Eye on Extremism: September 6

VOA: Report: Top US Official In Talks With Houthi Rebels In Bid To End Yemen War

“A senior U.S. diplomatic official reportedly said Thursday the U.S. is negotiating with the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels an in effort to end the Yemeni Civil War. "We are narrowly focused on trying to end the war in Yemen," David Schenker, assistant secretary of Near Eastern Affairs, told reporters during a visit to Saudi Arabia, according to Agence France-Presse. "We are also having talks to the extent possible with the Houthis to try and find a mutually accepted negotiated solution to the conflict." A U.S. State Department official told VOA Thursday the U.S. is engaged in talks with "all Yemenis to further U.S. objectives in the country." The official said the United States is continuing "to work with our international partners to bring peace, prosperity and security to a unified Yemen" and is "focused on supporting a comprehensive political agreement that will end the conflict and the dire humanitarian situation.”

Reuters: EU Sets Up Tool For Easier Conviction Of Jihadist Fighters As Hundreds May Return

“The European Union has set up a common counter-terrorism register, hoping to facilitate prosecutions and convictions of suspected militants and people returning home from fighting with Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, EU officials said on Thursday. The move is partly aimed at addressing concerns about the fate of hundreds of EU citizens who fought for Islamic State and are now detained in Iraq and Syria. Many of them could return to Europe and not face trial because of a lack of evidence against them, a factor that has contributed to unease in several EU countries over returning fighters. The new database will put together information from all the 28 EU countries on ongoing investigations, prosecutions and convictions of militants, facilitating cooperation among national prosecutors. This is expected to help convict war criminals and other militants, who might otherwise face trials for a lesser crime or no trial at all because national investigations have failed to gather enough evidence against them. Because of parallel investigations in different EU states, militants could face lighter punishments if probes are not coordinated as “nobody can be prosecuted for the same crime twice,” noted Ladislav Hamran, who chairs Eurojust, the EU agency that will manage the database and is in charge of coordinating judicial investigations among EU states.”

The Telegraph: Half Of Terror Arrests Are White For First Time Amid Rise In Far-Right Extremist Threat

“Almost half of the suspected terrorists arrested last year were white amid an increasing threat from right-wing extremism. Home Office figures showed the number of white ethnics arrested for terrorist activity was 118, compared with 92 of those with an Asian ethnic appearance. The proportion of whites rose to 45 per cent of all terrorist-related arrests for the year ending June 2019, up from 38 per cent in the previous year. The proportion of Asians fell below 35 per cent. Experts said some of the white suspects would be Muslim converts though the majority would be far right extremists with the increased number also reflecting counter-terror commanders’ growing focus on the threat.”

NBC News: Trump's Envoy Clashes With Afghan Government Over Proposed Taliban Deal

“The Afghan government has clashed with President Donald Trump's envoy over a proposed troop withdrawal deal with the Taliban, just as Washington is preparing to unveil the agreement, foreign diplomats, Afghan officials and former U.S. officials said. Afghan officials and U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad had tense exchanges in Kabul over the past few days after the American diplomat briefed President Ashraf Ghani and his advisers on the proposed deal with the Taliban, a foreign diplomat and two former U.S. officials said. Ghani's government responded to the briefing "badly" and the discussions were marked by "raging arguments," said one foreign diplomat familiar with the talks. The State Department declined to comment on the discussions in Kabul or on details of the proposed U.S.-Taliban deal. The proposed agreement "in principle" with the Taliban would see the phased withdrawal of U.S. troops in return for the Taliban agreeing to enter into peace talks with the Afghan government and pledging not to allow areas under their control to be used as a launching pad for al Qaeda, Islamic State or other terrorist groups. Khalilzad said this week that if the agreement is approved by President Trump, the United States would initially pull out about 5,000 troops in 135 days.”

Deutsche Welle: Germany Needs To Ban Hezbollah, US Ambassador Grenell Says

“US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell on Friday demanded the German government ban Hezbollah in its entirety, saying that the Lebanese paramilitary organization sponsors terrorism and anti-Semitism. In an op-ed published in the German daily Die Welt, Grenell called Hezbollah Iran's “most-violent terrorist representatives,” who have “murdered innocent people” for 37 years. It is not the first time Grenell has asked Germany to ban the organization. The op-ed comes in response to a visit by the mayor of Tehran, Pirouz Hanachi, to the German capital on Friday hosted by Berlin's mayor, Michael Müller. In 2013, the EU banned the military arm of Hezbollah. But in many EU countries, including Germany, the political section is recognized. Great Britain and the Netherlands have banned Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization, in line with the United States and Canada. Grenell emphasized that Hezbollah does not consider itself as being two separate entities. “The EU maintains an artificial differentiation between the military and political arm of Hezbollah,” he said.”

CNN: Facebook Is Making Its Own Deepfake Videos To Help Fight Them

“Hany Farid, a professor at UC Berkeley and image-forensics expert whose lab received a grant from Facebook related to its deepfake detection research, said the competition is a big step toward solving an important problem. He said Facebook will also need to keep in mind that any technological solution must change over time, similar to the ways technology advances for stopping spam and computer viruses. "It's always evolving because our adversaries are always evolving," he said. Beyond that, Farid thinks Facebook needs to make some decisions about its policies regarding false videos.”

United States

The Washington Post: No, San Francisco. The NRA Is Not A ‘Domestic Terrorist Organization.’

“Liberals often wonder where conservatives get the notion that they are hated and despised. Wonder no more: Just look at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ resolution labeling the National Rifle Association a “domestic terrorist organization.” Words matter, and there are few words that stigmatize a person faster than calling him or her a terrorist. A terrorist by definition is someone who engages in terrorism, and terrorism is defined as “the systematic use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective.” To be a terrorist organization, therefore, the NRA would have to intentionally encourage and support the use of violent attacks on U.S. citizens with the intent of creating general fear so as to force submission to its political agenda. The NRA clearly does not do that. It does not advocate, fund or support violence, nor does it try to create “a climate of fear” to advance its policies. It does support an expansive view of gun rights, but that is not a terrorist act — unless political disagreement is now a criminal offense. But that is exactly what the resolution says. It contends that any use of a firearm with the “intent to endanger, directly or indirectly, the safety of one or more individuals” is “terrorist activity.”

The New York Times: White Supremacists Targeted Her. Now She’s Fighting Hate Crime

“The words “Heil Hitler" and “gas chamber” were scrawled on walls at the Silver Gull in Queens, one of the city’s last beach clubs. A rabbi walking through a park in Brooklyn was punched in the face and bashed with a rock. A gay pride flag outside a Harlem bar was set on fire. The New York Police Department says incidents like these this past summer are fueling a steep rise in hate crimes, which have increased 41 percent compared with the same time last year. Now New York City is adopting an unusual strategy to combat the wave of bias-driven incidents: It has hired an anti-hate crime czar. Deborah Lauter, the executive director of the newly created Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes, will not investigate bias incidents; that will still be the purview of the Police Department, which has its own hate crimes task force.”

Syria

Kurdistan 24: Iraqi Youth Killed By Suspected ISIS Members In Syrian Displacement Camp

“A young Iraqi male living in Syria's al-Hol Camp has died from injuries sustained while being beaten in his sleep by two alleged Islamic State members also residing at the massive displacement facility. “Two people disguised as women struck him on the head with a sharp object while he was sleeping in his tent last night,” said a media source close to local officials in charge of the camp. The youth, Mohammad Shehadeh Hamada, was critically injured in the initial attack and then taken to a hospital in the nearby city of Hasakah, where he died Thursday morning of his wounds. According to comments made by officials in the camp administration, Hamada was killed for not accepting the extremist ideology adopted by the Islamic State, thought to be shared by a large portion of the camp's inhabitants. On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that a 14-year-old girl at al-Hol Camp was killed after her neck was broken while being beaten and strangled. Shortly before the attack, the girl, who had previously lived under Islamic State rule, had apparently angered other camp residents because “she suggested dispensing with her black niqab, the face covering worn by ultraconservative Muslim women.”

The New York Times: ‘I’m Going To Be Honest, This Baby Is Going To Die’

“No one thought baby Ibrahim was going to make it. The 18-month-old boy, Belgian by birth, was malnourished, dehydrated, and vomiting every half an hour from a stomach bug. In Al Hol, the refugee camp in northeast Syria where he was staying, the heat regularly reached a relentless 100 degrees by midmorning, there was scant medical care, and fresh water, when it arrived, usually teemed with bacteria. Video of Ibrahim, listless and throwing up, had made its way from this desolate desert patch of Syria to his aunts in Belgium, who had shared it with doctors there. “I’m going to be honest, this baby is going to die,” one said. Another thought it would only be a matter of hours. A Belgian mission to rescue and repatriate orphan children arrived in the camp in June and made Ibrahim their top priority. But Ibrahim did not appear on the camp officials’ prisoner list. No one had heard of him. What had happened to the baby on verge of death?”

Iran

The Wall Street Journal: Iran To Breach Nuclear Deal Again In Setback To Europe’s Bid To Salvage It

“Iran said Thursday it would abandon constraints on nuclear research set out in the 2015 nuclear deal, in another violation of the accord that raises the risk of its collapse as Europe pursues efforts to salvage it with sanctions relief for Tehran. Iran’s move comes after the Trump administration appeared to dismiss efforts led by France to throw Tehran a possible $15 billion economic lifeline in return for its full compliance with the nuclear accord. The flouting of the limits on research work continues Tehran’s pattern of gradually moving away from the nuclear deal while seeking to leave the door open for diplomacy. The steps it has taken so far are quickly reversible and don’t substantially change its ability to produce a nuclear weapon in the near term.”

The New York Times: U.S. Treasury Warns Anyone Fueling Iran Tanker Risks Being Blacklisted

“The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday warned that anyone around the world who helps fuel Iranian vessels blacklisted by Washington runs the risk of being designated as well. The Treasury Department blacklisted the Adrian Darya, a tanker at the center of a confrontation between Washington and Tehran, on Aug. 30. Washington has warned that it would regard any assistance given to the ship as support for a terrorist group, namely, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The U.S. State Department has also said that any oil delivery to Syria from the tanker "enables the terrorism" of President Bashar al-Assad. The ship, formerly called Grace 1, was detained by Britain off Gibraltar in July due to British suspicion it was carrying Iranian oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.”

Tablet: Fighting ISIS, Finding Iran

“They are the exporter of instability across the region,” US Secretary of Defense Mattis, his voice gruff and no-nonsense as usual, said in late July 2018. He was talking about Iran. On Syria, he quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Keep your eye on the ball.” There were some nations, such as Russia and Iran, keeping Assad in power. “Our job is to try to find a way in the midst of this chaos to help the innocent people.” To do that the US wanted to “get stability in northeast Syria. This starts with destroying ISIS. They are not destroyed yet. It’s not over yet. It’s going to be a lot longer, tougher fight.” In the midst of the last days of the war on ISIS, global and regional powers were jockeying to see who would win the peace. Trump, Putin, Rouhani, Erdogan, MBS and Netanyahu were all watching closely. Since February 2018, the US had begun to concentrate on “stabilization” in Syria. But it was doing that at the same time that it hunted down the remnants of ISIS. “We are almost complete with liberation of the physical caliphate,” Maj. Gen. James Jarrard, commander of special operations in Syria, said. He praised the Syrian Democratic Forces as “great partners who have done a phenomenal job liberating terrain.”

The Financial Times: Iran Stops More Commitments Under 2015 Nuclear Deal

“Iran has ceased to honour more of its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal, raising the pressure on European powers to deliver on its promised economic benefits. Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif informed Federica Mogherini, the top EU foreign policy official, of Iran’s latest step in a letter on Thursday, the foreign ministry spokesman said. The spokesman said the move did not amount to a breach of the nuclear deal. Instead Iran was using a dispute mechanism resolution contained in the nuclear deal following the US’s withdrawal from the accord, he said. He added that Iran could reverse its decision and go back to fully implementing the nuclear deal if other signatories also met their commitments. The UK said Iran’s move was “deeply concerning.” “This third step away from its commitments under the nuclear deal is particularly disappointing at a time when we and our European and international partners are working hard to de-escalate tensions with Iran,” a British Foreign Office spokesperson said.”

Reuters: Iran 'Inching' Toward Place Where Talks Could Be Held: Pentagon Chief

“U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Friday that it appeared Iran was inching toward a place where talks could be held, days after U.S. President Donald Trump left the door open to a possible meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the upcoming U.N. General Assembly in New York. “It seems in some ways that Iran is inching toward that place where we could have talks and hopefully it’ll play out that way,” Esper said at the Royal United Services Institute think-tank in London. Friction between the two countries has grown since Trump last year withdrew from a 2015 international accord under which Iran had agreed to rein in its atomic program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. Washington has since renewed and intensified its sanctions, slashing Iran’s crude oil sales by more than 80% At the same time the United States has rebuffed, but not ruled out, a French plan to give Tehran a $15 billion credit line. Rouhani, for his part, on Wednesday gave European powers two more months to try to save the multilateral pact.”

Radio Farda: Iran Executes 38 People In August – Report

“A Norway-based Iranian human rights organization reports that 38 people were executed in Iran in August, double the rate in the same period last year. Iran Human Rights (IHR) says based on information it has collected 32 of those executed were convicted of first-degree murder, six were hanged for major narcotics and drug trafficking convictions. Two prisoners were executed on charges of “Moharebeh”, which in Islamic law means “waging war against God”. The Islamic Republic uses this serious accusation against those who question the basis of the Islamic political system or the legitimacy of clerical rule in Iran. Two executions took place in public while the rest were carried out in various prisons around the country. Official figures released by the Islamic Republic acknowledge only 13 execution, while human rights monitors reported an additional 25 cases. Meanwhile, IHR reports that a juvenile offender may be executed soon, according to his family. Mehdi Khazaeian has been convicted of an alleged murder he committed when he was 16 years old. He is now 20.”

Iraq

Iraqi News: Security Media Cell Announce Seizing 3 Car Bombs In Nineveh

“The security media cell announced on Thursday, seizing three car bombs in different areas of Nineveh, while pointed out that the car bombs were detonated on site. In a press statement, the Cell reported that based on accurate intelligence information, joint forces from the 60th Brigade of the 20th Division and al-Hashd al-Ashaeri, managed to seize three booby-trapped vehicles, southwest of Lake Sinisla and southeast of Munayef Mount. “It was treated and detonated without inflicting any losses,” the cell further added. Violence in the country has surged further with the emergence of Islamic State extremist militants who proclaimed an “Islamic Caliphate” in Iraq and Syria in 2014. 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.”

Xinhua: Iraqi Forces Kill 5 IS Militants In Salahudin Province

“Iraqi forces on Thursday killed five Islamic State (IS) militants in an operation and an airstrike in the central province of Salahudin, a military statement and a police source said. Acting on intelligence reports, the ninth brigade of the paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces, backed by the Iraq army's helicopter gunships, carried out an operation near the town of al-Dour in southeast of the provincial capital Tikrit, some 170 km north of Baghdad, the Hashd Shaabi said in a statement. The Hashd Shaabi force clashed with IS extremist militants and killed three of them, while a helicopter gunship pounded an IS hideout and killed two more inside, the statement added. Mohammed al-Bazi from Salahudin's provincial police said that Thursday's operation came hours after the Hashd Shaabi's ninth brigade came under heavy gunfire on Wednesday evening, while they were conducting a search operation near the town of al-Dour. The heavy gunfire forced the Hashd Shaabi force to call off their evening operation and withdrew from the scene after two of the brigade's members were wounded and another went missing, al-Bazi told Xinhua. Early on Thursday, a joint force from Hashd Shaabi's ninth brigade and the Iraqi army cordoned off the area and launched a search campaign looking for the missing Hashd Shaabi member, al-Bazi added.”

Radio Farda: Pro-Iran Militia In Iraq Announces Formation Of 'Air Force'

“The Iraqi militia group Hashd al-Shaabi, or Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), announced the formation of their own air force on Thursday, September 5. A statement by the PMF, a close ally of Iran, circulated through Iraqi news outlets said PMF's deputy chief Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes ordered the formation of the air force directorate, appointing Salah Mahdi Hantoush as its caretaker. The decision comes a few weeks after a series of suspicious air raids targeted PMF locations in Baghdad and other provinces of Iraq. PMF leadership blames Israeli drones and U.S. forces operating in Iraq. Israel has not officially claimed responsibility for the raids, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted on Thursday, August 22, that his country's forces had attacked Iran-backed militias in Iraq.”

Afghanistan

The Wall Street Journal: Afghan Government Criticizes Proposed U.S.-Taliban Accord

“The Afghan government is criticizing parts of a proposed U.S.-Taliban deal to withdraw U.S. and other foreign forces from Afghanistan, saying the accord contains no clear penalties if the insurgency fails to comply. Zalmay Khalilzad, the chief U.S. negotiator to the Afghan peace process, said this week that he had completed an agreement in principle with the insurgents, more than a year after Washington resumed direct talks with Taliban officials in the Gulf state of Qatar. Mr. Khalilzad told a local television station on Monday that the deal awaited only President Trump’s approval. But Mr. Khalilzad’s hopes for an announcement have stalled after four days of talks with President Ashraf Ghani, senior government officials and Afghan politicians. He headed back to Qatar’s capital Doha on Thursday, apparently for further talks with Taliban officials. Army Gen. Scott Miller, commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, accompanied him, a person briefed by the Taliban said. Under the proposed deal, which doesn’t require the Afghan government’s consent, the U.S. would pull 5,000 U.S. forces from Afghanistan within 135 days of the signing of the agreement, Mr. Khalilzad said. Most of the remaining 9,500 American forces, along with 17,000 additional foreign forces, mostly from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, would be withdrawn in phases, provided the Taliban follows through on its assurances not to allow Islamic State, al Qaeda and other radical jihadist groups to operate in Afghanistan.”

ABC News: Taliban Kills US Service Member, Others In Kabul Bombing As US-Taliban Talks Resume

“The Taliban killed 10 civilians and two NATO service members -- including one American -- in a deadly blast in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Thursday, even as the chief U.S. negotiator was returning to Qatar to resume talks with the militant group. While the U.S. is closing in on an agreement with the Taliban, the attack marks the group's second major bombing this week and the 16th American service member killed in combat in the country this year. These signs of increased violence have had the country on edge about what a deal with the militant group will mean for its future and have raised questions about whether the Taliban can be trusted to make peace. The Taliban and U.S. officials said the increased violence is a negotiating tactic, with the militants seeking to project strength and use violence as a point of leverage in the talks. But it has outraged the Afghan public, many of whom are already skeptical that an agreement with the U.S. will bring an end to the violence and concerned that it will instead further empower the Taliban. But it's because of that death toll, U.S. officials said, that the Trump administration is doubling down on diplomatic efforts to end the conflict there, nearly 18 years after U.S. troops arrived to expel al-Qaeda operatives and toppled the Taliban government.”

Associated Press: Taliban Attack Third Afghan Provincial Capital In A Week

“The Taliban attacked a third provincial capital in Afghanistan in less than a week, killing at least two civilians, an official said Friday as a U.S. envoy was back in Qatar for unexpected talks on a U.S.-Taliban deal he had described as complete just days earlier. Farah provincial governor Mohammad Shoaib Sabet told The Associated Press that another 15 people were wounded in the latest attack, citing local hospitals, and that airstrikes had been carried out against the militant group. Small clashes continued in the city, he said. This week’s spike in violence, including two shattering Taliban car bombings in the capital, Kabul, comes after U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said he and the insurgents had reached a deal “in principle” that would begin a U.S. troop pullout in exchange for Taliban counterterror guarantees. Khalilzad abruptly returned to Qatar, where the Taliban have a political office, from Kabul for more talks Thursday evening, even though earlier in the week he said the deal only needed President Donald Trump’s approval to be final.”

The Washington Post: As Potential Deal With The Taliban Looms, Pompeo Says U.S. ‘Delivered’ On Mission In Afghanistan

“Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States has “delivered” on its mission to oust al-Qaeda from Afghanistan and deter terrorist attacks plotted in the country and neighboring Pakistan. The top diplomat’s upbeat message came ahead of a potential announcement of a peace deal between the United States and Taliban that has been tested by repeated Taliban bombings and is opposed by President Trump’s national security adviser. In an interview published Wednesday with the Daily Signal, a news outlet affiliated with the conservative Heritage Foundation, Pompeo said American forces engaged in the United States’ longest war have been “successful” in achieving their original mission. “If you go back and look at the days following 9/11, the objectives set out were pretty clear: to go defeat al-Qaeda, the group that had launched the attack on the United States of America from Afghanistan. And today, al-Qaeda . . . doesn’t even amount to a shadow of its former self in Afghanistan,” Pompeo told the Daily Signal.”

Pakistan

Radio Free Europe: Pakistan: New Attacks Raise Fears Of A Taliban Return

“Recent bomb attacks in a northwestern Pakistani district have raised fears about the possible return of the Taliban. Residents of Bajaur are worried that two recent fatal bomb attacks might herald the reappearance of the Taliban, whose violence wreaked havoc in the region bordering Afghanistan more than a decade ago. Since the beginning of the month, two prominent locals have been killed in attacks using improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which was a signature tactic of the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) that controlled large swathes of Bajaur between 2006 and 2009. Fazal Aleem Jan and Malik Gul Dad Khan were killed in IED attacks in different parts of Bajaur on September 3 and September 1, respectively. Both were members of the peace committees or anti-Taliban volunteer groups that played a prominent role in pushing the Taliban out of Bajaur. Nisar Baaz, a local activist, says a string of attacks in recent months has worried residents. “People are deeply concerned,” he told Radio Mashaal. “They are looking toward the security forces who have established pickets and check posts everywhere but appear unable to stop these attacks.”

Lebanon

The National: Hezbollah And Israel Have Stepped Back From The Brink This Time But The Trajectory Is Deeply Troubling

“After a week of violence between Israel and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, tensions have simmered down. The situation was quite different last Sunday, when hundreds of cars packed with terrified civilians fleeing southern Lebanon created traffic jams as they fled north after a volley of tit-for-tat strikes. After being hit by a series of drone and airstrikes, which killed two fighters and damaged its media centre, Hezbollah launched a retaliatory strike from southern Lebanon against Israeli army targets in the village of Avivim. Israel responded with artillery strikes on southern Lebanon. Yet despite the prospect of an all-out war between these two well-armed adversaries increasing in recent months, the balance of mutual fear and aggression inflicted by both sides has reduced the immediate likelihood of real conflict. The latest escalation followed a wave of attacks attributed to Israel against Iran’s non-state allies in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Israeli’s increasingly aggressive posture against the network of Iran-aligned militias is trying to reverse, or at least stymie, some of the gains made by Tehran and its proxies in recent years.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Pompeo Asks Lebanon To Dismantle Hezbollah’s Missile Factory

“Despite exchanges of reassurances by Hezbollah and the Israeli government that they were not seeking war, the Israeli army announced the transfer of Patriot missile batteries to bolster its air defenses and maintained a partial state of alert. Its former chief of staff, Dan Halutz, said the situation was tense on the border and could explode at every moment. The biggest problem is the intransigence on both sides, according to Halutz, who led the Israeli army during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. He noted that Israel would not allow Hezbollah to develop and modernize old Iranian missiles in its possession, while Hezbollah – backed by Iran - insisted on possessing deterrent weapons against Israel. ”This insistence could certainly lead to war, unless one of the parties concedes, sooner or later,” he warned. Israeli sources revealed on Thursday that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent a warning letter to Lebanese President Michel Aoun, urging him to dismantle a second factory set up by Hezbollah in the Bekaa to develop and modernize the missiles before Israel attacks it. The US message was not conveyed by regular diplomatic means through the US Embassy in Beirut, but was transferred directly to Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, who is known for his close ties to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.”

Egypt

Arab News: Six Suspected Militants Killed In Egypt

“Six suspected extremists were killed on Thursday in a shootout with police near the Bahariya oasis southwest of the Egyptian capital, the interior ministry said. Police carried out a dawn raid against “terrorist elements” in a desert area near Bahariya, roughly 300 kilometers (190 miles) southwest of Cairo, the ministry said in a statement. A shootout led to the death of six suspects, the ministry said, adding that a number of hunting rifles and four assault rifles were found at the site. Militants have launched several attacks in the vast desert area west of the Nile. In November 2018, a Daesh attack killed six Copts and an Anglican after they left the Saint Samuel monastery west of the Nile in Minya province. Daesh carried out another attack nearby in May 2017, killing 29 Coptic pilgrims, many of them children. Tourists have also been killed in attacks, but the violence has mostly targeted police and soldiers. Hundreds of security personnel have died in an escalation of attacks since the military overthrow of president Muhammad Mursi in 2013. The ouster was led by then-army-chief Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who became president following 2014 polls before securing an official 97 percent of the vote in elections last year.”

Libya

The Libya Observer: Counter-Terrorism Force Arrests Four ISIS Suspects In Sirte

“The Counter-Terrorism Force has arrested four people, including a woman, suspected of belonging to ISIS.  “The Counter-Terrorism Force surrounded the neighbourhood where the suspects were residing in Sirte city, and arrested four people, who were accused of belonging to ISIS group,” a security source confirmed Wednesday. The source pointed out that those arrested were transferred to the competent authorities for interrogation.”

Nigeria

The Defense Post: ISIS Claims Nigeria Soldiers Killed In Gajiram Attack

“Islamic State claimed fighters from its West Africa Province affiliate killed 10 Nigerian soldiers and injured others in an attack on a military base in Gajiram in the Lake Chad area of Borno state, in the third attack in the area in the last week. In a statement released on Thursday, ISIS claimed ISWAP fighters captured six four-wheel drive vehicles, weapons and ammunition, and burned an armored vehicle in the attack on a Nigerian Army base in Gajiram on Wednesday, September 4. The Nigerian military has not yet commented on the alleged incident, but Sahara Reporters late on Wednesday reported a local vigilante source as saying that insurgents had entered Gajiram, the headquarters of Nganzai local council area, at around 5 p.m. local time (GMT). The militants killed two civilians, burned part of the Divisional Police Headquarters and a telecommunications mast, and captured one police and three military vehicles, according to the report. Citing security sources and residents, AFP reported that ISWAP fighters attacked Gajiram on both Wednesday and Thursday, killing three soldiers and a police officer. The insurgents first attacked the town on Wednesday, forcing troops and police officers to withdraw, according to the residents.”

The Washington Examiner: To Beat Terrorism In Nigeria, Change The Narrative

“By all accounts, the wealthy and teeming nation of Nigeria is one of the most dangerous places on Earth. Murders and kidnappings are a scourge even on the modern highways leading out of the capital of Abuja, where bandits kidnapped six hapless citizens on Aug. 26. The Islamic State’s affiliated Islamic State of West Africa overran a Nigerian military base in the northeast state of Borno Aug. 10, pushing the Nigerian army to relocate to safer areas. President Trump met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the White House on April 30 last year, congratulating him for making progress in the war on terror but urging him to do much more, especially for the nation’s Christians. Yet remedies to Nigeria’s crises are all about the narrative. As one version would put it, murder-kidnappings in north central Nigeria are one front in Nigeria’s war with criminality. As another version runs, this is part of a war with Islamic State-affiliated terrorist armies. The ISIS terrorists have snuffed out more 37,000 Nigerian lives in the last 10 years. On the other hand, thousands of citizens, chiefly farmers, reportedly have been murdered by Fulani terrorists raiding villages under the shout of “Allahu Akbar!” Are the two threats closely related? The policy wonks at Foggy Bottom say “no.”

The Punch Nigeria: Boko Haram Attacks Borno Gov’s Convoy

“Boko Haram insurgents on Thursday opened fire on the convoy of the Governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum. The incident was said to have happened around 9pm. According to TheCable, security sources said the insurgents attacked the convoy in Konduga while Zulum was returning from a trip to the Bama Local Government Area. Zulum had visited Bayo, Kwaya Kusar, Askira Uba and Gwoza as part of his “familiarity and need assessment tour” of the 27 LGAs in the state. The source said, “Luckily the governor, his commissioners and other vehicle in the convoy escaped unhurt but the last vehicle which is an army gun truck was pelted with bullets. “Immediately after they fired at us, our men in collaboration with the armed personnel from the Federal Special Anti Robbery Squad, retaliated and thwarted the ambush.” Konduga, an area near Sambisa forest, has come under many attacks from the faction of Boko Haram under the control of Abubakar Shekau. The attack comes seven months after Kashim Shettima, Zulum’s successor was attacked by the sect on his way to Gamboru Ngala, still in Borno.”

Voice Of America: US-Backed Syrian Forces Hand Over 3 Children Of IS Fighters To Nigeria

“Three children born to Nigerian Islamic State (IS) fighters in Syria were handed over to the Nigerian government, Syrian Kurdish officials said Thursday. The orphaned children, aged 4, 6 and 8, were handed over to a Nigerian government representative in the city of Qamishli in northeast Syria. “We have been in talks with Nigerian officials about these cases,” said Abdulkarim Omar, co-chair of foreign relations in the SDF-led administration in northeast Syria, who met with a Nigerian official on Thursday. “They finally decided to come here and take these parentless children,” he told VOA. This is the first time that an African country has taken back children of Africans who have traveled to Syria to join the terror group, the Kurdish official said. Omar declined to give information about the number of Nigerians held in northeast Syria, but there are many Nigerians in custody who joined the IS terror group in recent years. Musa Habib Marika, a representative of Nigeria’s government, said his country is also considering other cases. “We have asked for a list of Nigerians who are held in camps and prisons to look into their cases,” Marika said during a press conference with Kurdish officials in Qamishli.”

Council On Foreign Relations: The Humanitarian Dilemma Around The Military’s “Super Camp” Strategy In Nigeria

“In August, the Islamic State-affiliated faction of Boko Haram known as Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) entered Gubio and Magumeri, which are two strategic towns near Borno State’s capital, Maiduguri, in northeastern Nigeria. ISWA looted fuel and supplies, destroyed houses and government buildings, and prayed before retreating into Borno’s hinterlands. The short occupation of these two towns followed Borno’s governor, Babagana Zulum, encouraging civilians in those towns to remain in their homes and assuring civilians the military would protect them. However, the military had left those towns in accord with its new “super camp” strategy. Absent an immediate military presence, thousands of civilians had fled. The “super camp” strategy is apparently driven chiefly by the military’s inability to defend itself against constant ISWA raids on poorly constructed military barracks in rural areas. Under the new strategy, military personnel will be based in a few, well-constructed “super camps,” which ISWA presumably cannot overrun. While the military may have reduced the potential for casualties and theft of military materiel, it has also reduced its ability to combat ISWA in rural areas. This strategy appears to also be the most recent formulation of the military’s “fortress strategy,” which seemingly was never implemented after its initial 2017 announcement.”

Africa

The North Africa Post: Morocco Arrests Five People Who Wanted To Join ISIS In Africa

“Morocco’s counterterrorism agency, BCIJ, dismantled a 5-member terrorist cell loyal to ISIS in Nador and Berkane, in Morocco’s northeast. The group, aged between 27 and 41 years, were planning to join the terrorist group in Sub-Saharan Africa before they decided to target sensitive sites in Morocco. Morocco has on multiple occasions called for joint efforts in the Maghreb to counter security threats as the Sahel becomes a magnet for terrorist groups. Porous borders, weak states as well as organized crime have drawn many terrorist groups to the Sahel where they have conducted attacks on Sahel states. To counter the surge of terrorist groups in the region, a force has been created with the backing of the UN in the Sahel called G5 by the governments of Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad. “I am in favor of funding by the United Nations, with obligatory contributions for the G5 Sahel force,” Guterres said in an interview recently. In July, the UN warned of a potential expansion of terrorism to Ghana, Benin, Togo and Côte d’Ivoire.”

Voice Of America: Cameroon Sends Military To Troubled CAR

“Cameroon is dispatching more than a thousand troops to help bring peace to its troubled neighbor, the Central African Republic. The troops are leaving as analysts say they are already stretched handling such internal crises as piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, the Boko Haram insurgency and the separatist crisis that has left at least 3,000  killed in three years. The Cameroon military band plays as the first contingent of over 300 peacekeeping troops leaves for the neighboring Central African Republic on September 4. Cameroon's defense minister, Joseph Beti Assomo, said they have been well trained to join the U.N. peacekeeping mission of more than 13,000 troops, police and civilians to restore peace to the Central African Republic while respecting the rights and dignity of the people they are protecting. “Always determined to fulfill his regional and international commitment as concerns collective security, the head of state, commander in chief of the armed forces has provided the Central African Republic with multifaceted support in order to enable the country to get its institutions which have already been damaged back on the feet,” he said. Beti Assomo said Cameroon was deploying 1,300 troops and civilians who, by protecting the Central African Republic, will also be protecting Cameroon.”

All Africa: Ghana: Let's Fight Growing Terrorism Threat Together... President Urges African Countries

“President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has stressed the need for countries in Africa to coordinate their approaches and strategies in the fight against the growing threat of terrorism and extremism in the region. He said the growth of breakaway global terror groups, coupled with the porous nature of African borders, called for regional and continental approaches to contain the growing threats of terrorist and extremist activities. The President made the call in Accra yesterday when he addressed the opening of a forum aimed at immortalising the contribution of Kofi Annan, Ghana's iconic diplomat, to global peace and security. The forum, an initiative of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPC), one of the legacies of the former United Nations Secretary General who passed away last year, attracted top-level political leaders, diplomats and security experts The participants dialogued on the most critical and evolving peace and security trends on the African continent. The Kofi Annan Peace and Security Forum will be an annual platform to hatch ideas that will continually champion and ensure Mr Annan's cause for policies and programmes on peace, security and development.”

The New York Times: South African Riots Over ‘Xenophobia’ Prompt Backlash Across Africa

“Pop stars have announced a boycott. Air Tanzania has suspended flights to Johannesburg. Madagascar and Zambia are refusing to send their soccer teams. Nigeria has recalled its ambassador and pulled out of a major economic forum. South Africa is facing a backlash after rioters in and around Johannesburg targeted immigrants from other African countries this week, torching their shops and leading to at least 10 deaths. Now, angry citizens and governments across the continent are lashing out at South Africa and its businesses, denouncing what they call “xenophobia.” Africans across the continent once rallied behind South Africans in their struggle to defeat the apartheid government, which was finally replaced in elections held 25 years ago. Now, some Africans find themselves in the unfamiliar position of protesting the actions of the same communities in South Africa that they once stood with in solidarity.”

United Kingdom

The Guardian: Britain Must Repatriate ISIS Fighters, Warns US Defence Secretary

“Britain and other European nations that are refusing to repatriate Islamic State fighters and put them on trial in their country of origin are creating a risk to regional security, the US defence secretary warned at the start of his visit to London. Mark Esper said there were around 2,000 foreign fighters, many from Europe, held in north-east Syria, but asking the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces to keep them in makeshift jails was an increasing risk to the fragile security of the region. “It’s an untenable situation,” Esper said in a briefing on the first day of a two-day visit to London. “How long can this last? Our view has been they should repatriated and dealt with appropriately … otherwise that’s a risk to the region.” Around 250 to 300 foreign fighters who are still in Syria are estimated to have come from the UK, but Britain is increasingly unwilling to allow any to return and stand trial following Isis’s defeat in Syria and Iraq. Several have been stripped of their British citizenship, such as Jack Letts, who was raised in Oxfordshire by British and Canadian parents. He left home to join Isis five years ago, but has been held a prisoner in Syria for the past two years. Esper, who is due to meet defence secretary Ben Wallace on Friday, said he was relaying a message from the US administration.”

Europe

El País: Spain Issues Arrest Warrants For ISIS Women Trapped In Syrian Camps

“Spain’s High Court, the Audiencia Nacional, has recently issued arrest warrants for four women who traveled to Syria in 2014 to join the Islamic State (ISIS). All four are currently being held in two detention camps run by Kurdish militias in Syria, two sources close to the investigation have told EL PAÍS. Three of the women are Spanish nationals and the fourth is a Moroccan woman who was married to a jihadist with Spanish citizenship. He was killed in ISIS’ self-proclaimed caliphate. The latter woman has three children who hold Spanish nationality. The four – who have a total of 17 children under their care, including a newborn – are wanted by several Spanish courts for “terrorism-related crimes,” according to police sources. The alleged jihadists – Luna Fernández, Yolanda Martínez, Lubna Mohamed Miludi and Loubna Fares – are being held in camps for relatives of ISIS fighters. Fernández and Martínez are at Al Roj camp, in northern Syria, near the border with Turkey. Miludi and Fares remain in Al Hol, the camp in northeast Syria that all four were taken to after the fall of Baghouz, the last ISIS redoubt, in February. The Spanish government has been analyzing the case since April, when EL PAÍS revealed their presence at the Syrian camps, where living conditions have been described as extremely unsanitary and dangerous.”

Australia

The Guardian: Man Arrested Over Violent Rightwing Extremist Threats On Social Media

“A man in Newcastle, New South Wales, has been arrested and charged over threats of violence posted on social media connected to rightwing extremist views. Cormac Rothsey, a 43-year-old man from Hamilton, near Newcastle in New South Wales, was arrested on Thursday as part of a NSW joint counter-terrorism investigation with the Australian federal police into rightwing extremist ideology online. “Investigators located a number of concerning posts with rightwing extremist views on social media earlier this week and commenced inquiries,” an AFP spokesperson said. Police allege that Rothsey, who lived an itinerant lifestyle, was planning a mass casualty attack at a mosque packed for Friday prayer. In comments made on Facebook he had allegedly expressed admiration for the alleged perpetrator of the Christchurch mosque massacre and made threats to kill the New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern. “My aim is to go to Friday prayer in a packed mosque,” Rothsey allegedly wrote on Facebook on Wednesday, according to a statement of police facts reported by the Newcastle Herald. “No turning back when called to prayer.” The Herald reported police had arrested Rothsey after his alleged threats became more explicit on Thursday.”

VOA: Persecuted Yazidis Find Sanctuary In Australia

“After the horrors of fleeing to Sinjar Mountain in northern Iraq to escape Islamic State fighters in 2014, several hundred Yazidi refugees are starting new lives in the Australian outback. Members of the minority religious group have been resettled in a handful of regional centers, like Wagga Wagga, to relieve pressure on refugee services in Australia’s main cities. Wagga Wagga is proud of its country roots. It is a farming and transport hub halfway between Sydney and Melbourne. Yazidis settling in: Several hundred Yazidis are joining others here who fled persecution in Africa, Myanmar and Afghanistan. Layla explains how she fled to Sinjar Mountain. “In Iraq, ISIS kill lots of men and kill the children. Very, very hard story for Yazidi in Iraq. The ISIS came. We go to the mountain. With my whole family we lived in [the] mountain. Not eat, not have any water, not eating. After five days by walk[ing] we go to Kurdistan,” she said.”

Technology

The Wall Street Journal: States To Launch Google, Facebook Antitrust Probes

“State attorneys general are formally launching separate antitrust probes into Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc. ’s Google unit starting next week, according to people familiar with the matter, putting added pressure on tech giants already under federal scrutiny. The Google probe is expected to be announced at a news conference outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, with a bipartisan group of about three dozen state attorneys general joining the effort, the people said. The investigation will be led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, the people said. The attorneys general will examine the impact of Google on digital advertising markets, this person said, as well as potential harms to consumers from their information and ad choices being concentrated in one company.”

The Hill: 8chan Owner Defends Platform In Testimony Before Congress

“The owner of the anonymous messaging board tied to a string of mass shootings this year testified on Capitol Hill on Thursday, offering an adamant defense of his website to House staffers behind closed doors. Jim Watkins, the owner of 8chan, participated in a congressional deposition after the House Homeland Security Committee subpoenaed him last month. The deposition, which apparently lasted between 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., was attended by committee staffers, Watkins and his lawyer. "We want to thank Mr. Watkins for his cooperation today," House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and ranking member Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) said in a statement later in the afternoon. "He provided vast and helpful information to the Committee about the structure, operation, and policies of 8Chan and his other companies." "We look forward to his continued cooperation with the Committee as he indicated his desire to do so during today’s deposition," the committee leaders added.”