Eye on Extremism: September 5

The Wall Street Journal: Russia Launches Strikes Ahead Of Offensive On Syrian Rebel Bastion

“Russian warplanes struck rebels in Syria’s last major opposition stronghold on Tuesday, forcing the Trump administration to confront a looming regime offensive that is expected to deliver a fatal blow in the seven-year conflict and hand Moscow a diplomatic victory. The Trump administration issued a coordinated call for Russia, Iran and Syria to avoid a military assault on Idlib. President Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all warned of a potential catastrophe if the battle goes forward. Moscow has dismissed U.S. concerns that Syria again will use chemical weapons during the offensive, a move that has twice led Mr. Trump to order limited airstrikes targeting the Syrian regime. The Kremlin’s response has fueled widespread skepticism in Washington about Moscow’s intentions, and raised fears that Russia will give Syria a free hand to use chemical weapons on civilians as Syrian forces prepare for a battle that could deliver a crippling blow to rebels who have been fighting the regime.”

Reuters: Al Qaeda Trying To Regain Primacy As Islamic State Loses Ground: NATO

“Al Qaeda is trying to regain its primacy over international militancy as Islamic State loses ground, a senior NATO official said on Tuesday, seeing a potentially increased risk to the West from the groups’ rivalry. But Arndt von Loringhoven, the alliance’s assistant secretary general for intelligence and security, said Islamic State retained some personnel strength despite its combat losses, including fresh recruits among women and children. “ISIS-Daesh weakening has provided al Qaeda with an opportunity to attempt to regain its former status,” Von Loringhoven told a security conference hosted by Israel’s IDC Herzliya college, using a term for Islamic State. “While ISIL-Daesh has occupied the world’s attention for the last four-five year, al Qaeda has been quietly rebuilding its global networks and capabilities,” he said, citing activity in Kashmir, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and North Africa. “Rather like ISIL-Daesh, al Qaeda’s strategic aim is to regain leadership of like-minded militants and extremists. The competition for legitimacy, affiliates and recruits among the two major global extremist groups potentially increases the terrorism threat to NATO and our partners.” Al Qaeda carried out the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, prompting U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. U.S. forces killed al Qaeda’s leader, Osama bin Laden, in a Pakistani hideout in 2011.”

The National: EU To Crack Down On Online Terrorism And Cyber Threats

“The European Union is poised to adopt sweeping new powers against abuse of internet technologies, including measures to ensure the rapid removal of online terrorist message and an overhaul of regulations designed to counter cyber security threats. The proposal by the European Commission, expected to be unveiled in the coming weeks, will require internet giants like Facebook and Google to remove terrorist content within one hour of publication. Failure to take rapid action after receiving a notification will result in penalties for the providers. David Ibsen, the executive director of the Counter Extremism Project (CEP), said on Tuesday that it was vitally important that Brussels includes measures to prevent abuse of services provided by cloud computing providers such as Dropbox. “CEP research shows that terrorist content which has been identified on Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft One Drive, as well Amazon Cloud Drive is often removed in approximately one to two days, but is sometimes available for longer. In that amount of time, these often violent propaganda materials can be seen and shared hundreds, if not thousands of times.”

Radio Free Europe: Trump To Chair UN Council Meeting To Highlight Grievances With Iran

“U.S. President Donald Trump will chair a UN Security Council meeting on Iran this month during the annual gathering of world leaders in New York, to spotlight his grievances against Tehran. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley announced the move late on September 4 as the United States assumed the rotating presidency of the council, where it has pushed unsuccessfully in the past year for punitive measures against Iran. Haley and Trump have repeatedly attacked Iran, accusing it of meddling in the wars in Syria and Yemen and violating the spirit of its 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers, which Trump abandonned in May. Haley told reporters at the UN that Trump decided to chair the council meeting on September 26 so he could "address Iran's violations of international law and the general instability Iran sows throughout the entire Middle East region." "President Trump is very adamant that we have to start making sure that Iran is falling in line with international order," said Haley, who accused Iran of "supporting terrorism" around the world. "If you continue to look at the ballistic-missile testing that they are doing, if you continue to look at the sales of weapons we see with the Huthis in Yemen -- these are all violations of Security Council resolutions," she said. "These are all threats to the region, and these are all things that the international community needs to talk about." Iran is subject to a UN arms embargo and other restrictions imposed by the council, and Washington has repeatedly alleged that it is violating the embargo by providing arms to its allies in Yemen.”

Irish Times: Sweden Struggles To Contain Rising Extremism Ahead Of Election

“On a sunny September afternoon in Stockholm, people stroll along the Strandvägen waterfront on a Lou Reed-certified perfect day. Were it not for the anti-Nazi demonstration on the square named after Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who lost his life saving Hungarian Jews in the Holocaust. Seven decades after he disappeared, and days before Swedes elect a new government, what would one of their national heroes make of the sign reading “No Space For Nazis?” It is a question that student couple Charlotte and Lars are asking themselves, too. “It’s insane that we have to be here, protesting against Nazis,” says Charlotte, looking a little embarrassed in the huge crowd of all ages. “But we were all caught out last weekend, and felt we had to show our face today.”

United States

CNN: Pompeo To Tackle Pakistan On Terrorism, Tighten US Links With India

“US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will talk tough on terrorism to Pakistan and attempt to strengthen his country's links with India during what is likely to be a difficult and potentially testing visit to South Asia beginning Wednesday. The visit comes as the US tilts away from Pakistan, while deepening strategic and economic ties with India in a bid to counter China's increasing influence in the "Indo-Pacific" region -- Pompeo's preferred term for the area that stretches from the west coast of the United States to the west coast of India. Pompeo will have to perform a tricky balancing act, analysts say, as Pakistan is fast falling within China's sphere of influence and its arch-rival India is smarting over a series of trade threats and insults from President Donald Trump. "US-Pakistan ties have deteriorated significantly," said Alyssa Ayres, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. "US patience across parties has grown thin. Pakistanis generally believe that the United States is a fair-weather friend, in contrast to the 'all-weather' friendship of China." On US-India relations, Ayres added that "the unprecedented degree to which President Trump focuses on at times arbitrary and even trivial economic issues to measure the health of foreign relations has created new uncertainty.”

Reuters: Trump To Chair U.N. Security Council Meeting On Iran

“U.S. President Donald Trump will chair a United Nations Security Council meeting on Iran this month during the annual gathering of world leaders in New York, diplomats and U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said on Tuesday. The United States, which holds the council presidency for September, has unsuccessfully pushed the U.N. to call out Iran. Haley has regularly attacked Iran, accusing it of meddling in the wars in Syria and Yemen. Diplomats said Iran could request to speak at the Sept. 26 council meeting, the week of the U.N. General Assembly. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is expected to address the assembly on Sept. 25. The Iranian U.N. mission did not immediately respond to a request for comment. During a rare public meeting on Tuesday to discuss the proposed U.S. agenda for the council, Russia’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy said the Iran meeting should focus on the implementation of a 2015 resolution on Iran.”

The Wall Street Journal: Top U.S. Commander Warns Against Syrian-Russian Offensive In Idlib

“The top U.S. military commander said Tuesday that a precise counterterrorism campaign—not a full-scale military offensive—was the appropriate way to tackle extremist elements in northwest Syria, as an assault by the Syrian regime and its backers appeared imminent. Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he feared that a possible assault in Syria’s Idlib province, home to roughly three million people, could lead to a “humanitarian catastrophe.” “We don’t see any way that significant military operations are going to be beneficial to the people of Syria,” Gen. Dunford told reporters traveling with him. “And we know if past is prologue, given the difficult terrain and operating environment inside of Idlib, that if major operations take place, we can expect a humanitarian catastrophe, and we would all want to see that be avoided.” The comments by Gen. Dunford, combined with a Twitter post a day earlier by President Trump, represented the most pointed warning by U.S. officials regarding plans by Syrians and Russians to go after rebels in Idlib province.”

The Chicago Tribune: Trial For Former Elkhart Woman Accused Of Supporting ISIS Set For 2020

“The trial for a former Elkhart woman accused of providing funds and supplies to Islamic State fighters isn’t expected to begin until 2020. “There’s a lot that needs to get addressed before trial,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Kolar said. Samantha Marie Elhassani, also known as Samantha Sally, appeared in Hammond’s federal court Tuesday, wearing a red jail uniform with cuffs around her hands and ankles and a pair of glasses on top of her head. “Thank you, sir,” Elhassani said as a U.S. Marshal pulled out her chair before her hearing. Elhassani, 32, was charged last month in a two-count superseding indictment with conspiracy to provide material support to the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, and aiding and abetting individuals in providing material support to ISIS. Elhassani pleaded not guilty to the charges Tuesday. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, lifetime supervised release and a $250,000 fine, Kolar said.”


The Wall Street Journal: Trump’s Syria Moment

“What happens in Syria rarely stays there, as Barack Obama learned the hard way and Donald Trump is now discovering. Bashar Assad’s forces and his Iranian and Russian allies are preparing an assault on Idlib province, the last major opposition redoubt, and the attack is putting Mr. Trump’s lack of a Syria strategy in sharp relief. The White House issued a statement Tuesday warning against “a reckless escalation of an already tragic conflict.” The press secretary also warned against another use of chemical weapons, while the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, worried about a “humanitarian catastrophe” in Idlib. “We don’t see any way that significant military operations are going to be beneficial to the people of Syria,” Gen. Dunford said. This is all well meaning, but it’s the kind of diplomatic pleading that John Kerry and Mr. Obama were famous for in Syria, and we know how that worked. Amid these U.S. entreaties, Russia began air strikes around Idlib on Tuesday and a Kremlin spokesman promised to finish the job “unconditionally.”

The New York Times: Deadly Airstrikes In Syria Raise Fears Of New Offensive

“Syrian and Russian warplanes carried out dozens of airstrikes on Syria’s last rebel-held province on Tuesday, apparently ignoring a warning from President Trump and raising concerns that a large offensive against the densely populated area had begun. The strikes on Idlib Province, in northwestern Syria along the border with Turkey, came as diplomats scrambled to avert what a United Nations official said could be a blood bath. Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, has vowed to fight until he regains control of the entire country, and his Russian and Iranian allies have been hinting that the battle for Idlib was imminent. About three million people live in the province, including more than a million who were displaced from elsewhere in Syria during the seven-year war. The province also has an array of rebel forces including jihadists associated with Al Qaeda, which Syria and its allies say they must get rid of.”

Associated Press: The Latest: Israeli Official Confirms 200 Strikes In Syria

“An Israeli military official says Israel has struck over 200 Iranian targets in Syria over the past 18 months. Israel is widely believed to have been behind a series of airstrikes mainly targeting Iranian and Hezbollah forces in Syria who are fighting alongside the government. It rarely confirms the attacks. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity under military guidelines, said Tuesday the targets were connected to Iran's elite Al-Quds force and include air force components, support infrastructure, and weapons storage and manufacturing facilities. The official said alleged Israeli airstrikes in Syria on Tuesday were not included in the tally. He would not confirm Israel was behind those strikes, which were reported by Syrian state media, and did not comment on them.”

Reuters: Syria's Kurdish-Led Northeast To Be Treated Like Rest Of Country: Syrian Minister

“Syria’s Kurdish-led northeast will not be given special treatment and will be dealt with in the same way as other parts of Syria, a government minister said on Tuesday. “We cannot give any Syrian province something which differentiates it from other provinces or ethnicities, or (allow it) any situation which strikes at the idea that Syria is one country and one society,” Reconciliation Minister Ali Haidar said in an interview with Russia’s Arabic-language Sputnik news agency. A Kurdish-led administration in Syria’s northeast now holds more territory than any other group in Syria apart from the government itself. The Kurds have mostly avoided direct conflict with government forces during Syria’s civil war, while saying they seek autonomy in a decentralized state. President Bashar al-Assad’s government has recaptured most areas from rebels opposed to his rule, frequently using what Damascus calls “reconciliation” deals under which insurgents agree to give up territory in return for safe passage out, often after intense air and ground campaigns. Assad has repeatedly pledged to take back “every inch” of Syria.”

Rudaw: Kurds Remain Instrumental US Ally In Fight Against ISIS

“With renewed fears of an Islamic State (ISIS) resurgence in Iraq and Syria, it remains clear that Kurdish forces in both countries are of irreplaceable importance to the United States to confront the ISIS threat long term.  Washington has recently affirmed it will retain military forces in both Iraq and Syria to aid in stabilization efforts and to prevent the group’s resurgence. President Donald Trump vowed earlier this year to withdraw from Syria as quickly as possible. However, events on the ground in both countries in recent months indicate that although ISIS has lost the vast majority of territory which made up its physical ‘caliphate’, including Mosul and its de-facto capital Raqqa, the group is in no way defeated outright. It is still able to carry out terrorist attacks and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is still alive. The United Nations this August estimated between 20,000 and 30,000 members of the group are still operating in both countries. Any US withdrawal from Iraq or Syria while this remains the case would not constitute ‘mission accomplished’. Consequently, the US-led counter-ISIS coalition’s envoy Brett McGurk has affirmed the US is “remaining in Syria” where its “focus is the enduring defeat of ISIS.”


Reuters: Iran Forgoes Plans To Transfer Funds From Germany After U.S. Opposition -Sources

“Iran is forgoing plans for now to transfer about 300 million euros ($347 million) in funds held in Germany to Iran after strong opposition from the United States, two sources with knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday. The funds are held at the Hamburg-based Europaeisch-Iranische Handelsbank (eihbank). The bank was not immediately available for comment.”


Al Arabiya: Four Million Iraqis Return Home After War On ISIS

“Nearly four million Iraqis displaced by the war on ISIS have returned to their homes, the UN migration agency said in a report released Tuesday. When ISIS swept across Iraq in 2014, eventually seizing around one third of the country, it forced six million Iraqis to flee for safety, said the International Organization for Migration. The IOM said the six million who were displaced represented around 15 percent of Iraq’s total population. “For the first time in nearly four years, the number of displaced Iraqis has fallen to below two million,” the agency said. “Nearly four million have returned home.” According to the IOM, the displaced who have returned home cited several reasons for their decision, including “the improved security situation (and) availability of housing”. Others said they were encouraged to return by community leaders, friends and relatives, or simply had the financial means to do so. But those who are still displaced -- 1,931,868 people -- complain of lack of means and job opportunities, as well as insecurity and of damaged homes and infrastructure, said the IOM. It said most of those who had gone back were displaced from the northern province of Nineveh -- home to Iraq’s second city Mosul and an ISIS bastion for three years before it was driven out in 2017. Displaced Iraqis have also gone back in large numbers to the Sunni province of Anbar bordering Syria and scene of the last major battle against ISIS. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared “victory” in December in the fight against ISIS.”

Iraqi News: Iraqi Court Sentences Four Islamic State Members Sentenced To Life

“The Iraqi judiciary has sentenced four Islamic State members, who used to work for the militant group in Nineveh and Diyala provinces, to life. A statement by Abdul Sattar al-Bayraqdar, the spokesperson for the High Judicial Council, said”the Central Criminal Court in Baghdad reviewed cases of suspects who accused of joining Islamic State. They were sentenced to life after being proved to have committed crimes.” One of the convicts, according to the statement, “was distributing CDs, that contained videos of operations carried out by the militants in Baaj region in Nineveh. He also used to distribute newspapers and magazines that publish news of the group.” The other convicts “offered logistic support to the group in Nineveh and Diyala,” the statement added. On Sunday, Baghdad Today website quoted Sadeq al-Husseini, the head of the security committee in Iraqi Diyala provincial council, saying that Iraqi court sentenced four men to life imprisonment for joining the Islamic State group in Diyala province.  Many Islamic State members were detained during liberation battles that freed cities, which were recaptured by the militant group in 2014. In December, the Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi announced gaining control on all the territories that were captured by Islamic State, since 2014. However, Security reports indicate that the militant group still poses threat against stability in the country. The group still has dormant cells, through which it carries out attacks, across Iraq like it used to do before 2014.”


Radio Free Europe: Afghan Security Forces Retake Northern District From Taliban

“The governor of Afghanistan's northern province of Baghlan says Afghan security forces have recaptured a strategic district from Taliban fighters who have controlled the area in recent weeks. Governor Abdulhai Nemati told RFE/RL the government's offensive to retake the district of Nahrin ended on the morning on September 4 after the Taliban withdrew during the night. Nemati said at least six Taliban fighters were killed and 14 were wounded during an operation that began early on September 3. Nemati did not provide casualty figures for government forces. RFE/RL's correspondent in Baghlan Province reports that hundreds of civilians fled their homes during the fierce 24-hour battle, which destroyed several houses in the district. One disabled woman in the area told RFE/RL that she was "among very few people" from her neighborhood that did not flee the fighting. "Almost everyone in our neighborhood fled. I couldn't join them because of my disability. Had I been able to walk I would have left, too," the woman said. "People fled carrying their belongings," a local man said. "Old and young, women and children, all fled, some by foot, some on donkeys." Nemati said government forces were continuing a "search and clearing operation" in theNahrin district on September 4. There was no immediate comment about the battle from the Taliban. Meanwhile, in the nearby province of Balkh, Afghan security forces have launched an offensive against Taliban fighters who seized a series of villages to the west of Mazar-e Sharif on September 2.”


Gandahara: Pakistan Likely To Continue Defying U.S. Pressure On Taliban Support

“For nearly 15 years, Washington showered aid dollars and praise on Islamabad to encourage it to abandon support for hard-line Islamist militant groups in general and the Afghan Taliban in particular. But a tough approach involving ceasing aid to Pakistan and publicly questioning its counterterror efforts is making little headway in changing Islamabad’s approach to its quarter-century of support for Afghan insurgents. As a new Pakistani civilian administration settles in, Islamabad is unlikely to change course on the Afghan Taliban despite Washington’s visible efforts to prompt a change of perspective in Islamabad by denying aid and publicly urging it to move against militants. With U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and General Joseph Dunford, the top U.S. military officer, scheduled to visit Islamabad on September 5, the two countries still seem miles apart. Ayaz Wazir, a former Pakistani diplomat, says relations between Washington and Islamabad are overshadowed by the issue of how to deal with militants operating out of Pakistan, particularly those active in Afghanistan. “Afghanistan played a major role in worsening our relations with Washington, and it will continue to do so if we fail to address their [U.S.] concerns,” he told Pakistan’s private Capital TV.”


Gulf News: Dozens Of Al Houthis, Iranians Killed In Yemen

“Dozens of Al Houthi fighters and allied Iranian advisers have been killed this week by the Yemeni government forces in a stronghold of the militiamen, a military source said on Tuesday. Around 400 Al Houthis had been killed or injured during battles in the mountainous district of Maran in the northern province of Saada over the past two days, the source told news portal September Net linked to the Yemeni Defence Ministry. Last month, the government forces, backed by an Arab coalition, unleashed an operation dubbed “Cutting the Snake’s Head” in Saada near the border with Saudi Arabia. Government loyalists have since recaptured territory in Maran, where the leader of the Iran-allied militia Abdul Malek Al Houthi is believed to be hiding. Al Houthi militias have launched five attacks in the past two days in a desperate attempt to regain their lost positions, but have been pushed back, the source told September Net.”

Oil Price: Houthis Claim Successful Attack On Aramco Oil Facility

“Yemen’s Houthi rebels have claimed a successful attack on an unidentified oil facility of Saudi Aramco in Jizan, according to a report in Iranian state news agency IRNA. The strike with Badr 1 missiles took place on Monday, two days after an earlier one that targeted a Saudi frigate in Jizan. That earlier attack, IRNA said, was in response to the Saudi forces killing Yemeni fisherman near the port of Hodeidah—the focal point of the Saudi-Houthi conflict. The Yemeni war, which began in 2015, has led to the worst humanitarian crisis in the world at the moment, and there is no end in sight, as the Saudi-led forces continue to strike Hodeidah, widely considered as the location that could tip the scales in the war. Last month, after reports of a Houthi strike against a Saudi oil tanker, the rebel group offered a ceasefire, but it failed to hold. Despite the humanitarian crisis, Yemen in August restarted crude oil exports. A 500,000-barrel cargo from a field in the southern province of Shabwa was sent to China, The National reported a couple of weeks ago.”

Saudi Arabia

Al Arabiya: Saudi Arabia Intercepts Two Missiles Houthis Launched Toward Jazan

“Saudi Arabia said its forces have intercepted two ballistic missile fired by the Houthi militias toward the border Saudi city of Jazan on Tuesday. The Houthis has stepped up missile attacks on the kingdom in recent months. The Yemeni legitimate forces have repeatedly stressed the continued involvement of the Iranian regime in supporting the Houthi militias and supplying them with rockets carrying qualitative capabilities, in clear defiance to United Nations Resolutions 2216 and 2231 in order to threaten the security of Saudi Arabia and destabilize regional and international security.”

Middle East

Business Insider: The Taliban Leader Responsible For The Kidnappings Of Bowe Bergdahl And Reporter David Rohde Is Dead

“Jalaluddin Haqqani, the founder of one of the Taliban's most sophisticated networks and a former US ally, died this morning, according to an Associated Press report. The Haqqani network, once instrumental in the US's campaign to help Afghans defeat the Soviet Union, is considered responsible for the kidnappings of multiple American and Canadian citizens. Haqqani was a lifelong friend of Osama bin Laden, and his network, declared a terrorist organization by the United States in 2012, became one of Afghanistan's "most experienced and sophisticated insurgent operations," according to the Institute for the Study of War. According to a report published by the institute, Haqqani's rise to infamy began in the 1970s and became solidified in the '80s, when he gained power and influence as a leader of the anti-Soviet movement. His friendship with Bin Laden also formed during this era, when Haqqani supervised training grounds of the newly-formed al-Qaeda. It was during this era that he became a US asset; seen as an ally in the U.S. effort to counter the Soviet threat in Afghanistan, he was described as "goodness personified" by then-Congressman Charlie Wilson. As relations between the U.S. and the Taliban shifted, Haqqani passed control of his network to his son, Siraj.”


NPR: Whatever Happened To... The Millennials Who Started A School For Boko Haram Escapees?

“A couple of years ago, Ifeoluwa Ayomide, 23, and Aweofeso Adebola, 24, started an informal school in a camp for displaced people in Abuja, Nigeria. They combined forces with a dozen volunteers to teach a variety of subjects to the hundreds of kids in the Durumi camp: English, math, history, civics, health, science and agriculture. The young men had previously worked in Nigeria's parliament. Ayomide was with the department of new media in the office of the Senate president, and Adebola was an aide in the budget and planning department. They had no formal training as educators. They had no curriculum and had to depend on whatever textbooks they could get with donations from family, friends and other individuals. Their goal was to give these kids a real chance for success after their families had fled to protect themselves from the militant group Boko Haram.”

Al Jazeera: Lost Childhood: Boko Haram Victims Gripped By Thoughts Of Revenge

“The field is wide and scorching under dry midday heat. Dozens of children kick up the sand underneath their sandals.  Their shrieks echo as they roll their heads back in carefree laughter. They're playing, but not with toys or balls. They are playing a game called "Boko Haram versus soja (soldier)". They scamper around screaming, "shoot!", ramming their fingers into each other's bodies. Their pointed fingertips are supposed to be the barrels of rifles or blade of swords. They are pretending to kill each other. Some "die", falling over like felled trees. One child collapses with his hand pressed over his heart as imaginary blood gushes out. A tall boy jumps over the "dead" body and runs into another with a yellow t-shirt, who aims straight for his head. "Boom!" the boy shouts, a gunshot. This is playtime at a private primary school organised by a local NGO called Education Must Continue Initiative (EMCI) in Yola, the capital of Adamawa state in northeastern Nigeria. All of the children are now displaced after fleeing their home communities to escape from Boko Haram.”

The Guardian: We Have Lost 2,000 Members To Boko Haram, Say Labour Unions

“The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday said it had lost about 2,000 workers to the nefarious activities of Boko Haram terrorists since the insurgency began.President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, who stated this in Abuja at the presentation of a report tagged “Employment and decent work for peace” by the American Centre for International Labour Solidarity, urged state governments to provide succour to workers that lost their breadwinners to the insurgency. “We have lost more than 2,000 workers that include teachers, local government workers, and health workers because they are the first line of attack. Teachers have been particularly more affected because the ideology of the sect is their opposition to western education.”Wabba lamented the non-payment of benefits to the survivors of workers that lost their lives to Boko Haram attacks on active duty. “I am not happy because up till now, their benefits have not been paid. I therefore call on the states concerned to give priority to the dependants of those that have died as a result of attacks by the insurgents. “We would write formal letters to the state governments to demand for the payment of teachers, civil servants, health workers and local government workers that have died in active service their benefits because what the unions are doing now is to fill the gaps that exist due to negligence.”


The National Interest: Chairman Michael Mccaul: Empower Our Allies To Fight Terrorism In Africa

“Before September 11, 2001, very few people were concerned with what was happening inside Afghanistan. How could the internal dynamics of a poor country over seven thousand miles away have a direct impact on our lives? That question was answered when Al Qaeda struck our homeland and killed almost three thousand innocent people. In complete shock we wondered, “How could this happen?” In the aftermath, it was clear that we needed to change our thinking toward weak states on the other side of the world. We could no longer allow them to become safe havens for international terrorists to plot and plan attacks. In the last seventeen years, we have organized broad coalitions to fight terror groups and prevent future attacks from occurring. We captured 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and killed Osama Bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, among others.”

MENAFN: Commander Of The KDF Camp Attacked By Al-Shabaab Now Narrates How Everything Happened

“The commander of the KDF camp in Kulbiyow that was attacked by al-Shabaab militants has given a chilling account of how it happened and how the soldiers did their best to repulse the enemy. Major Denis Girenge said that a day early he received a call from a colleague commanding another KDF camp who informed him that he had noticed some strange movements 12 km away. 'We concluded that they were planning to attack either my camp or Hulugho because from that point, we were 14km away while Hulugho was 18 kilometres away,' Girenge exclusively spoke to Nation. Al-Shabaab militants. He sent a patron at night and at 5 KM they spotted the enemy approaching. To be sure, he dispatched drones that relayed footage of the al-Shabaa grouping and planning to attack one of the two camps. At 3 am the following day, the drones showed movements of a heavy vehicle.When the movement stopped, he called the surveillance team. The airborne draws further showed a group in a bush receiving a briefing. Colonel Amani Ramadhan was also injured in the attack. The attack triggered them and they started running towards the camp. The number increased as they approached, meaning more were hiding in bushes nearby. Injured KDF soldiers arrive in Nairobi.”


Voice Of America: Russia Joins Iran In Support Of Syrian Idlib Offensive

“Russia on Tuesday joined Iran in expressing support for Syria's impending operation to retake control of rebel-held Idlib province, the last major opposition stronghold in the country. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Idlib is a pocket of terrorism, and that the situation there is undermining efforts to find a political resolution to the Syrian conflict. That follows statements Monday by Iran's Foreign Ministry saying Idlib should be cleared of "terrorists." Iranian media also quoted Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif saying during a visit to Syria that Idlib should be put back under the control of the Syrian people, and that reconstruction efforts in Syria and the return of refugees should go forward. There are about 3 million people in Idlib and the United Nations has said it is worried about the potential humanitarian toll that may come with a Syrian military campaign there.”

United Kingdom

The Telegraph: 'ISIL-Supporters' Accused Of Plotting Terror Attack Using Driverless Car Bomb To Spare Their Own Lives

“Two men accused of jointly plotting a terror attack were attempting to manufacture an explosive device involving a driverless car to spare their own lives, a court has heard. Andy Star, 32, who lived and worked at the Mermaid Fish Bar on Sheffield Road, Chesterfield, and Farhad Salah were working together in a bid to make the weapon, Sheffield Crown Court was told. On Tuesday, prosecutor Anne Whyte QC told the court how the pair were supporters of terrorist organisationIslamic State, and how Salah had arrived in the UK in 2014, but had not had his asylum claim determined prior to his arrest. She said: "The prosecution allege that Farhad Salah and Andy Star had decided that improvised explosive devices could be made and used in a way here in the UK that spared their own lives preferably but harmed others they considered to be infidels." During her opening speech, Ms Whyte read a message, sent by 23-year-old Salah in December 2017, in which he told a contact: "My only attempt is to find a way to carry out martyrdom operation with cars without driver, everything is perfect only the programme is left." Describing how this was evidence Salah was "attack planning", Ms Whyte added: "But he was not planning alone. "Andy Star had access to the materials necessary to conduct small test runs with explosives and Star was making those devices in his flat.”

The Mirror: Jihadi John's Friend With Links To Terrorism Now Behind Bars In UK After Flying Home To Visit Wife

“A pal of Islamic State executioner Jihadi John with links to terrorism is behind bars in the UK after flying home to visit his wife. Ali Adorus, 36, fled to his native Ethiopia after using a shotgun in a violent attack on a drug dealer in 2012. Security guard Adorus was arrested in the African country over a terror plot to establish Islamic rule. He initially faced the death penalty but was sentenced to four and a half years. Sources said that on his release the dad of one decided to return to his wife, understood to live in North London. He was arrested shortly after landing at Heathrow and now faces a lengthy prison sentence.”


Daily Beast: The New Frontier In Jihadi Bio Terrorism

“On June 12, 2018, heavily armed German special forces police with gas masks raided a residential building in the city of Cologne (North Rhine-Westphalia) in Western Germany. A Tunisian national named Sief Allah H., who lived at the premises, was arrested. His wife, a German convert to Islam named Yasmin H., was also taken into police custody and was later accused of helping her husband in a terrorist plot. Police investigators and bio-chemical experts of the Robert Koch Institute, wearing full protective gear, then entered the residential block and searched several apartments. They were looking for the poison ricin. Terrorist suspect Sief Allah H. had been monitored by German security services for a number of weeks prior to his arrest. Investigators discovered Sief Allah H. had ordered suspicious material and believed he was working to build an explosive device containing the deadly substance ricin. German intelligence had learned that Sief Allah H. had bought various materials via the internet, including more than a thousand castor beans and an electronic coffee grinder.”

Southeast Asia

Asia Times: Islamic State Blasts Back In The Philippines

“In the span of a week, two deadly explosions rocked the same town on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, killing a total of five people in an attack the military has blamed on the rebel Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). The homegrown militant group has recently emerged as Islamic State’s top aligned fighting force in the Philippines. The attacks have kindled fears the militant group could be softening the ground for a new major assault after last year’s foreign fighter-backed, five-month devastating siege of the city of Marawi. Sunday night’s powerful bomb blast tore through an internet café, killed two youth and injured 12 others in Isulan town, the capital of Mindanao’s Sultan Kudarat province. On August 28, another lethal blast at a night market killed three and wounded 36 others in the same town. The attack symbolically coincided with Isulan’s usually festive foundation day celebrations. Regional military commander Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana claimed the BIFF faction under commander Bongos carried out the August 28 attack; the second was attributed to a BIFF faction operationally led by militant Abu Turaife.”


The Wall Street Journal: Facebook’s Sandberg And Twitter’s Dorsey To Face Questions On Capitol Hill About Russian Meddling, Bias

“A year ago, big technology companies disclosed that Russian-backed actors had manipulated their platforms in hopes of swaying the election. Now, executives from some of those giants will tell lawmakers the steps they have taken since to prevent similar attacks. On Wednesday morning, Facebook Inc. Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter Inc. Chief Executive Jack Dorsey will appear in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee to defend their platforms’ handling of manipulation by foreign actors. Later in the day, the House Commerce Committee will question Mr. Dorsey, whose platform has been a focus of many Republicans’ ire, about alleged anticonservative bias. “We were too slow to spot this and too slow to act,” Ms. Sandberg said in prepared testimony reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. “We’re getting better at finding and combating our adversaries from financially motivated troll farms to sophisticated military intelligence operations.”

The Times: Facebook Needs To Do More In The Fight Against Crime

“The moment I go on Facebook I’m bombarded with adverts that link with extraordinary accuracy to subjects I’ve been googling or chatting about online with friends. It’s clear, therefore, that the people who run Facebook have state-of-the-art technology at their fingertips, not to mention an enormous budget. It is surely not beyond their ability to expedite a British police inquiry into a potential offender. And yet, a new case has raised questions about technology companies’ willingness to help the police and whether they accept the responsibility that goes with their unprecedented influence on the communications, thoughts and activities of the public.”

Terror Financing 

Akhbarak: Egyptian Expert: Cancerous Cigarettes Are The Other Side Of The Terror Financing Coin

“Not only have "toxin dealers" promoted drugs to destroy the pillars of the state and kill young people, but they have also turned their attention to counterfeit cigarettes known as "carcinogenic cigarettes." This trade has become a new means to achieve illicit profits. It is also more hazardous to smokers’ health, with dealers exploiting rising cigarette prices in the market and smokers' need for cheap cigarettes to feed their daily habit. Major General Ehab Yousef, a security expert specializing in terrorism, pointed out that the contraband goods are an additional aspect of terror financing. Terrorist groups have recently begun the shift towards trading in drugs, trafficking commodities and counterfeit goods, following heavy strikes by the army and police in Egypt which depleted their sources of funding. Yousef asserted that preventing these goods from entering the local market is equivalent to the preservation of Egypt's national security.”

Horrya: Syria: Skirmishes Between Armed Groups To Gain Control Of Water Crossings

“The {traditional} dispute over the sharing of stolen goods, areas of control and influence has not been the chief reason behind the recent clashes between an armed group affiliated with the Assad regime and another one affiliated with Iran and Hezbollah. According to local sources, the recent clashes erupted due to disagreements over the sharing of profits and revenues derived from water crossings spread throughout the province of Deir al-Zour. On his part, media activist Abu Ali al-Deiri said that after these clashes, the Russian forces took over the river crossings which connect the banks of the Euphrates River. This move came to neutralize foreign militants who have been extorting the civilians crossing into and out of the areas under the control of Assad forces. In addition, the Russians took over al-Salehiya crossing, located north-west of the city. This is a land crossing separating Assad’s forces from the Syrian Democratic Forces through which commercial trucks and goods pass enroute to the rural eastern areas.”

Akhbar-Alkhaleej: Bahraini Official: Branch Of Iran Future Bank Pledged $9 Billion Worth Of Money-Laundering Transactions To Finance Terrorism

“During a lecture on "Terrorist threats and counter terrorism strategies in Bahrain," Dr. Shaikh Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, the Foreign Ministry’s Under-Secretary for International Affairs, stated that Bahrain has put in place an integrated system to combat extremism and terrorism. Dr. Shaikh Al Khalifa, who is also Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Bahrain Institute for Strategic, International and Energy Studies (DERASAT), described the Kingdom of Bahrain as an {exemplary} international model for countering terrorism. Lecturing at the Bahrain Defense Force (BDF) Officers  Club, Dr. Shaikh Al Khalifa mentioned that Bahrain is facing two types of terrorism – radical ideologies coming from abroad and Iran-linked terror cells, which are being recruited and trained by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), either at its Iran-based camps or at its camps in the neighboring countries. As far as the financial aspect of terrorism is concerned, the Bahraini Foreign Ministry’s Under-Secretary disclosed that the Bahrain branch of Iran's Future Bank was involved in laundering $9 billion worth of funds for terrorist financing purposes. The Central Bank of Bahrain discovered these massive money-laundering activities only after shutting down this bank branch and putting it under its administration, the Bahraini official added. A portion of this money went directly to perpetrators of terror attacks and to their allies, Dr. Shaikh Al Khalifa went on saying.”

Muslim Brotherhood

Masrawy: Former Head Of Radio Authority Penalized For Allowing Broadcast Of Muslim Brotherhood's Channels

“The Supreme Disciplinary Court of the State Council Club issued a ruling against Amr Abdel-Ghaffar Darwish, the former head of the radio engineering department at the Egyptian State TV and Radio building, Maspero. The court accused Darwish of placing valuable state broadcast vehicles and equipment at the disposal of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood during the Brotherhood-led Raba’a sit-in. The court imposed a heavy fine on the former official equivalent to five times of his base salary at the time. Putting state-owned facilities at the disposal of the Muslim Brotherhood activists during Raba'a riots resulted in up to EGP 34 million ($1.9 million) worth of damage, the court revealed. It's noteworthy that activists and demonstrators affiliated with the banned Islamist group destroyed these devices after using them to broadcast the events to their allies’ media channels in Qatar and Turkey.”


Sahafah Net: Israeli Authorities Confiscate Hamas Funds Allegedly Given To Jerusalem-Based Activist

“The Shin Bet Israeli Security Service Agency announced yesterday that it had detained a Hamas activist in Jerusalem earlier this week. The security agency also reported that it had seized a sum of money that was found in the activist's home. According to the Israelis, these funds, estimated at NIS 180,000 ($50,000), were given to the activist by Hamas in support of the movement's activities. It's noteworthy that the Israeli security agency pointed out that it had previously confiscated NIS 300,000 ($83,000), alongside several cars and gold jewelry, from the homes of seven different Palestinian families who had received funds from the arrested activist.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.


On January 15, 2019, al-Shabaab gunmen stormed an upscale hotel and office complex in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. The attack lasted over 12 hours, killing 22 people and wounding 27 others.   

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