Eye on Extremism: September 9

The New York Times: After Trump Calls Off Talks, Afghanistan Braces For Violence

“President Trump’s decision to break off peace talks with the Taliban, at least for now, left Afghanistan bracing for a bloody prelude to national elections this month, while the administration declined on Sunday to rule out a withdrawal of American troops without a peace accord. In a round of television interviews, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed an attack by the Taliban for the cancellation of talks at Camp David this weekend that the administration had expected would lead to the signing of a peace agreement. Mr. Pompeo said that the Taliban had “tried to gain negotiating advantage by conducting terror attacks inside the country,’’ resulting in the death of an American soldier in Kabul. “We’re going to walk away from a deal if others try to use violence to achieve better ends in a negotiation,’’ he said. But after abruptly scrapping a diplomatic process that appeared to be inching toward a conclusion, it was unclear where Mr. Trump would go from here.”

CNN: America's Top Ally In Syria Warns ISIS Is Resurging And Asks For More US Support

“America's top ally in the fight against ISIS, the commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, warned Friday that the terrorist group was resurging in Syria and asked for increased US support for his troops as they seek to keep ISIS from reestablishing itself. Asked if he agreed with a recent Pentagon inspector general report that said ISIS was resurging in Syria after President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw about half the US troops from the country, Gen. Mazloum Kobani Abdi, the Syrian Democratic Forces commander, told CNN that “this is our opinion as well.” While US Defense Secretary Mark Esper recently said the terror group was not resurging in Syria, Mazloum told CNN in an exclusive interview that ISIS had prepared for its transformation into an insurgency even before it lost its last territorial holdings in the country. Speaking through an interpreter, Mazloum said ISIS' new insurgency was enabled because the group had some freedom of movement in areas bordering the region of Syria that the Syrian Democratic Forces control, including across the border in Iraq and places west of the Euphrates River that are ostensibly controlled by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which the SDF has stayed independent of.”

The Financial Times: Australia Deploys World’s First Law To Tackle Online Extremism

“Australian authorities have ordered five websites to remove extremist content or face prosecution, in the first application of a controversial new law introduced in the wake of March’s terror attack in Christchurch. The abhorrent material targeted by Canberra includes videos showing the beheading of a Scandinavian tourist in Morocco and an attack by a white supremacist on two mosques in Christchurch that killed 51 people and sparked a global debate over restricting access to extremist content online. The offending websites are all based outside Australia, according to the country’s eSafety commission, which in April was granted powers to investigate and order the removal of extremist content. “These are fringe websites that revel in gore and hatred. All of them are based overseas,” Julie Inman Grant, Australia’s eSafety commissioner, told the Financial Times.”

The Guardian: Police Raids Find Huge Arms Cache Linked To Islamic Terror Group

“A significant arms cache, including a sniper rifle, a silencer and tracer rounds linked to the banned terrorist group al-Muhajiroun have been found in Coventry, the Observer can reveal. Officers from the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit and MI5 are investigating the weapons haul, which also includes a shotgun and 200 rounds of ammunition, following raids at several addresses in the city. A statement from West Midlands Police, which assists the regional counter-terrorism unit, said: “Firearms and ammunition were recovered during the raids and a police investigation is ongoing.” Four men have been arrested, one of whom has links to the al-Muhajiroun network, according to sources. The group, active in the UK since the mid-1980s, disappeared after the July 2005 attacks on London, but maintained a presence under various different names. It was eventually banned in 2009 under legislation outlawing “glorification” of terrorism. Supporters of al-Muhajiroun, whose traditional centres of organisation are the East End of London and Luton, have carried out atrocities including the 2017 London Bridge attack, the July 2005 bombings and the murder of Lee Rigby in 2013, with a number fighting for Islamic State and al-Qaida abroad.”

Haaretz: Israel: Shi'ite Force Fired Rockets From Syria; 'Strike On Syria-Iraq Border Kills 18 Iran-Backed Militiamen'

“Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) struck Iran-back militias in eastern Syria, local media reported Sunday overnight. On Monday, the Israeli army said Shi'ite units led by Tehran's Quds Force attempted to fire several rockets Sunday overnight which failed to cross over to Israel. Outlets affiliated with the Syrian opposition, which based their reports on those of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights', said the UAVs attacked militias near Al Bukamal, close to the Syria-Iraq border. Eighteen Iran-back militia members were killed in the strike, the British-based watchdog said on Monday. The Assad regime and Syrian state media didn't report the incident. On Monday, the Israeli army said it identified a several launches from Syria that failed to cross over to Israel. They were carried out by Shi'te militias led by Iran's Quds Force from the outskirts of Damascus, the statement said, adding it considered the Assad regime responsible for any action that takes place under its sovereignty.”

VICE News: Police Warn That Accused Neo-Nazi Canadian Soldier Could Have Fled To U.S.  

“Patrik Mathews, a Canadian Armed Forces member who is now suspended from duty, has been linked to the group and missing for almost two weeks. The 26-year-old Mathews was exposed as a member of The Base through a series of explosive stories in which Winnipeg Free Press reporter Ryan Thorpe went undercover to gain access to the group and meet in person with Mathews."The Base is particularly dangerous because of [its] focus on developing and sharing skills useful for terrorism and guerilla warfare, such as ambushes, weapons training, and making explosives," Joshua Fisher-Birch, research analyst at the Counter Extremism Project, said in a previous VICE story about The Base. "This is a radical group that not only wants violence but is preparing for it.”

United States

The Wall Street Journal: Liberal City Tags Speech As Terrorism

“Only Congress can declare war, but the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is trying. Last week it voted unanimously to brand the National Rifle Association, an association with millions of American members, a “domestic terrorist organization.” Law books have plenty to say on the definition of terrorism, but the supervisors don’t seem to have cracked one. Instead they suggest terrorism occurs anytime someone uses a “weapon” to threaten others’ personal safety or “substantial” property damage. They try to attribute this view to the U.S. Justice Department, ignoring all the other elements that distinguish terrorism from other types of armed crime, such as that criminal acts be used to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or government target. An even greater problem for the supervisors is that the NRA and its members are generally law-abiding. The resolution therefore claims that even otherwise lawful acts—such as training or providing funds—that assists or enables someone you should have known might misuse weapons constitutes “material support.” That includes the NRA’s “advocacy,” “propaganda” and “promotion” both of gun ownership and of “extremist positions.” In a word, speech.”

Newsweek: Student Charged With Making 'Terrorist Threats' After Claiming Online He'd 'Shoot Up The School'

“14-year-old high school student in Mississippi has been charged with making “terrorist threats on social media” after he posted a message online claiming that he would shoot up his school. The unidentified boy attends St. Martin High School in Jackson County and was arrested by police on Saturday, after he made the threatening post on Friday evening, local new station NBC 15 reported. Posting to social media, the boy reportedly threatened that he'd “shoot up the school Monday.” A message the school sent to parents explained that administrators were the ones who notified police about the threat. “Last night I was alerted of a threat made against SMHS via social media. As always, the threat was taken very seriously and law enforcement became involved. The person making the threat is now in police custody being charged with a felony. As of July 1, the state of MS considers such threats against schools as a terroristic threat,” the note said, according to local news channel WLOX 13. “Although it saddens us that a poor decision could have such a serious impact on a young person's life, such statements written or uttered WILL NOT be tolerated. School safety above everything else is our NUMBER ONE priority,” the school official explained. Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell said that the boy was quickly identified by officers and detained.”

Syria

France 24: US, Turkish Troops Launch Joint 'Safe Zone' Operation In Northeast Syria

“Turkey hopes the buffer zone, which it says should be at least 30 kilometers (19 miles) deep, will keep Syrian Kurdish fighters, considered a threat by Turkey but U.S. allies in the fight against the Islamic State group, away from its border. Associated Press journalists in the town of Tal Abyad saw about a dozen Turkish armored vehicles with the country's red flag standing along the border after crossing into Syria, and American vehicles about a mile away waiting. The two sides then came together in a joint patrol with American vehicles leading the convoy. At least two helicopters hovered overhead. The Turkish Defense Ministry confirmed the start of the joint patrols and said unmanned aerial vehicles were also being used. Washington has in the last years frequently found itself trying to forestall violence between its NATO ally Turkey and the Kurdish fighters it partnered with along the border to clear of IS militants.”

The Washington Post: The West Has Lost Confidence In Its Values. Syria Is Paying The Price.

“The crisis of Western values has many aspects, many faces. There is a decline in faith in liberal democracy, a loss of confidence in universal human rights, a collapse in support for all kinds of transnational projects. There is a constitutional crisis brewing in London. There is a president who defies democratic norms in Washington. There are challenges to the free press and independent judges in democracies everywhere, from Budapest to Manila. But this same crisis — this same loss of Western self-confidence, this same collapse of faith in ideals — also has a bloodier, more violent face. That face is the ongoing war in Syria — or rather the slow, grinding, murderous endgame of the war in Syria. Right now, the Syrian government army, aided by its Russian allies, is fighting the last pockets of resistance in Idlib, the only remaining rebel province in northwest Syria. As these forces advance, they shred what remains of humanitarianism and the law of war. Against the Geneva Conventions, they are hitting civilians. Worse, they are targeting the sick and injured. As a precaution, the United Nations gave the Russian government the location and coordinates of hospitals in Idlib. But instead of protecting them, the Russians might have shared those locations and coordinates with the Syrian government.”

The Guardian: British-Iranian Relations Strained As Oil Tanker Is Seen Off Syria

“Britain is seeking to establish whether Iran has sold oil to Syria in breach of written undertakings given by Tehran to authorities in Gibraltar. Iran’s foreign ministry said on Sunday that a tanker seized by British Marines on 9 July and released in August had reached its final destination “on the Mediterranean coast” and sold its oil – without identifying the country. However, Adrian Darya, previously called Grace 1, has been seen off the coast of Syria for the past three days. The supertanker was detained off Gibraltar for allegedly breaking EU sanctions on Syria. On 15 August a court in Gibraltar released it when Iran gave assurances it would not sail to Syria, despite pressure from the US for the ship’s continued detainment. The US Department of Justice issued a warrant for the seizure of the ship, and the US Department of State has confirmed that US officials subsequently offered the ship’s Indian captain millions to take the ship’s oil to a port where the oil – worth as much as as £110m – could be impounded by the US. After the captain gave no positive response, he and the ship were put under US sanctions.”

BBC: Syria War: 'Air Strikes' Hit Iran-Backed Forces Near Iraq Border

“The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, said at least 18 Iranian and pro-Iranian fighters were killed. It was not clear who carried out the overnight strikes in and around the town of Albu Kamal. But Israel has carried out hundreds of attacks on Iranian-linked targets in Syria during the country's civil war. It has sought to thwart what it calls Iran's "military entrenchment" in Syria and shipments of Iranian weapons to militant groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights cited its sources as saying the unidentified warplanes had bombed bases, arms depots and vehicles belonging to Iran-backed militias in al-Hizam al-Akhdar and other areas around Albu Kamal. Omar Abu Layla, a Europe-based activist from the DeirEzzor 24 group, said powerful explosions were heard across the town, and that there was a "state of chaos and panic" among the militia fighters.”

Iran

The Washington Times: Iran Gives Hezbollah Precision-Guided Terrorism

“The war between Israel and the Iranian-controlled Hezbollah terrorist network is continuous. It has flared into major conflicts several times since 1982.  The last round was fought for 34 days in 2006. Though Israel has prevailed in these conflicts, it has never truly succeeded in preventing Iran from rebuilding and rearming Hezbollah nor deterring Hezbollah from new rounds of war.  In late August, when an Israeli drone exploded near a Hezbollah office in Lebanon, Lebanese President Michel Aoun said the incident was an act of war. In response, Israel accused Hezbollah of accelerating the conversion of many of its crude missiles into precision-guided munitions (PGMs) and urged the Lebanese government to prevent Hezbollah from doing so and thus converting much of its arsenal to vastly more effective weapons. Mr. Aoun has no power to do either because Hezbollah is a far greater political force in Lebanon than is his government and because Hezbollah answers only to the ayatollahs. Hezbollah is believed to possess at least 130,000 rockets and missiles of various types. Many are the crude Katyusha-type rockets that Hezbollah often fires into Israel.”

CNBC: US Treasury Warns Shipping Industry Against Doing Business With Iran And ‘Oil-For-Terror’ Networks

“Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and its external Quds Force are still moving oil worth hundreds of millions of dollars through sprawling illicit shipping networks, despite a maximum pressure sanctions regime from Washington and scores of corporate and government entities blacklisted. Washington is working to crack down on this, the U.S. Treasury Department says, and it’s warning those in the maritime industry to be wary of involvement with regimes or entities that have been deemed terror sponsors by the U.S. — or face steep costs. Sigal Mandelker, under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the U.S. Treasury Department, spoke to CNBC’s Hadley Gamble during a visit to Abu Dhabi. “What we’re doing on this trip and really every day is we’re telling the maritime industry that they need to be on high alert, they need to continue to sophisticate their ability to track vessels that are involved with any of these regimes,” Mandelker said. “Whether it’s Iran, Venezuela or North Korea, no one should want to have anything to do with funding regimes engaged in this kind of activity.”

The Wall Street Journal: Iran Says Freed Tanker Has Unloaded Oil

“A tanker released from Gibraltar despite U.S. objections that it was carrying crude to Syria has unloaded its oil, a top Iranian official said, after the ship dropped anchor near a Syrian port. Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, said the Adrian Darya 1 oil tanker “had unloaded its cargo and its owner will decide about its future,” according to the state news agency IRNA late Sunday. The Iranian oil official said the vessel was near an unspecified Mediterranean coastline, but his statement could undermine European attempts to mend fences between Tehran and Washington. The tanker was released on Aug. 18 after Iran pledged that the tanker’s cargo wouldn’t be delivered to Syria, which is under European Union sanctions due to the continuing civil war in the country.”

Associated Press: UN Atomic Wachdog Confirms Iran Installing New Centrifuges

“The United Nations’ atomic watchdog confirmed Monday that Iran is preparing to use more advanced centrifuges, another breach of limits set in the country’s unraveling nuclear deal with major powers. Iran had already announced the step, its latest violation of the 2015 agreement as it tries to pressure European signatories to find a way to maintain oil shipments and ease the toll of U.S. sanctions on the Iranian economy. The International Atomic Energy Agency reported its inspectors verified the installation of new centrifuges. The agency said all had been “prepared for testing” but none yet tested at the time of the Sept. 7-8 inspection. The nuclear deal was meant to keep Tehran from building atomic weapons — something Iran denies it wants to do — in exchange for economic incentives. Its collapse started with the United States unilaterally withdrawing from the deal last year and imposing increased sanctions. The other signatories — Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia, as well as the European Union — have been struggling to salvage the agreement and find a way to meet Tehran’s demands.”

The Wall Street Journal: Macron’s Bad Bargain With Iran

“Iran on Saturday took another giant step toward gaining nuclear weapons by admitting it is now using arrays of advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium. This is its latest violation of the 2015 nuclear deal and puts more pressure on Europe to decide whether it wants to keep subsidizing this nuclear breakout. First the European signatories tried to evade U.S. sanctions by creating a new trade and finance system. That failed, so now French President Emmanuel Macron has proposed giving Tehran a roughly $15 billion credit line, guaranteed by Iranian oil, if the regime renews compliance with the nuclear deal. Mr. Macron would do better to save the money and help Mr. Trump ’s Iran efforts. Sanctions the U.S. has imposed since last year are designed to coax Tehran to renegotiate a better deal. This has included designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization and sanctions that have reduced Iranian crude oil exports some 80%. U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook announced fresh measures against the IRGC and Iranian oil last Wednesday.”

Iraq

Asharq Al-Awsat: Iraq Interior Ministry Busts 75-Member ISIS Cell

“Iraq’s Falcons Intelligence Unit, an adjunct of the Interior Ministry, declared the dismantling of one of the biggest ISIS-affiliated terror networks. Composed of 75 members, the cell was plotting a series of attacks in the Salaheddine province, north of Baghdad. Security expert Fadel Abu Ragheef confirmed the take down of the terror cell, saying that it was busted in a “qualitative preemptive operation” that prevented the members from achieving their attack plans. “This network had intended to carry out terrorist operations within Salaheddine. What distinguishes this arrest is that it is proactive and abortive in the sense that the defendants could not carry out their terrorist plot,” he said. “The network includes 75 terrorist elements, including suicide bombers and administrative officials,” he added. Separately, intelligence forces also raided and bombed seven ISIS hideouts in Salaheddine. In a statement, authorities confirmed the destruction of all equipment and assets found at the hideouts. Iraqi Defense Minister Hazem al-Shummari underscored the army’s preparedness to handover areas cleared from threats to Interior Ministry taskforces.”

Reuters: Four Killed, Including A Civilian, Across Iraq In Day Of Militant Attacks

“At least three members of Iraq’s security forces and one civilian were killed on Saturday in three separate attacks by militants, security sources said. An army officer and soldier were killed when an explosive went off inside a house they were de-mining in the Sinjar district west of Mosul, and another soldier was injured. In Diyala province a sniper shot dead an intelligence official in an area northeast of provincial capital Baquba, and a civilian was killed when a bomb went off inside his car in an area west of the city of Samara in Salahuddin province. Islamic State has not claimed responsibility for any of the attacks but the group is active in all three areas. Iraq declared victory over Islamic State, which once held large swathes of the country, in December 2017, but the hardline Sunni militants have since switched to hit-and-run attacks aimed at undermining the Baghdad government. They have regrouped in the Hamrin mountain range in the northeast, which extends from Diyala, on the border with Iran, crossing northern Salahuddin and southern Kirkuk province, an area security officials call a “triangle of death.”

Iraqi News: Iraqi Paramilitary Fighters Kill 4 Islamic State Terrorists In Salahuddin

“An Iraqi paramilitary group has said that its fighters killed four members of the Islamic State militant group in Salahuddin province. “A force of the 6th brigade of the Popular Mobilization Forces managed to kill four Islamic State militants during a security operation in the Makhoul mountains, northeast of Salahuddin province,” the media center of the Popular Mobilization Forces said in a press statement Sunday. According to the statement, a manhunt was launched for other IS militants in the area. Popular Mobilization Forces, an alliance of volunteer Shia paramilitary forces, have actively backed the Iraqi government’s military campaign against IS since 2014, when they were formed upon a top Shia clergy edict to counter the Sunni Jihadist group. PMF won official recognition as a national force late 2016, becoming under the command of the prime minister, who is also the supreme commander of the armed forces.”

Kurdistan 24: Iraqi Soldiers Killed In Bomb Defusing Incident In Nineveh: Source

“A bomb exploded on an Iraqi armed forces unit trying to defuse explosives in western Nineveh province, a security source said on Saturday. The blast occurred in a house in the al-‘Adnaniya compound in the town of al-Qahtaniya, the source told Kurdistan 24. He added that the building had been laden with the bomb during the years of ongoing battles between Iraqi forces and the so-called Islamic State. The source stated that many houses in that area still contained explosives the terrorist organization left behind, adding that there had been casualties in the latest incident. One witness said the blast killed at least two Iraqi soldiers. Large swaths of territory the Islamic State once held still contain explosive ordnances. Iraq declared victory over the terrorist organization in late 2017 but still faces challenges in clearing areas seized by the group from mines and explosives. It has also created issues for displaced Iraqis who cannot return home in compromised areas due to the lack of security.  In early June, the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) said in a statement that the presence of unexploded ordnance and mines in areas liberated from the Islamic State in Iraq continues to hinder the safe and voluntary return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).”

Turkey

Voice Of America: Turkey's Opposition Leader Faces 10 Years In Prison On Terror Charges 

“The leading figure from Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) is facing almost 10 years in prison on terror charges. Canan Kaftancioglu, 47, was sentenced Friday to nine years, eight months and 20 days in prison on charges of spreading terrorist propaganda, insulting the state, insulting the president, insulting public officials and provoking public enmity, according to the 37th High Criminal Court in Istanbul. She is the CHP's Istanbul provincial branch leader and played a key role in the opposition party's victory in the June Istanbul municipal election over the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The charges against Kaftancioglu were raised based on several social media posts she made over the course of several years. They included tweets criticizing the government's crackdown on 2013 Gezi Park protests and the killings of three Kurdish women activists affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Paris that same year. The opposition leader in a public appearance rejected the charges as politically motivated by the government to target the opposition. Kaftancioglu said she would appeal the sentence, for which she had not yet been arrested.”

Afghanistan

The New York Times: Trump Says He’s Called Off Negotiations With Taliban After Afghanistan Bombing

“President Trump said on Saturday that he had canceled a secret meeting at Camp David with Taliban leaders and the president of Afghanistan and was calling off monthslong negotiations that had appeared to be nearing a peace agreement. “Unbeknownst to almost everyone,” Mr. Trump wrote in a series of tweets, Taliban leaders and the Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, were headed to the United States on Saturday for what would have been a politically fraught meeting at the president’s official Camp David retreat in Maryland. But Mr. Trump said that “in order to build false leverage,” the Taliban had admitted to a suicide car bomb attack on Thursday that had killed an American soldier and 11 others in the capital of Kabul. “I immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations,” he wrote. “If they cannot agree to a ceasefire during these very important peace talks, and would even kill 12 innocent people, then they probably don’t have the power to negotiate a meaningful agreement anyway,” Mr. Trump added. “How many more decades are they willing to fight?” The president’s announcement was startling for multiple reasons.”

The Washington Post: Taliban Kidnaps 6 Afghan Journalists, Capping A Week Of Deadly Militant Attacks

“Six Afghan journalists, all identified as radio news reporters, were kidnapped by Taliban insurgents Friday while traveling to a media conference in the eastern province of Paktia, according to provincial officials and a Taliban spokesman. But after a week of deadly attacks by the Taliban, including suicide bombings aimed at high-profile targets in the capital and ground attacks in four provinces, the chief Taliban spokesman said Saturday that the seizure of the journalists had been a “mistake” and that they would soon be released. No direct contact has been reported with the missing reporters, and there has been no independent confirmation that they are alive and unharmed. Hamid Kohestani, the news manager of Radio Killid Group, said Saturday night he did not know whether the journalists were still in Taliban custody. He said the station in Kabul had not been able to reach its reporter, Khairuddin, on his cellphone. “We demand the release of our colleagues,” he said. The insurgent spokesman, Zabiullah Muhajid, said in an online statement that “our mujahideen have mistakenly kidnapped” the reporters and that as soon as cellphone contact was made with local insurgent commanders, they would be released.”

CNN: US Still Interested In Taliban Peace Deal, Pompeo Says

“The US is still interested in striking a peace deal with the Taliban, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN Sunday, but won't move forward until there is proof that the Taliban can deliver on its commitments under a potential agreement. Pompeo was speaking to CNN's Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” the morning after President Donald Trump unexpectedly announced he had canceled a secret Camp David meeting with Taliban leaders. The President said he scrapped the meeting after the Taliban took credit for an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, that killed a dozen people, including an American soldier. News of the scrapped meeting -- which was set to occur near the 18-year anniversary of 9/11 and take place at Camp David, traditionally a retreat where historic peace deals have been forged and where Afghanistan war plans were drawn up -- shook Washington. “I think as you saw, if the Taliban don't behave, if they don't deliver ... the President of the United States is not going to reduce the pressure,” Pompeo said. He listed a number of items he said the Taliban had, in principle, agreed to -- including sitting down with Afghan leaders, achieving “certain reductions in violence” and breaking with al Qaeda.”

The Wall Street Journal: Trumping The Taliban

“President Trump on Saturday canceled talks with the Taliban, and let’s hope for the sake of American security that it’s a long suspension. The talks have looked increasingly like the Paris peace talks of the Vietnam era in which the enemy negotiates a U.S. withdrawal as it prepares for a complete military victory.  Mr. Trump tweeted that he cancelled talks sponsored by the U.S. and scheduled for Sunday at Camp David because the Taliban killed 12 people, including American Sergeant First Class Elis Angel Barreto Ortiz, in an attack on Thursday. “What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position?” Mr. Trump asked.  But that’s what the Taliban have been doing throughout more than a year of negotiations. They practice terror while they talk. They have refused to commit to more than a token cease-fire while slaughtering civilians and the Afghan police and defense forces. The urge to find a political solution to the long Afghan war is understandable, and U.S. negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad knows the players. But the details of the “agreement in principle” that Mr. Khalilzad says he has reached with the Taliban are reason for concern. They look more like cover for U.S. withdrawal than an agreement for stability or peace.”

Voice Of America: Afghan Forces Retake Taliban-Held Key District After 5 Years

“Officials in Afghanistan Saturday announced that security forces have recaptured a key northeastern district from the Taliban after five years, as heavy clashes raged in provinces elsewhere in Afghanistan. The Taliban has intensified attacks even as its representatives are engaged in a fresh round of peace negotiations with the United States in Qatar for ending the 18-year-old Afghan war, America’s longest overseas military intervention. The Afghan Defense Ministry said the fighting for renewed control over Wardoj in Badakhshan province killed about 100 Taliban insurgents, including their key commanders. It claimed Afghan security forces “carried out this operation successfully without sustaining any losses.” The ministry asserted in its statement that the Taliban’s so-called shadow governor, Qari Fasihuddin, was among the dead. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied government claims, telling VOA that fighting was still raging in the district and rejected as “enemy propaganda” the claim that Fasihuddin had been killed. It was not possible to verify from independent sources claims made by either side. Badakhshan borders three neighbors of Afghanistan, including China, Pakistan and Tajikistan.”

The Wall Street Journal: Divided White House Prompted Trump To Call Off Taliban Talks

“President Trump ’s decision to suspend talks with the Taliban stemmed from opposing views within his administration, the group’s refusal to meet certain conditions and growing bipartisan criticism of an emerging deal to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Even after the chief U.S. diplomat to the Afghan peace process outlined an agreement in principle with the Taliban, the president himself turned down opportunities to sign off on one, according to a person familiar with the internal deliberations. Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, has also consistently opposed making a deal with the Taliban, aides said. Mr. Bolton has advised that the president can make good on his promise to draw down troops in Afghanistan without agreeing to one. That option, Mr. Bolton has said, gives the president flexibility to revisit talks in the future.”

The New York Times: Taliban Talks Hit A Wall Over Deeper Disagreements, Officials Say

“Even as President Trump blamed a recent Taliban attack for his decision to call off nearly yearlong negotiations with the insurgents, officials suggested on Sunday it had more to do with the Taliban’s resistance to the American terms for a peace deal, and a rushed plan for a Camp David summit meeting. Talks that once seemed on the verge of a breakthrough had hit a wall over how the deal should be finalized and announced, they said. With the president himself showing more engagement in the talks in recent weeks after boiling criticism of a deal that was finalized “in principle,” the Trump administration had set in motion a daring gambit: Fly the insurgents’ leaders and the Afghan leader, Ashraf Ghani, to American soil.”

USA Today: Trump Criticized For Planning Secret Camp David Meeting With Taliban Days Before 9/11 Anniversary

“President Donald Trump is facing backlash after announcing he planned to hold a secret meeting with the Taliban at Camp David this weekend but canceled it over attacks overseas that left 12 dead, including one American. Republican and Democratic leaders sharply criticized the president over two main concerns: bringing members of the Taliban to the U.S.—specifically to Camp David, a presidential retreat for presidents used for administrations, and the timing of the meeting — just days before the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The Trump administration and leaders of the Taliban, an extremist Islamic organization that controls about half of Afghanistan, have been in peace talks for months and closing in on a possible deal that would remove about 5,000 American troops from five bases over the next five months if the Taliban fulfills promises to reduce violence and prevent Afghanistan from becoming a haven for terrorists.”

Fox News: Jim Hanson: Collapse Of Peace Talks With Taliban Makes Clear We Should Do This In Afghanistan

“President Trump was right to halt peace negotiations with the Taliban after the terrorist murderers claimed credit for a bombing Thursday in Kabul that killed 12 people, including a U.S. soldier. But I was stunned to learn that until the president’s announcement on Twitter Saturday night, he had planned a secret meeting with Taliban leaders and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at Camp David on Sunday. The secret meeting was part of an effort to reach a peace agreement to end our 18-year-old war in Afghanistan – the longest conflict in American history. Yet I find it amazing that such a meeting was even contemplated with the president of the United States, let alone planned and near execution until the night before it was scheduled. President Trump wrote in a tweet Saturday night: "Unbeknownst to almost everyone, the major Taliban leaders and, separately, the President of Afghanistan, were going to secretly meet with me at Camp David on Sunday, They were coming to the United States tonight. Unfortunately, in order to build false leverage, they admitted to an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great great soldiers, and 11 other people. I immediately cancelled [sic] the meeting and called off peace negotiations. What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position?”

NBC News: Secret Taliban Peace Talks At Camp David Floated, Scrapped Within A Week, U.S. Officials Say

“President Donald Trump’s decision to hold a meeting in Washington with Taliban leaders and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani to try to solidify a peace deal to end the 18-year-long war was first discussed about a week ago, according to U.S. officials and others briefed on the discussion. The idea raised Sept. 1 during a Situation Room meeting with the president was vehemently opposed by national security adviser John Bolton, even as officials at the State Department argued it could move the parties closer to an agreement, officials said. Bolton had an ally in Vice President Mike Pence, who also made the case against a meeting at Camp David, a location Trump suggested, officials said. Bolton and Pence were in Warsaw together around the time of the internal discussions. Using the presidential retreat in Maryland to host the meeting was floated by Trump after he warmed to the idea of a sit-down in Washington, the officials and people familiar with the matter said. Bolton’s office declined to comment. Pence’s office and a spokesperson for the president did not immediately respond to a request for comment.”

Pakistan

Voice Of America: India Says Suspected Militants Trying To Infiltrate Kashmir

“India’s top national security adviser said Saturday that a large number of suspected militants are trying to infiltrate Kashmir and accused Pakistan of trying to foment trouble in the region. “About 230 terrorists are ready to infiltrate into different parts of Kashmir,” Ajit Doval, national security adviser to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, told reporters. “A large number of weapons are being smuggled and people in Kashmir are being told to create trouble.” Military officials said the information was based on radio intercepts and ground intelligence. India has long accused Pakistan of supporting and training militants to foment a separatist insurgency in Kashmir, charges Islamabad denies. A month after India brought its only Muslim-majority territory under its direct control, scrapped its semi-autonomous status and deployed thousands of troops to prevent violent protests, residents in Kashmir continue to face curbs on travel and communications restrictions.  Although most landlines are functioning, the internet and mobile phone services have still not been restored. “We would like to see all restrictions go, but it depends on how Pakistan behaves,” Doval said.”

Yemen

Xinhuanet: Yemen's Houthis Claim Fresh Drone Attack On Saudi Military Target

“Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed they had launched an attack on a "military target" in Saudi Khamis Mushait city on Saturday night, using multiple bomb-laden drones, Houthi-run al-Masirah TV reported. They said the attack came "in reaction to the Saudi-led coalition airstrikes and blockade." However, Saudi Arabia said it intercepted and destroyed a drone in the Yemeni air space launched by the Houthi militias from northern Yemen on Saturday night. "The attempts to launch drones by the Iranian-backed Houthi militias violate the international law," Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television reported, citing a statement from the Saudi-led coalition. Houthis have recently stepped up cross-border missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia, but most of the attacks were intercepted by Saudi air defense forces. Saudi Arabia has been leading an Arab military coalition against Iran-allied Houthis in Yemen for more than four years in support of the internationally-recognized government of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Human Rights Body Accuses Houthis Of Committing 636 Violations In 1 Week

“A human rights report has said that Houthis committed 636 rights violations in Yemen's militia-run areas in a single week. In its report, the Yemeni Network for Human Rights and Freedoms said the violations were committed between August 25 and September 2. It cited extrajudicial killings, armed robbery and burning of houses, in addition to violations against health facilities, undermining state authority and recruiting fighters in return for food staples. The report accused militias of transferring weapons to mosques and populated neighborhoods in central Sanaa and forcing 50 citizens in Amran governorate, north of Sanaa, to recruit their children in return for food baskets granted by relief organizations. “Our field team has monitored Houthi militias transferring their heavy and medium weapons to densely populated neighborhoods as well as mosques,” the rights body noted.”

Saudi Arabia

Gulf News: Riyadh: Qatar Boycott Result Of 20 Years Of Plots

“Saudi Arabia said on Saturday that Qatar had been working against the kingdom covertly and publicly since 1995, and severing ties with Doha was Riyadh’s sovereign right under international law. It added that the move was meant to protect its security from terrorist threats, according to the Saudi Press Agency. The Quartet – Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt – have imposed a diplomatic, trade and travel boycott of Qatar since June 2017. In March 2014, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain had withdrawn their ambassadors to Doha for its support of the Muslim Brotherhood and other terrorist groups. The ambassadors returned in November 2014 after Qatari authorities singed another agreement. GCC countries have continuously urged Doha to abide by the agreements it made in Riyadh in 2013 and 2014, but it failed to do so. Despite the boycott, Saudi Arabia has continued its support for the Qatari people, and has taken steps to help both Saudi and Qatari families that have been impacted by the decision to sever ties with Doha. A committee has been formed by the Saudi Ministry of Interior to deal with humanitarian cases of these Saudi-Qatari families, and a hotline has been set up so that people can report such cases. The Ministry has announced telephone numbers for receiving and processing reports of such cases. Qataris are also allowed to enter the Kingdom for the purpose of performing Haj and Umrah.”

Lebanon

The Washington Post: Hezbollah Downs Israeli Drone In Ongoing Tension Between Iranian-Backed Groups And Jerusalem

“Hezbollah announced Monday it had downed an Israeli drone in southern Lebanon, part of a string of clashes between Israel and Iranian-banked groups throughout the region. The Israeli army also said early Monday that Iran’s elite Quds Force oversaw the firing of several rockets from Syria toward Israel, none of which managed to reach their target. The rocket attacks follow reports from Syrian opposition activists that several Iranians and allied militias were killed by airstrikes in eastern Syria near the Iraqi border. It was not immediately clear who had carried out these strikes, although Israel has launched a significant number of attacks on Iranian targets in Syria throughout the country’s civil war. In recent weeks, Israel has struck targets in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon to stop Iran from distributing sophisticated weapons within striking distance of its borders.”

Middle East

Asharq Al-Awsat: Israel Blames Islamic Jihad Drone For Border Tensions

“Tension in the border area with the Gaza Strip was caused by a drone operation carried out by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an Israeli army spokesman said on Sunday. Members of the group had planted an explosive device near the border fence with the Strip overnight, he said. They fired the drone in the morning and remotely detonated the device when a military vehicle was passing by the area. The vehicle was damaged, he revealed, but denied there were casualties among the soldiers. The use of drones has raised concerns that Palestinian groups were developing their capabilities, he remarked. This prompted a stronger response from Israel, which struck Hamas and Jihad targets. According to a military source, this was the third such drone attack. Security and intelligence affairs analyst Yossi Melman, wrote in the Maarib newspaper: “Two previous strikes by drones had been launched from the Gaza Strip in recent weeks.” They dropped a grenade and an RPG. Several evidence shows that the Iran-backed group is plotting significant bombings against Israel ahead of its September 17 elections, said Israeli intelligence sources.”

The Jerusalem Post: Father And Son Stabbed In West Bank Terror Attack

“60-year-old man and his son, 17, were stabbed during a trip to the dentist in the Palestinian village of Azun on Saturday after it was known that they were Jews. The father, Yosef Peretz, was lightly injured in the arm, and his son was moderately injured with stab wounds in his back by a 15-year-old Palestinian boy. “We came to the dentist. When we left, [the attacker] asked us: ‘Are you Jews or Arabs?’ We answered ‘Jews.’ And I looked at his hand and saw the pocket knife,” Peretz told Channel 12. He spoke with reporters in Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, where he and his son were treated. “For a year now, I have been coming to this dentist for treatment and everything was fine. I never thought something like this would happen. The dentist helped us, he jumped on him and held him against the wall and hit him while we escaped,” said Peretz, a resident of Ofakim. The father’s brother, who was also at the scene but wasn’t injured, told Ynet that “a 15-year-old boy approached us and asked me in Arabic if we were Jewish. I said, ‘No, we are Arabs.’ Then, he stabbed the father and the son, and the dentist came out to help and got us out of there.” The IDF said troops from the Ephraim Regional Division evacuated the two victims from Azun after they provided first aid to them.”

Egypt

The Washington Post: Egypt Court Sentences 11 Islamists To Life For Prison Breaks

“An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced 11 people to life in prison — including the head of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie — after a retrial on charges related to mass prison breaks at the height of the 2011 popular uprising. The retrial was related to a case rooted in the escape of 20,000 inmates from Egyptian prisons in Jan. 2011, early in the 18-day uprising that toppled longtime autocratic President Hosni Mubarak, who testified in the case in December. The verdict cannot be appealed. The Cairo criminal court also sentenced eight others to 15 years in prison on the same charges, which include orchestrating prison breaks and undermining national security by conspiring with foreign groups: the Palestinian militant group Hamas and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. This is the latest of several life sentences for Badie. He’s also been sentenced to death in separate trials held after his arrest in 2013 following the military ouster of Egypt’s first democratically elected president, the late Mohammed Morsi, a Brotherhood leader, amid nationwide protests against his one-year rule. Several mass trials of Islamists that yielded dozens of death sentences have been held in Egypt since Morsi’s ouster.”

Nigeria

The Punch Nigeria: Troops Kill Several Boko Haram Fighters, Recover Six AK-47 Rifles

“Troops of the Nigerian Army have engaged the Boko Haram fighters, killing scores of them in Gworege community in the Dikwa Local Government Area of Borno State. The troops of the 22 Brigade at the Super Camp in Dikwa fought the terrorists in conjunction with the Civilian Joint Task Force members, recovering six AK-47 rifles and 66 7.62mm ammunition. The army said in a release on Sunday that a hunter was injured during the encounter, several terrorists shot dead while “others escaped with various degrees of injuries.” The acting Director, Army Public Relations, Col Sagir Musa, said, “Following credible information from the locals about the presence of terrorists at Gworege village in the Dikwa Local Government Area of Borno State, troops of 22 Brigade conducted a raid and clearance operation in Gworege community. “The terrorists engaged the troops in a firefight but (they) had to flee as a result of superior firepower. Consequently, troops searched the village and recovered the following; six AK-47 rifles and 66 7.62 ammunition. No soldier was killed or missing in action. “Many terrorists met their waterloo during the encounter, while others escaped with various degrees of injuries.”

Sahara Reporters: Boko Haram Kills Soldier, Injures Three Others In Borno Ambush

“Boko Haram insurgents on Friday killed one soldier and injured three others in an ambush on a military convoy in Kamuya Village, Borno State, according to AFP. A vigilante official, Mustapha Karimbe, who confirmed the attack, said, “The convoy came under fire from the terrorists near Kamuya at around 11:30am, killing one soldier and injuring three others. “A military pickup truck was burnt in the attack.” Kamuya has been repeatedly hit by jihadists since 2015 when Tukur Buratai was appointed as Chief of Army Staff. In January this year, six soldiers were killed and 14 injured when insurgents sacked a base in Kamuya, stealing weapons and burning military vehicles.”

Africa

Deutsche Welle: Burkina Faso: Twin 'Terrorist Attacks' Leave Dozens Dead

“At least 29 people were killed in Burkina Faso on Sunday after two separate attacks targeted a food convoy and a transport truck. “This drama comes as important security efforts are underway in this region,” a government spokesperson said. ”Military reinforcements have been deployed.” The food convoy was explicitly targeted in a “terrorist attack” which killed 14 civilians, according to the government statement. The truck is said to have hit an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) killing 15 people and wounding six others. Both attacks took place in the in Sanmatenga province in the north of the country. According to local sources most of those in the food truck convoy were traders driving three-wheeler vans carrying provisions for people displaced by fighting. Regional heads of state are due to meet in the Burkina Faso capital Ouagadougou on Saturday to discuss the security situation. The former French colony and one of the world's poorest nations has been struggling to suppress an Islamist insurgency since 2015 and the security situation has been worsening. A revolt began in the north of the country whenjihadist groups from neighboring Mali spilled over the porous border.”

DW: Burkina Faso: Twin 'Terrorist Attacks' Leave Dozens Dead

“At least 29 people were killed in Burkina Faso on Sunday after two separate attacks targeted a food convoy and a transport truck. "This drama comes as important security efforts are underway in this region," a government spokesperson said. "Military reinforcements have been deployed." The food convoy was explicitly targeted in a "terrorist attack" which killed 14 civilians, according to the government statement. The truck is said to have hit an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) killing 15 people and wounding six others. Both attacks took place in the in Sanmatenga province in the north of the country. According to local sources most of those in the food truck convoy were traders driving three-wheeler vans carrying provisions for people displaced by fighting. Regional heads of state are due to meet in the Burkina Faso capital Ouagadougou on Saturday to discuss the security situation.”

United Kingdom

The Independent: Man Arrested Under Terrorism Act After Bomb Found On Irish Border

“Police in Northern Ireland have confirmed that a bomb was found following a security alert near the Irish border on Saturday morning. The improvised explosive device (IED) was discovered in Strabane, Co Tyrone after being first spotted by local residents. During the alert people who lived in the highly residential and built-up Church View area were evacuated from their homes as Army bomb experts investigated. A man was arrested under the Terrorism Act in the early hours of Sunday morning. The security alert stretched into the night as officers and military personnel worked to find munitions, forcing pensioners to evacuate their homes for their own safety. Local Sinn Fein MP Orfhlaith Begley said: “This security alert in the Church View area of Strabane has brought nothing but disruption to the local community. “People have had to leave their homes as a result of this security alert and have been severely inconvenienced. “Those behind this alert have nothing to offer the people of Strabane and have no support.” These actions need to end immediately.” SDLP West Tyrone MLA Daniel McCrossan branded the alert a disgrace as it happened on Saturday - adding that residents were “being absolutley tortured” by bomb threats.”

The National: Extremist Who Threatened Muslims With Home-Made Stun Gun Jailed

“A right-wing extremist who built a home-made stun gun to attack British Muslims has been jailed after he confessed his murderous plans to police. Darren Dale, 41, had been flagged as a threat because of his extremist views and made racist threats when officers came to check up on him. Dale, from Blackpool in northwest England, also told officers about his violent plans to attack and kill Muslims. He said that he had watched YouTube videos to learn how to make home-made bombs and had built an arsenal of weapons. Dale showed them the weapons, which included a metal bar cut from a dumbbell and two stun guns, including one that he said he made himself. He boasted that the stun gun was as powerful as a police-issue device, which delivers a powerful electric shock, and just needed a battery for it to work. The devices are used by Britain’s largely unarmed police service to incapacitate violent or armed criminals. Police returned to Dale’s home with a search warrant the same day and discovered a black plastic block with wires sticking out. Dale was jailed for three years and four months on Friday after admitting to charges of attempted possession of a prohibited weapon and making threats to kill.”

Germany

Deutsche Welle: Germany: Merkel Party Colleagues Elect Far-Right Extremist To Local Council

“Prominent members of Germany's mainstream centrist parties expressed their shock and disgust on Saturday after it emerged that their representatives had elected a member of the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) as a municipal administrator. The NPD's Stefan Jagsch was unanimously elected to the position in the village of Altenstadt-Waldsiedlung, in Hesse, central Germany, on Thursday by seven council members who included representatives of Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), and the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP). “Intolerable and completely unacceptable!” tweeted SPD deputy leader Ralf Stegner as the news was confirmed on Saturday. “This is completely incompatible with the basic values of the SPD! This damages the reputation of social democracy!” According to regional public broadcaster hr, Altenstadt's SPD leader Markus Brando said those at the meeting had been forced to elect Jagsch because there were no alternative candidates. He said he had called a special party meeting to find an explanation. In a joint statement, two CDU leaders in Hesse declared their “shock and absolute lack of understanding” at Jagsch's election.”

Fox News: Elizabeth Pipko: Anniversary Of Munich Massacre Reminds Us Of Need To Fight Anti-Semitism And Terrorism

“This week marks 47 years since the Munich massacre – the appalling murder of 11 Israeli Olympic team members by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, West Germany. Before the massacre, members of the Israeli Olympic delegation openly discussed their concerns about the lack of security assigned to them. Tragically, their concerns were mostly ignored. During the early morning hours of Sept. 5, the members of Black September used stolen keys to break into the apartment where the Israeli team was staying. They had been scoping out the apartment and surrounding areas for weeks preparing for their attack. Two Israelis were murdered during the initial stage of the attack, and the remaining nine were taken hostage and later murdered during a failed rescue mission.”

Europe

The Washington Post: Italy Police Detains 10 For Alleged Terrorism Financing

“Italian police have detained 10 people in the central Abruzzo region for alleged tax crimes and money laundering aimed at financing Islamic extremist groups. Investigators said at a news conference Saturday that the eight Tunisians and two Italians are suspected of financing with “enormous sums of money” activities linked to the radical Islamic organization Al-Nusra. According to prosecutors, the people detained, including the imam of the Dar Assalam mosque close to the city of Teramo, and an Italian accountant, used the money obtained through tax evasion to finance militant groups in Syria and some radical imams based in Italy. Authorities say all 10 people detained are under investigation for alleged money laundering with terrorism purposes.”

Huff Post: Far-Right Terror Attacks Possible ‘In Coming Year,’ Norway Security Agency Warns

“Norway’s domestic security agency warned Friday about the possibility of a terror attack from right-wing extremists “in the coming year.” In a statement, the PST agency said it “now considers it possible that Norwegian right-wing extremists will try to carry out terrorist acts in the coming year.” The agency said its heightened assessment stemmed from the fact that several Norwegian right-wing extremists have recently expressed support for perpetrators behind attacks in New Zealand, the United States and the failed attack in the Norwegian capital Oslo last month. On Aug. 10, Philip Manshaus stormed an Oslo mosque with guns appeared before being overpowered. Several shots were fired and one person was slightly injured, but the suspect was held down by others in the mosque. The suspect has also been tied to the slaying of his stepsister. Manshaus is believed to have been inspired by attacks this year in New Zealand and the U.S. — a mass shooter killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch on March 15 while a gunman left at least 22 dead in El Paso, Texas, on Aug. 3. The agency said “meeting places for Muslims and non-Western immigrants,” political parties or persons, Jews and LGBT communities are “symbolic targets.”

The Brussels Times: Four People In Kosovo Convicted For Planning Terrorist Attacks, Including In Belgium

“Four Kosovan Islamists were sentenced on Wednesday to prison for planning terrorist attacks against NATO soldiers and orthodox churches in Kosovo.  They were also planning to target non-disclosed locations in Belgium and France.  Three men and one woman, two of whom are Belgian nationals, have been convicted for having connections to IS.  They have been handed sentences of 12 months to 10 years in prison, according to a press release issued by the Pristina tribunal.  Back in October, they were charged with planning terrorist attacks against NATO soldiers in Kosovo, four orthodox Serbian churches and two nightclubs in the Serbian enclave of Gracanica. The weapons of choice were explosives and suicide bombers.   They were also accused of planning to hit targets in France and Belgium.  The vast majority of the 1.8 million people who live in Kosovo are Albanian Muslims. Around 120,000 Serbians (orthodox Christians) live in the divided town of Mitrovica (north) and in a dozen or so enclaves.  Prosecutors said plans for the attacks on the churches had advanced the furthest, but they were fortunately “prevented by the arrests.” The leader of the group, 26-year-old Belgian national Bujar Behrami, was arrested in September.”

Southeast Asia

Reuters: Islamic State Claims Responsibility For Market Blast In Philippines

“The Islamic State militant group has claimed responsibility for an explosion at a public market in the southern Philippines that wounded at least seven people early on Saturday.  The group issued a statement late on Saturday saying the motorcycle bombing had wounded seven Filipino Christians at a public market.  It was the fourth blast in the area in 13 months, according to the Philippine military, which said a militant group operating in the mostly Christian city of Isulan in the province of Sultan Kudarat was among the suspects.  The latest blast comes at a time of heightened tensions in the volatile southern Philippines after three incidents in the past year authorities said were suicide bombings by militants linked to the Islamic State.  Video footage showed Saturday’s blast occurred in a parking space for motorcycles. A suspected improvised explosive device was placed beside a parked motorcycle, Major Arvin Encinas, a regional military spokesman, told reporters.  In April, a bombing by suspected members of a pro-IS militant group injured at least 18 people in a restaurant in Sultan Kudarat in Mindanao region.”

Technology

The Guardian: Australian Internet Providers Told To Block Websites Hosting Christchurch Terror Video

“Australian internet service providers have been ordered to block eight websites hosting video of the Christchurch terrorist attacks. In March, shortly after the Christchurch massacre, Australian telecommunications companies and internet providers began proactively blocking websites hosting the video of the Christchurch shooter murdering more than 50 people or the shooter’s manifesto. A total of 43 websites based on a list provided by Vodafone New Zealand were blocked.  The government praised the internet providers despite the action being in a legally grey area by blocking the sites from access in Australia for people not using virtual private networks (VPNs) or other workarounds. To avoid legal complications the prime minister, Scott Morrison, asked the e-safety commissioner and the internet providers to develop a protocol for the e-safety commissioner to order the websites to block access to the offending sites. The order issued on Sunday covers just eight websites, after several stopped hosting the material, or ceased operating, such as 8chan.  The order means the e-safety commissioner will be responsible for monitoring the sites. If they remove the material they can be unblocked. The blocks will be reviewed every six months.”

The New York Times: How Each Big Tech Company May Be Targeted By Regulators

“Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google have been the envy of corporate America, admired for their size, influence and remarkable growth. Now that success is attracting a different kind of spotlight. In Washington, Brussels and beyond, regulators and lawmakers are investigating whether the four technology companies have used their size and wealth to quash competition and expand their dominance. The four firms are lumped together so often that they have become known as Big Tech. Their business models differ, as do the antitrust arguments against them. But those grievances have one thing in common: fear that too much power is in the hands of too few companies. The attorney general of New York, Letitia James, said Friday that the attorneys general in eight states — she and three other Democrats, plus four Republicans — and the District of Columbia had begun an antitrust investigation of Facebook.”

POLITICO: Senator 'Deeply Disappointed' Zuckerberg Declined To Testify On Extremism

“The Republican chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee said he's "deeply disappointed" that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg declined to take part in an upcoming hearing on violent and extremist content online and urged him to reconsider, according to a letter obtained by POLITICO. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), in the Sept. 4 letter, pressed Zuckerberg to “personally participate” in the hearing. “As a dominant social networking platform, Facebook has a significant role in the communications marketplace,” Wicker wrote. “Your direct engagement as the chief executive officer of Facebook on this issue will be invaluable to our efforts to protect communities and enhance public safety.” The senator indicated that he and Zuckerberg spoke previously about what Facebook is doing to remove extremist content. Facebook couldn't immediately be reached for comment. The Senate Commerce Committee didn't immediately respond to a request for more information on the letter and whether Wicker has pressed other tech company executives to participate.”