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Old 10-19-2018, 06:29 AM
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Arrow Eye on Extremism October 19, 2018

Eye on Extremism - October 19, 2018

Eye on Extremism - October 19, 2018

The Wall Street Journal: Powerful Afghan Police Chief Killed in Taliban Attack; Top U.S. Commander Escapes

“Taliban insurgents assassinated one of southern Afghanistan’s most powerful leaders, and narrowly missed the top U.S. commander in the country, in the latest deadly attack to deal a setback to U.S. efforts to show progress in America’s longest-running war. The assailant was a bodyguard for the governor of southern Kandahar province, who opened fire inside a compound housing the offices and residence of the provincial governor after a meeting to discuss security preparations for this weekend’s parliamentary elections. The Taliban, which has branded Saturday’s elections un-Islamic and pledged to disrupt the vote, claimed responsibility for the attack that killed Gen. Abdul Raziq, Kandahar’s police chief, and another Afghan official. The U.S. denied the Taliban’s claim that the U.S. commander, Army Gen. Scott Miller, was also a target of the assault. An official at the U.S. Embassy in the Afghan capital said witnesses told U.S. authorities that the ambush was focused on Gen. Raziq, one of the Kabul government’s greatest champions in the most important seat of political and financial power in southern Afghanistan.”

The New York Post: Putin: ISIS Took Hundreds Of Hostages, Including US Citizens, In Syria

“Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Thursday that ISIS militants have taken 700 hostages in Syria and he claimed the terror group has pledged to murder 10 people a day if their conditions are not met. Putin made the disturbing claim while speaking at a forum in Sochi — adding that several US and European nationals are among those captured. “They have issued ultimatums, specific demands and warned that if these ultimatums are not met they will execute 10 people every day,” Putin said. There was skepticism about Putin’s claims in Washington, where a senior US official told Fox News the information was “fake news.” “We have no information supporting the large number of hostages alleged by President Putin and we are skeptical of its accuracy,” a Pentagon spokesman said.”

Reuters: Istanbul Summit On Syria Aimed At Avoiding New Humanitarian Disaster: France

“The leaders of France, Germany, Turkey and Russia will meet on Oct 27 in Istanbul to discuss the war in Syria and identify ways of avoiding a humanitarian catastrophe in the country’s Idlib region, the French presidency said on Friday. President Emmanuel Macron’s office said Paris wanted to ensure a ceasefire in Idlib remained in place to prevent a new exodus of refugees and to provide new momentum for peace talks.”

The Independent: Anjem Choudary Released: Radical Islamist Preacher Jailed For Inviting Support For ISIS Leaves Prison

“Anjem Choudary has been released from prison a little over two years after being convicted of inviting support for Isis. The notorious hate preacher, whose network of Islamist fanatics include Isis fighters and terror attackers, was released from Belmarsh prison in southeast London on Friday morning. A car believed to be carrying Choudary, behind blacked-out windows, was seen leaving the jail escorted by unmarked police cars shortly after 4am. He was seen entering a probation hostel in north London, where he is expected to be kept for several months under intense supervision. Choudary’s release, half way through his five-and-a-half-year sentence, has sparked outrage after the prisons minister himself admitted he was still “genuinely dangerous”. Fiyaz Mughal, director of the Faith Matters counter-extremism group, said the punishment should have been fully served.”

Vice News: These Two Guys From Brooklyn Went To War In Syria To Fight ISIS. Now, They’re Back

“Christopher is a former bike racer and photographer currently working as a metalworker in Brooklyn. His roommate, Chris, works as a theatre director. It's a big change from a year ago, when both of them were in Syria, fighting the Islamic State as part of a Kurdish militia. One year ago the U.S.-backed Syrian Defense Forces (SDF), finished a four month campaign to push ISIS out of its Syrian capital, Raqqa. Official American involvement in Raqqa was limited to airstrikes and small teams of elite special forces troops. But the YPG, a socialist Kurdish militia, didn't have the same limitations, drawing hundreds of foreign, less-than-experienced fighters to its ranks. Signing up was easy — both men found applications on Google. That's also how they met, while fighting for the YPG, and they were there on the day Raqqa officially changed hands. (After hearing rumors that ISIS had placed a $100,000 bounty on the heads of foreign fighters, Chris and Christopher requested to be identified only by their first names or Kurdish noms de guerre.)”

Daily Beast: Twitter: Farrakhan Tweet Comparing Jewish People To Termites Doesn’t Violate Policies

“Twitter will not suspend Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan after he wrote a tweet comparing Jewish people to termites, BuzzFeed News reports. In a tweet Tuesday, Farrakhan wrote: “I’m not an anti-Semite. I’m anti-Termite.” The remark was accompanied by a video of Farrakhan thanking Jewish people for putting his name “all over the planet because of [their] fear” of what the Nation of Islam represents. He also called Jewish people “stupid” in the posted clip. A Twitter spokesperson told BuzzFeed News the platform’s new rules on “dehumanizing” tweets—including “comparing groups to animals and viruses (animalistic)”—have not yet been implemented. Therefore, Farrakhan did not breach any of Twitter’s policies. The spokesperson also reportedly did not say when the company would begin enforcing the new rules. Twitter previously refused to remove Alex Jones’ accounts until a CNN report revealed that numerous tweets from the conspiracy theorist were in violation of existing Twitter policies.”

United States
The Times Of Israel: US Offers Reward For Jihadist Who Urged Attacks Over Jerusalem Embassy Move

The United States on Thursday offered a $5 million reward to find Al-Qaeda leader Khalid Batarfi, who urged worldwide attacks on Jews and Americans after Washington recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The Saudi-born Batarfi is a veteran of the jihadist fighters who backed the Taliban in Afghanistan and has become a senior leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which the United States considers the global network’s deadliest branch. In a video released in January, Batarfi called US President Donald Trump’s precedent-breaking declaration on Jerusalem “a declaration of a new Jewish-Crusader war” and called on Muslims to “rise and attack the Jews and the Americans everywhere.” “The Muslims inside the occupied land must kill every Jew, by running him over, or stabbing him, or by using against him any weapon, or by burning their homes,” he said. The US State Department said it was offering $5 million to anyone who could lead authorities to Batarfi or contribute to his arrest or prosecution. The United States also raised from $5 million to $10 million the reward offered for Qasim al-Rimi, considered the emir of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.”

Al Jazeera: Assad's Strategic Use Of ISIL Made His Victory In Syria Possible

“On Sunday, Hay'et Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a former al-Qaeda affiliate based in Syria's Idlib, signalled that it might abide by the terms of a September 17 deal between Russia and Turkey to prevent a Syrian government offensive on the rebel-held province. However, only a day later, the group missed a deadline to remove its fighters from a planned buffer zone around the province set in the Russia - Turkey deal. "We have not abandoned our choice of jihad and fighting towards implementing our blessed revolution," HTS said in a statement. Syrian authorities were quick to express their dissatisfaction. In a news conference on Monday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said the national army was deployed near Idlib, ready to attack if the rebels didn't withdraw. "After Idlib, our target is east of the Euphrates," the minister added, referring to territory held by predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) backed by the US. His statement echoed earlier comments by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that the Russia-Turkey agreement over Idlib was only "a temporary measure", and that the province will eventually return to the Syrian state.”

The Independent: Syria To Reopen Borders With Iraq ‘Soon’, Says Country’s UN Envoy

“Syria will reopen its borders with Iraq “soon”, the country’s representative to the United Nations has said. Earlier this week, the government of Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, received a major boost as the country’s commercial gateway with Jordan plus a crossing to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights were reopened. The simultaneous reopenings were celebrated on state media with back-to-back coverage, reinforcing the regime’s narrative it is slowly emerging as the victor of the seven-year civil war. “We have sought to reopen [the] Nassib border crossing with Jordan, and we will open other border crossings with Iraq soon,” said Bashar Jaafari, Syria’s UN envoy, according to Al-Manar TV. His comments to the UN Security Council on Wednesday came after Iraq’s foreign minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, said “no one should isolate Syria”. Speaking during a press conference with his counterpart in Damascus on Monday, Mr al-Jaafari added, he was advocating for Syria’s return to the Arab League.”

The Hill: What The IAEA Doesn't Know — Or Want To Know — About Iran’s Nuclear Program

“In his speech to the U.N. General Assembly last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed that Iran, in addition to having an archive of files documenting its illicit military nuclear research, has a warehouse containing nuclear equipment and material. The prime minister exhorted International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano to “go and inspect this atomic warehouse immediately,” before Iran hides its contents. A week later, however, the IAEA rejected his suggestion. In a statement, the agency said, “All information obtained, including from third parties, is subject to rigorous review and assessed together with other available information to arrive at an independent assessment based on the agency’s own expertise.” This wasn’t the first time the IAEA failed to investigate possible Iranian violations discovered by Israeli intelligence. When Israel in April smuggled out a half-ton of documents and CDs from a Tehran warehouse, the IAEA issued a similar statement: “In line with standard IAEA practice, the IAEA evaluates all (nuclear) safeguards-relevant information available to it,” but gave no indication that it would investigate further.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Iran: Between Braggadocio And Suicidal Action

“Getting ready for what they think will be the regime’s biggest challenge yet, the leadership in Tehran is looking to Iran’s near or far neighbors to help beat new sanctions being prepared by the Trump administration in Washington. Under study is a plan with three key objectives. The first of these is to make sure Iran exports enough oil to finance “essential expenditure” including the payment of salaries of civil service and military personnel. The second objective is to make sure enough foreign currency is available in the domestic market to slowdown an expected plummeting of the national currency which could fuel inflation. Finally, the plan aims at ensuring the availability of crucial items, including industrial parts needed to keep major factories going. In all those domains success depends on the degree of goodwill that neighbors would be prepared to demonstrate in the face of threats of retaliation by Washington. As far as selling oil is concerned Russia and Iraq might be able to allow Iranian oil to be sold through their established channels or via partial swaps, making it hard for Washington to clearly identify the source and opt for punitive action. For its part, Turkey could reduce oil imports from other sources so as to release capacity for more imports from Iran.”

Fox News: Haley Rips Into Iran’s ‘Crony Terrorism,’ Use Of Child Soldiers In Fiery Return To Security Council

“U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, returning to the Security Council for the first time since she announced her intention to step down earlier this month, tore into Iran’s alleged use of child soldiers on Thursday and accused the regime of “crony terrorism.” “The use of child soldiers is a moral outrage that every civilized nation rejects while Iran celebrates it,” she said in remarks to the chamber. Her remarks came two days after the Treasury announced sanctions against a network of businesses and financial institutions linked to the Basij Resistance Force -- a wing of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard which the U.S. says uses child soldiers. Haley accused Iran of using Basij to recruit children to fight in Syria, including Afghan immigrants as young as 14-years-old. She said the group’s funding comes from “multibillion dollar business interests operating in Iran’s automotive, mining, metals and banking industries." “Iran’s economy is increasingly devoted to funding Iranian repression at home and aggression abroad. In this case, Iranian big business and finance are funding the war crime of using child soldiers,” she said. “This is crony terrorism.”

Arab News: Opportunistic Iran Regime Supports Al-Qaeda-Linked Terror Group

“UN experts have recently shared a report with the organization’s Security Council that describes in detail how the Iranian regime has been cooperating with and assisting an Al-Qaeda-affiliated terror group. The as-yet-unpublished report, which has been seen by the Associated Press, sheds light on a sophisticated process through which the Iranian regime has been facilitating the path for the Al-Qaeda-linked militant group Al-Shabab to circumvent UN sanctions and make millions of dollars of profit every year. The process involves using false Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana certificates of origin to import sanctioned Somali charcoal, before repackaging it from typical blue-green bags into white bags labeled as "Product of Iran," according to the report. This development highlights the fact that Iran’s political establishment does not hesitate in assisting terror and militia groups by exploiting the legitimacy granted to it by the UN. In addition, the theocratic establishment has been taking advantage of the concept of sovereignty by permitting the Al-Qaeda-linked militant group to use its lands and ports as transit points.”

The Wall Street Journal: ISIS Overlooks A Synagogue In Mosul

In the fall of 2016 I began filming a documentary about the battle to retake Mosul from Islamic State. I made a promise to myself and to my crew: Whatever risks and obstacles the war unpredictably produced, we would reach the burial ground of the prophet Jonah on the Tigris River—right in the middle of the city. The goal was met. Though the site was buried in rubble and ash, one of our film’s scenes would show the final resting place of the most enigmatic and provocative biblical prophet. When my crew and I deemed our mission accomplished, we savored a double satisfaction: We had covered the first half of the war to destroy ISIS and also rediscovered an important site in the biblical narrative and Jewish history. Then down came a bolt from the blue. It took the form of a phone call from the French human-rights activist Hugues Dewavrin. For the entire reign of ISIS, my friend told me, a certain Omar Mohammed had remained in Mosul, chronicling the devastation of his city on the blog, Mosul Eye.”

Voice Of America: Turkey Threatens To Move On Syria's Manbij

“Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is warning of military action against a key U.S. ally in the disputed Syrian city of Manbij, as bilateral tensions threaten to resurface between the NATO partners. “We will do what is necessary,” was Erdogan’s message to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when they met Wednesday in Ankara, according to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu who also attended the meeting. Ankara is demanding the removal of all members of the Syrian Kurdish militia YPG from Manbij. The YPG, supported by U.S. forces, helped to oust the Islamic State from the strategically important city in 2016. But Ankara designates the militia as terrorists linked to the PKK, which is waging a decades-long Kurdish insurgency inside Turkey. Washington’s backing of the YPG in its war against the Islamic State remains a point of tension with Ankara. Under a road map agreed earlier this year to defuse bilateral differences, the militia would withdraw from Manbij, and joint U.S.-Turkish patrols of the city would be started.”

The New York Times: An Afghan Police Chief Took On The Taliban And Won. Then His Luck Ran Out.

“One of the most devastating Taliban assassination strikes of the long Afghan war on Thursday killed a regional police chief with a larger-than-life reputation as one of the last stalwarts against the militants. The top American commander in Afghanistan narrowly escaped injury. The assassination, just two days before national elections already undermined by violence, took place inside the provincial governor’s compound in Kandahar City. In what appeared to be an insider attack, at least one gunman killed the police chief, as well as the provincial intelligence chief. The governor of Kandahar and another senior police commander were also targeted; reports about their fate were conflicting. The police chief, Gen. Abdul Raziq, had survived dozens of attempts on his life and was widely considered an indispensable American ally with influence across critical areas of southern Afghanistan, in the Taliban heartland. A fierce commander, he pacified Kandahar Province, once one of the most troubled spots of the war, and then held it secure for years even as the Taliban gained large swathes of territory all around it. General Raziq, 39, was a survivor in a region where few have managed to evade insurgent campaigns to kill influential leaders.”

Radio Free Europe: Taliban Attack Kills Two Afghan Civilians, Wounds Several NATO Soldiers

“A bombing targeting a NATO convoy near Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, has killed at least two civilians and wounded several alliance soldiers, Afghan and NATO officials say. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said a suicide bomber rammed his car into the convoy. Wahida Shakar, spokeswoman for the provincial governor in Parwan, said the attack occurred late on October 17 in the Bagram district. Bagram is located about 40 kilometers from Kabul and is the site of a sprawling U.S. military base. It wasn't immediately clear how many NATO troops were wounded. NATO spokeswoman Debra Richardson said three service members were wounded in the bombing but didn't provide more details. The Czech Defense Ministry said five of its soldiers were wounded in the blast, one of them seriously. The soldier underwent surgery and his life was no longer in danger, the ministry said in a statement. On August 5, three Czech soldiers were killed in a Taliban suicide bombing while on patrol in the eastern province of Parwan. It was the deadliest assault on NATO soldiers in many months.”

Associated Press: Taliban Attack Kills Afghan Officials, US General Unhurt

“Afghanistan was reeling Friday, a day after an audacious assassination claimed by the Taliban that killed two senior officials in Kandahar province while the top U.S. commander who attended the high-level meeting where the attack happened was unharmed. Thursday’s meeting, on security plans for Afghanistan’s parliamentary elections this weekend, had just concluded when an elite Afghan guard turned his gun on the departing Afghan delegation, killing the powerful Kandahar police chief and at least one other senior Afghan official. A Taliban spokesman said the top U.S. commander in the country, Gen. Scott Miller, was the target. The attack, more than 17 years after the Taliban were driven from power, underscores the harrowing insecurity in Afghanistan ahead of the elections. U.S. Army Col. David Butler, who attended the meeting with Miller, said the Kandahar police chief, Abdul Raziq, was clearly the target, not the U.S. general. “It was pretty clear he was shooting at Raziq,” Butler told The Associated Press, adding that Miller was nearby but not in the line of fire. The delegates had just gathered for a group photo when gunfire broke out inside the provincial governor’s compound in Kandahar city, according to an AP television cameraman who was there. Everyone scattered, and the U.S. participants scrambled toward their helicopter. But a firefight broke out between the U.S. service members and Afghan police when they tried to stop the U.S. delegation from reaching their helicopter, said the cameraman.”

Associated Press: Afghans Set To Vote Despite Taliban Threats, Corruption

“Afghans will return to the polls for parliamentary elections on Saturday, hoping to bring change to a corrupt government that has lost nearly half the country to the Taliban. In the eight years since Afghanistan last held parliamentary elections, a resurgent Taliban have carried out near-daily attacks on security forces, seizing large swathes of the countryside and threatening major cities. An even more radical Islamic State affiliate has launched a wave of bombings targeting the country's Shiite minority, killing hundreds. Both groups have threatened to attack anyone taking part in the vote. In areas where the government still provides relative security, Afghans face a different array of challenges. Widespread corruption forces people to pay bribes for shabby public services, and increasingly influential ultraconservative clerics blame the country's many ills on years of Western influence, threatening to roll back the limited gains made by women and civil society since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. Many of those Afghans brave enough to defy the death threats hope to vote in a new generation of younger and better-educated leaders. But they fear that former warlords and the corrupt political elite will cling to power by lavishing entertainment and cash handouts on impoverished voters. "I am still not hopeful it will be fair," said Saeed Matin, a fruit seller in a mostly Shiite neighborhood of Kabul who was bundled up against the chilly autumn evening.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Yemen: Houthis Openly Plant Naval Mines

“Yemeni politicians and observers consider Houthis' admission to manufacturing naval mines a direct challenge to the international community, a flagrant threat to the Red Sea shipping routes, and further proof of the Iranian involvement in providing military-technical support to the militias as well as smuggling weapons to them. Houthi media recently broadcast clear footage of alleged militia-made naval mines to confirm the group's explicit recognition of its capabilities to plant mines, despite previous denials. Observers believe Houthis are unlikely to have the ability to manufacture any quality weapons without Iranian expertise or the help of Lebanon's Hezbollah. However, others consider that the militias’ behavior is the result of their recent defeats on the west coast. "Iran wants to show its maritime terrorist capabilities through Houthis on the west coast amid US insistence on its next economic war on Iran," according to Head of al-Jazeera Centre for Studies Najib Gallab.”

Al Arabiya: Yemeni Army, Arab Coalition Block Houthi Attempt To Open Sanaa, Hodeidah Route

“The Yemeni army, with support from the Arab Coalition supporting legitimacy, blocked an attempt by the Houthi militias to open routes between Hodeidah and Sanaa. The sources added that Houthi militias had sent reinforcements to attack army posts but suffered severe losses, and failed to infiltrate the road to Hodeidah from Sanaa from the Kilo 10 area. The army’s media center said that 70 Houthis were killed during violent battles where the Arab Coalitions’ vigorous air raids caused severe losses on the militias’ fronts in Hodeidah. Sources said that the air raids targeted Houthi gatherings and bases killing dozens, and destroying an armed vehicle. In a related development, the Yemeni army backed by the Arab coalition liberated areas after intense fighting with the Houthis in west Taiz.”

The National: Yemeni Forces Repel Houthi Offensive On Kilo 16, Killing 70 Rebels

“Yemeni pro-government forces killed at least 70 fighters affiliated with the Iran-backed Houthi rebels on Wednesday after they launched a large-scale offensive to reopen a supply route between the capital Sanaa and the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah. The target of the offensive was Kilo 16, east of Hodeidah, which links the two cities. The rebels lost the key transport link in September when Al Amalikah forces, part of a pro-government brigade, recaptured it as they pushed towards Hodeidah. Yemeni forces, backed by the Arab Coalition, are waging a campaign to wrestle back the city from the Houthi rebels, who overran major population centres in 2015. The rebels launched the offensive from the Kilo 10 area east of Hodeidah. “They were accompanied by heavy weaponry, two tanks, a number of mobile artillery, but they were crashed by the aircrafts of the Arab Coalition, which launched several strikes destroying their heavy equipment,” Colonel Al Mahjami, the spokesperson of the Al Amalikah brigade, told The National. The defending forces chased the Houthi fighters and carried out strikes against them, besieging the fighters from three directions and killing scores as a result, he said. The repelled attack came as pro-government forces prepare for a broad military operation in the coming days to recapture the harbours in the city. “Big reinforcements were pushed to the front,” the spokesperson said.”

Saudi Arabia
MENAFN: Houthi Ballistic Missile Strikes Saudi Military Camp

“A military camp located in Najran, a southern Saudi border region, was struck by a ballistic missile launched by Yemen's Houthi militants on Thursday. Saba news agency reported a Houthi statement, saying that the Badr-1 missile was fired towards the camp in Buko area. However, the statement of which the Shiite rebels issued failed to disclose any more information on the attack. Buko area is a shared Saudi-Yemeni border crossing area bordering the Yemeni northern province of Saada, the base of Yemen's terrorists.”

Al Arabiya: Place And Role Of Hezbollah In Syrian War

“One of the pro-Iranian actors involved in the Syrian civil war is Hezbollah. The organization has been involved in the Syrian war since the very beginning. Whereas previously Hezbollah could gain favor with a particular part of the non-Shiite population of Lebanon through confrontation with Israel, now the participation of Hezbollah in the Syrian conflict was ambiguously interpreted in Lebanon and affected the sympathies of the Lebanese. Many Lebanese politicians and public persons condemned Hezbollah and encouraged not to fight against the Syrian people. It is noteworthy that Hezbollah has long ceased to be a marginal pro-Iranian group and right now it has serious control over Lebanon’s domestic and foreign policy. On the one hand, the war in Syria is a tribute to Iran’s loyalty; on the other hand, it is a guarantee of their survival. If Assad’s regime falls in Syria, Hezbollah will be cut off the weapon supplies from Iran.”

CAJ News: Anger Grows Over Boko Haram’s Murder Of Nurses

“THERE is global outrage after the Nigerian terror group, Boko Haram, killed another aid worker it kidnapped earlier this year. Aid worker Hauwa Mohammed Liman (24), who worked as a nurse for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in north-east Nigeria, had been held hostage since March. She was abducted in an attack in the town of Rann, together with colleagues Saifura Hussaini Ahmed Khorsa and Alice Loksha. Khorsa was killed in September, while Loksha remains in captivity, along with Leah Sharibu, a 15-year-old student abducted by the group in a separate incident in February. António Guterres, the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, condemned the murder. “Those responsible for this killing must be brought to justice,” his spokesperson said. “The Secretary-General expresses his concern for the safety and well-being of the remaining hostages and calls for their immediate release.” The latest killing has devastated the Red Cross. “The news of Hauwa’s death has broken our hearts,” said ICRC’s Regional Director for Africa, Patricia Danzi. The humanitarian organisation had on Sunday appealed for the release of the hostages, as the deadline for the payment of an undisclosed ransom approached.”

Ynet: Putin: Not Russia's Job To Decide Whether Iran Leaves Syria

“Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that it wasn’t Russia’s job to decide whether Iran has to leave Syria. “Syria and Iran are both independent countries. They need to build their relationship on their own,” Putin said at an international policy forum in Sochi. The Russian president said that while Russia helped negotiate the pullback of Iranian forces from the Golan Heights border with Israel over the summer, a full Iranian pullback is another matter. Israel and the United States have demanded the withdrawal of all Iranian forces from Syria. Putin said that the issue could be discussed between Iran, Syria and the United States, with Russia joining the dialogue. He said Syria should be offered security guarantees by "those who want to see the Iranian forces pull out.”

United Kingdom
The New York Times: Britain Releases Anjem Choudary, Radical Islamist Preacher, Under Strict Controls

“A radical Islamist preacher convicted in 2016 of inspiring support for the Islamic State and described by a British prison official as “genuinely dangerous” to public safety was released from jail on Friday under strict controls on his travels and use of the internet. The preacher, Anjem Choudary, 51, was released from the Belmarsh high-security jail in London and moved to a probation hostel, also in the capital, where he will spend at least six months. Earlier this week, he was moved to the jail after being freed from the maximum-security Frankland Prison in the northeast on automatic parole after serving half of his five-and-a-half year sentence for inspiring Britons to join the Islamic State terrorist group, a former counterterrorism detective familiar with the arrangement told The New York Times. For the remainder of his sentence, he will be barred from leaving London, using the internet without permission, speaking to children, organizing meetings and attending certain mosques. He will also be restricted to one phone call a day, which will be monitored by counterterrorism officials, and he will be permitted to interact only with people approved by the authorities.”

The Guardian: Facebook Has A Fake News 'War Room' – But Is It Really Working?

“Facebook is promoting a new “war room” as a part of its solution to election interference, unveiling a team of specialists working to stop the spread of misinformation and propaganda. It’s unclear how well it’s working. The Silicon Valley company, which has faced intensifying scrutiny over its role in amplifying malicious political content, opened its doors to reporters to tour a new workspace at its Menlo Park headquarters on Wednesday. Engineers, data scientists, threat investigators and other Facebook experts from 20 teams recently began collaborating inside the so-called “war room”, a term that political campaigns typically use to describe operation centers. The press briefing provided minimal new information about Facebook’s specific strategies and impacts when it comes to combatting foreign interference and false news. The corporation has been eager to publicly demonstrate that it is taking abuses on its platforms seriously amid an avalanche of scandals. That includes a vast data breach, government inquiries across the globe, new ad fraud allegations, and the continuing stream of viral fake content and hate speech.”

CNBC: Political Ad Buyers Are Exploiting A Facebook Loophole To Disguise Where Their Money Is Coming From

“Despite Facebook’s efforts to make political ad funding more transparent, loopholes enable ad buyers to remain relatively anonymous. Facebook announced in May a new tool to promote political advertising transparency on the site. But a series of news stories over the past few weeks reveal that political advertisers are exploiting loopholes in Facebook’s system to obscure the source of their funding. Late last month, The Daily Beast identified a digital media start-up that created a limited liability company (LLC) to buy political advertising. The Atlantic reported Wednesday that the LLC bought somewhere between $1.2 million and $4.6 million of political advertising over about five months. But the name of the start-up, reportedly backed by LinkedIn co-founder and Executive Chairman Reid Hoffman, never showed up in the political ad archive because the ads were paid for by the LLC it owned."

Forbes: Where Do Terrorists Go When They Are Kicked Off Social Media Platforms?

“A few weeks ago, I published a piece on the social media platforms exploited by terrorists. Using information released by the Crown Prosecution Service on terrorism in the United Kingdom in 2018, I found that people convicted for spreading hate from the Far Right tended to use only two platforms to do this – Twitter and Facebook. The majority of offenders (75%) disseminated material on Facebook. Unlike the Far Right, Islamist related content was spread on a variety of platforms, indicating that perpetrators were getting better at hiding and spreading their messages. 33% used encryption – the process of encoding a message or information in such a way that only authorized parties can access it – to communicate. Recently, I have expanded this search to include convictions from 2016, 2017, and 2018. Most of these offenders have used social media to prepare for terrorist attacks, collect and disseminate information, and encourage and support terrorism. The question we need to ask ourselves, however, is what happens when technology companies identify these individuals, and ban them from continuing to use (and exploit) their platforms.”

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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