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Arrow CEP's - Eye on Extremism - 12-6-18

CEP's - Eye on Extremism - 12-6-18
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December 6, 2018
The New York Times: Facebook Emails Show Its Real Mission: Making Money And Crushing Competition

“British lawmakers on Wednesday gave a gift to every Facebook critic who has argued that the company, while branding itself as a do-gooder enterprise, has actually been acting much like any other profit-seeking behemoth. That gift was 250 pages’ worth of internal emails, in which Facebook’s executives are shown discussing ways to undermine their competitors, obscure their collection of user data and — above all — ensure that their products kept growing. The emails, which span 2012 to 2015, were originally sealed as evidence in a lawsuit brought against Facebook by Six4Three, an app developer. They were part of a cache of documents seized by a British parliamentary committee as part of a larger investigation into Facebook’s practices and released to the public on Wednesday. It should not come as a surprise that Facebook — a giant, for-profit company whose early employees reportedly ended staff meetings by chanting “domination!” — would act in its own interests.”

The Wall Street Journal: ISIS Finds A Niche In Northern Iraq

“The Qara Chokh mountain range in northern Iraq is remote, parched and inhospitable. That’s what makes it attractive to the core of Islamic State, which has survived the four-year U.S.-led war against its caliphate. ISIS is now regrouping near here and in similar hard-to-reach corners of Iraq and Syria. The terror group isn’t finished. “It’s more than 15 years that there is al Qaeda here,” says Lt. Col. Surood Barzanji, an officer of the Kurdish Peshmerga’s 14th Brigade, currently tasked by the Kurdish Regional Government with maintaining security in the mountain area. “They changed their name to Daesh”—the Arabic acronym for ISIS—“and now there is another one coming. A new one.” We look across the Hussein al-Ghazi Pass toward an imposing warren of caves where, he says, ISIS fighters are living. Two miles away, the first checkpoints of the Iraqi Security Forces are visible. In the no man’s land between Kurdish and Iraqi forces, Islamic State finds its niche. Later, in a Peshmerga briefing room on the mountain, Col. Barzanji traces the route ISIS men use to reach their haven in the caves. It begins on the western side of the Tigris River, south of Mosul around the town of Hamam Alil. This region of Iraq is known to local residents, Peshmerga and Arab fighters alike as “Kandahar”—like the famously violent province of Afghanistan—because of the strength of support there for the Sunni jihadist cause.”

Reuters: Afghan Peace Push Backed By Surge In Air Strikes, Operations

“The death last week of the Taliban’s senior leader in southern Afghanistan in a U.S. air strike highlights a surge in operations amid pressure to coax the increasingly confident insurgents to accept talks to end the 17-year war. As U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad makes a fresh round of visits to Afghanistan and neighboring countries this week and resumes meetings with Taliban representatives, military operations have spiked sharply across the country. The aim, say Afghan and U.S. officials, is to build as strong a position as possible for the hoped-for start of peace talks with the Taliban. Khalilzad told U.S. broadcaster PBS last week that he was “in a hurry” to secure an agreement with the Taliban, ideally ahead of presidential elections scheduled for April 20. While U.S. officials have avoided talk of deadlines, the new urgency has raised fears among many in the Afghan government that the United States seeks a quick way out of its longest war. “The United States basically wants a dignified withdrawal,” said one senior Afghan government official who is in near-daily contact with U.S. diplomats working on the peace process. “Progress towards peace remains elusive,” the Pentagon Lead Inspector General told Congress in the latest report last month, as civilian and military casualties grow and just 65 percent of the population lives under government control.”

The Jerusalem Post: UN Security Council To Meet On Hezbollah Tunnels

“The UN Security Council will hold a meeting in the coming days on the uncovering of Hezbollah terror tunnels that have penetrated into Israel, the country’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said on Wednesday. Danon said the meeting will deal with Hezbollah’s infringement of Israeli sovereignty, as well as the violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 from 2006 that called for southern Lebanon – the area from the Litani River to the border with Israel – to be free of foreign forces. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke about the operation on Wednesday with UN Secretary General António Guterres, saying that Hezbollah’s violation of Israel’s sovereignty and UN Security resolutions was “another part of Iran’s aggression in the region.” Netanyahu briefed Guterres on the details of the anti-tunnel operation, dubbed Operation Northern Shield, and said he expected a strong condemnation of the tunnels by the UN. So far, Guterres has not commented publicly on the matter. Israel, Danon said, asked the US – one of the five permanent members of the 15-member Security Council – to request the meeting about the tunnels. The ambassador said that among the issues that Israel will raise is the failure of UNIFIL to fulfill the mandate the council gave it in 2006 to monitor south Lebanon and ensure that it is not used for hostile activities.”

Middle East Monitor: US Intelligence: Syria Regime Behind Aleppo Gas Attack

“The Syrian government of President Bashar Al-Assad was behind a chemical attack in Aleppo last month, despite accusing the opposition of being the perpetrator, an assessment by US intelligence has revealed. In newly declassified documents released by America yesterday, the Syrian government is accused of leading a false flag operation to throw suspicion on the opposition, a charge fiercely denied by faction leaders, who stated that no group had the ability to produce chemical weapons. Shelling of a toxic substance wounded more than 100 people in a suspected toxic gas attack in Aleppo at the end of November, which a health official described as the first such assault in the city. It marked the highest such casualty toll in the city since it was besieged and recaptured by government forces two years ago. The chemical used in the attack was revealed to be tear gas, rather than chlorine that was first suspected. The documents stated that “technical analysis of videos and images of munition remnants of Russian-media portrayed mortars indicate they are not suitable for delivering chlorine” and that witnesses describe the characteristic odour of chlorine bombs.”

Financial Times: Nadia Murad: ‘I Survived The ISIS Genocide, Now I Want To Rebuild The Yazidi Homeland’

“Change can happen when one least expects it. I know this to be true because my life changed in an instant. One moment I was a farm girl, going to school in my village in northern Iraq and the next I was an Isis sex slave, “owned” by militants. My peaceful existence was shattered simply because my religious beliefs were deemed sub-human by a group of men who believed they were superior. Isis murdered my family and took me captive, exposing me to horrors which would be impossible to imagine had I not endured every moment and felt each brutal blow. My story is not unique. I am only one Yazidi woman. Isis’s terror rained down on all of us. It was not a slow drizzle but a thunderous storm that moved through my community, destroying everything. Make no mistake: Isis planned to exterminate the Yazidis. Isis planned a genocide. When they came to my village, I don’t think anyone believed their intention was to eradicate all Yazidis from Iraq. I was a young girl, so perhaps the adults had a better sense of what was about to happen, but I think it is unlikely. Even today, I find myself pondering the reality of what happened. The hardest concept to grasp is that the world watched and did nothing.”

United States

ABC News: Far-Right Terrorism In North America, Europe Increased Even As Terrorism Deaths Declined: Report

“Far-right terrorism increased in the U.S., Canada, and Western Europe in 2017, even as overall terrorism deaths fell for the third consecutive year, according to a new report. While they comprise a tiny fraction of total terrorism deaths and the overall threat picture is "encouraging," the report's author told ABC News, the rise of right-wing attacks has been an "increasing trend" in recent years. "The Islamic terrorists made terrorism fashionable, as sick as it may be," said Steve Killelea, the founder and executive chairman of the Institute for Economics and Peace, an Australian think tank that publishes the Global Terrorism Index annually, and their use of it as a tool has begun spreading to right-wing groups. In particular, there were 31 right-wing terror attacks in North America in 2017, a threefold increase from the previous highest number of 10 attacks in 2015. That included the Charlottesville, Virginia, protests where a white nationalist protester killed one woman and injured at least 19 others in a vehicle attack, and the knife attack on a Portland, Oregon, train where two people were killed by a white nationalist. It's a trend that appears to have continued into 2018, with the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue killing 11 people and the murder of two elderly African American men in Jeffersontown, Kentucky.”

The New York Times: In Charlottesville Murder Trial, Courtroom Relives Trauma Of A Violent Day

“In a courtroom this week in Charlottesville, Va., a chilling videotape played for the jury captured the voice of James Fields Jr., an Ohio man who attended a white nationalist rally here last year and crashed his car into a crowd of anti-racist protesters. “Are they O.K.?” Mr. Fields could be heard asking a police officer after his arrest. Told that people had been injured, and that someone had died, Mr. Fields began hyperventilating and sobbing. The courtroom filled with the sound of his cries. Many of those who were protesting the Unite the Right rally that day in August 2017 had spent much of the past year thinking of Mr. Fields, but had never heard his voice until they heard the tape. Some of the victims seated in the public gallery burst into tears, putting their arms around one another’s shoulders in an unbroken chain. Susan Bro, the mother of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who was killed, shook her head: These were crocodile tears, she said later. At the defense table, Mr. Fields cast his eyes down and stabbed at the table with a pencil.”

Lawfare: It’s Time For Congress To Make Domestic Terrorism A Federal Crime

“On Oct. 27, Robert Bowers launched an attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Penn., murdering 11 worshipers and injuring many others. The federal indictment against Bowers charges him with multiple counts of obstructing, by force and threat of force, “the free exercise of religious beliefs” resulting in death and bodily injury and involving the use of a dangerous weapon and attempts to kill. These counts are charged under a suite of federal hate crimes statutes first enacted in 1968 and amended periodically ever since. Some of these crimes allow for the maximum sentence under law: the death penalty. But they fail to hold Robert Bowers accountable for what he actually did: commit crimes of domestic terrorism. Bowers is just as morally deserving of the “terrorist” label as Islamist extremists who engage in acts of violence to intimidate and coerce. That label carries weight—it creates a moral equivalency between domestic terrorists and international terrorists, and it signals to Americans that the threat of extremism is just as significant when it is based on domestic political, economic, religious or social ideologies as it is when based on Islamist extremist ideologies.”

WTOP: The Hunt: US Army’s Approach To Terrorism In Africa

“Africa has a terrorism problem that could impact the U.S. and its allies. In this episode of “The Hunt” with WTOP national security correspondent J.J. Green, Maj. Gen. Roger Cloutier, commanding general of U.S. Army Africa, talked about how the U.S. military is making a difference.

The Washington Times: FBI Denies Designating The Proud Boys As Extremist Group

“The FBI on Tuesday denied classifying the Proud Boys as an extremist group, contradicting an internal law enforcement document that recently drew parallels between the “pro-Western fraternal organization” and white nationalists. “We do not intend and did not intend to designate the group as extremist,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Renn Cannon said during a media event held at the bureau’s Portland offices, The Oregonian reported. “That was not our intention. That’s not what we do,” Mr. Cannon added, according to the outlet. FBI officials clarified the bureau’s stance after an internal affairs report drafted by the Clark County Sheriff’s Office in neighboring Washington state alleged that federal investigators have categorized the Proud Boys as “an extremist group with ties to white nationalism.” Clark County officials requested a briefing on “domestically inspired acts of violence,” and FBI agents subsequently offered details on domestic threats posed by militias, white supremacists and anarchists, Mr. Cannon told reporters, according to The Oregonian. The Proud Boys were discussed during the briefing, Mr. Cannon confirmed, but the FBI “tried to characterize the potential threat from individuals within that group,” he explained, The Oregonian reported.”

Financial Times: Extremism Rises As Experience Of Its Consequences Fades

“As Americans pore over the feats of the late George HW Bush, so extensive that you half-expect “Fields Medalist 1950” to pop up, it is still the first that stands out. He was the youngest pilot in the US Navy. He remains the last US president with combat experience. Wednesday’s memorial service is for one man, but also, by proxy, for a generation that lost its best years to the second world war. Of all the theories behind the spurt in populism — the 2008 crash, immigration — the passing of the “greatest” generation from both high office and the electorate is under-discussed. Experience of trauma does not instil risk aversion as a matter of course. But having lived through the near ruin of civilisation, that cohort of westerners did not trifle with dangerous ideas after 1945. Obituaries that attribute Bush’s caution to high-born Waspery or the Episcopalian Church miss the formative effect of war. To see what happens when societies become incautious, look around. What unites Donald Trump’s former adviser Steve Bannon with France’s rioting gilets jaunes and the UK’s fiercest Brexiters is not just their will to upturn the existing order. It is their belief that transient economic strife is the worst that could possibly happen. None of these people actively desires civilisational meltdown. They just under-rate the prospect of it happening as an inadvertent result of their actions. How could they not?”

Syria

The New Yorker: A Year After The End Of ISIS Control In Raqqa, A Ruined City Looks To Rebuild

“One morning in mid-October, a gravedigger called Abu Ahmed struck his shovel on a paving stone buried under four feet of dirt in Raqqa’s Panorama Park. Once among the greenest places in the city, this denuded square on the northern bank of the Euphrates River is now a graveyard for some fifteen hundred people. In part to protect the water supply, and partly in an effort to identify isis victims, the provisional municipal government ordered the bodies exhumed and removed to a cemetery in the outer desert. Wearing latex gloves and a kaffiyeh wrapped around his face, Abu Ahmed overturned the stone to expose a white body bag. It was the fifth corpse that he and his team of seven had found that day. As he jostled the bag free of the soil, it ripped, spilling out a jumble of greenish bones, stained rags, and a loose tuft of beard. “This one is isis,” he said, indicating the camouflage pattern on the rotting cloth. “All his bones, broken. He is killed by warplane.” Panorama Park is just one of about two hundred mass graves thought to exist in Raqqa, a city with a prewar population of perhaps half a million. For three years Raqqa was the capital of the Islamic State, and it was the last isis stronghold to fall. Last summer, a Kurdish-led coalition of militias known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, or S.D.F., invaded from the north.”

Newsweek: Russia's Air Defense 'Will Increase The Threat' To U.S. Forces In Syria, Leading General Says

“President Donald Trump's nominee for head of Central Command has warned that the potential introduction of even more advanced Russian air defenses in Syria could threaten U.S. forces deployed there. Marine Corps Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie, who serves as director of the Joint Chiefs of Staffs, was selected in August as Trump's pick to lead the U.S. military command tasked with operations across the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa. During his nomination hearing Tuesday, Senate Armed Services Committee chair James Inhofe asked McKenzie how he assessed the threat of Russia's S-400 anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems in Syria, where both Washington and Moscow are involved. "The S-400, once activated, will increase the threat to our forces and our coalition partners flying over Syria," McKenzie told lawmakers. "There will be a manifest difference in the capability of the systems though whether it's manned by the Syrians or the Russians and we're still working to figure out how that will be executed.”

Haaretz: ISIS Executing Alleged 'Collaborators' In Syria

“The United Nations has reports of Islamic State (ISIL) executing people perceived as cooperating with rebel fighters in Deir al-Zor governorate in eastern Syria, the UN human rights boss said on Wednesday. Michelle Bachelet, speaking to a news conference in Geneva, voiced deep concern for 7,000 civilians who she said were trapped between Islamic State fighters preventing them from leaving Deir al-Zor and air strikes by a U.S.-led coalition. "We also have reports of ISIL executing people perceived as cooperating with SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) or other parties to the conflict," she said, adding that civilians were being used as "pawns and bargaining chips” in the conflict.”

Iran

The Washington Post: Iran Must Free Farhad Meysami, A Nonviolent Fighter For Human Rights

“In recent weeks, moral outrage has been stirred by the barbaric war that Saudi Arabia has waged in Yemen, by the Saudi government’s brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and by President Trump’s failure to condemn and sanction these offenses, out of concern for damaging economic interests, real or exaggerated. At the same time, however, another human tragedy has been gathering in Iran, and it is one we might still avert, before it is too late. One of Iran’s most important dissidents, Farhad Meysami, a physician by training, is slowly, silently but defiantly dying in an Iranian prison. Meysami is a modern-day Mahatma Gandhi, dedicated to nonviolence, courageous in his defense of transcendent moral values — human rights in Iran and particularly equality for Iranian women — and ascetic in his aversion to worldly profits. As Amnesty International reported in October, Meysami has been on a hunger strike since Aug. 1; he started immediately after his arrest for having campaign buttons in his house opposing the mandatory veil for women. On more than one occasion, he had praised Iranian women’s peaceful protest against the hijab as a brilliant contemporary example of a nonviolent movement of civil disobedience.”

Fox News: Families Of Iran Hostages, Robert Levinson Call On World Governments To Step Up And ‘Send Our Loved Ones Home’

“The family of former FBI agent Robert Levinson and the relatives of nearly a half dozen others held captive in Iran say they “shall remain quiet no longer” about demands for world governments to help secure the release of those hopelessly detained in the Islamic Republic. The declaration came in an open letter addressed to “World Leaders, Rights Organizations and Media Outlets” that was published by the group earlier this week. The families have “banded together now to come to you as one voice," the letter stated. “We believe that the Iranian authorities have little incentive to end the cruel and horrific practice of hostage taking as a result of inadequate pressure from the international community,” the letter reads. “World leaders need to make the political cost for committing human rights violations so high that releasing our loved ones becomes advantageous to the Iranian authorities.”

The Wall Street Journal: Two Iranians Indicted In Atlanta On Cyber Crime Charges

“Two Iranian men already indicted in New Jersey in connection with a broad cyber crime and extortion scheme targeting government agencies, cities and businesses now face new federal charges in Georgia related to a ransomware attack that caused havoc in Atlanta earlier this year. A federal grand jury in Atlanta returned an indictment Tuesday accusing Faramarz Shahi Savandi and Mohammad Mehdi Shah Mansouri of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, federal prosecutors said in a news release Wednesday. The New Jersey indictment against the pair was filed last month on broad conspiracy charges that included the Atlanta cyberattack. Byung “BJay” Pak, the U.S. attorney in Atlanta, said in a news release that the Atlanta indictment was sought in coordination with the earlier indictment and seeks to ensure that “those responsible for the attacks face justice here as well.” The new indictment accuses the two men of launching a ransomware attack against Atlanta that encrypted vital city computer systems. The attack disrupted city operations and caused millions of dollars in losses, prosecutors said.”

Reuters: Suicide Car Bomber Kills At Least Three In Southeastern Iran: Governor

“At least three people were killed and 24 others were injured in a suicide car bomb attack on the police headquarters in Iran’s southeastern port city of Chabahar on Thursday, Iranian state media reported. Television also reported shooting in the area, located in the region of Sistan-Baluchestan, which is home to a Sunni Muslim minority in the largely Shi’ite country and has long been plagued by violence from both drug smugglers and separatists. “Three people were killed and some others were injured,” Chabahar’s acting governor Rahmdel Bameria told state television. “The suicide attacker set off the explosion after stopping at police headquarters in Chabahar.” Mohammad Hadi Marashi, deputy governor for security affairs, told state television that two police officers had been killed. The state news agency IRNA said some 24 people had been wounded. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Videos posted on Twitter, purportedly from Chabahar, showed thick smoke rising from the area. Reuters could not verify their authenticity. In October, the separatist Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice) group kidnapped 12 Iranian border guards in the remote province, five of whom have since been released. The Sunni militant group has carried out several attacks on Iranian security forces in Sistan-Baluchestan in the past, including an attack in 2017 that killed 10 border guards.”

Iraq

The New Yorker: A Year After The End Of ISIS Control In Raqqa, A Ruined City Looks To Rebuild

“One morning in mid-October, a gravedigger called Abu Ahmed struck his shovel on a paving stone buried under four feet of dirt in Raqqa’s Panorama Park. Once among the greenest places in the city, this denuded square on the northern bank of the Euphrates River is now a graveyard for some fifteen hundred people. In part to protect the water supply, and partly in an effort to identify isis victims, the provisional municipal government ordered the bodies exhumed and removed to a cemetery in the outer desert. Wearing latex gloves and a kaffiyeh wrapped around his face, Abu Ahmed overturned the stone to expose a white body bag. It was the fifth corpse that he and his team of seven had found that day. As he jostled the bag free of the soil, it ripped, spilling out a jumble of greenish bones, stained rags, and a loose tuft of beard. “This one is isis,” he said, indicating the camouflage pattern on the rotting cloth. “All his bones, broken. He is killed by warplane.”

Voice Of America: IS Signals Re-Emergence In Parts Of Iraq

“While this month marks the first anniversary of the Iraqi-proclaimed victory over the Islamic State (IS) terror group, U.S.-backed Iraqi forces are still trying to hunt down remaining IS militants as the extremist group returns to its insurgent roots. In a televised address on December 9, 2017, former Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi announced the defeat of IS and the end of Iraqi campaign to recapture its territory. While many considered IS obliterated following the declaration, recent reports show the militant group is still active in parts of the country and increasingly has been assassinating important figures, bombing Iraqi forces and kidnapping civilians. On Tuesday, security forces said IS militants disguised in Iraqi uniforms entered al-Amrini, 20 kilometers south of Mosul, and killed its "mukhtar," or leader, al-Shaeikh Raghib Abid al-Hadi al-Badrani. His tribesmen protested the killing, saying the lack of Iraqi army patrols gave IS militants free mobility in Nineveh province villages. Ahmad Hazm al-Badrani, a spokesman for the Sunni tribe, said the village head was sleeping when IS fighters broke into his home. "They took him from his bedroom and walked him outside his house for 100 meters before shooting him," al-Badrani said.”

Vice: Here’s What Mosul Looks Like 18 Months After ISIS Was Driven Out

“Rajab Younes Rajab never thought he’d return here to help rebuild his family home that was destroyed in the war. During the battle to recapture Mosul from ISIS in 2017, the western part of the city, where Rajab lives, was decimated. Thousands of people died in the fighting. Homes and businesses were destroyed, and Rajab’s home was no different. “I saw people dying in front of me and I couldn't help them,” the 23-year-old told VICE News as he navigated the rubble. “We were living under airstrikes. They bombarded it until it was destroyed.” Rajab’s still haunted by what he witnessed. He rarely sleeps and still mourns the friends he lost in the battle. “I used to see my friends more than I saw my family,” he said. Nearly 18 months after the liberation of Mosul, the city's residents are struggling to rebuild their homes and lives, hindered by a lack of financial support from the Iraq government and the lingering threat from a small but potent ISIS presence. “One of the reasons is the number of tragedies I've seen here,” he said. “Perhaps no one’s ever witnessed what I did. As soon as I leave the house, I thought I was going to die. I was targeted by a sniper more than six times. He almost killed me the last time.” Rajab shares the anger of many residents in Mosul’s Old City — a growing annoyance at the slow pace of reconstruction in the city.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: UN Team To Launch Probe Into ISIS Crimes In Iraq Early 2019

“A UN team authorized over a year ago to investigate the massacre of the Yazidi minority and other atrocities by terrorists in Iraq will finally begin work early next year, the head of the investigation said Tuesday. The UN Security Council adopted a resolution in September 2017 to bring those responsible for ISIS group war crimes to justice -- a cause championed by Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad and international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney. The team, led by British lawyer Karim Asad Ahmad Khan, was deployed to Baghdad in October, but has since focused on administrative and technical details to lay the groundwork for the probe. "The investigative team now looks forward to continuing preparations in Iraq with a view to commencing investigative activities in early 2019," Ahmad Khan told the council during his first report. He told the council that "the realization of our investigative activities is dependent on securing the cooperation, support and trust of all elements of Iraqi society." The United Nations has described the massacre of the Yazidis by ISIS militants as possible genocide and UN rights investigators have documented horrific accounts of abuse suffered by women and girls. Nadia Murad is among thousands of Yazidi women who were taken hostage and held as sex slaves when ISIS fighters swept into Iraq's Sinjar region in August 2014.”

Afghanistan

Foreign Policy: Afghanistan’s Taliban Is In It To Win It

“Like three of his predecessors, U.S. President Donald Trump is now reportedly seeking Pakistan’s assistance in bringing Afghanistan’s Taliban to the negotiating table. But the history of American negotiations with the Taliban, going back to the mid-1990s, shows how large the perceptual gap between the two sides is. Even when Pakistan has facilitated dialogue, those efforts have been frustrated by the chasm between America’s and the Taliban’s worldviews. Zalmay Khalilzad, America’s negotiator in the new talks, is an able and experienced diplomat, uniquely qualified to navigate the treacherous politics of Afghanistan. Trump has tapped the right person for a tough job, but even Khalilzad may not be able to overcome the difference in outlook—and commitment—between the United States and the Taliban. The United States does not lose wars; it only loses interest. From America’s point of view, Afghanistan is a poor backwater that becomes strategically significant only when a hostile power controls it. The United States supported Afghans waging a holy war against the Soviets during the 1980s, only to walk away after the Soviet withdrawal and return after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Although the United States has never deployed the full possible force needed to eliminate the Taliban operating from safe havens across the border in Pakistan, most Americans feel they are embroiled in an endless war far from home.”

The Wall Street Journal: ‘I Think I’ve Been Shot’: Nighttime Raid In Afghanistan Reveals New U.S. Strategy

“Inside the mud-walled compound, the Green Berets found a small cookhouse. Hanging on the cookhouse wall was a blanket. Concealed behind the blanket was the entrance to a lightless tunnel. Stretched across the tunnel, about 25 yards in, was a knee-high wall of sandbags. And kneeling behind the sandbags was a Taliban fighter with a loaded machine gun. In an instant, the Green Berets raiding the compound, and the Taliban fighters holed up in it, faced the near certainty that someone wasn’t getting out of there alive. U.S. commanders have long abandoned hope for a purely military victory in the 17-year conflict. Instead, they see this kind of calibrated military pressure—an approach they call “metering the violence”—as a means of strengthening the American and Afghan position in peace negotiations. The escalation inherently means greater risks to American troops, whose main job is training and advising Afghan forces. The raid that played out last month in Chimtal, a desert-dry collection of steep hills and rugged villages in northern Afghanistan, is just one of many similar operations being carried out in one form or another all over the country, where U.S. and Afghan forces are escalating offensive operations against the Taliban this fall. On Saturday, a U.S. airstrike killed Abdul Manan, a senior Taliban leader and the group’s shadow governor in Helmand province, according to American and Taliban officials.”

Xinhua: 19 Militants Killed In Coalition's Airstrikes In Western Afghanistan

“At least 19 Taliban militants, including a local Taliban leader, have been killed and seven others wounded after NATO-led coalition forces launched airstrikes in western province of Farah, a local official said Thursday. In one attack, local Taliban leader Aga Mir Adalat together with 10 subordinates were killed after an airstrike targeted a Taliban hideout in Naidi area of Khaki Safed district late on Wednesday, provincial police spokesman Muhibullah Muhib told Xinhua. Adalat was leading over 200 militants in the restive district, he said. In neighboring Bala Buluk district, eight Taliban militants were killed and seven others wounded in separate airstrikes which occurred nearly at the same time, the official added. Three Taliban defense positions were also destroyed following the raid in Bala Buluk, he said. The strikes were the latest raids against the Taliban insurgents, their supply lines and Taliban's mid-level command structure. The Afghan security forces, backed by the U.S.-led NATO coalition troops, have beefed up security operations against militants recently as the Taliban militant group has been attempting to take territory and consolidate its positions ahead of winter in the country.”

Pakistan

India Today: 2 Missing J&K Teenagers Join Terror Ranks

“14-year-old boy, who went missing along with another teenager on August 31 in Kashmir, has joined the militants. The teenager, who hails from Bandipora, had gone missing along with a 16-year-old, from his residence on August 31. The two went missing after an encounter took place at their neighbourhood where three Lashkar militants were killed. Despite repeated appeals by his family asking him to return home, the boy is now learnt to have taken to militancy. On Wednesday, the teen's picture surfaced on the internet in which he was seen holding an AK-47 assault rifle. Police believe the two may have joined Lashkar-e-Taiba.”

Yemen

Associated Press: UN-Sponsored Peace Talks For Yemen Start In Sweden

“Representatives from Yemen’s warring sides sat in the same room for the first time in years on Thursday in Sweden as U.N.-sponsored peace talks aimed at halting a catastrophic three-year war opened to great hopes but also high skepticism. In a positive sign, the U.N. envoy said the sides had agreed on a prisoner exchange as a first step toward building confidence. Martin Griffiths also said the two sides have signaled they were serious about de-escalating the fighting through calls they’ve made in recent weeks, and urged them to work to further reduce the violence in the Arab world’s poorest nation, scene of massive civilians suffering. The talks in the Swedish town of Rimbo, north of Stockholm, aim to setup “a framework for negotiations” on a future peace agreement, Griffiths said, calling the coming days were a milestone nonetheless and urging the parties “to work in good faith ... to deliver a message of peace.” “I’m also pleased to announce the signing of an agreement on the exchange of prisoners, detainees, the missing, the forcibly detained and individuals placed under house arrest,” Griffiths said from the venue. “It will allow thousands of families to be reunited, and it is product of very effective, active work from both delegations.”

Qatar

The National: Qatar Accused Of Promoting Anti-Semitism At Its State-Run Book Fair

“As the Jewish community around the world celebrates Hannukah this week, a state-run book fair in Qatar has raised eyebrows among Jewish organisations in the United States for promoting anti-Semitic textbooks and publications that incite hatred. The annual Doha International Book Fair, which is in its 29th year, is coming under attack for promoting anti-Semitic content. The exhibition that runs until Friday is carrying Arabic books that spread conspiracies and falsehoods about the Jews, and air denials about the Holocaust while also promoting authors affiliated with bigoted and racist organisations. Among the books that are being publicised at the Qatari book fair are ‘Lies Spread by the Jews’, ‘Talmud of Secrets: Facts Exposing the Jewish Schemes to Control the World’, ‘The History of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the History of the Corruption of the Jews, and the Demise of their Entity’, ‘Awakening to Jewish Influence in the United States of America’ by David Duke, ‘The Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Purported Temple’ and ‘The Myth of the Nazi Gas Chambers’. David Duke is a former Ku Klux Klan leader who is widely known for harbouring anti-Semitic views."

Middle East

Rudaw: 2,000 ‘Desperate’ ISIS Fighters Pushed Into ‘Ever Smaller Box’: Coalition

“Remnants of the Islamic State group (ISIS) in Syria’s Deir ez-Zor were unable to capitalise on recent bad weather to recapture territory and equipment from the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Coalition said, despite reports of serious setbacks. Operation Roundup, which began in May this year, has sought to eliminate ISIS in the Middle Euphrates River Valley, where approximately 2,000 militants are thought to remain. Iraqi forces meanwhile are trying to prevent ISIS fighters retreating over the border from Syria. In the latter half of November, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported several serious operational setbacks, including the death of around 50 SDF fighters and the possible capture of 20 more in ISIS counterattacks around Hajin. The war monitor also reported a high number of civilian casualties – mostly the wives and children of ISIS militants – resulting from Coalition airstrikes. The UN has raised alarm for the safety of some 10,000 civilians thought to be trapped in the ISIS enclave.”

Nigeria

News 24: Boko Haram Raids Kill Soldier In NE Nigeria As Attacks Intensify

“Boko Haram jihadists have attacked two military bases in Nigeria's restive northeast, killing one soldier and injuring two, security sources told AFP on Wednesday, in a week that saw insurgent assaults on troops intensify. Riding in trucks fitted with anti-aircraft guns, fighters from the self-styled Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) faction of Boko Haram launched a raid late Tuesday on troops in the town of Gudumbali, sparking a fierce firefight in which two soldiers were injured, a military officer said. "It was a tough battle," said the military officer who asked not to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media. "Troops fought hard and repelled the terrorists, two soldiers were injured in the fight," he said, adding the base was on "high alert" for a follow-up attack. On Monday, ISWAP fighters had attacked another base in the town of Malam Fatori near the border with Niger, which was repelled with air support, according to two military sources who said a soldier was killed and several injured in the attack. An ISWAP attack Saturday on soldiers in Buni Gari village, in Yobe state, left eight soldiers dead, the Nigerian army confirmed on Tuesday. Sources said air support and reinforcements from a military base in the nearby town of Buni Yadi helped push the militants out.”

The Guardian: Terrorism: Nigeria Remains Third Most Impacted Country

“In spite of deaths from terrorism declining by 16 per cent in 2017, Nigeria is still listed as one of the five countries most impacted by terrorism in the 2018 Global Terrorism Index. The country remains in the third position, which it occupied in the 2017 index. The number of deaths attributed to terrorism in the country fell to 1,532 in 2017 from 1832 in 2016. The decline follows the 63 per cent drop in deaths in Nigeria in the preceding year and a 34 per cent drop in 2015. Other countries listed in the top five bracket were Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Syria. The Global Terrorism Index, produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace, is based on data from the Global Terrorism Database (GTD). The index showed deaths from terrorism also declined worldwide by 27 per cent (18,814) between 2016 and 2017, with the largest falls occurring in Iraq and Syria. “The year on year fall in deaths was mirrored by a fall in the number of attacks, which fell 23 per cent from 2016 to 2017,” IEP said in the summary of the 2018 index. The report showed that only 10 countries accounted for 84 per cent of deaths from terrorism, with the financial cost of terror activities put at $52 billion. The report, however, notes that the actual cost “is likely to be much higher.” Al-Shabaab committed the deadliest attack of 2017, which killed 587 people.”

Somalia

ABC News: Bloody Rivalry Erupts Between Al-Shabab, IS Group In Somalia

“A bloody rivalry has emerged between extremist groups in Somalia as the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab hunts upstart fighters allied to the Islamic State group, who have begun demanding protection payments from major businesses, officials tell The Associated Press. The rivalry supports some observers' suspicions that al-Shabab, now scrambling to defend its monopoly on the mafia-style extortion racket that funds its high-profile attacks, is drifting from its long-declared goal of establishing a strict Islamic state. The manhunt began in October with the killing of a top leader of the IS-linked group by a suspected al-Shabab death squad in the capital, Mogadishu, according to several Somali intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. When the body of Mahad Maalin, deputy leader of the IS-affiliated group, was found near a beach in Mogadishu, it set off a hunt for suspected IS sympathizers within al-Shabab's ranks, officials said. Maalin had been suspected of trying to extend his group's reach into the capital. Last month, the Islamic State group's Al Naba newsletter noted deadly attacks on its fighters in Somalia and warned that "when the time of response comes from the Islamic State, with God's will, we will be excused."

Euronews: U.S. Military Says Strike Kills Four Militants In Somalia

“The U.S military said it killed four militants in an air strike against al Shabaab militants in the vicinity of Awdheegle, Somalia, as part of its operations to support the government's efforts to weaken the group. The military's Africa Command (Africom) said the strike was carried out on Dec. 4. "The U.S. airstrike was conducted against militants after U.S. and partner forces came under attack," Africom said in a statement late on Wednesday. "We currently assess this airstrike killed four (4) militants with no civilians involved." The United States carries out periodic air strikes in Somalia in support of a U.N.-backed government there, which has been fighting against an al Shabaab insurgency for years.”

Military Times: Somali Officials Report Deadly US-Backed Raid On Al-Shabab

“Somali commandos backed by U.S. forces raided two al-Shabab checkpoints at which the extremists extort money from commercial vehicles, killing several fighters, Somali intelligence officials said Wednesday. The officials also said two U.S. airstrikes in the area during the overnight raid destroyed an explosives-laden minibus that was prepared for a complex attack on an unspecified location. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. The U.S. Africa Command in a statement said four extremists were killed in a “self-defense airstrike” after U.S. and partner forces came under attack. It said no civilians were involved. Residents of Awdhegle, a farming village in Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia, told The Associated Press they had heard gunfire and explosions. "Something big happened here last night. We only know that al-Shabab was under attack, said one elder, who gave his name only as Yusuf for fear of reprisal from the al-Qaida-linked extremists.”

Africa

Daily Monitor: Interpol, Regional Police Chiefs To Track Returning ISIS Fighters

“Police chiefs from Interpol and Eastern Africa countries are meeting in Kampala to build a database to identify, profile and disrupt terrorists entering the region after fighting in foreign countries such as Iraq and Syria. The Inspector General of Police, Martins Okoth-Ochola, said in his speech read by Assistant Inspector General of Police Fred Yiga, that police should ensure that foreign fighters are apprehended before they join local extremist groups. “The activities of foreign fighters isn’t localised in Syria and Iraq, but global in nature. A number of individuals travel across the borders to join violent extremist groups while others seek military training and return to join local groups. This region isn’t exceptional to these kinds of activities and it is critical that the movement and identities of such individuals are established in order to check their movement and activities,” Mr Ochola said. The meeting centred on border control challenges in the fight against terrorism in the eastern Africa region, was attended by police chiefs from 11 Eastern Africa countries, including Sudan and Mozambique.”

Xinhua: East African Security Chiefs Meet In Uganda Over Cross-Border Terrorism

“Security chiefs from the East African region are meeting in Uganda to seek measures of controlling cross-border terrorism activities. The chiefs who include INTERPOL and counter terrorism officials from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Comoros, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan and Mozambique are converging under the theme: "Border control challenges in the fight against terrorism in the east African region". The meeting, which opened on Tuesday, will close on Thursday. In a statement sent to Xinhua on Wednesday, Uganda's police chief Okoth Ochola said terrorism had taken root in the region for the past 20 years. "Terrorism within the region is, therefore, not only a threat, but a reality which needs to be confronted in a collective and coordinated manner," Ochola, who is also the Eastern African Police Chiefs Cooperation Organization chairperson, said in a speech read for him by INTERPOL Uganda chief, Fred Yiga. Ochola said pockets of outlawed armed groups such as the Lord's Resistance Army and Allied Democratic Forces had "inflicted untold suffering to the people of Uganda, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Central Africa". The police chief also noted that the region was being infiltrated by foreign terrorist fighters.”

North Korea

The Wall Street Journal: North Korea Expands Long-Range Missile Base, Analysts Say

“North Korea is expanding military facilities thought to house long-range missiles that can hit the U.S., according to a think-tank report that revives doubts about the regime’s sincerity in disarmament negotiations. Pyongyang is still producing nuclear weapons and appears to be upgrading a missile base near the Chinese border, according to the analysis by the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, Calif., based on satellite imagery taken in recent months. “The missile base at Yeongjeo-dong has long been a concern to U.S. and South Korean officials because of its unique location,” the report said, referring to the border site, which it said is likely to receive the North’s latest weapons. Seven miles away, North Korea has been building new facilities that appear to be either another missile base or an expansion of the Yeongjeo-dong facility, said the Middlebury analysis, first reported by CNN. The U.S. Embassy in Seoul declined to comment.”

Southeast Asia

The Straits Times: Police Rule Out Terrorism In Kuching Mall Blast

“Police have ruled out terrorism or criminal acts in the explosion at CityOne Megamall in Kuching, in the East Malaysian state of Sarawak, on Tuesday (Dec 4) which left three people dead and 41 others injured. Sarawak Deputy Commissioner of Police Mohd Dzuraidi Ibrahim said investigations so far found no militant elements. "There are also no criminal elements involved. We have classified the case as sudden death," he told reporters at the scene of the blast on Wednesday. He said the Fire and Rescue Department was still investigating the cause of the explosion. The department's state director Khirudin Drahman said its personnel, as well as a sniffer dog from its K9 unit, were at the scene to verify the initial assumption that the explosion was caused by a gas leak. "We have taken gas samples from the scene to be analysed in our lab. From the pattern of the explosion that we saw on CCTV footage as well as the victims' injuries, it seems to confirm our initial findings and hypothesis," he said.”

South America

The Hill: New Partnerships In South America Could Lead To Additional Action On Hezbollah

“The Tri-Border Area (TBA) of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay has long been a safe haven for transnational crime and terrorist organizations like Hezbollah. Weak border enforcement, corruption and lack of government presence have given criminal groups free reign to operate virtually unchecked for years. The U.S. maintains strong security relations with the governments of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, but the effectiveness of our cooperation has been limited. As a result, illicit activities in the TBA have spilled over into other parts of Latin America, impacting regional security, breeding greater levels of corruption and crime, funding drug consumption around the world, and enabling Hezbollah to carry out terrorist attacks to support Iran’s geopolitical objectives. The U.S. has been concerned about these issues for many years, and Congress has held multiple hearings and passed legislation to address these problems. Sadly, we have not had consistent partners in the TBA countries willing to make these issues a true priority. However, recent elections in Paraguay and Brazil, in particular, and a strengthened ally in Argentina provide a new opportunity for the U.S. to consider greater avenues for cooperation on these issues.”

United Kingdom

BBC News: British Neo-Nazis Suggest Prince Harry Should Be Shot

“A university student from Bath and a London teenager are among those involved with a UK version of a violent American neo-Nazi group linked to five murders, a BBC investigation has found. A propaganda image placed online by the British group suggests Prince Harry is a "race traitor" and should be shot. Private messages between members show the leader stating that police officers should be raped and killed. Evidence suggests the leader is Andrew Dymock, 21. He denies wrongdoing. The BBC has seen evidence he set up the new British group known as the Sonnenkrieg Division. Mr Dymock, who is originally from Bath and whose father is a dentistry professor, has been studying at university in Wales. A key propagandist - responsible for designing extremist material - is said to be Oskar Koczorowski from west London, who is only 17 years old. He did not respond to a request for comment. Pseudonyms A BBC researcher has been able to obtain hundreds of messages sent by several extremists over several months on an online gaming server. The messages show neo-Nazis from Europe and the US - hiding behind pseudonyms - engaging in racism and misogyny, glorifying violence and cruelty, and discussing the production of propaganda.”

Daily Mail: Terror Suspect, 22, Who ‘Plotted Attack In UK Had A Video Introduction To ISIS Filmed By Accomplice Who Was Caught After Accepting Fake Suicide Vest In British Secret Service Sting’

“A terrorist plotting an attack in Britain was given a video recommendation by an accomplice who planned to kill Theresa May with a suicide bomb, a court heard. Mohammad Imran, 22, wanted to travel to the Middle East and hoped the 'gold card' introduction from Naa'imur Rahman, 21, would be his passport after Rahman had blown himself up on Downing Street. But Rahman, who warned his friend to 'stop trusting people too much', was set up by security services who gave him a suicide bomb pack to carry out his mission. 'Their shared inspiration, from the warped ideology of the group calling itself Islamic State, led them well beyond contemplation and in to making plans and taking practical steps to engage in, or to support others in, violent acts of terrorism,' prosecutor Mark Heywood told the Old Bailey. He said Imran 'elected to travel and set about assembling money, acquiring a fake passport, engaging in research and otherwise equipping himself with the information and means to travel abroad for violence for terrorist purposes. 'In the case of the other, Naa'imur Rahman, his conclusion was that lethal violence here, directed at the very heart of the United Kingdom government, was the only effective way to pursue his intentions.”

France

NDTV: French Team In Kerala To Question ISIS Suspect In 2015 Paris Attacks

“A five-member team of French investigators arrived in Kerala to interrogate an alleged ISIS terror operative Subahani Haja Moideen in connection with the 2015 Paris terror attack, sources said. Facilitated by the National Investigative Agency, the officials of the French anti-terrorism agency will question Subahani Haja Moideen currently lodged in Viyyur Central jail in Kerala, news agency PTI reported. The team that arrived in the country after an NIA court in Kochi granted them permission to interrogate Subahani Haja Moideen will be in the state till Friday. He is from Thodupuzha in Kerala. The NIA probe had indicated that that Moideen could have known the terrorists who carried out the Paris terror strike in 2015. The attacks by gunmen and suicide bombers hit a theatre, a major stadium, restaurants and bars and almost simultaneously had left 130 people dead and hundreds wounded. "The French team will be questioning him about his ISIS links and they suspect he has direct connections to the accused in the 2015 Paris terror attack," top sources told NDTV. Moideen, in his 30s, was arrested from Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu in 2016 by the NIA with the help of central security agencies and state police. He has been accused of radicalising and recruiting people for the ISIS and fought in Turkey for the terror group. He left India for Istanbul from Chennai in April in early 2015 on the pretext of performing Umrah, an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. After reaching Istanbul, he had crossed over with other people from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Iraqi territory under control of the ISIS then, PTI reported.”

Europe

Associated Press: Albania Condemns Extremism In 4 Albanians’ Deaths In Greece

“Albania’s Foreign Ministry has condemned the murder of four ethnic Albanians in neighboring Greece and denounced the hate speech propagated by the extremist Golden Dawn party. A statement Wednesday called on Greek authorities “to denounce and put on a break any effort from the Golden Dawn or other extremist segments to violate Albanians’ security and dignity” there. Four Albanians died in Greece in the past two weeks, including one killed by an alleged Golden Dawn Greek supporter and another shot by Greek police while trying to illegally cross the border transporting drugs. An Albanian prisoner and an 18-year-old were found dead in suspicious circumstances. Tensions between the neighbors heightened in October after the killing of an Albanian-Greek citizen, a Golden Dawn member, in a shootout with Albanian police.”

Canada

The Verge: Canada Arrests Top Huawei Executive On Suspicion Of Violating Iran Sanctions

“Canada arrested the chief financial officer of Huawei on suspicion of violating US sanctions against Iran, according to The Globe and Mail. The CFO, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Vancouver on Saturday at the request of US law enforcement and is facing extradition to the US. It’s an extremely high-profile arrest, the first major break in a probe that has mostly been kept from the public and only after long-harbored suspicions about Huawei have become widespread. Meng happens to be the daughter of Huawei’s founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei, a former People’s Liberation Army engineer whose connection to the Chinese Communist Party has contributed to the suspicions of US intelligence agencies. Meng also serves as deputy chair on Huawei’s board. “The company has been provided very little information regarding the charges and is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng,” Huawei told Engadget in a statement. “The company believes the Canadian and US legal systems will ultimately reach a just conclusion.”

The Epoch Times: Do More To Bring Canadians Who Joined ISIS To Justice, Experts Tell Feds

“With the collapse of the ISIS terrorist group in Syria and Iraq, human rights and security experts say it’s time for Ottawa to stop dragging its feet and take action to bring Canadians who joined ISIS to justice, whether they are detained abroad or have already returned. Kurdish officials are currently holding 13 Canadian citizens—including three jihadi fighters, their wives, and seven children—in makeshift prisons in northern Syria, but these detainment camps are overstretched and authorities want Canada to take back its citizens, according to a Global News investigation. “A lot of people are saying we should just let them rot over there and I can understand that sentiment, but when you think about it, these people were radicalized in Canada, they were recruited in Canada, and they left to go over there from Canada,” said Scott Newark, a criminology professor at Simon Fraser University and a former Crown prosecutor. “If they do not come back to Canada, they may go to Libya or anywhere else in the world. So as an international partner in this we have an obligation in taking the steps that we can take to minimize the risks to ourselves and to others.” The federal Liberals have been criticized by the Official Opposition and national security experts for not coming up with a concrete plan to prosecute returning extremist fighters.”

CTV News: Mosque Attack Pushes Canada Up Global Terrorism Ranking

“An attack on a mosque in Quebec City, which left six people dead, has pushed Canada up to its highest place ever on a global ranking of terrorist activity. The newest edition of the Global Terrorism Index, which was released Wednesday, lists Canada as having the 57th-highest level of terrorist activity in the world, up nine places from its position one year earlier. The index is compiled by the Australia-based Institute for Economics and Peace based on five years’ worth of data from 163 countries representing 99.7 per cent of the world’s population. Canada’s previous peak position had been 58th, which it reached in 2009. This year’s ranking was obtained despite the country falling below the global average in each of the criteria used in the ranking: number of terrorist incidents, deaths attributable to terrorism, injuries attributable to terrorism and property damage attributable to terrorism. “Canada experienced six terror-related deaths in 2017, all of which were the result of an armed assault at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City by a right-wing extremist,” the report reads.”

Technology

The Wall Street Journal: Facebook’s Zuckerberg At Center Of Emails Released By U.K. Parliament

“The U.K. Parliament released on Wednesday a trove of internal Facebook Inc. FB -2.24% emails that show Mark Zuckerberg and other executives pursuing hard-nosed tactics to stifle competitors, as well as considering a range of possibilities for monetizing the massive amounts of data the company collected on its users. The documents show that Facebook gave some third-party developers special access to user data and several years ago contemplated charging developers for data access, a step that would have marked a dramatic shift away from the social-media giant’s policy of not selling that information. The emails also reveal that Mr. Zuckerberg, an engineer and software developer by background, was deeply involved in business decisions at Facebook as it grew into a global platform with more than 2 billion users. Many of the emails are excerpted and their full context isn’t clear. But the documents could present fresh problems for the company as it faces a range of regulatory inquiries on both sides of the Atlantic into how it safeguards user privacy, treats its competitors and controls access to its platform.”

Axios: Zuckerberg's New Enemy: European Lawmakers

“Mark Zuckerberg this year reportedly told Facebook officials that the company is at war. He's right. Facebook is facing a new kind of existential threat, not from competitors, but rather from an adversary who can neither be acquired nor competed against: governments, particularly in Europe. Driving the news: The decision by Damian Collins, a British lawmaker, to publish highly sensitive, unredacted internal Facebook emails is aggressive, uncompromising, and further intensifies the European battleground — an arena where Facebook has little to no political support. Facebook has faced such threats domestically, and has responded by hiring attack dogs in D.C. It also has on its side Facebook-friendly senators like New York's Chuck Schumer. Europe has few if any equivalents. The emails published by Collins could not be published in the U.S., where they are under a court-ordered seal. But Collins is not subject to U.S. jurisdiction, and happily sent the UK's Serjeant-at-Arms to demand the material. The gambit was legally dubious, but it worked. The lesson, for Zuckerberg: Foreign adversaries do not play by U.S. rules. Facebook was already facing a formidable threat in the form of Margrethe Vestager, the EU's competition commissioner.”

Gizmodo: Facebook Was Fully Aware That Tracking Who People Call And Text Is Creepy But Did It Anyway

“Back in 2015, Facebook had a pickle of a problem. It was time to update the Android version of the Facebook app, and two different groups within Facebook were at odds over what the data grab should be. The business team wanted to get Bluetooth permissions so it could push ads to people’s phones when they walked into a store. Meanwhile, the growth team, which is responsible for getting more and more people to join Facebook, wanted to get “Read Call Log Permission” so that Facebook could track everyone whom an Android user called or texted with in order to make better friend recommendations to them. (Yes, that’s how Facebook may have historically figured out with whom you went on one bad Tinder date and then plopped them into “People You May Know.”) According to internal emails recently seized by the UK Parliament, Facebook’s business team recognized that what the growth team wanted to do was incredibly creepy and was worried it was going to cause a PR disaster.”

The Wall Street Journal: Facebook Emails Give Inside Look At How It Shared User Data

“The U.K. Parliament on Wednesday released nearly 250 pages of internal Facebook Inc. FB -2.24% emails and excerpts from several years ago related to a previously little-known lawsuit ongoing in the U.S. The documents sometimes lack context and include only parts of email chains, but the communications together show how Facebook negotiated with thousands of outside app developers on its platform, revealing an inside look at how the social-media giant shared user data. Here are some key passages from the emails: —Facebook appeared to ask some app developers to spend more on advertising on the site in exchange for data access. Facebook executive Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, director of platform partnerships, wrote in 2013 that Facebook should figure out how much apps are spending on NEKO, an acronym the company used to describe apps installed on phones. “Find out what other apps...are out there that we don’t want to share data with and figure out if they spend on NEKO,” Mr. Papamiltiadis wrote to another Facebook executive, Ime Archibong.”

The New York Times: Facebook Used People’s Data To Favor Certain Partners And Punish Rivals, Documents Show

“Facebook used the mountains of data it collected on users to favor certain partners and punish rivals, giving companies such as Airbnb and Netflix special access to its platform while cutting off others that it perceived as threats. The tactics came to light on Wednesday from internal Facebook emails and other company documents released by a British parliamentary committee that is investigating online misinformation. The documents spotlight Facebook’s behavior from roughly 2012 to 2015, a period of explosive growth as the company navigated how to manage the information it was gathering on users and debated how best to profit from what it was building. The documents show how Facebook executives treated data as the company’s most valuable resource and often wielded it to gain a strategic advantage. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, and Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer, were intimately involved in decisions aimed at benefiting the social network above all else and keeping users as engaged as possible on the site, according to emails that were part of the document trove.”

Financing of Terrorism

Jawhara FM: Tunisia: Second List Soon To Be Issued Of Persons And Entities Whose Assets Were Frozen Due To Alleged Links To Terrorism

“The head of Tunisia’s National Committee for Countering Terrorism, Mokhtar Ben Nasr, announced that a second list of individuals and organizations whose assets have been frozen due to their association with terrorism will be issued before the end of December in the official Gazette. He spoke at a seminar organized by the National Committee for Counter Terrorism at the ISIG (Institut Supérieur d'Informatique et de Gestion) in Kairouan, in cooperation with the French Embassy. The seminar discussed the policies and programs {in effect} for preventing violent extremism and dealing early with people exposed to extremism. He stated that other lists will be issued periodically, after freezing the assets of 23 individuals, some of whom fled to the mountains and others are being held in prisons. He pointed out that the National Committee for Countering Terrorism signed a memorandum of understanding with the French Commission on the Prevention of Delinquency and Extremism, which provides for cooperation vis-à-vis joint mechanisms to address violent extremism.”

Elwatan News: Egypt: Regulating Foreign Funding Of NGOs To Combat Terrorist Financing

“Dr. Talaat Abdelkawi, Head of the General Federation of Civic Society Organizations, stated that the influx of foreign funding to local NGOs will be regulated in compliance with a new law, which oversees the performance of associations and other institutions operating in the realm of civic work. Dr. Abdelkawi, who also chairs the commission tasked with formulating the new NGOs law, noted that the civic society organizations will still receive funds from abroad; however, these funds will first be deposited temporarily in a special bank account until the relevant authorities, mainly the Ministry of Social Solidarity, identify the source and destination of this money. The President of the General Union of NGOs stressed that foreign financing must be transparent, as far as the state is concerned. He went on to say that most of the banned Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated associations had obtained foreign funding under the guise of building mosques. Yet, this money went directly into the pockets of the group's leaders. Additionally, the Muslim Brotherhood exploited the sentiments of people to raise funds domestically, Dr. Abdelkawi continued. According to this Egyptian official, the funds raised locally by the Muslim Brotherhood exceeded the funds collected externally by the banned Islamist group.”

Muslim Brotherhood

Seventh Day: Egypt: Request To Collect Fines From Muslim Brotherhood Figures For Having Insulted Judges

“Senior sources at the state committee tasked with confiscating and managing the funds and assets of the entities and persons classified as "terrorist" revealed that the committee is currently reviewing a request by lawyers of the Egyptian Judges Club {an unofficial social body that represents judges nationwide} to collect fines previously imposed on Muslim Brotherhood figures in the "Insulting Judges" case. In this case, 23 defendants, including top Muslim Brotherhood leaders {among them ousted president Mohammed Morsi} were convicted of insulting judges and sentenced to a collective fine of EGP 23 million ($1.28 million). The same sources added that the Judges Club had sent a written request to the committee demanding the compensations be paid out of the seized funds of the involved suspects. The defendants themselves are unable to pay the compensations since their funds were appropriated on charges of belonging to terrorist groups, the Judges Club noted.”

Harakat al-Shabaab

Al-Yaman Al-Araby: Somalia: Al-Shabaab Targets Local Companies With Taxation

“Harakat al-Shabaab terrorist organization, along with other Somalia-based Islamist militant groups, have recently been engaged in an economic war the crossfire of which has impeded the performance of the local business sector. Somali business people and analysts report that the warring factions have recently targeted the companies operating in the country with taxation on an unprecedented scale. It's noteworthy that al-Shabaab militants have long controlled prominent business-owners. By financially extorting and taxing these enterprises, the extremist group has been able to finance its hostile activities against the Somali government and the African Union’s peacekeeping forces that protect it. Evidently, some ISIS-affiliated militant groups are attempting to fund their operations by imitating al-Shabaab's tactics.”

Houthi

Bald News: Houthis Launch Large-Scale Kidnapping Operations

“Houthi militants launched large-scale kidnapping operations in the province of Hodeidah (west of Yemen). Local sources said the Houthis kidnapped more than 30 of the city’s residents on Monday. The number of abductees during the past week totalled more than 100. The Houthis have been holding them in prisons belonging to the security apparatus, as well as other special detention centers. Meanwhile abductees have been moved by the Houthis from prisons in Hodeidah to those in the provinces of Hajjah and Sanaa.”
__________________
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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.

"IN GOD WE TRUST"
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