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Old 12-17-2018, 09:13 AM
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Arrow Eye on Extremism December 17, 2018

Eye on Extremism
December 17, 2018

Eye on Extremism
December 17, 2018

The Huffington Post: U.S. Tech Giant Cloudflare Provides Cybersecurity For At Least 7 Terror Groups

“American tech firm Cloudflare is providing cybersecurity services to at least seven designated foreign terrorist organizations and militant groups, HuffPost has learned. The San Francisco-based web giant is one of the world’s largest content delivery networks and boasts of serving more traffic than Twitter, Amazon, Apple, Instagram, Bing and Wikipedia combined. Founded in 2009, it claims to power nearly 10 percent of Internet requests globally and has been widelycriticized for refusing to regulate access to its services. Among Cloudflare’s millions of customers are several groups that are on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations, including al-Shabab, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, al-Quds Brigades, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and Hamas — as well as the Taliban, which, like the other groups, is sanctioned by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). These organizations own and operate active websites that are protected by Cloudflare, according to fournational security and counterextremism experts who reviewed the sites at HuffPost’s request.”

The Washington Post: Israeli Military Finds 4th Hezbollah Tunnel From Lebanon

“The Israeli military says it has exposed a fourth Hezbollah attack tunnel dug from Lebanon. The military said Sunday that it has placed explosives in the tunnel as part of an open-ended operation to identify and destroy the cross-border passageways. Israel says the tunnels were built by Hezbollah militants to carry out attacks against Israelis. Hezbollah, which used such tunnels inside Lebanon in the 2006 war, has yet to comment on the operation, which began two weeks ago. Israel has called on the international community to impose new sanctions on the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, a heavily-armed mini-army with an arsenal of some 150,000 rockets that can reach nearly every part of Israel.”

Associated Press: US Conducts 6 Airstrikes Against Somalia Extremists, 62 Dead

“The U.S. military says it has carried out six airstrikes in the Gandarshe area of Somalia which killed a total of 62 al-Shabab extremist rebels. In a statement issued Monday, the U.S. military’s Africa Command said it carried out four strikes on Dec. 15 in which 34 people were killed and two more on Dec. 16 which killed 28. All the air attacks were in the Gandarshe coastal area south of the capital, Mogadishu, it said. No civilians were injured or killed in the attacks, it said. All six strikes were carried out in close coordination with Somalia’s government, it said. The airstrikes were “conducted to prevent al-Shabab from using remote areas as a safe haven to plot, direct, inspire, and recruit for future attacks,” it said. Al-Shabab uses parts of southern and central Somalia to plot and direct extremist attacks, steal humanitarian aid, extort the local populace to fund its operations, and shelter radicals, said the statement.”

The Washington Post: Facebook Says A New Bug Allowed Apps To Access Private Photos Of Up To 6.8 Million Users

“Facebook on Friday revealed that a major software bug may have allowed third-party apps to wrongly access the photos of up to 6.8 million users, including images that people began uploading to the site but didn’t post publicly. The mishap, which occurred over a 12-day period in September, adds to Facebook’s mounting privacy headaches after incidents earlier this year in which it failed to fully safeguard the personal data of its users. It has already prompted European regulators to investigate — and brought fresh calls for the company to be fined. In general, Facebook allows apps by third-party developers to obtain users' permission and access photos shared on their timeline. Because of the bug, though, roughly 1,500 apps could access “a broader set of photos than usual,” Facebook explained in a blog post. That includes photos that a user may have started to post, but abandoned before actually publishing, because Facebook keeps a copy of the draft in the event a user might want to finish uploading it later.”

Sahara Reporters: 'Many' Soldiers Killed, Injured As Boko Haram Invades Military Bases In Borno

“Many soldiers were feared dead with dozens missing when suspected Boko Haram attacked military formations in the northern part of Borno State between Friday and Saturday night. The insurgents struck Gudumbali in Guzamala town on Friday at about 5:30pm, riding on military vehicles mounted with anti-aircraft guns. According to a source, the insurgents shot sporadically, firing RPGs towards the military base. "Many soldiers lost their lives; they were many," the source said. "The Boko Haram terrorists came in large numbers, and although the troops initially stood their ground, they later they fled into bushes. We slept in the bush between Friday and Saturday morning. We got to Gubio yesterday. Many are still there, because they only came for soldiers, not civilians, except those of us working with the soldiers.” A soldier, who preferred not to be named, gave an insight into the invasion, stating that the attackers were trained terrorists.”

The Wall Street Journal: ‘If He’s Hiding, I Will Find Him.’ One Man’s Hunt For The Militants Who Killed His Father

“It was dark when Ahmad Sawadi buried his father, the body still clad in the bloodied robe shot through by militants only hours earlier. Mr. Sawadi’s family and friends had risked their lives driving to the cemetery in eastern Syria. Artillery and gunfire between Islamic State fighters and Syria regime forces sounded dangerously close. Standing at the fresh grave, Mr. Sawadi told the gathering he would abide by tribal tradition. “There will be no wake until the killer is killed,” he said. Mourning would have to wait for vengeance. In the four years since burying his father, Mr. Sawadi has lost a brother, his village and his country. Chased into exile by Islamic State and kept from returning by Syrian government forces and U.S.-backed Kurdish forces, Mr. Sawadi, a burly 30-year-old, now lives in Istanbul, consumed with a mission. Driven to seek justice and revenge, he works with dozens of fellow exiles and people still in Syria to track and publicize the whereabouts of Islamic State leaders on the run.”

United States

The Straits Times: America Grapples With Return Of Reformed Terrorist

“Convicted Islamist militant Jesse Morton thought he had found a way to atone for his sins: first, as a government informant, and later, as a prominent advocate against extremism, after he was released from jail in March 2015. But the former Al-Qaeda recruiter and propagandist, who was one of the first Americans to go home with a terrorism-related conviction, found his path back into society rocky. On top of having a hard time finding work and developing relationships due to the stigma of having been a terrorist, Mr Morton said telling his life story to national newspapers in an effort to speak out against extremism took its toll, causing him to relive the trauma of the childhood abuse he suffered. He could not qualify for counselling for his mental health issues, as his state's health subsidies under the Medicaid programme covered only contraception, he said. Mr Morton, who has bipolar disorder, ended up having a manic episode and was arrested on drug and prostitution charges, serving three months in jail last year for violating the terms of his parole.”

News Oklahoma: Saudi Arabian Man Pleads Guilty In Oklahoma To Terrorism-Related Crime

“A Saudi Arabian man and former Weatherford resident pleaded guilty Friday to lying to authorities about his past al-Qaida terrorism training in Afghanistan. Shackled, and dressed in an orange inmate jumpsuit, Naif Abdulaziz M. Alfallaj, also known as Al-Muthana Al-Najdi, spoke through an interpreter and pleaded guilty in federal court in Oklahoma City to one count of making false statements involving international terrorism, as well as one count of lying to obtain a non-immigrant visa. Alfallaj, 35, faces up to 10 years in prison on the visa-fraud offense. He faces up to eight years in prison for making a false statement involving international terrorism. Alfallaj could also be fined up to $250,000 on each count. As part of his plea agreement, Alfallaj consented to his removal from the United States at the end of his prison term. The court will set a sentencing date in approximately 90 days. FBI and Department of Homeland Security investigators said Alfallaj once stated in Arabic on documents at an Afghanistan terrorism training camp that he wanted to be "a mujahid for the sake of God." In 2000, Alfallaj attended the al Farooq training camp and trained in the use of firearms, chemical weapons, explosives, weapons of mass destruction. Until 2001, al-Qaida operated al Farooq terrorism-training camp near Kandahar, Afghanistan.”

Lehigh Valley Live: Alaska Man Charged With ISIS-Related Threats At Lafayette College, School President Says

“An Alaska man is behind a series of tweets in May claiming a Lafayette College student had converted to Islam, joined ISIS and threatened an attack on the campus, according to an email distributed Saturday by the college president. The threat May 6 forced students to shelter in place, sent a wave of fear through students and their parents and led to changes in the way the Easton college disseminates information in the event of an emergency. While the threat proved to be unfounded, the college took it seriously. College President Alison Byerly confirmed federal criminal charges against the man in an email sent to the campus community Saturday afternoon. College Vice President of Communications Mark Eyerly confirmed the authenticity of the email for Byerly, in the email, said she would share more information at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in a news conference at the college with U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain and FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael T. Harpster. “I want to express our immense gratitude to all of the federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, including our own Department of Public Safety, for their diligence in pursuing this investigation and identifying a suspect,” Byerly wrote. Byerly’s email doesn’t name the suspect, but the Anchorage Daily News identifies him in an online story.”

CBS San Francisco: Undercover Video Shows Accused ISIS Supporter Plotting Berkeley Attack

“An East Bay man who admitted to setting up social media for ISIS will go before a judge Monday for the punishment phase of his case that brought federal charges against him of attempting to support a terrorist organization. 23-year-old Amer Alhaggagi of Oakland, a Berkeley High School graduate originally from Yemen, faces decades in prison. His lawyer and his family insist that Alhaggagi is not a terrorist, but instead is a sarcastic young man who likes to brag and get a rise out of people. An undercover FBI video just released to KQED shows Alhaggagi appearing exuberant about planning to kill people. “I’ve been so excited about it … I’m been hyped up,” Alhaggagi said while sitting in a car with an undercover FBI agent. “The way I’m seeing it is we could get away so easily. Like if you want to plant a bomb and just walk into a place with a bomb, you wouldn’t have to do it yourself. There’s so many homeless people that would just do anything for a dollar. I could tell them to walk into the YMCA and they’ll do it and we could detonate it from outside.” In a detention document filed in December of 2017, federal prosecutors told the court that Alhaggagi had spent significant time in Yemen and had allegedly met undercover agents on “numerous occasions to plan a potential terrorist attack.”


Al Arabiya: Iraqi Air Raids Kill 16 Aides Of ISIS Leader Baghdadi In Syria

“Iraqi fighter jets launched an air raid in Syria’s Sousa east of the country, killing 16 aides of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, according to the Iraqi interior minister. A military source revealed that the 16 terrorists were killed during a gathering they were holding in the area. He added that a second strike targeted another location killing 13 would-be suicide bombers, who were preparing to enter Iraq through the desert bordering Syria to execute terrorist operations targeting the Iraqi capital Baghdad , Karbala, Samarra and Kirkuk. The source revealed that among those killed were senior ISIS leaders, one of them is Mushtaq Anad Haram al-Mouhamadi, an Iraqi national known as Abu Omar and carries the title war minster responsible for what is classified by ISIS as the “Middle Euphrates State.” Also killed is al-Baghdadi's deputy Sijad Ali Hussein who is known by the name the Iraqi Abu Saffia, accused of overseeing the implementation of the bombings of the recent massacre in Karrada in Baghdad, and participating in the implementation of a number of terrorist operations in Iraq and Syria. Four other senior ISIS leaders were also killed including: Abdul Hamid al-Salmani who was in charge of transporting suicide bombers from Syria to Iraq and vice versa, the director of the terrorist organization’s operations room Omar Abdul Salman al-Fahdawi, who was charged with overseeing terrorist operations in Syria, Iraq and abroad…”

Channel Newsasia: Rubble And Charred Cars In Former Syria Extremist Hub

“Burnt-out cars, craters and collapsed buildings dot the side of a road in the Syrian village of Hajin, after US-backed forces expelled the Islamic State group. The sound of mortar fire and flying bullets resounded inside Hajin on Saturday (Dec 15), as huge clouds of grey smoke billowed over the outskirts of the large village in eastern Syria. The yellow flag of the Syrian Democratic Forces flew above one building, after the Kurdish-led fighters seized the village from IS extremists on Friday. "Hajin has come under the control of our forces," SDF commander Zanar Awaz said. "We are now fighting on the outskirts of Hajin and we are preparing to enter nearby villages," he said in Kurdish, a shot of white in his short black hair.”

Haaretz: Syrian Kurds Declare Turkish Threats An 'Act Of War' As U.S. Troops Dig In For Long Stay

“Fighting against the Islamic State group in its last enclave in eastern Syria “is going very well,” a U.S. official said Saturday as U.S.-backed Syrian fighters battled the extremists on the edge of the largest urban area they still hold. Spokesman for the U.S.-led Coalition Col. Sean Ryan’s comments came a day after the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces captured the town of Hajin, the largest urban area controlled by ISIS in the enclave. Ryan said ISIS still poses a threat and its fighters are regrouping, planting improvised explosives devices to slow the progress of SDF offensives. He added that the “end days” of ISIS in the enclave they hold near Iraq’s border are getting closer, however, “they still have the capability for coordinated attacks, and the fight is not over.” The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, said SDF fighters are removing explosives in Hajin and fortifying their positions amid fighting on the eastern outskirts of the town.”

South China Morning Post: Car Bomb Kills 9 People In Syria’s Afrin, War Monitor Claims

“A car bomb killed at least nine people including five civilians near a pro-Turkey rebel post in the northern Syrian city of Afrin on Sunday, a British-based war monitor said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it was not clear who was behind the blast in the city, which was seized from Kurdish forces earlier this year. The explosion comes after the Turkish president on Wednesday threatened to launch a new offensive against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria. The Observatory said the blast wounded dozens, and the toll was likely to rise. “The car bomb exploded near a position of pro-Turkey fighters” in a market, killing five civilians and four fighters, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said. At the site of the explosion, fresh herbs and vegetables were strewn on the ground near blackened market stalls.”

The Washington Post: America’s Hidden War In Syria

“This ruined, fearful city was once the Islamic State’s capital, the showcase of its caliphate and a magnet for foreign fighters from around the globe. Now it lies at the heart of the United States’ newest commitment to a Middle East war. The commitment is small, a few thousand troops who were first sent to Syria three years ago to help the Syrian Kurds fight the Islamic State. President Trump indicated in March that the troops would be brought home once the battle is won, and the latest military push to eject the group from its final pocket of territory recently got underway. In September, however, the administration switched course, saying the troops will stay in Syria pending an overall settlement to the Syrian war and with a new mission: to act as a bulwark against Iran’s expanding influence. That decision puts U.S. troops in overall control, perhaps indefinitely, of an area comprising nearly a third of Syria, a vast expanse of mostly desert terrain roughly the size of Louisiana.”

The Guardian: ISIS Withdraws From Last Urban Stronghold In Syria

“Islamic State extremists have withdrawn from their last urban stronghold in Syria after weeks of intensifying clashes with Kurdish-led fighters that have splintered the remnants of the group’s leadership and raised fresh questions about the fate of its founder, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Isis forces retreated to villages to the east of Hajin in the early hours of Friday after several days of US airstrikes, which allowed Kurdish proxy forces to sweep into the town on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River. Clashes continued throughout the day, and western observers cautioned that the militants may be attempting to regroup for a counter-assault. The fall of Hajin comes after the fight against Isis had stalled for several months, weighed down by the increasingly fraught politics of the seven-year war in Syria and its numerous spinoffs. Friction between two of its main protagonists, Turkey and the US, over Washington’s use of Kurdish proxies to lead the fight had been central to the slowdown, which raised fears that Isis was using it to consolidate after many months of withering losses.”

The Straits Times: US-Led Forces Take Out ISIS Command Centre In Syria

“United States-led coalition forces have destroyed an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group command centre inside a mosque in the Syrian border town of Hajin, the US military said. Its statement comes as Kurdish-led forces mop up the final remnants of ISIS militants in Hajin, the largest settlement in the last pocket of territory controlled by the Islamists. More than 16 heavily armed ISIS fighters were at the command and control node at the mosque when it was destroyed by a precision strike last Saturday, a statement from the Combined Joint Task Force read. The extremists, who were all killed in the strike, were using the mosque to command attacks against coalition partners, it said. The ISIS group "continues to use protected structures to launch attacks against our coalition partners, with complete disregard for the infrastructure and innocent human lives", the statement added. Fighters with the Syrian Democratic Forces secured Hajin after weeks of heavy fighting last Friday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.”

Military Times: ‘End Days’ Nearing For Islamic State In Syria, Says Coalition Official

“Fighting against the Islamic State group in its last enclave in eastern Syria “is going very well,” a U.S. official said Saturday as U.S.-backed Syrian fighters battled the extremists on the edge of the largest urban area they still hold. Spokesman for the U.S.-led Coalition Col. Sean Ryan’s comments came a day after the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces captured the town of Hajin, the largest urban area controlled by ISIS in the enclave. Ryan said ISIS still poses a threat and its fighters are regrouping, planting improvised explosives devices to slow the progress of SDF offensives. He added that the “end days” of ISIS in the enclave they hold near Iraq’s border are getting closer, however, “they still have the capability for coordinated attacks, and the fight is not over.” The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, said SDF fighters are removing explosives in Hajin and fortifying their positions amid fighting on the eastern outskirts of the town. SDF has been trying to take the enclave since it launched an offensive on Sept. 10. Since then, 932 ISIS gunmen, 545 SDF fighters and scores of civilians have been killed in the area, according to the Observatory. The SDF offensive intensified over the past days under the cover of airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition.”

Voice Of America: Analysts: Uighur Jihadis In Syria Could Pose Threat

“Analysts are warning that the jihadi group Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) in northwestern Syria could pose a danger to Syria’s volatile Idlib province, where efforts continue to keep a fragile Turkey-Russia-brokered cease-fire between Syrian regime forces and the various rebel groups. The TIP declared an Islamic emirate in Idlib in late November and has largely remained off the radar of authorities and the media thanks to its low profile. Founded in 2008 in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang, the TIP has been one of the major extremist groups in Syria since the outbreak of the civil war in the country in 2011. The TIP is primarily made up of Uighur Muslims from China, but in recent years it also has included other jihadi fighters within its ranks. “Now they recruit non-Uighurs and some Syrians as well,” said Aymenn Jawad al Tamimi, a Syrian researcher at the Middle East Forum, a U.S.-based think tank. “They featured a video recently that showed some Europeans in their ranks. So they have certainly expanded their recruitment base beyond the Uighur refugees who were in Turkey.” At the peak of the Syrian conflict in 2013, there reportedly were an estimated 3,000 TIP fighters across the country, mainly in Idlib, Aleppo, Hama, Homs and the northern part of Latakia province.”


Fox News: Iran Says General Fatally Shot Himself By Accident

“The website of Iran's Revolutionary Guard is reporting that a general who fought in Syria and Iraq has allegedly accidentally killed himself while cleaning a gun. Gen. Ghodratollah Mansouri allegedly shot himself in the head by accident while cleaning his pistol, according to the Sunday report. The report added that Mansouri was veteran of the 1980s Iran-Iraq war and a "defender of the shrine," a reference to Iranians who fight against the extremist Islamic State (ISIS) group in Syria and Iraq. Since 2014, Mansouri was a regional commander of the Guard's ground forces in the northeastern city of Mashhad, some 560 miles east of the capital Tehran. Hundreds of Iranian forces have been killed fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq.”

Radio Farda: Iran Annual Budget Drains Special Fund, Saved For Future Generations

“Two members of the Iranian parliament (Majles) say a closed door session of the Majles has decided on Sunday December 16 to deposit only 10 percent of the country's oil revenue into the National Development Fund rather than the 34 percent required by law. The National Development Fund was set up to convert part of the oil and gas revenue into sustainable wealth that would be invested on productive economic activities that would guarantee the next generations' wellbeing. Alireza Salami, MP for Mahallat told Tasnim news agency that the budget bill for the year starting on 21 March 2019 has "illegally reduced" the amount to be deposited into the strategically important fund. Previously, Fars news agency had reported that the government' economic coordination council where the heads of judiciary, executive and legislative branches are represented, had rejected depositing even the 10 percent into the fund due to "an eye-catching decline in oil export.”

Al Jazeera: Manufacturing Spies: Iran's Campaign Against 'Infiltration'

Around two weeks ago, in a move that caught many by surprise, Iran's security forces arrested Iranian-Australian academic Meimanat Hosseini-Chavoshi, a widely respected population researcher at the University of Melbourne, as she was leaving Iran. They also summoned her colleague, Mohammad Jalal Abbasi-Shavazi, who is a professor of demography at the University of Tehran and director of Iran's National Institute of Population Research, for questioning. Iran's state news agency IRNA said Hosseini-Chavoshi and Abbasi-Shavazi, who had previously conducted research on population growth and fertility in Iran, were charged with "espionage" and intrusion "in the area of population control". Iranian media reported that the scientists were allegedly producing false statistics about the rate of fertility in Iran in an attempt to obscure its "population crisis". Population control has become a sensitive issue in Iran since Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for population increase in a key speech in 2012, deeming Iran's decades-long, state-sponsored birth control policy a "mistake". Under his leadership, the state is now encouraging Iranians to have as many children as possible in a bid to increase the country's population from around 81 to 150- 200 million in the near future.”


Time: Iraq Lays Cornerstone To Rebuild An Iconic Mosul Mosque Destroyed In ISIS Battle

“Iraqi religious leaders have laid the cornerstone to rebuild Mosul’s landmark al-Nuri mosque, which was blown up in the battle with Islamic State militants in 2017. The mosque, also known as The Great Mosque of al-Nuri, and its iconic leaning minaret were built in the 12th century. It was from the mosque’s pulpit that IS’s self-styled caliph, Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi, declared the caliphate’s establishment in 2014. Iraqi forces defeated the extremist group in the last of its urban strongholds last year, recapturing Mosul in a fierce battle that saw the al-Nuri mosque destroyed. Dignitaries from the E.U. and the U.N. attended the ceremony in the mosque’s courtyard, where Abdulateef al-Humayim, head of Iraq’s Sunni endowments, led the proceedings on Sunday. The UAE donated $50.4 million to rebuild the mosque. Construction is expected to take five years.”

Business Insider: What Stanley McChrystal Learned From Al Qaeda's Leader In Iraq Before Leading The Operation To Kill Him

“Before Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was blotted out by a US airstrike on June 7, 2006, he made an impression, especially on Stanley McChrystal, who, as a lieutenant general in charge of US Joint Special Operations Command, led the effort to take out the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq. Al-Zarqawi's zealotry made him a lodestar for an extremist movement that still roils Iraq and the region, McChrystal said on a recent episode of Business Insider's "This Is Success" podcast. "For about two and a half years, we fought a bitter fight against this guy. And Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had come from a tough town in Jordan, very little education, got involved in crime and things like that in his youth," said McChrystal, who profiled al-Zarqawi in his most recent book, "Leaders." "But then, what happened was he realized that if he showed self-discipline to exhibit the conviction of his Islamic beliefs — if he did that overtly, if he became a zealot — other people were attracted to him," McChrystal added. "He was living up to what he said and was demanding that they do.”

The New Yorker: Iraq’s Post-ISIS Campaign Of Revenge

“September morning in Baghdad. Traffic halted at checkpoints and roadblocks as bureaucrats filed behind blast walls and the temperature climbed to a hundred and fifteen degrees. At the Central Criminal Court, a guard ran his baton along the bars of a small cell holding dozens of terrorism suspects awaiting trial. They were crammed on a wooden bench and on the floor, a sweaty tangle of limbs and dejected expressions. Many were sick or injured—covered in scabies, their joints twisted and their bones cracked. Iraqi prisons have a uniform code—different colors for pretrial suspects, convicts, and those on death row—but several who had not yet seen a judge or a lawyer were already dressed as if they had been sentenced to death. Down the hall, the aroma of Nescafé and cigarettes filled a windowless room, where defense lawyers sat on couches, balancing stacks of paper on their laps. Most were staring at their phones; others sat in silence, arms crossed, eyes closed. In terrorism cases, lawyers are usually denied access to their clients until the hearing begins. Shortly after ten o’clock, three judges in long black robes shuffled into Courtroom 2 and sat at the bench. Suhail Abdullah Sahar, a bald, middle-aged man with a thin, jowly face, sat in the center.”

Iraqi News: Iraqi Airstrike Kills Four Islamic State Militants Inside Nineveh Tunnel

“Four Islamic State militants were killed Sunday in an air raid that targeted their hotbed in Nineveh province, the Iraqi army said. Troops of the Nineveh Operations Command found during a security campaign in Atshana Mountains a tunnel being used as a hideout by Islamic State militants, Mawazin News quoted the Security Media Center as saying in a statement. The Iraqi Air Force immediately launched an airstrike targeting the IS militants hiding inside the tunnel, leaving four of them dead, the statement dead. “The airstrike left the tunnel completely destroyed,” the statement added. Former Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi announced in August 2017 that Nineveh province was fully liberated from Islamic State after the district of Tal Afar was recaptured. The announcement came after the defeat of the jihadist group in the town of Ayadiya, where the militants had fled to from Tal Afar. Islamic State militants seized control of much of Nineveh, including the provincial capital of Mosul, in June 2014. The Iraqi government launched an operation to retake Tal Afar on 20 August involving some 50,000 personnel from the army, air force, federal police, special forces and the Shia Muslim-led paramilitary Popular Mobilisation Forces.”

Iraqi News: Iraqi Military: Two Islamic State Infiltrators Apprehended In Mosul

“Iraqi authorities announced on Sunday that two Islamic State terrorists were arrested in Mosul city after they had infiltrated from neighboring Syria. “Troops of the Military Intelligence Directorate arrested two terrorists during a security campaign in Badush city, west of Mosul,” Iraqi news website Almaalomah quoted the directorate as saying in a statement. The pair, according to the statement, “had infiltrated from Syria and hid among the displaced people coming from the al-Haul camp in Syria.” Former Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi announced in July 2017 liberation of the second largest Iraqi city of Mosul from IS militants, who had captured it in 2014. More than 25,000 militants were killed throughout the campaign, which started in October 2016. The campaign was backed by paramilitary troops and a U.S.-led international coalition. Iraq declared victory over Islamic State in December with the help of a US-led alliance, having retaken all the territory captured by the extremists in 2014 and 2015. Despite the group’s crushing defeat at its main havens across Iraq, Islamic State continues to launch sporadic attacks against troops with security reports warning that the militant group still poses a threat against stability in the country.”


NBC News: 9/11 Hangs Over Taliban Talks And Assurances Militant Group Has Changed

“President Donald Trump's envoy to Afghanistan is intensifying efforts to pull the Taliban into a peace deal that will end America's longest war, holding a flurry of meetings in the region over the past four months. The Taliban said talks were being held Monday with Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. diplomat tasked with negotiating with the group that once sheltered Osama bin Laden. While American officials would not confirm that Khalilzad was in the United Arab Emirates, the State Department says he has met and will continue to meet "with all interested parties" in the conflict. Khalilzad has stressed he is "in a hurry" to secure an agreement, a sign of how eager the White House is to withdraw the 15,000 U.S. troops remaining in Afghanistan. But even as diplomatic efforts gallop ahead, a crucial question looms over talks: Would a Taliban legitimized by an international peace agreement prevent foreign terrorists from plotting attacks from Afghan soil like Al Qaeda did before Sept. 11, 2001? It was the Taliban government's decision to protect bin Laden that triggered the subsequent U.S.-led invasion. Top military brass clearly feel there is a danger of history repeating. “Were we not to put the pressure on Al Qaeda, ISIS and other groups in the region that we are putting on today, it is our assessment that in a period of time their capability would reconstitute,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford said earlier this month.”

News 18: Airstrike Targeting Taliban Commander Kills 20 Afghan Civilians: Local Officials

“At least 20 Afghan civilians, including 12 children, were killed in an airstrike targeting a Taliban commander in the eastern province of Kunar late on Friday, local officials said. The strike, against a local Taliban commander named Sharif Mawiya, was the latest in a series of operations targeting senior insurgent field commanders, including the shadow governor of the strategic southern province of Helmand, who was killed on December 2. Several Taliban military commanders have been killed since the beginning of the month by Afghan forces, backed by US advisers and air power but the tactic has also increased the risk of civilian casualties. Abdul Latif Fazly, a member of the provincial council, said eight women and 12 children were killed and more than 15 civilians wounded in the incident. Kunar governor Abdul Satar Mirzakwal said an operation by Afghan forces in Sheltan district killed 38 Taliban and al Qaeda members, including four foreign nationals, and wounded 12 more. He said the operation targeted Sharif Mawiya, a commander believed to be a facilitator with Al Qaeda militants. He said an unknown number of civilians were hit in the strike but had no casualty details.”

Voice Of America: US, Taliban To Meet Monday In UAE

“A Pakistan-arranged meeting between U.S. and Taliban officials will be held Monday in the United Arab Emirates to push a political settlement to the war in Afghanistan. The special representative for Afghan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, will lead the U.S. team at the talks in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the gulf state, a senior Pakistani official privy to the development confirmed to VOA on Sunday. The official, requesting anonymity, said Islamabad has facilitated the dialogue after President Donald Trump wrote to Prime Minister Imran Khan earlier this month seeking his cooperation in bringing the Taliban to the table for peace negotiations. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, in a brief statement sent to VOA, has confirmed participation of its political negotiators in Monday's meeting with American officials, but said that representatives of the host country, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia will also be in attendance. Initially, it was Khan who disclosed on Friday that Pakistan-aided talks between U.S. and Taliban officials would take place on December 17, though he would not say where. The Pakistani prime minister, while speaking in the northwestern city of Peshawar, explained his country has agreed to assist in Afghan peace efforts because Washington has changed its position by requesting help, instead of saying Islamabad is not doing enough, as U.S. leaders have previously insisted.”

Radio Free Europe: The Forgotten Afghan Province That Became Taliban Country

“The ancient fortress towering above Qalat, the capital of Afghanistan's southern province of Zabul, overlooks swaths of desert and scrubland that stretch to the rugged mountains straddling the border with Pakistan. This barren, sparsely populated land has long been a backwater. But under the unwatchful eyes of the government and U.S.-led international forces, Zabul has become a major hub of Taliban support in Afghanistan, where the militants are waging a deadly 17-year insurgency. The government's control barely goes beyond the soaring fortress in Qalat, which is said to date back to when Alexander the Great invaded the region more than 2,000 years ago and is now manned by the Afghan National Army. The Taliban contest or control most of Zabul, where government forces are under constant attack. Despite official claims that support for the Taliban is weak or forced under duress, support in rural Zabul, at least, is high. "I don't support the Taliban, because they are a barrier to progress and development," says Mansur, a resident of Qalat, a dusty town of around 45,000 people. "But people in rural areas don't have a choice. There's poverty and no jobs, so people join the Taliban." Faiz Mohammad Ahmadzai, a civil activist in Qalat, says the province has been forgotten by the government, which he claims has focused its military and developmental efforts in larger, more strategic neighboring provinces like Kandahar, Uruzgan, and Helmand.”


Arab News: Saudi Arabia Urges Houthis To Back Political Solution In Yemen

“King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia on Friday urged Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen to “embark on the path” toward a political solution to the country’s conflict. The two leaders welcomed Thursday’s agreement reached at UN-brokered peace talks in Sweden for a cease-fire and troop withdrawals by both sides from the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah. “The Kingdom remains engaged in the search for a political solution in Yemen that guarantees the security and stability of the country,” the king and the crown prince said. Prince Mohammed had exerted “great personal efforts” to ensure the success of the talks in Sweden, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said. A “robust and competent monitoring regime” was required in Hodeidah to oversee compliance with the cease-fire, UN envoy Martin Griffiths told the Security Council on Friday.”

Al Jazeera: UN Sets Hodeidah Ceasefire Date For December 18: Houthi Official

“The UN has scheduled the start of a ceasefire between Yemen's pro-government forces and Houthi rebels in the city of Hodeidah for December 18, a spokesperson for the Houthi leadership told Al Jazeera. Hodeidah has seen sporadic clashes since Friday, residents said, the first violence to hit the port city since warring parties reached an UN-brokered ceasefire in Sweden on Thursday. Residents reported hearing gunfire and missile blasts in the Houthi-held city, where Yemeni forces backed by a Saudi-UAE-led coalition have massed on the outskirts. The clashes in Hodeidah, whose port is a lifeline for millions of Yemenis facing starvation, came after the Houthis and the Saudi-backed government agreed to cease fighting and withdraw their troops, after a week of consultations in Sweden that ended on December 13. It was the first significant breakthrough for the UN-led peace efforts, aimed at paving the way for political negotiations to end the more than four-year war that has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.”


The Washington Post: Pakistan Army Chief Confirms Death Sentence For 15 Militants

“Pakistan’s army chief has approved death sentences for 15 people convicted by military courts of involvement in attacks that killed 32 security forces and two civilians. A military statement issued Sunday says Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa also approved prison terms for 20 alleged militants. It says they were involved in attacks on security forces and Christians, and the destruction of educational institutions. It did not say when the men would be executed. Military trials are not open to the public in Pakistan, but defendants can hire their own lawyers. Pakistan lifted a moratorium on the death penalty after a 2014 militant attack on an army-run school in Peshawar that killed more than 150 people, mostly schoolchildren. The fourth anniversary of the attack is being observed Sunday.”

Voice Of America: US Hails Pakistan’s Work For Peace Talks With Taliban

“The United States said Saturday it welcomes actions Pakistan is taking to promote a negotiated solution to the war in neighboring Afghanistan. The acknowledgement came a day after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan announced his country has arranged another round of Washington’s peace talks with the Afghan Taliban scheduled for Monday. “The United States welcomes any actions by the Pakistani government to promote greater cooperation, including fostering negotiations between the Taliban, the Afghan government, and other Afghans,” a U.S. embassy spokesperson in Kabul told VOA. U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, has met, and will continue to meet, with all interested parties, including the Taliban, to support a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan, the spokesperson added. Neither Khan nor the U.S. spokesperson have disclosed the possible venue for the upcoming meeting with Taliban officials. Some Afghan sources say Monday’s meeting will take place in Islamabad, but no official confirmation is available. Khalilzad, who is visiting regional countries to gather support for Afghan peace talks, is to lead the U.S. delegation in talks with insurgent representatives. This will not be the first time Khalilzad has met with the Taliban.”


Arab News: Iran Is Meddling In Lebanon Again

“Iran’s current efforts to increase its influence in Lebanon have not been adequately addressed by the international community and some media outlets. For almost seven months, Lebanon has been struggling to form a government. The political deadlock forced Lebanese President Michel Aoun to intervene. “The risks are greater than we can bear,” he warned. “We’re launching an initiative... and it has to succeed, because if it doesn’t... there will be a catastrophe. We want to say it with all frankness, and this is the reason for my intervention.” This is not the first time Lebanon has had difficulty forming a government. One of the major players in such political wrangling is the Iran-backed Shiite party Hezbollah, which controls the majority of seats in Lebanon’s Parliament. One of the key hurdles is linked to Hezbollah’s demands for an additional Cabinet seat. Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, who is mandated to lead the formation of the government, has rejected this demand.”


Asharq Al-Awsat: ISIS Cells In Sinai Used Spy Drones, Received Military Training

“Egypt announced on Sunday that members of ISIS terrorist cells in Sinai had spied on the country with drones, adding that they had received military training inside the country and abroad. The judiciary referred 43 ISIS suspects, held in the Sinai State case, to criminal trial on charges of carrying out violent acts in the Cairo, Giza, northern Sinai, Dakahlia, Qalyubia, Faiyum and Kafr al-Sheikh districts. Hamada al-Sayyed, a former football player in the Aswan club, is among the suspects. The defendants are charged with forming seven splinter ISIS cells in 2015 and up until February. They plotted to carry out terrorist crimes, attack security forces and police and change the system of rule in Egypt by force by obstructing the constitution and laws. They also planned to attack public institutions and Christians and their places of worship. Three of the suspects funded the cells and others obtained weapons, ammunition and material to build explosives. One of the defendants also acquired a drone equipped with a camera. Investigations revealed that the suspects had received military, security and technical training in ISIS camps in northern Sinai.”


Al Arabiya: ISIS Leaflets Containing Detailed Terror Attack Plans Found In Libya

“Libyan security authorities found leaflets containing plans by the ISIS extremist group to carry out terrorist bombings targeting state headquarters, in addition to written threats to assassinate a number of security and military officials. According to a statement released on Friday by the media office of the security directorate of the interim government’s interior ministry in al-Rajban city, the publications belonging to ISIS were found in a coffee shop, including threats to blow up and sabotage al-Zintan airport. It also had detailed plans to bomb the headquarters of security directorates, police stations and other security services such as internal and external security and intelligence, in addition to assassinating security and military officials. The statement did not specify the method of execution that ISIS planned to use in the alleged planned bombing, but since the emergence of the extremist group in Libya, it has adopted methods based on car bombs or suicide bombers in its attacks. Accordingly, Rajban’s security directorate announced a state of high alert and appealed to all police members to absent from work in all cities as well as military personnel who are not stationed to join their ranks and carry out their duties in order to maintain stability and security. ISIS, which is still active in southern and central Libya, announced this year that it was responsible for several major terrorist attacks in various parts of Libya that killed dozens, namely security personnel.”


News 24: Hundreds Flee After Boko Haram Burns Nigerian Village

“Hundreds fled late on Sunday after Boko Haram burned their homes near Nigeria's northeastern city of Maiduguri, residents told AFP. Boko Haram fighters in several trucks stormed Maiborti village, five kilometres outside Maiduguri, firing indiscriminately and setting fire to homes, they said. A military officer who did not want to be identified said troops and fighter jets were deployed to the village and scrambled to push out the militants after "fierce battle". It was not clear if there were casualties in the attack which once again highlighted the fragile security situation in the restive region. "They (Boko Haram) came around 1630 GMT and started firing in the village which made us abandon our homes and flee to Maiduguri," Maiborti resident Abacha Kaka told AFP. Militia leader Babakura Kolo said the jihadists were later forced out of the village by troops with aerial support. "Unfortunately, the terrorists succeeded in setting fire to the village and burning it down completely," he added. Boko Haram has in recent months launched attacks in a bid to capture Maiduguri, the birthplace of its founder Mohammed Yusuf. Last month, the jihadists attacked Jimmi village just outside the city, killing one person and stealing hundreds of livestock. In April, scores of Boko Haram fighters launched a gun and suicide attack on Jiddari-Polo, outside the city. The Islamist group has attacked at least 20 military bases in recent weeks, killing dozens of soldiers and carting away weapons.”

Sahara Reporters: 'Many' Soldiers Killed, Injured As Boko Haram Invades Military Bases In Borno

“Many soldiers were feared dead with dozens missing when suspected Boko Haram attacked military formations in the northern part of Borno State between Friday and Saturday night. The insurgents struck Gudumbali in Guzamala town on Friday at about 5:30pm, riding on military vehicles mounted with anti-aircraft guns. According to a source, the insurgents shot sporadically, firing RPGs towards the military base. "Many soldiers lost their lives; they were many," the source said. "The Boko Haram terrorists came in large numbers, and although the troops initially stood their ground, they later they fled into bushes. We slept in the bush between Friday and Saturday morning. We got to Gubio yesterday. Many are still there, because they only came for soldiers, not civilians, except those of us working with the soldiers.” A soldier, who preferred not to be named, gave an insight into the invasion, stating that the attackers were trained terrorists. "Although we engaged them, they overpowered us," he said. "They were well-trained terrorists, not those we are used to fighting. In fact, they handled anti-aircraft guns and RPGs better. We didn't have options, because we were running out of ammunition and there was no reinforcement. Some soldiers were killed and dozens fled to Damasak." The insurgents continued their attacks in Kukawa town and also invaded military and Police posts, sacking the security operatives. An official said Kukawa town came under the siege of insurgents, and pleaded for the support of the Air Force, as many civilians are currently trapped in Kukawa town.”


The Washington Post: Somalia Scrambles To Prevent Al-Shabab’s Former No. 2 From Running For Office

“Mukhtar Robow, the former spokesman and deputy leader of the Somali Islamist group al-Shabab, is a surprisingly popular man. After quitting the group in 2013 and formally recognizing Somalia’s government last year, he has successfully shed his association with a militancy that proudly claims countless suicide bombings and institutes a merciless interpretation of sharia law across areas it controls. His surrender was celebrated as a major symbolic win for Somalia’s government, which has tried to encourage defections. Robow once had a $5 million bounty on his head from the U.S. State *Department, but since he defected, he has publicly criticized al-Shabab and even donated blood to victims of one of its attacks last year. But now Robow is hoping to run for the highest office in his native region of Somalia, and it is clear that this is not what the Somali government had envisioned. Amid disputes over the legitimacy of Robow’s candidacy, the government has postponed the election three times.”

Al Jazeera: US Army Says 62 Al-Shabab Fighters Killed In Somalia Air Strikes

“The US military has said it killed 62 al-Shabab fighters in six air strikes on Saturday and Sunday in the vicinity of Gandarsh in Somalia's south-central Banaadir province. The military's Africa Command (Africom) said on Monday that four strikes were carried out on Saturday, killing 34 fighters, and two more on Sunday, which killed 28. "Africa Command and our Somali partners conducted these air strikes to prevent terrorists from using remote areas as a safe haven to plot, direct, inspire and recruit for future attacks," Africom said in a statement. The air strikes, among the deadliest this year, did not kill any civilians, the statement said. "At this time we assess these air strikes did not injure or kill any civilians." The United States carries out regular air strikes in Somalia in support of a UN-backed government there, which has been fighting against an al-Shabab rebellion for years. Last month, the US military said it had killed 37 fighters from the al-Qaeda-linked group.”

NBC News: Somalia Uproar Continues After Arrest Of Former Al-Shabab No. 2 Who Was Running For Office

“Somalia saw a third day of protests on Saturday over the arrest of the former No. 2 leader of the al-Shabab extremist group, who has been a leading candidate for a regional presidency. Officials said at least eight people have been killed so far as angry supporters take to the streets and clash with police. The African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia in a statement released overnight called for "utmost restraint" after the gunfire-fueled uproar around Muhktar Robow's arrest on Thursday in Baidoa, and it denied playing any role. His arrest is seen as a high-profile test of Somalia's treatment of defectors from the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab, Africa's most active extremist group. Somalia's government welcomed the defection last year by al-Shabab's former spokesman but not his popular candidacy to lead Southwest state, which took some officials by surprise. Robow was seized by Ethiopian troops accompanied by Somali police, witnesses told The Associated Press. He was flown to the capital, Mogadishu, a Somali intelligence official said. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters or for safety concerns. Some Somali lawmakers had accused the AU mission of being involved. Ethiopia's military, which contributes troops to the AU mission, has not commented.”

United Kingdom

The Guardian: Newcastle Man Remanded In Custody On Terrorism Charge

“A Newcastle man has appeared in court accused of buying a knife and chemicals in preparation for a terrorist attack in the UK. Fatah Mohammed Abdullah, from Arthur’s Hill, was accompanied by three police officers in the dock at Westminster magistrates court in London on Saturday. The 33-year-old Iranian is alleged to have bought a knife, balaclava and “explosive precursors” including chemicals, more than 8,000 matches and a number of fuses. He is also alleged to have searched online for components, including a pressure cooker, to make an explosive. Adbullah, who represented himself, sat with his hands clasped behind his neck for most of the hearing. He faces one count of engaging, between 9 April and 11 December, in the preparation of an act of terrorism, contrary to section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006. Asked if there was anything he wanted to say, Abdullah replied: “I just want to go home.”He was arrested in Newcastle on Tuesday during an intelligence-led operation planned as part of an ongoing investigation by the counter-terrorism unit. The court heard he had come to the UK from Iran in 2005 and was granted leave to remain in 2010. The district judge Kwame Inyundo remanded him in custody to appear at the Old Bailey on 14 January.”

BBC News: Anti-Radicalisation Co-Ordinator: Wales 'Far Right Hunting Ground'

“Wales has become a "hunting ground" for the far right, the leader of an anti-radicalisation project has warned. Young, poor, vulnerable people are most susceptible to recruitment, said Tony Hendrickson, co-ordinator of the lottery-funded Resilience project. He explained teachers need to be better at spotting and reacting to racism in order to "counter the narrative". The Welsh Government said it expects schools and local authorities to comply with counter-terrorism legislation. Mr Hendrickson, 54, who grew up in Llanrumney, Cardiff, is the new co-ordinator of Resilience, which is run by charity Ethnic Minorities and Youth Support Team (EYST). His warning comes as new figures reveal a 36% rise in people referred to the UK's terrorism-prevention programme, Prevent, over right-wing extremism. A lack of diversity in large parts of Wales makes it easier for the far right narrative to take hold "because it is easier to alienate people if you don't know them", Mr Hendrickson explained. He added the far right issue is a bigger problem in Wales than Islamist extremism, and has grown as a movement since the Brexit referendum and the election of Donald Trump. "The Islamist problem has never been that big. If Muslims had really bought into that, there would have been bombs going off every day," he said.”


The Independent: Cherif Chekatt: Strasbourg Christmas Market Attacker Supported ISIS, Says Father As Fifth Victim Dies

“The father of the gunman who embarked on a deadly shooting spree at a Christmas market in Strasbourg has said his son was an Isis supporter, as officials said a fifth person had died from their wounds. Abdelkrim Chekatt said Chérif Chekatt, 29, believed the Islamic terror group was “fighting for a just cause”. Five people were killed and 12 others were wounded in the gun attack on Tuesday. The Paris prosecutor's office said a Polish national became the fifth victim on Sunday. Chekatt escaped but was cornered by French police and shot dead in the Neudorf area of the city following a huge two-day manhunt. His parents and two brothers were among seven arrested as police investigated whether others were involved in the attack. The four family members have since been released “due to the lack of incriminating evidence at this stage”, the Paris prosecutor’s office said. Speaking to the TV channel France 2, Abdelkrim Chekatt denied knowing his son was planning the shooting and said he had tried to discourage his extremist beliefs. “He’d say, for example, that Daesh is fighting for a just cause,” he said, using the Arabic acronym for Isis. “I told him: ‘Forget about Daesh, don’t listen to what they say. Don’t you see the atrocities they commit? Beheadings, burning people alive.’” Mr Chekatt, who said he last saw his son three days before the shootings, added: “I always told him, ‘Daesh, they are criminals.’”


Deutsche Welle: German State Probes Frankfurt Police Extremist Network: Report

“State criminal police (LKA) are investigating an alleged right-wing extremist network in the Frankfurt police force, respected German newspaper Frankfurt Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reported Sunday. The LKA in Hesse has reportedly set up a special investigative group after a group of police officers allegedly sent a threatening letter to a lawyer of Turkish background who has represented Islamic extremists in court. "Dirty Turkish sow," the faxed letter to Seda Basay-Yildiz began. "You're not going to destroy Germany. You better piss off as long as you can still get out of here alive, you swine!" Basay-Yildiz told Frankfurter Neue Presse on Saturday this part of the letter was standard fare for her regular hate letters, but she was more worried by what came next. "In retaliation ... we will slay your daughter," it read, followed by her daughter's name and her address. It was signed with "NSU 2.0.," referring to the far-right German neo-Nazi terror group National Socialist Underground, which was active in the 2000s. Basay-Yildiz also worked in the court case against NSU members. She told the paper that the name of her 2-year-old daughter and her private address are not public knowledge. The threat emerged in August and the resulting investigation reportedly discovered a group of at least five police officers who had been sharing neo-Nazi messages and images in a chat group — a grave offence in Germany.”


Washington Examiner: Born In Belgium, Raised In ISIS: 'I Want To Come Home'

“At a recent counterterrorism conference held by the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism in Brussels, Belgium, a seven-year-old’s words touched the issues currently pressing upon the heart of Europe more deeply than any of those made by the many high-level international experts speaking there. EU Counterterrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove highlighted the need for strategic messaging to delegitimize groups and ideologies like that of al Qaeda and the Islamic State. Belgian OCAD Deputy Director Gert Vercauteren spoke about the value of using the accounts of ISIS insiders, such as in the " ICSVE Breaking the ISIS Brand Counter Narrative" series. He pointed out that such stories are highly accessible, as ICSVE subtitles them in nearly all the languages in which ISIS is recruiting and the insiders’ stories are phrased in the simple words used also by those they might warn off from joining. Yet, no one spoke more poignantly than when a short film of a Belgian-born but ISIS-raised child, Sara, was played, in which she spoke to the riveted audience of her wish to come home to Belgium. While European governments feared until very recently a flood of returning foreign fighters who might be ideologically indoctrinated and weaponized, the fact is that many of these males have been killed. The West is instead surprisingly confronted with the need to grapple over the fates of ISIS women and children. The Belgian-born but ISIS-raised Sara spoke about her life imprisoned in a Syrian detention camp, due to her mother having brought her to Syria in pursuit of the ISIS Caliphate.”


ABC News: Facebook Could Potentially Face $1.63 Billion Fine Over Data Breach

“Facebook could be slapped with a $1.63 billion fine. It's related to Friday's announcement that hackers compromised the accounts of more than 50 million Facebook users. Ireland's Data Protection Commission, which is Facebook's lead privacy regulator in Europe, is considering levying the fine if regulators find Facebook violated the European Union's new privacy law. The law requires companies to notify regulators of breaches within 72 hours. This breach was discovered on Tuesday, but not reported until Friday. Facebook pledged Sunday morning to cooperate with the investigation.”

Forbes: Should Social Media Be Allowed To Profit From Terrorism And Hate Speech?

“Social media companies portray themselves as benevolent public services bringing the world together. Yet under that veneer of public good lie Orwellian surveillance machines that silently watch our every waking moment, harvesting and mining our every action down to our most intimate moments and relentlessly monetizing them. Most importantly, their ad-supported ecosystems do not distinguish between profiting from legitimate and legal activity and from horrific and illegal content. Social media platforms earn a profit from terrorism propaganda and recruiting, human trafficking, genocide, hate speech, sexism, racism, suicide, bullying and all other forms of unimaginably horrific activity. Should they be forced to hand back that money rather than continuing to profit from the worst of human society? In the print and broadcast era, advertisers paid to have their messages shown alongside professionally vetted content. Newspapers, magazines, radio and television shows and most other outlets had professional editorial staff that manually and carefully reviewed every piece of content they published, ensuring that advertisements appeared alongside content consistent with national laws and the sensibilities of those advertisers.”

Techspot: Web Giant Cloudflare Reportedly Providing Service To Seven Terrorist Organizations

“Cloudflare has been accused of providing internet related services to terrorist organizations – again. The company, which receives more traffic than Twitter, Amazon, Apple, Instagram, Bing and Wikipedia combined, offers essential services that protect and shield websites from all sorts of attacks, most notably DDoS. If a terrorist organization needed protection from vigilante hackers, they’d be forced to go with one of the best networks out there, but why would any respected American company offer service to terrorists? An investigation by the HuffPost has found that Cloudflare provides online protection to seven terrorist organisations. These include the Taliban, al-Shabab, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Al Quds Brigades, the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and Hamas. While various experts from the US and the international Counter Extremism Project have analyzed the websites and are very certain in their findings, Cloudflare refuses to admit if they are protecting the websites, citing “privacy concerns.”

Counter Terrorism

Alqabas: Kuwait: Money Exchange Bureaus Strictly Apply Counter-Terrorist Financing Regulations

“Informed sources report that money exchange and fund remittance bureaus operating in Kuwait have instructed all their employees to strictly apply counter-terrorist financing and anti-money laundering regulations issued by the Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK). The CBK directives include verifying the customer's identity, inquiring about the source of funds, and demanding a copy of all necessary documents required for money transfers. The directives were circulated following the visits of Central Bank executives (posing as customers) who entered several money exchange offices and discovered they were not complying with the Bank's regulations in the realm of combating terrorist financing and money-laundering.”


Almesryoon: Iftaa Observatory Warns Of ISIS Attempts To "Re-Establish" Control Of Iraq

“The Observatory of Fatwas and Taffiri opinions of the Egyptian Fatwa House has warned of attempts by ISIS to regain control in liberated areas of Iraq. The terror organization has recently expanded the scope of its operations in these areas, leading to a high number of violent incidents and bombings in Iraqi cities. The Iftaa Observatory is claiming that that the terrorist organization is implementing a number of strategies to ensure that its lost control is restored. The most prominent of these strategies is sedition, aimed at stirring up sectarian strife. The organization seeks to divide between various components of the Iraqi social fabric while hitting minorities and carrying out killing and displacement operations as it did with the Yezidis.”

24.Ae: 319 Suspected Members Of ISIS's Wilayat Sinai Placed On Terror Lists In Egypt

“The Prosecution of the Cairo Appellate Court has submitted its opinion in a case publicly known as the "Sinai Province or ISIS-SP." The prosecution upheld a former ruling blacklisting 319 suspected members of the Wilayat Sinai ("Sinai Province"), an ISIS-affiliate militant group active in the Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. It is noteworthy that the South Cairo Criminal Court in July 2018 decided to place the aforementioned defendants on terror lists in connection with case No. 79 – 2017. For his part, Egypt's Public Prosecutor, Counselor Nabil Sadek, following investigations by the Supreme State Security Prosecution, previously forwarded those suspects to the military court. The defendants face multiple charges including establishment of 43 terrorist cells belonging to a terrorist organization (ISIS-Sinai), recruiting members to a terro organization, providing monetary and logistic support to a militant group, and attacking soldiers, policemen and security facilities with explosives.”

Muslim Brotherhood

News Yemen: Kuwait Dismantles Charity Association That Financed Muslim Brotherhood Activity In Yemen

“Kuwait's Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor has announced the dismantling of the Al-Salam society for humanitarian and charity work. The decision to dissolve the Al-Salam charity came following repeated administrative and financial violations, this despite more than once being warned, the Ministry explained. It is worth noting that the aforementioned charitable association recently signed an agreement with Abdul-Qawi Al-Mekhlafy, a Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Deputy Governor of Taiz Governorate in southwestern Yemen. This agreement is aimed at building a residential complex consisting of 300 units designated for "orphans of martyrs" at a total cost of KD 1.4 million ($4.6 million). Note that Gulf States including Kuwait have made substantial efforts to dry up funding sources of the Muslim Brotherhood organization in several countries including Yemen.”

News Yemen: Houthi Group Raids 30 Containers In Hodeidah, Transports Them To Saada

“An official source at Hodeidah Customs has disclosed that the Houthis have looted trucks, vehicles and heavy equipment found inside 30 containers destined for an electric project in the Directorate of Bayt al-Faqih, south of the province. The source confirms that the Houthis seized the equipment and moved it towards Saada in northern Yemen. The source adds that the equipment entered the port of Hodeidah, pursuant to an agreement concluded with the Yemeni government and the (International) Islamic Bank in early 2014, which saw the bank finance the establishment of three power plants in the Bayt al-Faqih region.”

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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