a professor from the University of Oregon, Tim Gleason, who said “the likelihood of criminal action is rather slim.” Zuckerberg has dodged shareholder questions about whether he would be willing to step down as Facebook CEO or chairman. Senator Wyden introduced a bill in 2018, the Consumer Data Protection Act, that would give the FTC power to crack down harder on companies who violate consumer privacy. The bill says executives could face up to 20 years in prison and up to a $5 million personal fine.”

United States

The New York Times: Retracing A Young Man’s Path To Extremism

“What drives a young man to leave the safety of his country and move to the Middle East? I never thought I’d have to consider this question in a personal way. But then in 2013 my young friend abruptly disappeared from his home in Germany. Six weeks later, he emailed his mother from Syria. He had joined a group of Salafist extremists there. He tried to reassure her: “I didn’t leave to get away from you, remember that,” he said. We later learned that he had died. The boy was like a little brother to me. Our families lived in the same small town, and I met him when he was just 8. My family and I spent a lot of time with him until I went away to college. He disappeared right after he turned 21. His mother still lives in my old town today. I see her angry, sad and full of self-doubt. She futilely searched for answers. Then one day, she got a letter from a lawyer. The lawyer’s client had fought with my friend in the same group in Syria, and then was arrested on terrorism charges on a trip home to Germany. Now he was in prison and wanted to meet my friend’s mother. He wrote to her: “One thing you have to believe: We went with good intentions.” We went to visit him in prison.”

CBS Los Angeles: ‘Terrorist’ Bomb Threat Forces Evacuations, Cancels Classes At Cerritos College

“A suspect has been detained in connection with a bomb threat which forced evacuations at Cerritos College in Norwalk Tuesday, and later prompted the school to cancel classes for the day. Just before 2 p.m., the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reported that a suspect had been detained and all remaining classes for the day had been canceled. The all-clear was given around 2:10 p.m. and the campus was declared safe. The incident began nearly two hours earlier, when Cerritos College first reported that it had received a possible threat focused in the “drop-off area near the Administrative Building” at the campus in the 11000 block of Alondra Boulevard. It all started when a suspect “walked into one of our classrooms and said that he was a terrorist and had a bomb with him,” college President Jose Fierro said. The threat prompted some evacuations and a campus-wide shelter-in-place order. “This is not a drill,” the college tweeted. Sheriff’s deputies were called to the scene and students, faculty and staff of some buildings were evacuated, while others were told to shelter in place. The suspect’s name was not immediately released. It was unknown whether the person is a student at the college.”

SF Gate: SF Board Of Supervisors Declare National Rifle Association A Domestic Terrorist Organization

“The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution on Tuesday declaring that the National Rifle Association is a domestic terrorist organization. The officials also urged other cities, states and the federal government to follow suit. District 2 Supervisor Catherine Stefani wrote the resolution and shared her thoughts on the NRA with KTVU. “The NRA has it coming to them,” she said. “And I will do everything I possibly can to call them out on what they are, which is a domestic terrorist organization.” After citing some statistics about gun violence in the United States – like that there's been more than one mass shooting per day in the country in 2019 – Stefani got local with how gun violence has impact the Bay Area. She cited the shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival on July 28, referencing Stephen Romero, Keyla Salazar and Trevor Irby, who were killed by gunman Santino William Legan in what she called a “senseless act of gun violence that day.” Later in the resolution, which the board passed unanimously, the NRA is blamed for causing gun violence. “The National Rifle Association musters its considerable wealth and organizational strength to promote gun ownership and incite gun owners to acts of violence,” the resolution reads.”

Syria

The Washington Post: At A Sprawling Tent Camp In Syria, ISIS Women Impose A Brutal Rule

“The woman told aid workers it was an accident. Her 14-year-old daughter had slipped and fallen, she said. There was nothing they could have done. But the body told a different story. The girl’s neck had been broken in three places, doctors said, and she died with eyes open, biting her lips and struggling to breathe. Photos and medical records suggested she had been beaten about the torso, then strangled. It was murder, not a misstep. The teen, an Azerbaijani girl who had lived until earlier this year with her mother under the Islamic State’s rule, had run afoul of the die-hard ISIS adherents who have come in the past few months to dominate parts of the al-Hol displacement camp here in northeastern Syria, according to camp residents. They said she had suggested dispensing with her black niqab, the face covering worn by ultraconservative Muslim women. Half a year after the territorial defeat of the Islamic State, the vast sprawl of tents at the al-Hol camp is becoming a cauldron of radicalization. About 20,000 women and 50,000 children who had lived under the caliphate are held in dire conditions at the camp, which is operated and guarded by 400 U.S.-supported Kurdish troops.”

Voice Of America: Despair, Extremism Fester Among Islamic State Wives

“Five years ago, Sara left her home in Iraq with her husband to join what was then, for many, a hopeful idea: a new country of the faithful, the Islamic State. “There was no question that I should join,” says Sara, after placing a black veil over her face. “I am Muslim.” In the years that followed, Sara enjoyed life under IS's rigid religious strictures, seemingly oblivious to the terror group's horrific actions elsewhere and comfortable among her like-minded neighbors in Iraq and later Syria. But when Syrian and coalition forces started closing in on the group, she and her two sons were forced to flee airstrikes over and over again, finally surrendering six months ago in Baghuz, IS’s last stronghold. Now she lives in a squalid camp in Syria, packed with women and children that some locals derisively call an “Islamic State camp.” Security officials warn that many of the women here were married to the most indoctrinated IS fighters, and that the residents are still living—and sometimes dying—by IS rules. Sara says her husband was arrested after they fled the airstrikes that killed her two older sons in Baghuz, the town where IS lost their last sliver of land in March. She is not accused of a specific crime herself, but she is not free to leave the camp.”

Associated Press: Kurdish Official: Syria’s ‘Safe Zone’ Off To A Good Start

“The creation of a so-called “safe zone” in northeastern Syria has gotten off to good start, with U.S.-backed Kurdish-led forces pulling back from a small, initial area along the Turkish border, a Syrian Kurdish official said — but calm can only prevail if Turkey also removes its troops. Ilham Ahmed, co-chair of the executive committee of the U.S-backed Syrian Democratic Council, said the understanding reached between Washington and Ankara last month, and in coordination with the Syrian Kurdish-led forces, constitutes a step toward starting a dialogue over mutual security concerns. “We seek to find a way to dialogue, and starting to implement this plan expresses our readiness and seriousness,” Ahmed said in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press.”

The Jerusalem Post: Iran Building Large-Scale Military Base In Syria

“Iran is building a major military base near the Syrian-Iraqi border town of Al-Bukamal to hold thousands of troops and precision missiles, Fox News reported on Tuesday. According to the report, the secret project, called the Imam Ali compound, was approved by top leadership in Tehran and is being completed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Forces. The large military base, being constructed near the Al-Bukamal border crossing with Iraq is said to be less than 300 km. from an American military position. “The construction of the new military compound began in recent months and is in advanced stages of construction,” read a report by ImageSat International (ISI) which reviewed the images. “It is probable that the base construction will be completed over the next few months and will be operational shortly afterwards.” At least five different newly constructed buildings surrounded by large dirt mounds could house precision missiles, Fox said. The other 10 less fortified storehouses in the base will likely store ammunition.”

Iran

Associated Press: US Hits Iran Space Agency With Sanctions Over Missile Work

“The Trump administration imposed sanctions Tuesday on Iran’s space agency for the first time, accusing it of developing ballistic missiles under the cover of a civilian program to launch satellites into orbit. The sanctions announced by the State and Treasury departments targeting the agency and two of its affiliates follow the explosion Thursday of a rocket at Iran’s Imam Khomeini Space Center in what an Iranian official said was a technical malfunction during a test. Following the explosion, President Donald Trump tweeted a surveillance image depicting the apparent aftermath of the incident and declared that the U.S. had nothing to do with what transpired at the launch site. With the latest sanctions, the Trump administration can subject foreign companies and governments, including international space cooperation organizations, to penalties if they have any involvement with the Iranian space agency. They would also freeze any of the agency’s assets in U.S. jurisdictions, though there aren’t likely to be any given the state of relations between the two nations.”

Fox News: Iranian Oil Tanker Nears Coast Of Syria As Captain Refuses To Cooperate With Delivery, Sources Say

“The Adrian Darya 1, the Iranian oil tanker that the U.S. has pursued for several days, is now fewer than 10 nautical miles from the shores of Syria, intelligence sources tell Fox News. The captain of the vessel, Akhilesh Kumar, has been refusing to cooperate with a planned oil delivery and has asked to be dismissed or replaced, the sources added. The ship, formerly known as the Grace 1, turned off its tracking systems as it sailed toward Syria on Monday afternoon. By entering Syrian waters, the vessel was defying a commitment to the United Kingdom that allowed its release after it was detained in the Strait of Gibraltar. The ship has been carrying 2.1 million barrels of Iranian crude oil worth around $130 million. On Friday, the Treasury Department hit the tanker and its captain with sanctions, among the latest punishments targeting Iran's energy industry.”

The Independent: Anxiety As Iran Nuclear Deadline Approaches And Tehran Hints At Increased Uranium Enrichment

“Iran has suggested it could boost its enrichment of uranium to 20 per cent purity, a level that alarms nuclear arms specialists because it is considered a relatively easy jump to weapons-grade material. “If Iran decides, it can have 20 per cent enriched fuel within one to two days,” the Fars news agency quoted Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, as saying. The comment came two days before a much-anticipated deadline set by Tehran for the latest escalation of its nuclear programme in response to crippling sanctions imposed by the US following its withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Diplomats were on edge as Iran prepares to announce a possible escalation of its nuclear programme on Thursday, with the French president, Emmanuel Macron, scrambling to come up with a deal to salvage the JCPOA.”

Iraq

New York Post: ISIS Is Now Weaponizing Cows With Explosives

“Add animal rights activists to the ever-growing list of ISIS haters — following reports that the fiends had weaponized a pair of cows by turning them into explosives-laden booby traps that killed a civilian. The bovines were strapped with explosive belts and were headed toward a military checkpoint in Diyala province when Iraqi soldiers opened fire and “blew them up,” killing a bystander, according to a report on the Kurdish language Rudaw news website, the Independent reported. A local official, Sadiq Husseini, told the Kurdish outlet that the incident “shows that the group has lost the ability to recruit young people and would-be suicide bombers, instead they are using cattle.” Diyala province is home to Kurds, Sunnis and Shias and is at the heart of a dispute between the Kurdistan Regional Government and Iraq, with both claiming ownership, Fox News reported. ISIS has taken advantage of the dispute and worked to re-establish itself after losing most of the territory it had held under its so-called caliphate. ISIS holds a “durable support zone” and has “increased its attack tempo against security forces, local tribal figures and commercial sites,” according to the Institute for the Study of War. Terrorists have used animals to carry out their cowardly attacks in the past.”

Iraqi News: Iraqi Intelligence Kill 9 Islamic State Militants In Mosul

“Nine Islamic State militants were killed Tuesday during a counter-terrorism operation in Mosul city, a senior security official said. “Intelligence forces, in coordination with the Nineveh Operations Command, killed nine IS terrorists hiding inside a tunnel in al-Sahaji village, southwest of Mosul,” Brig. Gen. Yahia Rasool, spokesman for the Joint Operations Command, said in a press statement. The troops were backed by warplanes of the U.S.-led international coalition, the spokesman added. Iraq declared the collapse of Islamic State’s territorial influence in November 2017 with the recapture of Rawa, a city on Anbar’s western borders with Syria, which was the group’s last bastion in Iraq. IS declared a self-styled “caliphate” in a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria in 2014. A government campaign, backed by a U.S.-led international coalition and paramilitary forces, was launched in 2016 to retake IS-held regions, managing to retake all havens, most notably the city of Mosul, the group’s previously proclaimed capital.”

Turkey

Voice Of America: Turkey Bracing For New Jihadi Threat

“Thousands of jihadis are set to seek sanctuary in Turkey with Damascus' forces laying siege to Idlib, the last Syrian rebel enclave. With Damascus determined to take control of all of Syria, analysts warn it's only a matter of time before Turkey faces an exodus of not only refugees, but also the arrival of extremist fighters, posing a significant security threat to the country. Syrian government forces are steadily tightening their grip on Idlib province, the last pocket of the rebel resistance. It's estimated about 3 million Syrians are holed up in the enclave, of which half have fled fighting in other parts of Syria. “It poses a huge threat, roughly half-a-million refugees are piled at the border in ramshackle refugee camps,” said analyst Atilla Yesilada of Global Source Partners. “If [Syrian President Bashar Hafez al-] Assad moves north and captures Idlib city, these people will flock to Turkey, and there is no way we cannot accept them. In addition to that, maybe 40,000, maybe 60,000 extremely vicious fundamentalists will mix in with them and enter Turkey, adding to the instability in the border region.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, meeting in Moscow last week with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, did buy some time.”

Afghanistan

The New York Times: As Afghanistan Seeks Peace, Social Media Raises Fear Of Reprisals

“In recent months, an increasing number of graphic images of atrocities in the Afghan war have circulated on social media — raising alarm that hatred sown deep into local communities would be difficult to resolve even if a peace agreement can be reached with the Taliban. In one video, disheveled Taliban fighters line up a local judge in front of their guns as they repeat a question: who is rightful, the insurgents or the government? As the judge pleads “I serve the people,” the fighters open fire. The man collapses, and they fire more. In a second video, Afghan Army soldiers have tied a couple Taliban fighters to the hood of a military vehicle, driving them back and forth in a desert as they take turns beating them bloody. The Taliban wail as the soldiers curse at them and their families. One soldier repeatedly slashes a fighter with a knife.”

Reuters: Full U.S. Pullout From Afghanistan Could Ignite 'Total Civil War': Ex-U.S. Envoys

“Nine former U.S. ambassadors on Tuesday warned that Afghanistan could collapse in a “total civil war” if President Donald Trump withdraws all U.S. forces before the Kabul government and the Taliban conclude a peace settlement. “A major troop withdrawal must be contingent on a final peace,” the nine wrote on the website of the Atlantic Council, a think tank. “The initial U.S. drawdown should not go so far or so fast that the Taliban believe they can achieve military victory.” The nine, including five former ambassadors to Kabul, a former special envoy to Afghanistan and a former deputy secretary of State, issued their warning a day after U.S. chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad announced a draft accord with the Taliban for an initial drawdown of nearly 5,000 U.S. troops. Khalilzad, speaking on Monday to Tolo News television in Kabul, declined to say how long the rest of the roughly 14,000 U.S. troops would stay. But U.S. officials repeatedly have said the pullout would be “conditions based.”

Yemen

The Defense Post: ISIS Revival In Aden Further Complicates War In Yemen’s South

“Islamic State said last week that fighters from its Yemen Province affiliate carried out a suicide bombing in the southern port city of Aden that killed three people and wounded others, the fifth attack the group claimed in Aden during August after more than a year of radio silence. The recent series of attacks began with a suicide car bombing at a police station in Aden’s Sheikh Othman district that killed 13 people and wounded several more on August 1, according to Yemen’s interior ministry. In a statement claiming responsibility for the attack, its first in the de facto capital Aden since March 2018, ISIS said the bombing had killed and wounded dozens of police officers and members of the Security Belt forces, which is backed by the United Arab Emirates. ISIS also released a picture of a man they claimed was the suicide bomber. On the same day, Yemen’s Houthi rebels targeted Aden in a drone and missile attack that killed over 30 people, including Munir “Abu al-Yamama” al-Mashali, a senior southern security official aligned with the secessionist Southern Transitional Council, which dominates the Security Belt forces. Two days later, ISIS claimed its fighters had assassinated a Security Belt forces member in Aden, releasing four images purportedly showing the killing.”

Saudi Gazette: Documents Expose Houthis' Link To Daesh, Al-Qaeda

“A Yemeni NGO has exposed the reality of the strong links between the Iran-backed Houthi militia and various terrorist organizations. Mohammed Al-Omda, chief of the Yemen Organization for Defending Rights and Democratic Freedoms unveiled on Tuesday documents showing the link between the Houthi militia and Al-Qaeda and Daesh (so called IS) terrorists. Al-Omda handed over a documented report to Rawanthika Gunaratne, an international law expert of the Sanctions Committee Team, containing criminal files of all those involved with the Houthi militias and all those who have collaborated with them and committed crimes against civilians. There were also documents proving the Houthi militia’s association with terrorist organizations and their role in undermining the state authorities and seizing the country’s capabilities and turning it into a Houthi war effort. Al-Omda also exposed the abuses and corruption of international organizations working in Yemen. In his report presented to Gunaratne, who is in charge of submitting periodic reports to the UN Security Council, he confirmed that on Nov. 2, 2017, an international organization handed over $14 million to the leaders of Houthis who usurped the Yemeni Ministry of Education.”

Lebanon

The Jerusalem Post: Network Widens Between German Hezbollah Center And Lebanon’s Hezbollah

“The Hezbollah center and mosque in Germany that boasted about its pride in terrorism has a broad network of Hezbollah friends and supporters in Lebanon and in the federal republic, raising questions about German Angela Merkel’s tolerance of an antisemitic terrorist organization. After The Jerusalem Post received a tip about pro-terrorism activities on the website of the Islamic Center (Imam-Mahdi-Zentrum) in Münster, the Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), an independent, nonpartisan press-monitoring organization, revealed last week a video from the Hezbollah center stating:” We Are Accused of Terrorism and Are Proud of It.” A MEMRI spokesperson told the Post on Monday that “Some of those who frequent the mosque express open support for Hezbollah on their Facebook pages – they post photographs of martyrs, of [Hassan] Nasrallah, of Hezbollah flags, etc. These people, who remain in contact with their families in Lebanon, some of whom even visit there frequently, are ‘Facebook friends’ with Hezbollah supporters.”

Middle East

Al Monitor: Gaza Explosions Leave Hamas Exposed

“The Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip launched an arrest campaign against individuals suspected of the suicide bombings that rocked the coastal enclave Aug. 27, killing three police officers and injuring three others in Gaza City. The first explosion happened at the Dahdouh checkpoint, west of Gaza City; the second targeted the traffic police checkpoint in the Sheikh Ajlin area. No party has claimed responsibility for the incident, but the Hamas-affiliated Palestinian security services in Gaza arrested individuals said to be affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) and who espouse the group’s extremist ideology and antagonism toward Hamas. Iyad al-Bazm, spokesman for the Interior Ministry in Gaza, was interviewed on Hamas' Al-Aqsa satellite TV Aug. 28 and revealed preliminary information from the investigation. He said the first suicide bomber, without mentioning his name, blew himself up on a motorcycle at the police checkpoint near the Dahdouh junction. The other individual blew himself up at the Sahel checkpoint, west of Gaza City. Bazm said that there has been significant progress in the investigation, portraying the bombers as collaborators with Israel who undermine the Palestinian situation in Gaza.”

Times Of Israel: Qatar: Small, But Dangerous

“Qatar has supported terrorism in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Tunisia and Egypt, and has spent huge amounts of money in support and funding of jihad groups and terrorist activities in Europe and elsewhere in the West. Qatar has supported jihad terrorism in order to gain a foothold in some Arab and regional countries, so as to counterbalance its small size and relative weakness, as well as its lack of any political or military weight in the Middle East. Indeed, Qatar has succeeded in penetrating some countries by means of terrorism and aiding in the formation of armed terrorist groups such as al Qaeda in Syria and Iraq, destabilizing security. Qataris also purchase political power and influence, furthering the Qatari dream of being a regional power, or at least giving the illusion of being one. The main supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was Qatar. The resounding fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the insistence of the Egyptian people on getting rid of the Muslim Brotherhood regime has had a great impact on the psyche of the Qatari regime. This, in turn, has had a very negative effect on Qatar’s policies towards Egypt and other Arab countries that have rejected the Muslim Brotherhood’s terrorism, and who have also worked to eradicate it from that region and the world.”

Egypt

Asharq Al-Awsat: EU-Egypt Talks To Enhance Counter-Terrorism Cooperation

“Egypt and the European Union (EU) intensified their official talks to strengthen cooperation in the field of counter-terrorism. EU’s Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove continued his meetings for the second day during his visit to Cairo, which included consultations with the Egyptian Foreign and Interior Ministers. De Kerchove met with FM Sameh Shoukry to discuss methods to enhance coordination and cooperation between Egypt and the EU to eradicate and combat terrorism. Minister of Interior Mohamed Tawfik also received the Coordinator and stressed the need to consolidate international counter-terrorism efforts to curb its dangers. He warned that terrorism poses a threat to most countries in the world, reiterating the dangers of providing a safe haven to terrorists who hide behind religious misconceptions and promote a culture of violence and destruction. Tawfik briefed the Coordinator on Egypt’s proactive strategy to combat terrorism, disband terror groups, dry up their potential funding resources and destroy their infrastructure.”

Nigeria

Daily Post Nigeria: Army Arrests 4 Boko Haram Logistics Suppliers In Borno

“The Nigerian Army on Tuesday said it has arrested four Boko Haram insurgents’ suppliers in Borno State.  The Theater Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj.-Gen. Olusegun Adeniyi, disclosed this during the destruction of four vehicles and essential commodities seized from the insurgents in Maiduguri. NAN reports that Adeniyi decried the nonchalant attitude of some traders and commercial vehicle operators who supplied and transported logistics to the insurgents. “There are no petrol stations in the Sambisa Forest, Algarno, Baga and Gwoza; the logistics sustaining the insurgents is coming from Maiduguri, Damaturu and other settlements. “Some commercial vehicle operators fabricated their tanks to a 200-liter capacity, to enable them to supply and sell petrol to the insurgents at the rate of N245 per liter. “Troops at checkpoints arrested four vehicles on their way to deliver a large consignment of logistics to the insurgents in the hinterland. “The insurgency will have stopped if not for the people who patronise them; our effort is to arrest illegal business aiding the insurgency. “Boko Haram logicians will neither be tolerated nor ignored, anybody who engage or allow his vehicle to transport insurgents’ logistics would be prosecuted because you are part of them and an enemy of the state,” he said.”

Daily Post Nigeria: Niger Delta Militants Issue Fresh Threats

“Niger Delta militant group, The Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, RNDA, has threatened to blow up oil installations and facilities in the region and bring the country to its “knees.” RNDA vowed to carry out its threats should the Federal Government go ahead with the purported plan to take away supervision of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, from Ministry of Niger Delta to the Office of Secretary to Government of the Federation, OSGF. The militant’s threat was contained in a statement issued by its leader, self-styled “Gen” Johnmark Ezonbi, on Monday. According to the statement: “We will bring the nation to its knees and return Nigeria to the era of another recession if the Secretary to Federal Government and the so-called selfish self- centered, greedy power- drunken politicians refuse to stop their evil arrangement. “It has come to our notice that there was an ongoing meeting initiated by some power-drunk and self- centered leaders from the region, who have lost control of the affairs of the NDDC. They are collaborating with some top officials in the Presidency to transfer the supervision of the NDDC to the OSGF all in a bid to divert the fund for their personal gains towards 2023.”

Somalia

Africanews: U.S., Federal Government Of Somalia Target Al-Shabaab Terrorist With Airstrike

“In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducted an airstrike targeting an al-Shabaab terrorist in the vicinity of Jilib, Somalia, on Sept. 3. “We continue to place pressure on terrorist networks at the same time our Somali partners are making progress on the ground,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William Gayler, director of operations, U.S. Africa Command. “These strikes certainly disrupt the network and remove terrorists from causing further harm.” At this time, it is assessed the airstrike killed one (1) terrorist. Strikes near Jilib disrupt al-Shabaab’s freedom of maneuver. Currently, we assess no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike. U.S. Africa Command will continue to work with its partners to transfer the responsibility for long-termsecurity in Somalia from AMISOM to the Federal Government of Somalia and its Member States. In support of the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces will use all effective and appropriate methods to assist in the protection of the Somali people, including partnered military counterterrorism operations with the Federal Government of Somalia, AMISOM, and Somali National Army forces.”

Africa

Reuters: Bomb Explodes Under Bus In Mali, At Least 14 Killed

“A makeshift bomb exploded under a passenger bus travelling in the violence-plagued central Mali region of Mopti on Tuesday, killing at least 14 people and wounding 24, the security minister said. The vehicle hit the landmine while carrying 60 passengers through an area where ethnic militias regularly kill civilians from rival groups and Islamist militants are also active. “We have the number of 14 deceased and 24 injured, including seven in a critical state,” said Salif Traore, giving no further comment on the attack or on who might be behind it. The remote border region where Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger meet has become a haven for jihadist militants, who often launch deadly attacks on U.N., Malian and international troops. Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have been commonly used. A person at the scene told Reuters his sister and nephew had been on board the vehicle and were killed in the explosion. “The army is trying to recover bodies from under the bus,” he said, speaking by telephone on condition of anonymity.”

Yahoo News: Sudan's PM Calls For US To Drop 'Terror' Blacklisting

“Sudan's new premier Tuesday called for the United States to drop his country from its state sponsors of terrorism list, insisting it was crucial to economic revival. The United States in late 2017 lifted economic sanctions that it had imposed on Sudan in 1997, but kept the country on its “terror” blacklist along with Iran, North Korea and Syria. Sudanese officials, including those from the now ousted president Omar al-Bashir's administration, consistently complained that this has hampered economic growth by discouraging foreign investment. “We believe that the situation is suitable for removing Sudan from the terrorism list,” Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said at a joint press conference with visiting German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. Sudan has been “in negotiations with the Americans and (we) expect there would be progress on removing Sudan from the terrorism list,” Hamdok said. Months of protests triggered Bashir's removal from power by the army in April, before further protests -- this time against the military council that replaced him -- resulted in power sharing with civilians.”

News24: Tunisia Says Killed Jihadists Were Al-Qaeda Leaders

“Three suspected jihadists killed in a gun battle with Tunisian forces were wanted Algerian leaders of al-Qaeda, Tunisia's interior ministry said on Tuesday, a day after the shootout. The Tunisian national guard said one its officers was also killed when fighting broke out Monday during a joint search operation with the army in the mountainous Kasserine region near the Algerian border. The interior ministry said one of the three alleged jihadists, identified as El Behi Akrouf and nicknamed Abu Salma, could be a top leader of Okba ibn Nafaa - the Tunisian branch of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim). It named the other two men as Tahar Jijli and El Mahi.”

Germany

DW: Germany's Syria Conundrum

“Germany’s "anti-IS mandate," which if not prolonged is set to expire on October 31, is causing tension among the coalition partners in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government. The mandate, which started in 2015, aims to help eliminate the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria, as a part of the Coalition of the Willing. The United States recently said that IS has been significantly weakened but is not fully eliminated — and wants Germany to keep up its anti-IS efforts. Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) clearly want the mission to continue. Juergen Hardt, foreign policy spokesman for the CDU parliamentary party, is convinced that "all components of the current mandate are useful and necessary." Disagreement at the top: However, Merkel’s junior coalition partner, the Social Democrats (SPD) is not yet convinced. SPD parliamentarian Siemtje Möller was among the delegation accompanying German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU) on a recent visit to Iraq and Jordan, where the minister championed the extension of the mission.”

CNN: Germany's Far-Right Makes Big Gains In State Elections

“A far-right party scored its strongest-ever results in two key state elections in eastern Germany on Sunday, finishing second behind the country's major parties on the same day that Europe marked the 80th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of Poland. The anti-immigrant Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) party finished second in Saxony to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), and second in Brandenburg to the center-left Social Democrats (SPD). The results represent a blow to Merkel's ruling coalition with the SPD, and will be viewed as a victory for the AfD, which took 27.5% of votes in Saxony and 23.5% in Brandenburg -- a significant increase on state elections five years ago, with the party almost tripling its share in Saxony and doubling it in Brandenburg. The AfD became the first far-right party to enter Germany's national parliament in almost 60 years when it came in third place overall in federal elections in 2017.”

Europe

Voice Of America: Russian Blogger Sentenced To Five Years Over 'Extremist' Tweet

“A Russian court on Tuesday sentenced a blogger to five years in a penal colony for a tweet calling for attacks on the children of police, a ruling his lawyer said was unprecedented. Vladislav Sinitsa, 30, posted the tweet in the wake of a police crackdown against protesters who have called for free elections. “It's an act of intimidation,” said lawyer Denis Tikhonov after a Moscow district court found Sinitsa guilty of inciting hatred. The charges fall under Russia's harsh anti-extremism legislation. Tikhonov told AFP the sentence was “without precedent in its severity”. The ruling also comes in the context of an ongoing squeeze on internet freedoms in Russia, where social media remain among few outlets offering relative freedom of communication for the opposition. Sinitsa, who regularly posted on Twitter under the pseudonym Max_Steklov, was detained last month over a tweet he wrote on July 31. Sinitsa, who is from a town outside Moscow, posted about attending several opposition protests and urged others to go to them. In one tweet, a reply to a pro-Kremlin blogger, he imagined a situation in which people found the homes of law enforcement officers to kidnap and kill their children. The post was picked up and reported on by pro-Kremlin media.”

Technology

Inquisitr: YouTube’s Hateful Content Crackdown Sees 500 Million Comments Deleted, 17,000 Channels Canceled

“In 2016 and 2017, YouTube was routinely criticized for having terrorist videos on its website. Though it has made progress in finding and banning such videos, it did not completely solve the problem. In 2018, the Counter Extremism Project found that ISIS members and supporters uploaded 1,348 YouTube videos garnering 163,391 views between March and June alone.”

The Verge: YouTube Says It’s Being Responsible — But What It Needs To Be Is Accountable

“Last week, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki wrote a blog post in which she talked about the platform’s commitment to leaving up controversial videos even when they are offensive. This week, the company posted a new message about the videos they have decided to take down — and, YouTube says, it’s taking down many more videos than it ever has before. Julia Alexander sums it up at The Verge: YouTube’s teams have removed more than 100,000 videos and 17,000 channels since the company implemented changes to its hateful content policies in June. Those numbers are approximately five times as many than the company’s last quarter, according to a new blog post from YouTube about the company’s attempts to tackle a growing number of hateful and dangerous videos on the platform. This also includes doubling the removal of comments (more than 500 million) that were found to be hateful. Some of these channels, videos, and comments are old and were terminated following the policy change, according to the blog post. This could account for the spike in removal numbers.”