Eye on Extremism: September 8, 2020

The National: Fears Of ISIS Resurgence As Syria Attacks Escalate

“ISIS attacks escalated significantly in August when more than 35 assaults left at least 76 pro-Assad fighters dead in Syria, marking the largest number of killings since 2017. According to a new report by the Counter Extremism Project, Homs saw the greatest number of documented attacks with 12, while 10 assaults were reported in Deir EZ Zor, followed by Raqqa with nine. Experts monitoring the situation have warned the increase in attacks shows the group has now redeveloped a “robust logistical and strategic capability”. “In August, ISIS militants carried out at least 35 attacks, killing at least 76 pro-Assad regime fighters in the Homs, Deir EZ Zor, Raqqa, Hama, and Aleppo governorates,” research analyst Gregory Waters, of the Counter Extremism Project, said. In August, ISIS militants carried out at least 35 attacks, killing at least 76 pro-Assad regime fighters. “These attacks constitute a major escalation in ISIS’s insurgency. The overall number of attacks, high-quality attacks and reported pro-government deaths exceeded those from any month since ISIS lost control of this region in 2017. “The more than two-fold increase in attacks compared with previous months in Raqqa is overshadowed only by the more than three-fold increase in attacks in Deir EZ Zor.”

Politico: DHS Draft Document: White Supremacists Are Greatest Terror Threat

“White supremacists present the gravest terror threat to the United States, according to a draft report from the Department of Homeland Security. Two later draft versions of the same document — all of which were reviewed by POLITICO — describe the threat from white supremacists in slightly different language. But all three drafts describe the threat from white supremacists as the deadliest domestic terror threat facing the U.S., listed above the immediate danger from foreign terrorist groups. “Foreign terrorist organizations will continue to call for Homeland attacks but probably will remain constrained in their ability to direct such plots over the next year,” all three documents say. Russia “probably will be the primary covert foreign influence actor and purveyor of disinformation and misinformation in the Homeland,” the documents also say. Former acting DHS Sec. Kevin McAleenan last year directed the department to start producing annual homeland threat assessments. POLITICO reviewed three drafts of this year’s report — titled DHS’s State of the Homeland Threat Assessment 2020 — all of which were produced in August.”

United States

Associated Press: Alleged Boogaloo Members Face Terrorism Charges In Minnesota

“Two men who prosecutors say are members of an anti-government extremist group, who toted guns on Minneapolis streets during unrest following the death of George Floyd and spoke about shooting police, blowing up a courthouse and killing politicians, have been charged with federal terrorism counts. Michael Robert Solomon, 30, of New Brighton, Minnesota, and Benjamin Ryan Teeter, 22, of Hampstead, North Carolina, are members of the “Boogaloo Bois,” authorities say. They are charged with conspiring to provide and attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, for allegedly building firearms suppressors that they believed they sold to Hamas, and for allegedly offering to fight as “mercenaries” for the group. Assistant Attorney General John Demers said in a statement that people who seek to engage in terrorist activity will be held accountable, “no matter what witch’s brew of ideological motivations inspire” them. Solomon and Teeter made their first court appearances via videoconference Friday in U.S. District Court. They were both appointed federal defenders, but attorneys were not immediately assigned to comment on their behalf.”

Syria

Business Insider: ISIS Captured A Journalist And Sentenced Him To Death By Beheading. He Hasn't Been Seen For More Than 5 Years

“A freelance journalist in Syria who was captured by ISIS and sentenced to a beheading hasn't been seen since he was taken away from a prison five and a half years ago. Even though ISIS no longer holds physical territory, and has greatly diminished in prominence, many of its victims are still unaccounted for.Farhad Hamo was abducted by ISIS members in December 2014 while on his way to interview a local politician for the Kurdish broadcaster Rudaw TV. He was abducted while with Massoud Aqeel, a 23-year-old English literature student that was working as a cameraman on the same job. Aqeel told The Independent in a 2016 interview that they were driving down a highway when they saw it was blocked. He said six militants armed with M16 rifles, grenades, and suicide vests forced the vehicle to stop. “ISIS were waiting on the highway,” he said. “I don't know if they were waiting for us or if they were there to catch anyone.” He said they lied and said they were oil workers, but the militants saw media equipment in the car. He said that one man sat in the car and told them to drive into ISIS territory, or else he would blow up himself and the vehicle.”

Iraq

Kurdistan 24: ISIS Attacks Iraqi Border Guards In Anbar, Leaves 5 Casualties: Sources

“An Islamic State attack against Iraqi security forces in western Anbar province left at least five casualties, sources said on Thursday. A security source confirmed to several local media outlets that in a sudden attack, late at night, the Islamic State targeted the border guards’ headquarters in the Makr al-Naam region, near the Iraq-Saudi Arabia borderline, killing two policemen and wounding another three soldiers. In the past few weeks, the Islamic State has escalated its insurgent attacks, especially outside cities, using guerrilla warfare methods following its defeat in 2017. Senior Iraqi officials say the Islamic State continues to be a threat in many areas that were under its control during its takeover of large territories in the country six years ago. Iraqi Security Forces recently launched a new military sweep and capture operation in the “Wadi Houran” area in the border town of Al-Qaim, as part of military campaigns included in the vast areas to take down Islamic State members. The Iraqi army has stated several times that the sprawling and rugged area is a stronghold of the terrorist group’s remnants.”

Turkey

The Associated Press: Turkey Gives IS Militant 40 Life Sentences For 2017 Attack

“A Turkish court on Monday sentenced an Islamic State suspect to life in prison over the New Year’s Eve attack on a nightclub in Istanbul that left 39 people dead in 2017. The suspect, Albulkadir Masharipov of Uzbekistan, was convicted of 39 counts of murder and one count of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order. He was handed 40 separate life sentences without parole. The court also sentenced him to a total of 1,368 years in prison for the attempted murder of 79 people who escaped the attack with injuries. Ilyas Mamasaripov, who was accused of aiding Masharipov, was sentenced to a total of 1,432 years, on charges of aiding murder, aiding attempted murder and aiding an attempt against the constitutional order, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. Of the 58 other defendants i the case, eleven were acquitted of the charges, while others received various sentences for membership in a terror organization, the agency said. Early on Jan. 1, 2017, an assailant shot his way into Istanbul’s Reina nightclub where hundreds were partying to celebrate the New Year. The assailant escaped from the scene and the Islamic State group later claimed the massacre. Several revelers jumped into the waters of the Bosporus to escape the attack. Most of the dead were foreigners.”

Afghanistan

The New York Times: Fighting Patriarchy, And Fearing Worse From The Taliban

“When Gaisu Yari was 6, she was engaged to the 6-year-old son of a pro-Taliban commander in eastern Afghanistan. After she turned 18, Ms. Yari said, she escaped the forced engagement and fled to the United States with the help of American soldiers. She returned to Afghanistan five years ago with a master’s degree from Columbia University and now works as a government civil service commissioner. But Ms. Yari, 32, fears that her prominent position — and all her achievements — could be erased if the Taliban return to power now that they have signed a deal that started a U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. For employed women, whose positions barely existed under Taliban rule, the possible return of the extremists is especially alarming. Thousands of Afghan women have moved into jobs and public roles in the 19 years since the American invasion toppled the Taliban and ended strictures that had confined women to their homes and brutally punished them for violations. The peace deal envisions intra-Afghan negotiations that would return the Taliban to political power in a postwar government.”

The Wall Street Journal: Afghan Government, Taliban To Begin First-Ever Direct Talks Next Week

“Afghanistan’s government and the Taliban are set to begin their first-ever direct talks next week toward ending nearly two decades of fighting, after the U.S. signed a deal with the insurgent group to extricate America from its longest war. Representatives of the warring factions are expected to convene as early as Monday in Qatar’s capital to agree on a road map for reconciliation, officials said. Doha was also the venue for the signing of the U.S.-Taliban accord in February, The Afghan government is prioritizing an immediate cease-fire, while the Taliban is likely to focus on a power-sharing arrangement and a transitional government. The talks reflect a concerted push to end a war that began with the U.S.-led invasion in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that al Qaeda orchestrated from Taliban sanctuary in Afghanistan. The conflict has claimed more than 90,000 Afghan lives, displaced tens of thousands of people and destroyed schools, hospitals and other vital infrastructure. About a third of Afghans need urgent humanitarian aid, the United Nations has said. But negotiations are expected to be tumultuous and drawn-out over multiple stages in assorted venues—facing numerous challenges, as seen with a recent exchange of prisoners.”

Voice Of America: Taliban Name Cleric As Chief Negotiator For Afghan Peace Talks

“Afghanistan’s warring factions are set to begin their first direct peace talks early next week in Qatar amid U.S.-led international calls for them to seize the “historic opportunity” to end the country’s long war. The U.S.-brokered dialogue, known as intra-Afghan negotiations, will bring to the table in Doha representatives of the Afghan state and the Taliban insurgency, which runs its political office in the capital of the Gulf nation. The Taliban announced on Saturday the names of their 21-member negotiating team, led by Mawlavi Abdul Hakim, a hardline insurgent cleric and a close confidant of the Taliban’s reclusive chief, Hibatullah Akhundzada. Hakim has been heading the Islamist group’s own judicial system enforced in Taliban-held Afghan areas. “We have formed a strong and inclusive team for intra-Afghan negotiations. It mostly comprises members of the Rehbari Shoura [Taliban leadership council], and the Islamic Emirate’s [Taliban] chief justice has been appointed as the team leader,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told VOA. Officials said the negotiating teams would try to agree on a permanent cease-fire and a political power-sharing arrangement to govern Afghanistan.”

Pakistan

The Associated Press: Pakistani Officials: Roadside Bomb Hits Army, Kills 3 Troops

“A powerful roadside bomb on Thursday targeted a military vehicle in northwestern Pakistan, a former militant stronghold, killing three soldiers and wounding four, the Pakistani military said. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, raising fears they were regrouping in the region. The bombing happened as the troops were patrolling in North Waziristan, in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan, according to the military statement. It said suspected terrorists planted the bomb to target troops providing protection to road construction teams working there. Soldiers have cordoned off the area and launched a search operation, the military said. Mohammad Khurasani, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack, which he said was launched in South Waziristan. Two Pakistani intelligence officials, speaking to The Associated Pres on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters, also said the attack happened in South Waziristan. The conflicting reports on the location of the attack could not immediately be reconciled. The Pakistani Taliban, or Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, is a separate insurgent group from the Afghan Taliban.”

Saudi Arabia

Reuters: Saudi Arabia Sentences Three To Death Over Links To 2017 Jeddah Attack

“A Saudi court has sentenced three people to death for their involvement in an attack in Jeddah when two men blew themselves up after a shootout with police, state-run Al Ekhbariya television said on Sunday. In 2017, Saudi security forces surrounded a house in Jeddah and exchanged fire with two men with ties to Islamic State, who blew themselves up. The court convicted the three on terrorism-related charges including possessing explosives, Ekhbariya said. The ruling said the defendants supported Islamic State and planned to kill members of the security forces, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV reported. Sunni militants have carried out many shootings and bombings in Saudi Arabia since 2014, soon after then-Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi summoned Saudi supporters to mount attacks at home instead of abroad in wars in Syria and Iraq. Most of the attacks targeted minority Saudi Shi’ites or state security officers and were carried out by people who had sworn allegiance to Islamic State or were claimed by the militant group in online postings, Saudi authorities said. Saudi Arabia had earlier barred its citizens from going to wage jihad (holy war) abroad, used its Sunni clergy to denounce Islamic State, imposed prison terms for supporting the group and joined U.S.-led air strikes against IS in Syria.”

Lebanon

The New York Times: ‘Agricultural Jihad’: A Hungry Lebanon Returns To Family Farms To Feed Itself

“The falafel shop owner leaned back and listed the keys to the Lebanese kitchen — the staples that help lend this country its culinary halo: Sesame seeds for the smoky-silky tahini sauce dolloped over falafel and fried fish — which are imported from Sudan. Fava beans for the classic breakfast stomach-filler known as ful — imported from Britain and Australia. And the chickpeas for hummus, that ethereally smooth Lebanese spread? They come from Mexico. Lebanese chickpeas are considered too small and misshapen for anything but animal feed. “We got spoiled,” said Jad André Lutfi, who helps run Falafel Abou André, his family’s business, a cheap and casual chain. “We’ve imported anything you can think of from around the world.” So it went for years, until the country’s economy caved in, before the coronavirus pandemic paralyzed what was left of it and an explosion on Aug. 4 demolished businesses and homes across Beirut — to say nothing of the damaged port, through which most of Lebanon’s imports arrive. The country that boasts of serving the Arab world’s most refined food has begun to go hungry, and its middle class, once able to vacation in Europe and go out for sushi, is finding supermarket shelves and cupboards increasingly bare.”

Gruntstuff: Doctored Videos Online Appear To Fake The Cause Of Beirut Explosion

“Manipulated videos circulating online after the huge explosion in Beirut have been made to present a missile placing the Lebanese capital’s port simply earlier than the blast. The footage, which made its rounds on YouTube and Twitter, was doctored to add what appeared to be a cartoonish projectile, in accordance to an evaluation by the Related Press. The big missile seen in the clips had been superimposed onto the video, the information company reported. A unfavorable movie impact was used to invert the colours, supposedly revealing a missile placing the web site — however when viewing the footage body by body, the missile seems bent and has a cartoonish look. As the missile strikes nearer to the goal, its dimension and the angle don’t change — and it immediately disappears earlier than getting shut to placing something… Hany Farid, a professor at the College of California, Berkeley, who focuses on digital forensics, confirmed to the AP that the missile seen in the video was “clearly fake.” “As well as, the missile seems far too giant to be bodily believable and there’s no movement blur on the missile as could be anticipated given the pace at which it will have been touring,” Farid advised the information outlet.”

Nigeria

Voice Of America: Experts: Boko Haram Recruiting Children As Soldiers, Suicide Bombers

“The militant group Boko Haram continues to recruit children and use them in battlefields across Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad, officials and experts say. While it has suffered major military losses in the Lake Chad Basin, the extremist group seems to be adopting new strategies to revive its influence in the region, according to the experts. Officials with the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), a regional military alliance fighting the Boko Haram insurgency, say one strategy of the group is to step up child recruitment. “Information on this disturbing development was brought in by human intelligence sources and corroborated by concerned individuals and groups,” said Colonel Timothy Antiga, a spokesman for the MNJTF. “Boko Haram terrorists themselves further confirmed the atrocious acts when they posted pictures of children dressed in military fatigues and holding assault rifles in a video released during a celebration of the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha,” he told VOA in a recent interview. The Nigerian military official added that the recruitment of child soldiers “is the latest in a retinue of brutal and inhuman tactics deployed by Boko Haram” since it began its insurgency a decade ago. Boko Haram has been fighting to create an Islamic caliphate based in Nigeria.”

Sahara Reporters: Boko Haram Terrorists Kill 10 Persons, Abduct Farmers In Borno

“Boko Haram jihadists killed 10 civilians in attacks on three villages in North-East, local security officials said Monday. Babakura Kolo, leader of a government-backed anti-jihadist militia, told AFP that the insurgents had carried out the assaults on Sunday. Kolo said they raided the village of Kurmari, 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Maiduguri, late Sunday, killing four residents as they slept. The attackers did not use guns so as not to attract troops in a nearby town, said another militia member Ibrahim Liman. The area has been the target for repeated suicide and gun attacks. Elsewhere, sources told the newspaper that the jihadists burned three people alive and hacked a fourth to death in another village on the outskirts of Maiduguri also on Sunday.  Two farmers were also kidnapped as they tended their fields and several other. Boko Haram fighters have stepped up attacks on farmers as they work in their fields.”

Somalia

The New York Times: Truck Bomb In Somalia Kills 3 And Wounds 3, Including A U.S. Soldier

“Three Somali military officers were killed and two others injured along with an American service member in a bombing in southern Somalia on Monday, the authorities said, the latest example of a deadly insurgency that has continued to wreak havoc in the Horn of Africa nation. Officials in Jubaland State said an explosives-laden pickup truck exploded around 8 a.m. at a military outpost in the Jana Abdalle area in the Lower Juba region of southern Somalia. The attack came just days after Somali forces, with the support of American military personnel, reclaimed the area from the Somali terrorist group Al Shabab. The authorities said the area, about 37 miles from the port city of Kismayo, had been used by the group as a hub to raise funds by taxing and extorting civilians moving across the region. In recent years, the Shabab, who are a branch of Al Qaeda’s terrorist network and seek to overthrow Somalia’s Western-backed government, have lost many of the cities and villages they once controlled. Despite facing a record number of drone strikes, the group has morphed into a more nimble and lethal outfit, carrying out massive attacks against civilian and military targets across Somalia and neighboring countries.”

Mali

The Wall Street Journal: Two French Soldiers Killed In Mali During Counterterrorism Mission

“Two French soldiers were killed in Mali on Saturday when their vehicle hit a bomb during operations under France’s counterterrorism mission in the region. France has around 5,100 soldiers deployed in an area spanning thousands of miles from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to Chad in the east. Over the past seven years, the forces have fought branches of Islamic State, al Qaeda and other militant groups, which roam the region’s isolated villages and threaten government forces in Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and elsewhere. The soldiers killed on Saturday were conducting operations around Tessalit, a village in northern Mali, as part of Operation Barkhane, the French military campaign against Islamist militants across the Sahel region of Africa. France identified one of the soldiers as Arnaud Volpe and the other only by his initials, S.T., at the request of his family. Their deaths bring the French death toll in combat operations to 44 soldiers during the current operation and the short operation before it that began in 2013, a French military spokesman said. That includes an accident in November 2019, when two French helicopters collided during a mission in northern Mali, killing 13 soldiers.”

Reuters: About 10 Malian Soldiers Killed In Militant Attack, Army Says

“Militants killed around 10 Malian soldiers on Thursday near the west-central town of Guire, the army said, the deadliest such attack against the armed forces since an Aug. 18 military coup. International powers fear the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita could further destabilise the West African nation and undermine the fight against insurgents linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State in the wider Sahel region. The latest attack, which targeted a resupplying mission, took place at 6 p.m. and also caused injuries and material damage, the army said in a statement on Friday. Reinforcements have been dispatched to the area, it said. Islamist groups operate in arid central and northern Mali, using the area as a base to attack soldiers and civilians in neighbouring Burkina Faso, Niger and beyond.”

Africa

Al Jazeera: ISIL Claims Responsibility For Deadly Tunisia Knife Attack

“The ISIL (ISIS) armed group claimed responsibility on Monday for a knife attack in Tunisia that killed one National Guard officer and wounded another as security forces rounded up more suspects. The attack on Sunday in a tourist district of the coastal city of Sousse saw a group of assailants ram a patrol of the National Guard with a vehicle before stabbing the officers. They were chased by security forces before three attackers were shot dead in an ensuing gun battle, the Guard said, describing it as a “terrorist” act. The armed group said its “fighters” carried out the attack in a brief statement by its propaganda arm Amaq on the Telegram messenger service. “Photos show that one of the attackers was wearing a T-shirt with a specific inscription to Daesh [ISIL],” said Mokhtar Ben Nasr, former head of the National Counter-Terrorism Commission, stressing it was difficult to establish precise links between the group and its supporters. Tunisia, since its 2011 revolution, has been hit by a string of attacks that have killed dozens of security personnel, civilians, and foreign tourists. Sunday's incident took place close to the site of the deadliest attack when 38 people - most of them British tourists - were killed in a 2015 beachside shooting rampage.”

France 24: Deadly Jihadist Attack Targets Cameroon Village Hosting Displaced People

“A suicide bomber on Tuesday killed seven civilians in a village housing displaced people in Cameroon’s restive northern tip bordering Nigeria, where deadly attacks have been on the rise. The police officer said Tuesday’s bombing followed a Boko Haram raid on a village, adding: “The people fled and a young man strapped with explosives chased them and blew himself up.” The Cameroonian government uses the term Boko Haram to refer loosely to the Nigerian jihadist group of the same name, as well as the breakaway Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) group. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said it “firmly condemns this attack which killed seven civilians and wounded 14 others in Kouyape village. “The suicide bomb attack took place near Kolofata, close to the border with Nigeria, where some 18,000 internally displaced people have sought safety over the past seven years,” the refugee agency said. Cameroon’s far north, an impoverished strip of land between Chad and Nigeria, has been a regular target of raids and assaults by Boko Haram since 2013. The jihadist group launched its insurgency in Nigeria in 2009 before spilling over into neighbouring Cameroon, Niger and Chad.”

Daily Nation: Kenya: Two Suspects In Matiang'i's Blacklist Linked To Funding Isis

“Two terror suspects linked to the financial network that supports the Islamic State (Isis) in Iraq and Syria are among nine individuals whose cash and property were frozen by the government Wednesday. Halima Adan Ali and Waleed Ahmed Zein, who were also sanctioned by the United States in 2019 and 2018 respectively, had been described by the US as “dangerous terrorists who established an intricate global network of financial facilitators for Isis”. Wednesday, Interior CS Fred Matiang'i ordered the freezing of cash and property of the two and seven others including Sheikh Guyo Gorsa Boru, Mohammed Abdui Ali (Abu Fidaa), Nuseiba Mohammed Haji, Abdilmajit Adan Hassan, Mohammed Ali Abdi, Muktar Ibrahim Ali and Mire Abdullahi Elmi. Mr Zein was named as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) while Ms Halima was designated for assisting in providing financial, material and technological support to Isis. “As part of our comprehensive counterterrorism strategy, we continue to disrupt terrorist operations with a sole focus on bringing to book the perpetrators, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts in line with our national laws and international obligations,” said Mr Matiang'i in a statement.”

United Kingdom

Reuters: UK Launches Review Into Terrorism Reinsurance Fund

“Britain’s finance ministry has launched a review of terrorism reinsurer Pool Re, which helps insurers pay out claims on property damage caused by terror or militant attacks. The Treasury said its latest five-yearly review was designed to ensure the UK’s terrorism reinsurance market worked effectively and in the public interest. It will consider whether the level of risk sharing between the state and private firms is appropriate and whether its rules should be updated, given ongoing growth of the terrorism reinsurrance market, the ministry said. The reinsurance fund, set up in 1993, acts as a backstop to insurers paying out claims on property damage and business interruption. It is financed by the insurance industry with government backing, and pay outs depend on the British government deeming an attack to be terror-related.”

Reuters: UK Supreme Court To Hear Jihadist Bride's Citizenship Case In November

“The UK Supreme Court will hear arguments in November for and against the government’s decision to remove the UK citizenship of a British-born woman who went to Syria as a schoolgirl to join Islamic State. The case of Shamima Begum has been the subject of a heated debate in Britain, pitting those who say she forsook her right to citizenship and is a security threat, against those who argue she should not be left stateless but rather face trial in Britain. Begum, who was born to Bangladeshi parents, left London in 2015 when she was 15 and traveled to Syria via Turkey with two schoolfriends. In Syria, she married an Islamic State fighter and lived in the capital of the violent jihadist group’s self-declared caliphate.Britain stripped her of her citizenship after she was discovered in 2019 in a detention camp in Syria, where three of her children died. The government argued Begum was a threat to national security and should not be allowed to return. But the Court of Appeal ruled in July that Begum should be let back into Britain to give her a chance to appeal against the removal of her citizenship, a ruling the government called “very disappointing.”

The National: Portuguese Alleged ISIS Supporters Have 'Link' To Kidnapped British Photographer

“A terror cell linked to a convicted ISIS-supporting British cleric went on to kidnap journalist John Cantlie in Syria, a court will hear next week. The court will be told that two Portuguese defendants, Romulo Rodrigues da Costa and Cassimo Ture, were part of the London-based Leyton cell that included a number of other Portuguese nationals. They allegedly met in London before some of them travelled to Syria and became prominent ISIS members, The Telegraph reported on Saturday. They are due to appear in court in Lisbon on Monday. It has been previously reported by the Sunday Times that members of the cell had links to Anjem Choudary, who has been convicted of inviting support for a proscribed organisation. Rodrigues da Costa is a hip-hop music producer whose brothers have been identified as known associates of high-profile Western ISIS members and Ture is an alleged Isis financier and recruiter. The pair, and six other defendants, are accused of supporting or funding the cell. The other six are all missing, believed to be dead or detained in Syria. Among the missing defendants are Celso Rodrigues da Costa and Sadjo Ture.”

Daily Mail: Exclusive: Hundreds Of Extremists Who Pose A Terror Threat Will Be Kept Behind Bars For Longer As Ministers Plan To Close Early Release ‘Loophole'

“Prisoners who pose a terror threat may have to remain behind bars far beyond their normal release date. Hundreds of inmates jailed for non-terror offences who are feared to hold extremist sympathies could be refused the right to automatic release. The radical changes to sentencing rules will be the centrepiece of legislation set to be published early next year.  Sources said the measures would apply to criminals numbering 'in the low hundreds'. The proposals would fundamentally change the way the criminal justice system handles the release of extremists and terror suspects and are likely to put ministers on a collision course with human rights lawyers. Currently, the security services are powerless to keep extremists behind bars if they were found guilty of non-terror offences. Some of the offenders who are expected to be subject to the new rules may have been acquitted of terror charges but convicted of other crimes, such as firearms or fraud. In such cases, they are entitled to automatic release from jail after serving just half of their sentence. Alan Mendoza, executive director of the Henry Jackson Society, an anti-extremism think-tank, has described existing sentencing rules as a 'loophole', adding: 'The Government need to close it, and fast.'“

BBC News: Terror-Accused Teenager Said He Was 'Nine To 10 On Hitler Scale'

“A teenager accused of preparing for acts of terrorism told police he was “a nine to 10” on a scale that branded 10 “full-on Nazi Hitler”, a court heard. The 17-year-old allegedly advised members of the so-called Feuerkrieg Division (FKD) on how to convert a blank-firing gun into a live weapon. But the boy said online chats with the neo-Nazis were just “fantasy”, Birmingham Crown Court heard. The youth, from Warwickshire, denies preparation of terrorist acts. Jurors heard he was interviewed by police about two weeks after his home was raided and gun-making instructions were found on his phone. Knives and a home-made gun stock were also seized from his bedroom. The teenager admitted talking to neo-Nazis about their extreme dislike for some racial groups, as well as discussing how to use blank-firing guns to build functional weapons. Prosecutor Matthew Brook said the teenager, from Rugby, who cannot be named because of his age, claimed it had all been “a fantasy and he had not done anything in the real world.” “When asked to put himself on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being, in the police's words, 'full-on Nazi Hitler' - when asked to put himself on that scale - he said he was a nine to 10,” Mr Brook added.”

The Guardian: Manchester Bomber Was Seen 'Praying' At Venue Before Attack

“The Manchester Arena bomber was spotted “praying” at the venue 50 minutes before he carried out the attack and asked what he had in his rucksack, the inquiry into the bombing has heard. It was one of two possible “missed opportunities” to stop Salman Abedi in the hour before the bombing on 22 May 2017, the public inquiry into the attacks heard. Opening the inquiry on Monday, its chairman stressed he was “not looking for scapegoats” but searching for the truth about how Salman Abedi planned and executed the suicide attack, which killed 22 people and injured a further 260. The inquiry, which is being heard in a modified court room at Manchester magistrates court, could not begin until Abedi’s younger brother, Hashem, was tried and convicted of helping to plan the attacks, after being extradited from Libya last year. He was sentenced to at least 55 years in prison in August. The inquiry opened with a minute’s silence to commemorate the 22 people killed in the May 2017 attacks, after their names were read out by Paul Greaney QC, counsel to the inquest. Families of the bereaved attended the hearing, with others watching from an annex and many others via YouTube, with spaces restricted due to Covid-19. Greaney reassured them that the inquiry will “leave no stone unturned.”

France

Associated Press: Charlie Hebdo, Market Attacks Turned Widow Into Fugitive

“The fugitive widow of the Islamic State killer who plotted attacks against the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper and a kosher market calls home to France once a year to catch up, her sisters testified, offering new details about one of the world’s most wanted women. Hayat Boumeddiene is the only woman among 14 people being tried in French terrorism court for the January 7-9, 2015, attacks that left 17 people dead along with all three attackers, including her husband. Boumeddiene left for Syria a few days before the attacks. She and the two men who arranged her escape are being tried in absentia as accomplices in the attacks. The other 11 defendants whose two-month trial began Sept. 2 are accused of helping with logistics, including buying the weapons and tactical gear for brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi and Amédy Coulibaly. Most say they had no idea the plan was for a mass killing, saying they believed it was for an ordinary crime. Saadia Benali, whose family took in Boumeddiene for five years, late Friday described her fugitive sister’s religious marriage to Coulibaly and the couple’s deepening belief in ever more radical forms of Islam. Benali herself was dressed head to toe in the black robe and veil worn by many devout Muslims as she testified.”

Voice Of America: Paris Attacks Trial Unfolds In Shadow Of COVID

“As France revisits its deadly 2015 wave of jihadist strikes with a major terrorism trial that opened this week, the threat of future attacks remains a clear and present danger here and across the European Union, experts say, even as the region focuses on a very different crisis in COVID-19. On the eve of Wednesday’s opening of the Charlie Hebdo trial, Interior Minister Gerard Darmanin warned that France’s threat level remained “extremely high.” Meanwhile, the EU law enforcement agency Europol described the changing, complex and still potent nature of jihadist and other threats, with coronavirus potentially feeding extremist action. “Groups try to make use of the COVID situation either to enforce their ideology or to call for action,” Europol’s deputy executive director, Wil van Gemert, said in an interview, noting Islamists as well as right-wing groups are profiting from the health crisis. “Our worry is for the future, when we come out of this COVID period with many more people [filling public spaces],” and rising questions and dissatisfaction with government handling of the crisis, van Gemert said. All of this, he added, could lead “to more violence, extremism and potential terrorism.” Yet in some ways, the kickoff of the January 2015 Paris terrorist attacks trial seemed a throwback to another era.”

Germany

Deutsche Welle: Right-Wing Terror Trial Stirs Up Violent Memories In Germany's Freital

“The threats began in 2015, and Steffi Brachtel has been asking herself the same questions every day since. “What's waiting behind the next car? What's waiting when the elevator opens?” She recalls receiving insults online and living with the sense of being watched. “In August 2015, my mailbox was blown up. My son was attacked,” she said. Brachtel lives in seemingly tranquil Freital. The river Weissritz runs through the town of 40,000 people, next door to Dresden. Her life was turned upside down five years ago when she teamed up with others to help refugees arriving there. Hatred against them erupted from within the town before they even arrived. Hundreds of people repeatedly took to the streets when they learned the newcomers would be housed in a former hotel. Two contrasting pictures emerged in 2015. There were those from the horrifying civil war in Syria and its catastrophic consequences for hundreds of thousands of men, women and children who fled on foot and by boat in search of safety. Many drowned in the Mediterranean Sea. Dead children washed up on picturesque Greek beaches. Then there were images from places like Freital, where angry mobs took to the streets shouting that the refugees were getting government handouts they themselves, as citizens, were denied.”

Europe

The Associated Press: Albania Arrests Woman Wanted In Italy For Terror Conviction

“A woman wanted in Italy for trying to recruit people to join the Islamic State group was arrested in Albania's capital on Saturday, police said. Lubjana Gjecaj, 43, will be extradited to Italy where a court in Milan has sentenced her to three years in prison for association with terror groups, Albanian anti-terror police said. She was taken into custody in Tirana, where she lived. Local media reported that Gjecaj, a mother of three children, helped to marry other people in both Albania and Italy and then sent them to Syria through Turkey to join IS. It is believed she was part of a terror cell discovered in 2014 in Italy after the marriage of an Italian girl with an Albanian man. Ten people were arrested at the time in Italy. Authorities say that no Albanians have joined extremist groups in Syria and Iraq in the last four to five years. Earlier, scores of Albanians joined radical groups in Syria and Iraq though mainstream religious leaders urged believers not to become members. About two thirds of Albania’s 2.8 million inhabitants are Muslims.”

Technology

BBC News: Islamic State: Giant Library Of Group's Online Propaganda Discovered

“One of the largest collections of online material belonging to the group calling itself Islamic State has been discovered by researchers at the Institute of Strategic Dialogue (ISD). The digital library contains more than 90,000 items and has an estimated 10,000 unique visitors a month. Experts say it provides a way to continually replenish extremist content on the net. But taking it down is difficult because the data is not stored in one place. And despite counter-terrorism authorities in Britain and the US having been alerted to this growing repository, it continues to grow. The discovery came after the death of the prominent IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in October 2019. At the time, many social media posts supporting the organisation contained a short link. It led researchers to documents and videos in nine different languages. They included details of attacks, including those on Manchester Arena on 22 May 2017, in London on 7 July 2005 and in the US on 11 September 2001. “[There's] everything you need to know to plan and carry out an attack,” said ISD deputy director Moustafa Ayad, who discovered the archive. “Things that teach you how to be a better terrorist essentially.”

CGTN: Election 2020: Is 'Fake News' Back For Another Election?

“Social media companies are taking steps to curb online disinformation and fake news on their platforms ahead of the U.S. elections in November when the stakes couldn't be higher. Last week, Facebook said that it will restrict political ads in the week before the election and remove posts with false information about COVID-19 and the 2020 election… In addition, social media algorithms have been designed to keep their users glued by creating digital echo chambers that make users victims of their own browsing habits. As a result, people become more prone to believing things that confirm their partisan biases and rejecting everything else outside their bubbles, further polarizing public opinions on everything from face masks to racism. Once people start believing something, setting the record straight is very difficult, said Hany Farid, a professor from the School of Information at UC Berkeley. When it comes to conspiracy theories, Farid pointed to the phenomenon called the "boomerang effect" – when you tell someone that what they think is wrong, it only entrenches them further. "This is the world we live in now – where facts have become something other than what they should be," he said.”