Eye on Extremism:August 5

The New York Times: El Paso Shooting: Massacre That Killed 20 Being Investigated As Domestic Terrorism

“A federal official confirmed that an anti-immigrant manifesto was written by the suspect. Federal investigators in El Paso said they were treating the massacre at a Walmart that killed 20 and wounded another 27 on Saturday morning as an act of domestic terrorism, and prosecutors said they were considering federal hate crime charges. They were also considering federal gun charges that would carry the death penalty. “We are going to conduct a methodical and careful investigation with a view toward those charges,” said John F. Bash, the United States attorney for the Western District of Texas, who said he had consulted with Attorney General William P. Barr. A federal law enforcement official confirmed that a 2,300-word anti-immigrant manifesto that was posted online minutes before the shootingwas written by the suspect, whom the authorities identified as Patrick Crusius, 21. Jaime Esparza, the El Paso district attorney, said his office had charged Mr. Crusius with capital murder and that he would seek the death penalty in any state prosecution. “We are a good and loving community, but we will hold him accountable,” Mr. Esparza said. The F.B.I.’s Domestic Terrorism-Hate Crimes Fusion Cell is investigating the case as a possible hate crime and act of domestic terrorism and has served three search warrants in the Dallas area, said Emmerson Buie Jr., the special agent in charge in El Paso.”

The Guardian: New Wave Of Terrorist Attacks Possible Before End Of Year, UN Says

“The United Nations has warned that a recent pause in international terrorist violence may soon end, with a new wave of attacks possible before the end of the year. In a report, specialist monitors at the UN security council paint a worrying picture of a global Islamist extremist movement that continues to pose a significant threat despite recent setbacks. The authors raise concerns about up to 30,000 foreigners who travelled to the “caliphate” to fight and who may still be alive. “Their future prospects will be of international concern for the foreseeable future,” the report says. “Some may join al-Qaida or other terrorist brands that may emerge. Some will become leaders or radicalisers.” The report is based on information supplied by intelligence agencies of UN member states, and provides a glimpse of collective thinking among security services around the world.”

The Washington Post: U.S. Launches Last-Ditch Effort To Stop Turkish Invasion Of Northeast Syria

“The Trump administration has launched a last-ditch effort to head off a Turkish invasion of northeast Syria that it expects will come within the next two weeks. With tens of thousands of Turkish troops massed near the border, a high-level Defense Department delegation plans to present what U.S. officials describe as a final offer to address Turkey’s concerns at a meeting Monday in Ankara. The meeting marks the climax of a years-long dispute between the two NATO allies over U.S. support for Syrian Kurdish fighters who have led the ground war against the Islamic State, but whom Turkey considers a terrorist threat to its own security. Kurdish-led victories against the militant group have effectively left them in control of much of the border area. Failure of the U.S. effort could throw the war-devastated region into even deeper turmoil, endangering efforts to rout Islamic State remnants and President Trump’s goal of withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria.”

CBS News: The El Paso Shooting: CEP President Fran Townsend Discusses Classifying The El Paso Shooting As A Case Of Domestic Terrorism

“White terrorism may be on the rise: The shootings this weekend are raising serious questions about a rise of what’s called white terrorism. Former Homeland Security Adviser Fran Townsend is now a senior national security analyst for CBS News. She discussed the recent shootings in El Paso and Dayton.”

The New York Times: Iran Says It Has Seized Another Oil Tanker In Persian Gulf

“Iran seized a foreign oil tanker in the Persian Gulf, state television reported on Sunday, the third time Tehran has reported detaining a tanker in the last month as the United States applies its campaign of “maximum pressure,” sanctions and diplomatic isolation against the country. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps detained the tanker on Wednesday along with the seven members of the ship’s foreign crew, according to official Iranian news agencies, which cited a naval commander. Iran said the tanker was “smuggling” fuel to some Arab states, without offering evidence. The oil tanker was an Iraqi ship, the official IRNA news agency reported, quoting the Revolutionary Guards Corps. The Trump administration has tried to force Iran into submission by choking off its oil sales, the cornerstone of the country’s economy. Iran has responded by lashing out at the West through provocations small and large — including the recent tanker seizures — raising fears that any miscalculation and tit-for-tat responses would escalate into war. The Trump administration’s stated goal is to extract a nuclear deal from Iran that is more favorable to American interests than the 2015 agreement that President Trump abandoned last year.”

The Wall Street Journal: 8chan Message Forum Goes Offline After El Paso Shooting

“The online message forum that posted several alleged mass shooters’ manifestos, including one linked to the person detained in Saturday’s killing of 20 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, went dark after a technology provider said it would pull its support. Matthew Prince, chief executive of Cloudflare, which provided some internet infrastructure for fringe online forum 8chan, late Sunday said it would terminate the site as a customer at midnight Pacific Time. 8chan’s main website was offline even before that, though its mobile site still had some content. Some links there told users, “This is just a bump in the road. Expect some downtime as we update our servers over the next few hours.” Jim Watkins, 8chan’s owner, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment after the site went offline. Via Twitter , 8chan said “there might be some downtime in the next 24-48 hours while we find a solution.” It warned its email could be affected, possibly hampering its ability to respond to requests from law-enforcement authorities.”

United States

The New York Times: We Have A White Nationalist Terrorist Problem

“If one of the perpetrators of this weekend’s two mass shootings had adhered to the ideology of radical Islam, the resources of the American government and its international allies would mobilize without delay. The awesome power of the state would work tirelessly to deny future terrorists access to weaponry, money and forums to spread their ideology. The movement would be infiltrated by spies and informants. Its financiers would face sanctions. Places of congregation would be surveilled. Those who gave aid or comfort to terrorists would be prosecuted. Programs would be established to de-radicalize former adherents. No American would settle for “thoughts and prayers” as a counterterrorism strategy. No American would accept laying the blame for such an attack on video games, like the Texas lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, did in an interview on Sunday when discussing the mass shooting in El Paso that took 20 lives and left 27 people wounded. In predictable corners, moderate Muslims would be excoriated for not speaking out more forcefully against the extremists in their midst. Foreign nations would be hit with sanctions for not doing enough to help the cause.”

The Washington Post: A Weekend Of Mass Murder Reflects How American Violence Goes Viral

“In El Paso, Dayton and Chicago, a weekend of horrific gun violence seemed on the surface to be another spasm of disconnected mayhem, people taking the lives of others almost at random. But on closer examination, the attacks served to illustrate how America’s lone-wolf shooters aren’t really alone. Whether the proximate cause was political or personal, whether it grew out of ideological indoctrination, mental illness or some toxic blend of factors that left shooters isolated and damaged, each attack demonstrated a troubling disorder festering in modern America. The 21-year-old man who allegedly murdered 20 people doing their Saturday shopping in El Paso appears to have taken pains to post a manifesto that leaned heavily on the virulently anti-immigrant rhetoric that inspired recent mass shootings in New Zealand and California, authorities said — though they were still working to confirm its authenticity. The suspect, Patrick Crusius, did not appear to be part of any organized group, but the four-page screed posted minutes before he opened fire parroted the extreme white supremacist ideology known as “the great replacement” — the idea that newcomers are taking the jobs of white Christians in the United States and other Western nations.”

The Washington Post: Three Mass Shootings This Year Began With A Hateful Screed On 8chan. Its Founder Calls It A Terrorist Refuge In Plain Sight.

“The El Paso massacre began like the fatal attacks earlier this year at mosques in New Zealand and a San Diego-area synagogue: with a racist manifesto and announcement on the anonymous message board 8chan, one of the Web’s most venomous refuges for extremist hate. Like after the shootings in Christchurch and the Chabad of Poway synagogue, the El Paso attack was celebrated on 8chan as well: One of the most active threads early Sunday urged people to create memes and original content, or OC, that could make it easier to distribute and “celebrate the [gunman’s] heroic action.” “You know what to do!!! Make OC, Spread OC, Share OC, Inspire OC,” an anonymous poster wrote. “Make the world a better place.” The message board’s ties to mass violence have fueled worries over how to combat a Web-fueled wave of racist bloodshed. The El Paso shooting also prompted the site’s founder to urge its owners to “do the world a favor and shut it off.” “Once again, a terrorist used 8chan to spread his message as he knew people would save it and spread it,” Fredrick Brennan, who founded 8chan in 2013 but stopped working with the site’s owners in December, told The Washington Post. “The board is a receptive audience for domestic terrorists.”

The Wall Street Journal: White Nationalists Pose Challenge To Investigators

“The shootings in Texas and Ohio that killed at least 29 people over the weekend left authorities searching for how to confront the challenges posed by mass violence and domestic terrorism, especially attacks driven by white-nationalist ideologies. Violence committed by white men inspired by an extremist ideology make up a growing number of domestic terrorism cases, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Of about 850 current domestic terrorism cases, 40% involve racially motivated violent extremism and a majority of those cases involve white supremacists, the FBI said. Saturday’s attack in majority-Hispanic El Paso, Texas, which left at least 20 people dead, was allegedly committed by a 21-year-old white man who was believed to have posted a manifesto of sorts that espoused anti-immigrant and white-nationalist ideology on a popular far-right website not long before the shooting. Assailants in other recent attacks, including at synagogues in Pittsburgh and Poway, Calif., also espoused white-nationalist beliefs. “We are most concerned about lone offenders, primarily using firearms, as these lone offenders represent the dominant trend for lethal domestic terrorists,” Michael McGarrity, the FBI’s top counterterrorism official, recently told lawmakers.”

NBC News: Trump Warns U.S. Allies To Take Back Captured ISIS Fighters

“President Donald Trump has warned that Islamic State fighters held by U.S.-backed forces could be released to Europe if their home countries fail to take them back. His comments raise the pressure on European powers who have been reluctant to repatriate nationals accused of fighting for ISIS due to security concerns and the difficulty of obtaining sufficient evidence for prosecution. “We have thousands of ISIS fighters that we want Europe to take, and let's see if they take them. If they don't take them, we'll probably have to release them to Europe,” Trump told reporters on Thursday. It is unclear how many ISIS fighters of European origin are in detention and how Trump would release them to Europe. Experts estimate U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces hold some 800 European ISIS fighters in makeshift prisons, but the mostly Kurdish militia group is struggling to maintain them more than four months after ISIS lost the last significant part of its so-called caliphate. The SDF is also involved in caring for thousands of the fighters’ family members stuck in desert camps in Syria, prompting calls for a long term solution and stoking tension between Washington and its European allies.”

USA Today: FBI's Haunting Warning About 'Lone Offenders' Paints A Grim Picture

“The week before three lone gunmen cut bloody swaths through three American cities, FBI Director Christopher Wray sounded a prescient alarm about the growing threat within. Wray described the risk posed by domestic violent extremism, animated by racial tension, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other unrest, as nearly on par with the once all-consuming threat posed by international terrorism. “The FBI is most concerned about lone offender attacks, primarily shootings, as they have served as the dominant lethal mode for domestic violent extremist attacks,” Wray told a Senate panel July 23. “We anticipate law enforcement, racial minorities and the U.S. government will continue to be significant targets for many domestic violent extremists.” The FBI director’s warning came on the heels of an unusual appeal by the Secret Service, which requested the public’s assistance last month in an effort to thwart attacks by lone assailants. An agency review of mass attacks in 2018 found that in more than three-quarters of the cases, the attackers engaged in suspicious or alarming communication that posed potential safety concerns to family members and others. “Because these acts are usually planned over a period of time, and the attackers often elicit concern for the people around them, there exists an opportunity to stop these incidents before they occur,” the Secret Service concluded.”

The Atlantic: How Many Attacks Will It Take Until The White-Supremacist Threat Is Taken Seriously?

“There was, it seems, no time to avert the massacre. The anti-immigrant, white-nationalist manifesto heralding an imminent attack was uploaded to the online message board 8chan only minutes before a shooter killed at least 20 people out shopping on a late-summer Saturday in El Paso, Texas. But in another sense, if U.S. authorities confirm that the document was written by the 21-year-old white male suspected of committing the atrocity, then there was plenty of time—numerous years in which violence by far-right, white-supremacist extremists has emerged as arguably the premier domestic-terrorist threat in the United States. The government may be working to prevent these violent acts, but it’s devoted less attention and fewer resources to the toxic ideology that knits them together. The Anti-Defamation League recently reported that right-wing extremists were linked to more murders in the United States (at least 50) in 2018 than in any other year since 1995, when Timothy McVeigh bombed an Oklahoma City federal building. The organization also found that in the past decade, roughly 73 percent of extremist-related fatalities have been associated with domestic right-wing extremists, relative to about 23 percent attributed to Islamist extremists.”

Associated Press: Death Of Journalist Helps Reshape US Handling Of Hostages

“Diane Foley learned her son's fate not from any government official but from a sobbing journalist who asked if she'd been on Twitter. Foley had not, but the ghastly images weren't hard to find. President Barack Obama soon confirmed the news to the world: James Foley, a 40-year-old American journalist kidnapped in Syria two years earlier, was the American beheaded by Islamic State militants in a video circulating online. For many in the United States, the August 2014 video brought home the extent of the Islamic State's violence and brutality. For Diane Foley it was a galvanizing moment, emblematic of the helplessness she felt during her son's captivity and the lack of urgency she sensed from American officials tasked with helping her. The New Hampshire woman channeled her grief into action, becoming an unofficial ambassador for hostages and their loved ones and helping reshape the U.S. government response when Americans are captured by terrorists and kidnappers across the globe.”


The New York Times: ISIS, Eyeing Europe, Could Launch Attacks This Year, U.N. Warns

“Less than five months after the military defeat of the Islamic State in Syria, a United Nations report is warning that the group’s leaders could launch international terrorist attacks before the end of the year, including those intended to “exacerbate existing dissent and unrest” in European nations. In a bleak assessment of the global spread of jihadist movements, a report by United Nations analysts on the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee said that Islamic State leaders, despite their military defeat in Syria and Iraq, are “adapting, consolidating and creating conditions for an eventual resurgence” in those countries. The group, though hobbled by a lack of financing, is also exploring ways to “reinvest in the capacity to direct and facilitate complex international attacks,” the July report said. “The current abatement of such attacks, therefore, may not last long, possibly not even until the end of 2019,” the analysts added. Their report was based on the intelligence assessments of United Nations member states. Islamic State leaders, the analysts found, were monitoring political developments in Western European nations and considering attacks that would inflame domestic divisions.”

Voice Of America: Blast Kills 31 Regime Fighters At Syria Airbase: Monitor

“A munitions blast killed 31 regime and allied fighters at a military airport in central Syria on Saturday, a war monitor said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is based in Britain and relies on a network of sources on the ground, said it was unclear what had caused the deadly explosion at the Shayrat airbase in Homs province. But state news agency SANA reported that a “technical fault during the transport of expired ammunition” had killed an unspecified number of victims. The Shayrat airbase is one of the regime's most significant installations in the centre of the country. Iranian fighters – who support the regime in Syria's ongoing civil war – are based there, according to the Observatory. In 2017, US air strikes hit the base in response to a suspected sarin gas attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun in northwest Syria that killed more than 80 people. According to the Pentagon, US intelligence had established that the base was the launchpad for the alleged chemical attack. Syria's war has killed more than 370,00 people since starting in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.”

The Defense Post: A Ticking Time Bomb: Meeting The ISIS Women Of Al-Hol

“A pregnant woman was reportedly beaten to death this week in a Syrian refugee camp housing tens of thousands of people displaced by the war against Islamic State where they live among the militants’ wives and children in conditions described by international agencies and reporters who have visited the camp as harsh, dire, and even apocalyptic. The woman, identified as 30-year-old Sodermini by ANHA news agency, was six months pregnant, and originally from Indonesia. On July 28, her body was discovered in a tent and taken to a hospital run by the Kurdish Red Crescent, where an autopsy determined she had suffered tremendously before she died. The Indonesian government said it is investigating the circumstances of her death, and the woman is believed to be among about 50 Indonesian adherents to Islamic State living among about 70,000 people in the camp. It’s not known yet who killed her or why. Children have died in the camp, and the International Committee of the Red Cross said recently that, despite the efforts of international NGOs to treat people with war wounds, infections, or who are suffering from malnutrition, the humanitarian needs in al-Hol remain “tremendous.”

Reuters: Ceasefire Gives Wary Syrians In Idlib Respite From Strikes

“For three months, an army offensive backed by Russia has killed at least 400 people in northwest Syria and uprooted more than 440,000, the United Nations says. Since Damascus declared a ceasefire on Thursday night, its warplanes have not mounted air strikes, though the combatants are still shelling each other. Idlib lies in the last major chunk of territory rebels hold after facing defeat across much of Syria at the hands of Damascus with its allies Russia and Iran. At the weekend, the streets of Idlib city buzzed with cars and people. Some stopped by market stalls to look at clothes, while others lined up at kiosks to buy juice. “Before, there was panic. Every time the warning sirens rang, the market became empty right away,” Mhamad al-Omar, who sells cold drinks, told Reuters. “Now that there’s a bit of calm, there’s traffic today Praise God... People are tired.”


Haaretz: Inside Hezbollah's American Sleeper Cells: Waiting For Iran's Signal To Strike U.S. And Israeli Targets

“After Iran shot down an American drone in the Gulf last month, U.S. forces were reportedly ten minutes away from firing missiles at Iranian targets when the President suddenly called off the attack. The missile strikes would have killed too many Iranians, he later said, adding he was in no hurry to attack Iran but that "our military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go." U.S. officials insist that a "full range of options" remain on the table to deal with Iran’s malign activities, including military options. But those military options could have significant implications for the security of Washington’s allies in the region, including Israel, especially as they relate to the activities of Iran’s increasingly capable proxies. As tensions spike between Iran and the West - especially over oil sanctions and freedom of navigation in the Gulf - Iran has been able to draw upon its network of militant proxies to carry out attacks on Iran’s behalf. In the words of former IRGC commander Gen Mohammad Ali Jafari, "The upside of the recent (conflicts) has been the mobilization of a force of nearly 200,000 armed youths in different countries in the region."

Reuters: Iran's Zarif Says Tehran Will Leave Nuclear Deal If Necessary

“Iran will leave its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Monday, if Tehran’s interests were not protected by other parties to the pact. “Iran will leave its 2015 nuclear deal with powers if necessary,” Zarif told a news conference broadcast live on state TV, “calling on Europeans to accelerate their efforts to shield Iran’s economy from U.S. sanctions.”

The Daily Beast: Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Is The Tip Of Tehran’s Spear

“In the short run, at least, President Donald Trump’s beef with Iran has more to do with its aggressive, destabilizing foreign policy in the Middle East than with its nuclear program, which, experts agree, is years away from producing even a single nuclear device. The chief institution responsible for implementing the political warfare and military aspects of that foreign policy is the Pasdaran—better known in the West as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The IRGC was forged on the anvil of the Islamic Revolution of 1979. It has grown steadily in power and influence over the Republic’s turbulent 40-year history. Today the Guard is a unique, and uniquely powerful, politico-military organization within Iran. It has no exact counterpart in any Western nation.”

The Arab Weekly: Simultaneous Attacks In Aden Reveal Coordination Between Iran-Backed Houthis And Jihadist Groups

“Observers said there was strong coordination between the Iran-backed Houthis and the jihadist groups of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in carrying out simultaneous attacks in Aden in which at least 49 people were killed. The attacks August 1 also highlighted Iran’s role in enabling the massacre by providing the Houthis with advanced weapons, observers said. The militants attacked a military camp in southern Abyan province with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic rifles around midnight, setting off clashes that lasted until early morning of August 2. The troops targeted were members of a force trained by the United Arab Emirates, part of the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi rebels since 2015. The Yemeni Interior Ministry said 13 people were killed in a “criminal attack” on a police station in Sheikh Othman in Aden district. The Islamic State (ISIS) affiliate in Yemen claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing. The ministry said an attack on al-Jala Camp west of Brega, also in Aden district, left 36 people dead, including the commander and some of his lieutenants.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Bahrain Accuses Iran, Qatar Of Plotting To Target Its Unity

“Bahrain accused on Sunday Iran and Qatar of plotting to target its national unity and of promoting sedition and chaos. Interior Minister General Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al-Khalifa said the Qatari and Iranian interference in the internal affairs of Bahrain aren’t new, but come in different forms. He explained that Iran relies on fanning the flames of sectarianism to interfere in Bahrain’s internal affairs blatantly, while Qatar seeks to undermine social cohesion and damage family bonds, which represents an affront to authentic Arab and Islamic values and customs. “This is against Arabic and Islamic values,” he said. The Interior Minister explained that the conspiracies of Qatar and Iran and their attempts to divide the nation and promote sedition will fail because of the national unity of Bahrainis and their loyalty to the King, which would enable them to meet challenges.”


Iraqi News: Iraqi Intelligence Arrest Islamic State Terrorist In Anbar

“Iraqi military intelligence forces announced on Saturday the capture of an Islamic State terrorist during a military operation in Anbar province. In a press release carried by Iraqi website Mawazin News, the Iraqi Military Intelligence Directorate said that its troops arrested an Islamic State terrorist in Anah district in Anbar. The arrest of the IS militant was based on intelligence information, added the directorate. Iraq declared the collapse of Islamic State’s territorial influence in November 2017 with the recapture of Rawa, a city on Anbar’s western borders with Syria, which was the group’s last bastion in Iraq. IS declared a self-styled “caliphate” in a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria in 2014. A government campaign, backed by a U.S.-led international coalition and paramilitary forces, was launched in 2016 to retake IS-held regions, managing to retake all havens, most notably the city of Mosul, the group’s previously proclaimed capital.”

Voice Of America: Marking 5 Years Since IS Attack On Yazidis

“Yazidi women and girls who were enslaved and raped by Islamic State militants have few choices. They may have been freed, but they can't bring home the children they had with the extremists. Five years ago Saturday, IS militants launched attacks on Yazidi villages in northern Iraq, kidnapping, enslaving and massacring thousands. The attacks were labelled genocide by the United Nations. The attacks traumatized the Yazidis, an ancient religious minority who are no strangers to persecution throughout the ages. But the brutality of the IS onslaught posed major challenges to the community. Although the Yazidis are a monotheistic faith, IS viewed them as heretics and sought to annihilate both the people and their religious sites. In April, a month after the final military defeat of IS, Yazidi religious leaders made an apparent bid to protect the insular and still-grieving community by decreeing that they will embrace survivors of militant attacks. It was a move aimed at erasing the social stigma associated with rape. But in what appeared to be a response to backlash from conservative community members, the spiritual council put out a statement days later saying its decision had been distorted. The council affirmed that children born to IS fathers would not be accepted back into the community.”

Xinhua: 6 IS Militants Killed In Airstrike In Northern Iraq

“A total of six Islamic State (IS) militants were killed on Sunday in an airstrike by U.S.-led coalition in Iraq's northern province of Nineveh, the Iraqi military said. Acting on intelligence reports provided by Nineveh's Operations Command, an Iraqi army force tracked a group of IS militants and surrounded them outside an abandoned village near the town of Makhmour, some 70 km southeast of Mosul, the media office of the Joint Operations Command said in a brief statement. The troops coordinated with the international coalition aircraft and conducted an airstrike on the spot, leaving six militant killed, the statement said. Afterwards, the troops searched the bombed site and found the six bodies with four assault rifles, the statement added. The security situation in Iraq was dramatically improved after Iraqi security forces fully defeated the extremist IS militants across the country late in 2017. IS remnants, however, have since melted in urban areas or resorted to deserts and rugged areas as safe havens, carrying out frequent guerilla attacks against security forces and civilians.”


Al Jazeera: Turkey To Launch Offensive In Kurdish-Controlled Area In Syria

“Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has renewed a pledge to carry out a cross-border military operation into northeastern Syria to dislodge Kurdish fighters close to its border.  In a speech on Sunday during a motorway-opening ceremony in Bursa, Erdogan said both Russia and the United States have been informed of the planned operation, but did not say when the offensive would begin. Turkey had in the past warned of carrying out military operations east of the Euphrates River, but put them on hold after agreeing with the US to create a safe zone inside Syria's northeastern border with Turkey that would be cleared of the Kurdish YPG militia. But Ankara has accused Washington of stalling progress on setting up the safe zone and has demanded it sever its relations with the YPG. The group was Washington's main ally on the ground in Syria during the battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), but Turkey sees it as a “terrorist organisation” allied with the outlawed Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK).  The planned operation would mark Turkey's third incursion into Syria in as many years. Turkey conducted two operations into northern Syria in 2016 and 2018 to clear the areas of ISIL members and the YPG.”


The Washington Post: Violence In Afghanistan Takes High Toll On Civilians Despite The Promise Of Peace Talks

“The long-distance bus, traveling on a remote stretch of highway in western Afghanistan on Wednesday was crammed with families, students and workers. They were headed cross-country on a regularly scheduled 300-mile trip from Herat city to Kandahar city when a sudden, violent blast erupted beneath the bus.   A shock wave and shrapnel hurtled upward from a hidden mine, killing 34 passengers and leaving 17 more burned and bloody. The nearest hospital was many miles away in Herat. Hours later, news photos from there showed a small boy lying in bed, his face pocked with cuts, and a young man sitting up, both arms bandaged and his face badly swollen. “It was a shameful incident,” said Sakina Hussaini, a member of the Herat provincial council and a volunteer for a group that helps civilian victims of violence. She said Friday that she had attended nine funerals in the past week, including services for six members of one family. The Taliban denied through a spokesman that it was responsible for Wednesday’s bus bombing, but Afghan officials said the insurgents had planted mines along the highway to target military convoys. The Farah bus massacre was the worst attack during a week that left more than 200 civilians dead across the country as the Taliban and its pro-government adversaries fight to gain leverage in U.S.-Taliban peace talks that began in September.”

Reuters: At Least Two Killed In Afghan TV Bus Bombing In Kabul

“At least two people were killed and two injured when a private bus carrying employees of an Afghan television station was bombed in Kabul on Sunday, two government officials said.  A bomb attached by magnets to a bus used by Khurshid TV blew up during the evening rush hour. No group claimed responsibility for the attack, in which the driver and a passerby were killed, said Nasrat Rahimi, a spokesman for the interior ministry.  Samiullah Aminy, the news director with Khurshid TV, confirmed the attack and said a cameraman and an audio presenter were injured in the blast.  The Taliban, which controls part of the country, had warned in June that it would target Afghan media organisations if they did not stop broadcasting anti-Taliban advertisements. The hardline Islamist group gave Afghan radio stations, TV channels, publications and others a week to cease airing anti-Taliban announcements paid for by the government.  “We don’t broadcast anti-Taliban advertisements but it is clear that freedom of expression is under constant threat in Afghanistan,” said Aminy.  President Ashraf Ghani condemned Sunday’s attack, saying in a Twitter post, “Deliberately targeting media and civilians is a war crime and those responsible will be held accountable.”

Al Jazeera: US, Taliban Push For Peace Deal In New Round Of Doha Talks

“The US and the Taliban will seek to iron out a peace agreement to end Afghanistan's 18-year conflict during a fresh round of talks in Qatar's capital, Doha. The negotiations, now in their eighth round, began on Saturday and were due to resume on Sunday morning. A Taliban source told AFP news agency that efforts were under way to organise a direct meeting between US envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban co-founder Mullah Baradar, who heads the movement's political wing. The US, which invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban in 2001, wants Taliban guarantees that Afghanistan will not become a haven for “terrorists”, while the Taliban is focused on ensuring the withdrawal of all US-led foreign forces from the country. Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman for the organisation's political office in Doha, said on Twitter on Saturday that if an agreement was finalised, “it will allow all foreign forces to exit Afghanistan within a certain time period and open the door for talks” with the Afghan government. Taliban representatives have been holding peace talks with US diplomats for nearly a year, but have so far refused to speak to the government, which they call a “puppet regime” of the West.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: US Military Calls ISIS In Afghanistan A Threat To The West

“Senior United States military and intelligence officials are sharply divided over how much of a threat ISIS in Afghanistan poses to the West, a critical point in the Trump administration’s debate over whether American troops stay or withdraw after nearly 18 years of war. American military commanders in Afghanistan have described ISIS affiliate there as a growing problem that is capable of inspiring and directing attacks in Western countries, including the United States. But intelligence officials in Washington disagree, arguing the group is mostly incapable of exporting terrorism worldwide. The officials believe that ISIS in Afghanistan, known as ISIS Khorasan, remains a regional problem and is more of a threat to the Taliban than to the West. Differences between the American military and Washington’s intelligence community over Afghanistan are almost as enduring as the war itself. The Pentagon and spy agencies have long differed over the strength of the Taliban and the effectiveness of the military’s campaign in Afghanistan. Whether to keep counterterrorism forces in Afghanistan is at the heart of the Trump administration’s internal debate over the future of the war. Ten current and former American and European officials who are familiar with the military and intelligence assessments of the strength of the ISIS in Afghanistan provided details of the debate to The New York Times.”

Al Jazeera: July Casualties In Afghanistan Highest Since May 2017: UNAMA

“More than 1,500 civilians were killed or injured last month due to the ongoing war in Afghanistan, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). The figure is the highest in a single month since May 2017, UNAMA said in a statement released on Saturday. The main driver was a sharp rise in civilian casualties from increased activity by the Taliban in urban areas against military installations. The agency said that the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) accounted for more than 50 percent of the casualties. UNAMA said it remained "gravely concerned" by the harm done to civilians. "I call on all parties not to ramp up military operations thinking that doing so will give them a stronger position in talks about peace," UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, said in the statement. The agency also urged all parties to "put in place more effective procedures for them to obtain accurate information about the harm their operations cause to civilians and to be more open and honest with their public statements concerning civilian casualties".


Reuters: Thousands Flee Disputed Kashmir Region After Alert; India Says It Killed Militants

“Thousands of Indian tourists, pilgrims and workers began leaving the disputed region of Kashmir after a local government alert over possible militant attacks, and India said it killed at least five militants who were trying to attack its forces.  Indian security officials said on Friday they had found evidence of attacks planned by what they said were Pakistani military-backed militants on a major Hindu pilgrimage in Muslim-majority Kashmir. A local government order effectively called off the pilgrimage, asking the pilgrims and tourists to return home. Srinagar-based Indian defense spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia said on Saturday that there had been a number of attempts by Pakistan-based militants to disturb peace in the Kashmir region and target the pilgrims. Around five to seven militants were killed when they tried to attack Indian troops near an area known as the Keran sector, Kalia said, adding that arms and ammunition were recovered in the operation. ”Security forces will continue to respond to all nefarious activities,” Kalia said. A Pakistani defense spokesperson dismissed India’s assertions as “mere propaganda”, calling them “blatant lies”. A senior local government official in Kashmir said the local government advisory had caused panic and led to the departure of “thousands” of tourists, pilgrims and laborers.”

BBC News: India Orders Tourists To Leave Kashmir Over 'Terror Threat'

“Thousands of people, including tourists and Hindu pilgrims, are leaving Indian-administered Kashmir after local officials issued a security alert.  Indian authorities warned of a “terror threat” against Hindu pilgrims heading to the Amarnath shrine.  Militants backed by Pakistan were planning an attack on the annual pilgrimage, officials have said. India accuses Pakistan of backing militant groups based in Kashmir, something denied by Pakistan. The 45-day pilgrimage began on 1 July and about 300,000 pilgrims have visited the cave shrine, located high in the Himalayan mountains, according to AP news agency. Kashmir's government has advised them to leave the area “immediately”, causing panic as visitors scramble to organise transport. Around 20,000 Hindu pilgrims and Indian tourists, as well as more than 200,000 labourers, were in the process of leaving the region, a local government official told Reuters news agency. “In the interest of safety and security of the tourists and Amarnath Yatris [pilgrims], it is advised that they may curtail their stay in the [Kashmir] valley immediately,” Kashmir's home secretary, Shaleen Kabra, said in a statement.”


The Washington Post: Yemeni Officials: Forces Pursue Al-Qaida Militants, 8 Dead

“Yemeni officials and tribal leaders said security forces were pursuing al-Qaida militants Saturday in the southern Abyan province, leaving at least seven extremists and one soldier dead. The fighting came a day after al-Qaida attacked and overran a military camp in the same province, killing at least 20 soldiers. The troops chasing the militants through the mountainous areas of al-Mahfad district are part of a force trained by the United Arab Emirates, a member of the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi rebels since 2015. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not allowed to talk to reporters. The tribal leaders asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. In a statement, the security forces confirmed the soldier’s death and that the military camp was retaken Friday.”

Reuters: Yemen's Houthis Launch Drone Attacks On Saudi Airports, Airbase: TV

“Yemeni Houthi forces launched drone attacks on Saudi Arabia’s King Khalid airbase and Abha and Najran airports, the Houthis’ military spokesman said on Monday. A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen said later that Houthi drones had been intercepted and downed heading in the direction of civilian airports. Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saria said the attack on Abha airport “hit its targets” and air traffic was disrupted at both Abha and Najran. All three locations are in southwest Saudi, near the border with Yemen. The Houthis, who control the Yemeni capital Sanaa, have in the past few months stepped up their attacks against targets in Saudi Arabia. In response, the coalition has struck military sites belonging to the group, especially around Sanaa.”


Al Monitor: Kuwait Extradites Accused Muslim Brotherhood Cell To Egypt

“Deputy Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Khaled al-Jarallah announced that Kuwait handed over to Egypt members of a Muslim Brotherhood cell who were arrested July 12. Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported July 14 that Jarallah said, “In accordance with joint agreements between the two countries, the Egyptian authorities were handed over those wanted by the Egyptian judiciary.” He deplored their presence in the Kuwaiti territories. On July 12, Kuwait's Interior Ministry had announced the arrest of a Brotherhood-linked cell and the sentencing of its members to up to 15 years of prison, saying that they ”hid from the Egyptian security services by moving to Kuwait.” The ministry’s statement went on, “After subjecting them to a preliminary investigation, they confessed to having carried out terrorist attacks and security breaches in Egyptian territory.” The ministry underscored its zero tolerance for collaboration or involvement with terror cells or other organizations that threaten Egypt's security. Security sources revealed to Kuwait’s al-Rai newspaper July 14 that the Egyptian authorities shared with their Kuwaiti counterparts information about the presence of wanted individuals in Kuwaiti territory and requested their extradition.”


Arab News: Nigeria Has No Answer After 10 Years Of Boko Haram

“It is 10 years since Boko Haram transformed from radical Islamist sect to terrorist insurgency group, coinciding with the rise of its current leader, Abubakar Shekau. He succeeded Mohammed Yusuf (Abu Yusuf Al-Barnawi), a preacher fiercely critical of Nigeria’s wealth inequality and corruption despite the country’s return to democracy in 1999, which many believed would quickly remedy these ills. In the first decade, the group set about fulfilling its name — decrying Western education and its influences while propagating radical Islamist messages. Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language spoken in parts of northern Nigeria. The group fed on societal frustrations, poverty, illiteracy and widening inequality. Within a few years, Boko Haram became popular and increasingly antagonistic to non-Muslims and the Nigerian state. It became apparent that its escalating confrontations with state security forces were a threat to a young federal republic. The group was banned in 2009, leading to widespread rioting and clashes with security forces that left more than 300 people dead. Its leader and dozens of its members also perished at the hands of Nigeria law enforcement, the same sort of blood and violence that has become a part of Boko Haram’s creed.”

Xinhua: Multinational Force Denies Boko Haram Attack Killing 40 Troops In Nigeria

“The multinational force fighting Boko Haram along the Lake Chad region on Saturday debunked claims that militants attacked a military base and killed up to 40 in Baga, a town in Nigeria's northeast region. The Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) described the media reports which as “false”, saying it was a desperate attempt by certain individuals to promote propaganda by the terror group. Col. Timothy Antigha, a Nigerian army officer who is also the spokesman for the MNJTF, said in a statement reaching Xinhua in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno, that the very last engagement between the multinational force and Boko Haram militants was on July 29. About 30 Boko Haram militants had infested the Baga locality with the aim of carrying out an audacious assault on troops at a military base, Antigha said. Four suicide bombers were also identified among them. In that attack, he said, 10 Boko Haram militants were killed as the multinational force thwarted the onslaught. One soldier was also killed in a gunfight which ensued between the militants and the troops. Several Boko Haram fighters escaped with gunshot wounds as blood-stained tracks were observed in the area as the MNJTF and national troops dealt a deadly blow to the terrorists, the official said.”

France 24: Nigerian Crackdown On Shiite Group Sparks Security Déjà Vu

“Using familiar tactics, Nigerian authorities are cracking down on an influential Shiite group, turning themselves into pawns in a regional battle for influence and threatening to repeat the mistakes of the past. A decade ago, Nigerian security officials in the northeastern city of Maiduguri gunned down a handcuffed Muslim cleric just hours after a news crew had filmed his interrogation in a police station. The cleric was Muhammed Yusuf, founder of a tiny group advocating the adoption of Islamic law to fight the rampant corruption in the oil-rich West African nation. Following Yusuf’s extrajudicial killing, the group -- colloquially known as Boko Haram -- was taken over by a hardliner who swore to avenge the murder, took the organisation underground, and went on to forge links with al Qaeda and other foreign jihadist groups. Today, the Boko Haram threat has spread across the Lake Chad Basin into neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger, attracting millions of dollars in counterterror funding and security assistance from the US, the UK and France.  The threat though has not diminished -- nor has the international security funding and assistance. Exactly a decade later, a sense of déjà vu lurks over the case of another Nigerian cleric with no links to Boko Haram.”


Bloomberg: Somalia Executes Two Al-Shabaab Militants For Mogadishu Attack

“Somalian authorities executed two al-Shabaab militants who were convicted for a December attack that killed at least 13 people in the capital, Mogadishu.  The men “were executed by firing squad on Monday morning,” Chairman of the Somali military court Hassan Ali Nur told reporters. The al-Qaeda-linked militants have waged an insurgency in Somalia since 2006 in a bid to impose its version of Islamic law. While the group was driven out of Mogadishu in 2011 by Somali and African Union forces, it continues to carry out deadly attacks in the city.”


The East African: Terrorists Turn To Female Suicide Bombers In New Trend:

“On July 24, this year, a female suicide bomber walked into a security meeting being held at the office of Mogadishu mayor Abdirahman Omar Osman and blew herself up killing seven and injuring several others. Al-Shabab terrorists claimed responsibility for the attack, telling local media that UN envoy to Somalia James Swan, who had left the building when the attack happened, was their target. Mr Osman was critically injured in the blast and later died in Qatar where he was receiving treatment. Coordination: This was the fourth known time Al-Shabaab has used a woman in a suicide attack. Now the frequency at which it is deploying women in their attack missions is alarming regional security agencies. Not only are they concerned by the high rate at which the Al-Qaeda-affiliated group is recruiting young well- educated women, but are also wary about the high profile positions it is giving them in the insurgency movement.”

United Kingdom

The Times: Qatar Accused Of Using British Bank To ‘Promote’ Islamist Causes

“A British bank controlled by the Qatari state is providing financial services to multiple British organisations linked to Islamists. Some of Al Rayan Bank’s clients have had their accounts with western banks frozen or closed in a security clampdown. Al Rayan counts among its customers a charity banned in the US as a terrorist entity, groups that promote hardline preachers and a mosque whose long-term trustee is a Hamas leader. Its chief executive until April, Sultan Choudhury, was also an unpaid director for seven years until 2016 of the British arm of a global religious institute whose speakers and instructors have included advocates of child marriage, female circumcision and the death penalty for adultery and apostasy.”


Forbes: Warning Over Terrorist Attacks Using Drones Given By Eu Security Chief

“Drones are becoming more and more powerful and smarter,” EU Security Commissioner Julian King warned this weekend, “which makes them more and more attractive for legitimate use, but also for hostile acts.” This is not new news—the threat from a drone attack on a crowded space in the West has been focusing security minds for some time now. And the real fear from a drone attack is that a chemical or biological payload could be delivered into the midst of a crowded space with relative ease. The challenge with such attacks has always been delivery. A drone takes that challenge away. According to Germany's de Welt—which published King's comments—in December last year, France's Anti-Terrorism Unit (UCLAT) issued a “secret report” for the country's Special Committee on Terrorism. The report warned of “a possible terrorist attack on a football stadium by means of an unmanned drone that could be equipped with biological warfare agents.” I have reported before on terrorist use of drones in the Middle East to mount attacks—countless Islamic State raids on the Iraqi frontline, recent Houthi attacks on Saudi targets and the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad sharing video online of an attempted drone attack on Israeli tanks on the Gaza border.”

Southeast Asia

The Straits Times: ISIS Bride And A Fighter From Singapore Said To Have Died In Syria

“A Singaporean woman who travelled to Syria with her Bosnia-born husband to join terror group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is reportedly dead, and three of their children are being sent back to Australia. Fauziah Begum Khamal Bacha, who was living in Melbourne, is one of four radicalised Singaporeans known to have taken part in the Syrian conflict. Her husband, Yasin Rizvic, and their eldest son are also said to be dead. The three surviving children - two girls and a boy - are Australian citizens between the ages of six and 12. Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam and his ministry disclosed Fauziah's involvement in the conflict last week while giving an update on the terror threat to Singapore. No further details on her are available, but Australian media reported the family left for Syria five years ago. Radical ideology remains a key concern in the wake of the terror attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March and in Sri Lanka in April, and as foreign ISIS fighters return to their home regions and regroup. Another Singaporean ISIS fighter, Megat Shahdan Abdul Samad, has also reportedly been killed in the conflict zone, but the authorities have yet to get confirmation of this.”


USA Today: 'Enough Is Enough': Cloudfare Terminates 8chan, An Online Meeting Place For 'Extremist Hate'

“The online message board 8chan, which has been linked to three mass shootings in 2019, will be terminated, Cloudfare announced late Sunday night, just hours after the site's founder called for its end. Cloudfare will cut off services for 8chan at midnight PDT, CEO Matthew Prince said in a statement, though he noted that another network provider could bring 8chan back online. That's what happened in 2017, when Cloudfare booted The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi message board. “The rationale is simple: they have proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths,” Prince said. ”Even if 8chan may not have violated the letter of the law in refusing to moderate their hate-filled community, they have created an environment that revels in violating its spirit.” During media interviews earlier Sunday, 8chan founder Fredrick Brennan called for the imageboard 's end.  “Shut the site down,” Brennan told the New York Times on Sunday. “It’s not doing the world any good. It’s a complete negative to everybody except the users that are there. And you know what? It’s a negative to them, too. They just don’t realize it.” Founded as an alternative to the more well-known 4chan message board, 8chan, or “Infinite Chan,” has nearly 20,000 public boards.”

The Hill: US Company Will Stop Supporting 8chan After El Paso Shooting

“The head of Cloudfare – the U.S. company that helps keep 8chan online – on Sunday said his company will stop hosting the fringe online platform known for supporting white supremacists. Cloudfare CEO Matthew Prince's decision comes shortly after the gunman in El Paso, Texas, allegedly posted an anti-immigrant manifesto to 8chan before killing twenty people and injuring two dozen more. If investigators conclude the manifesto did come from the gunman, it will be the third incident this year in which a suspect is believed to have posted a posted hateful, white extremist screed to 8chan – the anonymous message board which dubs itself the "darkest reaches of the Internet" – before committing a mass shooting. Prince laid out his plans to pull his company's service from 8chan in a blog post on Sunday night. He said they would cut ties by midnight on the West coast. As of Sunday at 10 ET, the website was still up, but posters were anticipating the imminent end.”

Buzzfeed News: The Problem Isn't 8chan. It’s Young American Men

“Less than an hour before killing at least 20 people and injuring some 26 more in an El Paso, Texas, Walmart, the suspected shooter, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, posted a hate-filled manifesto to the anonymous messageboard 8chan. He is the third shooter this year to post such a screed to the site before carrying out an act of horrific violence. And as the nation reels from another in a string of mass shootings this year, calls to shutdown 8chan have never been louder. But they are unlikely to be accomplish much, because in 2019 8chan is no longer a refuge for extremist hate — it is a window opening onto a much broader landscape of racism, radicalization and terrorism. Shutting down the site is unlikely to eradicate this new extremist culture, because 8chan is anywhere. Pull the plug, it will appear somewhere else, in whatever locale will host it. Because there's nothing particularly special about 8chan, there are no content algorithms, hosting technology immaterial. The only thing radicalizing 8chan users are other 8chan users.”

LA Times: Another Mass Shooting Is Being Linked To An Online Forum Where White Supremacy Thrives

“As officials are apparently still struggling to determine why 19-year-old Santino William Legan opened fire on a crowd in Gilroy, California, last weekend—killing three people and then himself—two more deadly mass shootings have taken place. On Saturday, August 3, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, a while male from Allen, Texas, marched into a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, carrying an assault rifle and murdered at least 20 people, injuring at least two dozen more. Hours later, at about 1 a.m. on Sunday, 24-year-old Connor Betts, a white male reportedly armed with a long gun and a high-capacity magazine, opened fire outside a bar in Dayton, Ohio, killing nine people, injuring 27 more. Six of the nine victims were black. While details regarding motive appear to be scarce as yet in the Dayton mass shooting, a 2,300-word “manifesto” believed to have been posted online by Crusius prior to the El Paso terrorist attack cites a “Hispanic invasion of Texas” and suggests “getting rid” of immigrants in order to make “our” way of life more sustainable.”